Improving customer service means improving eCommerce marketing in order to retain and attract customers. Learn to improve customer service with these tips.
In recent months, eCommerce has enjoyed an incredible boom. At the same time, consumers also have plenty of choices and the means to research them. While online shoppers tend to demonstrate loyalty to brands they love, a poor experience will encourage them to try another internet shop. That’s why you need to prioritize customer service as a key part of your eCommerce Marketing strategy.
American shoppers who say customer service factors into their shopping choices: 90 percent
American consumers who say they’ve switched companies in the past year because of poor customer service: 49 percent
Mostly, it can cost between five and 25 times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Even if you’ve hired a high-quality consumer marketing agency, worked hard to develop your brands and packaging, and done everything else right, poor customer service experiences can keep prospects from making their first purchase and just as bad, prevent a first-time buyer from making a second purchase.
Ten eCommerce Marketing Suggestions to Improve Customer Service
You can benefit by investing in some fairly simple and affordable enhancements to your customer service. This is true if you market other company’s brands or rely upon direct to consumer advertising.
Consider these tested tips to help show prospects and customers that you care about their experience both before and after you make a sale.
Create a knowledge Base: You can find plenty of software and plugins that will make it simple to add an online knowledge base to your eCommerce site. You might start by answering the types of topics that customers frequently ask you or your existing customer service people.
Show transaction history online: Giving customers the ability to login and see their ordering, billing, and shipping history online will help eliminate a lot of questions and misunderstandings.
Create how-to videos: Posting videos that explain how your website or even some of your products work will help answer questions, increase customer satisfaction, and probably even drive sales.
Create a scalable team: While a lot of these steps can help reduce the number of customer service reps you need, make sure you can handle peak demand.
Offer live chat:According to Forrester, typical live chat sessions can cost up to 30 percent less than comparable phone calls. Some software allows you to use pre-written macros to answer frequent questions, and often, agents can handle more than one chat session at a time.
Develop a multi-channel customer service strategy: Besides offering support on your website, you can also consider it on social media channels. This way, you meet customers where they spend a lot of time. Also, by giving an irritated or anxious customer a place to send a message you may prevent them from venting in a public post.
Use help desk software: Not only can this software help track touch-points, it can also keep different service channels integrated. For instance, you can keep a record of interactions from social media and your website stored in one place.
Offer a 24-7 voice system: Even if you can’t possibly keep somebody online 24 hours a day, you can still take messages that get routed to your held desk software for responses during the next business day. Even in this age of social media messaging and live chat, some folks still like to speak with a live person.
Keep your FAQ updated: Once you get your customer service rolling, you should find that some questions occur more frequently than others. Having those clearly addressed in a simple FAQ should head off a lot of contacts and customer frustration.
Track and measure customer service: If you want to keep improving, you need a way to measure your progress. In addition to tracking the number and types of request, you may want to send out surveys after a contact to give customers a chance to provide feedback.
Even if you initially only provide limited options for customer to get in touch, it’s important to ensure that confused or dissatisfied people have a way to get their concerns addressed. Any growing eCommerce business must attract and retain customers. Poor customer service experiences will turn away customers, even for companies who do a lot of other things right.
Casper’s DTC product marketing agency success: Authority content, social influencers, a fun brand, and a high-quality product.
When it comes to out-of-the-box selling techniques, you have to take note of Casper as a prime example. After all, they were one of the first companies to literally have their customers take mattresses right out of the box it was delivered in. While they’ve struggled with profitability, this D2C and digitally native mattress company has excelled at increasing revenue and brand recognition. Casper had a plan for moving their bottom line to the black too, though that’s been somewhat hampered by the coronavirus outbreak. Still, any product marketing agency can glean some valuable lessons by studying Casper’s model.
How Casper Changed D2C Marketing for Mattresses
Even though most folks spend at least one-third of their lives in bed, few consumers find mattress shopping very engaging. You’ve usually got to learn about and choose options between plush and firm, plus you need to decide between traditional, memory foam, hybrid, gel, and more. Even though most people only replace their mattress once or twice every decade, high-quality choices can range between several hundred to a few thousand dollars. So while most consumers don’t pay attention to mattresses often, they tend to spend some time considering this occasional purchase well.
This can add up to a customer experience that’s often somewhat boring and stressful at the same time, which may explain why lots of consumers probably don’t replace their mattresses as often as they should. Since most mattresses are also large and bulky, customers may also have to consider the difficulty of moving it themselves or paying even more money for delivery. Mostly, consumers have to go to all of this expense and trouble for something that they generally cover up with a sheet and forget about until they decide they need to buy a new one. For most consumers, shopping for a mattress may feel more like a chore than an adventure.
What’s different about Casper’s direct to consumer advertising and marketing?
With its direct to consumer advertising, Casper changed this experience from a typically poor one to something that its target market, millennials, wanted to associate themselves with. Instead of having consumers go to a furniture or dedicated mattress store to consider dozens of different options and make a purchase, Casper set out to convince customers they had perfected the perfect mattress for everybody. At first, they just started with the Original model. In turn, people could simply order by that one product on the internet and get it delivered in a box to their door.
