It’s official – Cyber Monday has replaced Black Friday as the largest sales day of the year. An estimated $6.6B in online sales were done on Cyber Monday compared to the $5.0B in sales on Black Friday. Cue the retail Doomsday alarm and “sky is falling” naysayers. Or maybe not.
While it’s true that big box stores are getting hit hard by the shift in consumer behavior to prefer online shopping, for smaller and mid-sized retailers this shift actually represents a huge opportunity to carve out their piece of market share. In fact, more people between the ages of 18-48 have researched products online and then bought them in store, than the other way around.
Thriving in a digital-first world comes down to a single maxim: “Know Thy Customer.”
The more you know about your customer, like really know, the more you can tailor your shopping experience to fit their tastes. Digital is data, and if you aren’t scouring your customer lists for every piece of usable insight, you’re missing out.
What Makes Digital So Appealing In The First Place?
Regardless of the specific demographics and psychographics of your unique customers, let’s start with what makes online shopping so appealing to most customers in the first place.
In general, people shopping online are motivated by 3 main buying points:
- Price: Prevalence of online coupons or online competition driving the price down
- Convenience: Low-urgency purchases that a consumer can conveniently make while binge watching “Stranger Things 2”
- Broad Selection: 100+ pages of flat-head screwdrivers
Retailers who want to thrive in today’s digital-first world need to execute on a strategy that directly acknowledges and attacks these three factors.
How To Thrive In A Digital World
1) Gather And Trust Your Data
Ask an e-commerce Director and they’ll tell you running a successful digital platform is all about managing your lists. Even if you’re newer to the digital world you no doubt have:
- Lists of current customers
- Lists of customers that haven’t purchased from you in the past 6 months
- Lists of customers who have signed up for your marketing emails
- Lists of individuals that follow your brand on Instagram
- And the most powerful of all, your advocate marketing list (you do have an advocacy marketing program, don’t you?)
Those lists are powerful, but they don’t paint the whole picture. Most times, those lists just have the demographics of the user. Things like:
- Email Address
- Mailing Address
- Phone Number
Useful, but not as useful as they could be with a bit more digging.
That’s why at SocialToaster, we’re big fans of surveys. So much so that we’ve incorporated a survey response tool as one of the many features of the SocialToaster advocacy marketing platform. In just a few short minutes you can put together a survey to send to your advocates that not only allows you to glean key insights into who your advocates and customers are, but also identifies their key mental buying-drivers.
As you start to gather more data on your customers, you might be surprised to see that the actual profile of your customer is different than what you had originally thought. Many businesses are shocked to learn that even though they’re going after the 20-30 year-old singles market, their average customer is over 40 and married.
Data (when gathered properly) doesn’t lie. Successful digital retailers have learned to trust the data, even if they don’t initially agree with it.
2) Implement New Tactics Based On The New Data
Data gathering for the sake of data gathering is a useless and expensive exercise. There is no value in a dusty spreadsheet hanging out in a forgotten corner of your server.
To be successful, your business needs to get in the habit of making pivotal changes to your marketing and Ecommerce strategies based on what the data says. Nothing is sacred and everything, from the type of content you post to the products you stock, should be influenced by what your customers are doing or telling you.
Many brands spend thousands (or even tens of thousands) of dollars creating marketing materials that they believe will benefit their customers and clients. Then they’re surprised when no one downloads that white paper, or that “viral video” sits on YouTube without any views.
Once you start getting to know your customers, start profiling them into different segments based on commonalities they share. Then, work within those segments to create marketing materials that speak to the specific buying-drivers of that group.
3) Lean On Your Customers To Share The New Word
With your new marketing materials ready to go, here’s where advocacy marketing can help your brand moonshot. But for a moment, let’s harken back to the days of Psych 101 class. People tend to associate with people that are similar to themselves.
If your key buying segment is a 28-year old male with no kids, guess what? Your 28-year old male with no kids that is buying from you no doubt associates with other 27-29-year-old males with no kids. Same for the married 44-year old woman that buys.
By inviting your best customers into an advocacy marketing program, you’re providing them with an opportunity to easily share your brand with their friends and family. Most importantly, because you’ve used your data to ensure that the marketing materials your sending through your advocacy program are relevant to your key buying segment, your customers are going to want to share it.
- For e-commerce brands, advocate marketing on social channels carries a ton of value:
- Social customers are 4x as likely to spend MORE than customers that didn’t have a social interaction with your brand
- Small and medium online businesses receive 60% of their sales from referrals (compare that to the amount of sales those expensive paid ads are driving)
- New site visitors that come from a social channel have a 129% higher customer conversion rate compared to other channels
- Speaking of conversion rate, conversion rates from advocacy and third-party sourced marketing are almost 3x higher than the conversion rate of paid media
The more valuable content you produce, the more likely your advocates will share that content to their social channels, the more their similar friends see your content, the more buyers you see. The system self-propels as more of your customers turn into social sharing advocates.
A blog post and a discount code or two are not enough to help keep your legacy retail shop afloat in the digital-first world. People are no longer beholden to stores that are within a 15-minute drive from their house. Success comes from understanding who your customer is and creating value for that specific customer.