Instead of thinking of getting a somewhat modestly priced mattress delivered in a cardboard box as inferior, Casper set out to make consumers perceive their model as fun, progressive, and sensible. To be fair, according to Forbes, the company’s two founders lived on the fourth floor of a walkup apartment when came up with the delivery-in-a-box idea. Instead of struggling to get a mattress home or adding to the expense by paying movers, customers could simply have their purchase mailed to them. That worked out both easier and cheaper.
Casper’s D2C marketing hacks: digital and print content
Mostly, any consumer marketing agency should take note of the way that Casper employed content marketing to position themselves not just as an online mattress brand but as authorities in the entire sleep industry. Besides blog, social media, and video posts, they also created their own magazine, Woolly. According to the magazine’s about page, it focuses upon wellness, comfort, and modern life.
The publication’s not specifically about mattresses or even sleep but contains satire, modern art, essays, and advice. It attracts the sort of audience that the company believes would also consider sleeping on a Wooly mattress but certainly isn’t the digital version of a Casper infomercial. Woolly has been described as authentic and creative, probably exactly the way that the Casper brand wants to position itself.
Casper’s advertising to their target market
The company’s also supported it’s visibility by courting social influencers and celebrities. One of the most famous examples is a social post by Kylie Jenner, picturing herself moving into a bare apartment with just a Casper box on the floor beside her. According to HubSpot, that one ad doubled net sales. They also post cheerful ads in such locations as New York MTA stations and invest in TV ads.
What advice could a D2C marketing agency give Casper?
Judging by revenue, Casper has run very effective marketing and advertising campaigns. They’ve certainly introduced a new generation to a new way of buying a very traditional product. Still, they have a couple of problems that have hampered profitability:
Infrequently purchased item: People don’t buy new mattresses very often. Even if Casper might convince customers to ditch their old mattress in favor of their product, they won’t have a chance at a repeat sale for several more years. Also, high-quality mattresses usually cost at least a few hundred dollars, so many people want to see and feel the product before they buy it.
Supersized marketing budget: Gartner says average companies spend between 10 and 12 percent of their revenue on marketing. In the last few years, Casper’s has ranged in the mid-thirties to mid-forties. In comparison, Wayfair spent about 16 percent.
Casper is on the way to fixing some of these issues. For one thing, they’ve started to introduce other sleep-related products to their mix. Examples include frames, pillows, and bedding. Now they even sell a line of gifts that includes dog beds, weighted blankets, and a glow light that they say helps people fall asleep. With the massive investment they make in promoting their brand, they’ve realized that they need to encourage repeat sales with smaller and more impulsive purchases.
Like other online retailers, Casper has also realized that they’re missing out on a lot of customers by keeping their products out of retail stores. Even BarkBox has started placing pet supplies in Target, and Amazon has opened its own physical stores and purchased existing ones. Sadly for them and many other businesses, the coronavirus outbreak has dampened this effort for now.
Takeaways for a brand experience agency
Casper delivered a modestly priced, high-quality product in a new but sensible and cheaper way. They produced content to entertain, inform, and position themselves as credible authorities on sleep and wellness. They geared advertising to build their brand image as fun, innovative, and smart. Really, their only inherent problem with marketing and advertising is that they needed to keep spending too much on it. That’s particularly true when you consider that people don’t buy mattresses that often, margins aren’t that high, and lots of consumers still prefer the traditional way of buying them at a store.
They’ve been starting to address these problems, so hopefully, they can emerge as a more sustainable company after the fallout from the coronavirus outbreak. Still, it’s easy to imagine that even with that large investment, the same marketing approach would have easily made them profitable if only they were selling pillows and bedsheets from the beginning.
Use eCommerce marketing to take advantage of the growing population of regular online shoppers, while avoiding the pitfalls of this digital transformation.
As news of the COVID-19 pandemic spread almost as fast as the coronavirus itself, governments started encouraging people and businesses to take social distancing measures. Soon after, even the brick-and-mortar businesses that didn’t have to close their doors, often cut hours to reduce the risks to staff and customers. Both businesses and customers have experienced dramatic changes in a very short time. Still, this sudden shift in shopping behavior has allowed eCommerce to boom.
How does the COVID-19 crisis impact eCommerce marketing?
As with all crises, some dramatic changes are likely to remain permanent. For instance, business reliance upon eCommerce marketing had already grown at a steady pace. During the pandemic, buying and selling online suddenly spiked. These growth figures come from the Salesforce Global Shopping Index for the first quarter of 2020:
Traffic growth: 16%
Digital commerce growth: 20%
Individual shopper growth: 4%
Certainly, marketers expect eCommerce growth over time. Still, these figures from the first quarter of 2020 surpassed the 2019 holiday season, which was considered a productive one. When compared to last year, home goods increased by 51 percent. Active apparel grew by 34% and toys by 31%. Such essential goods as food and personal care items spiked up 200 percent.
Is the rise of eCommerce marketing permanent?
Each holiday season attracts new eCommerce business. As new shoppers get introduced to online shopping or at least, shopping at new sites, the first quarter has always surpassed the first quarter for the previous year. However, analysts don’t necessarily expect as much activity in the first quarter as occurred during the holiday season.
According to CIO Magazine’s report on the impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and eCommerce marketing, none of this is temporary. They believe that the current crisis will create the sort of emotional bookmark that 911 and Pearl Harbor did. Some of these rapidly upset routines will cause people to revaluate and change behaviors long after the crisis has passed.
Before the coronavirus pandemic, 59 percent of consumers reported a lot of interaction with brick-and-mortar stores. Just about a quarter of consumers said they expected to frequent stores as much afterwards.
Within the next six or nine months, less than 40 percent of consumers said that they expected to return to previous levels of visiting physical outlets.
Before the pandemic, about 30 percent of consumers reported a high level of engagement with online stores; however, 37 percent now report this behavior.
In other words, consumers anticipate shopping online more and in physical stores less.
Will the eCommerce boom end physical stores?
Because of these survey results, Capgemini analysts agreed with CIO’s assessment that this bump in online spending would continue even after the crisis ends. At the same time, even the Amazon marketing agency doesn’t want to see local, physical stores vanish.
For instance, Amazon purchased Whole Foods and opened outlets to give their customers a better experience. Prime subscriptions offer customers the choice to either save money online or inside a store. People can see, touch, and even smell products. Customers also can choose in-store pickup for deliveries, an option that has proven increasingly popular with other omnichannel outlets.
Capgemini also doesn’t expect physical stores to vanish; however, shoppers may have higher expectations in the future. It’s intuitive to predict that survey respondents said they would pay more attention to sanitization issues in stores. They also said that they would be more likely to patronize physical or online businesses that communicated a strong sense of purpose and a commitment to sustainability. Customers will return to stores. At the same time, they may visit stores less and be much pickier about which ones they choose to frequent.
Vital eCommerce marketing tips
Ecommerce marketing may enjoy a boom because of the coronavirus. At the same time, even businesses with existing eCommerce platforms have to overcome some obstacles:
Pre-coronavirus, many businesses focused mostly or solely upon foot traffic and have had to abruptly change their strategy to include eCommerce marketing. This increases competition for keywords, consumer attention, and of course, online revenue. While an established eCommerce brand will enjoy some advantages, they may not entirely overcome the budgets of large companies that need to rev up online marketing fast.
As CIO Magazine ironically phrased it, the digital transformation wasn’t entirely prepared for the digital transformation. Some platforms could not handle the sudden and unexpected surge to “Black Friday” traffic levels. Very commonly, retailers suffered because of supply chain disruptions and inefficiencies. Many simply didn’t have the processes and manpower in place to handle the extra business. Even Amazon had to slow down delivery of non-essential items to ensure essential products moved to their destinations quickly.
With these obstacles in mind, these essential eCommerce marketing tips can help companies survive and thrive through the current crisis and beyond:
Shore up supply chains: You can’t make good inventory decisions without good information. Contact manufacturers or distributors to understand how they’re coping and what you can expect from them. Hedge your bets by finding alternative suppliers.
Communicate with customers: Just as you want your suppliers to keep you in the loop, your customers want to know if they can rely upon you to provide them with excellent service and reliable deliveries. These days, people also want to feel good about doing business with you by knowing that you’re striving to improve safety for them and employees. Let people know how well you’re doing through emails, your website, and social media.
Revisit your understanding of customer needs: You may believe your business understood your customer very well before the crisis; however, your customers’ situations and needs have changed as abruptly as your company’s have. For example, many beauty products companies started adding hand sanitizer to their product line to help meet customer demand.
Understand that customers may spend more time at home: If your customers are suddenly forced to spend more time alone and at home, you may profit by freshening up your products to appeal to them. For example, Son of a Sailor used to concentrate on selling jewelry and other fashion accessories. They’ve added a new “Boredom Busters” section to their site to appeal to the stay-at-home crowd.
Make smart advertising choices: Choices you make about PPC bids and other advertising can always make the difference between great returns and poor ones. It’s more important than ever to make certain you’re tracking the right metrics and planning advertising campaigns that support your business goals. On the other hand, some kinds of eCommerce businesses have found advertising costs have dropped somewhat because their competitors have reduced budgets.
Address technical and security concerns with your site: Of course, a better time to address any technical or security issues with your site would have been before the crisis. Still, these things don’t tend to fix themselves. The investment you make in faster loading times and solid security features will put your business in a better position to attract customers now and keep them in the future.
Additional eCommerce tips to help your online business thrive during coronavirus
You may have more concerns about simple survival right now than about rapidly expanding in the future. Still, these actions that you can take to give customers a better impression of your brand will increase revenues in ways that will benefit you now and later.
Let your customers know you value their business
These days, eCommerce sites have enjoyed plenty of success attracting new customers and waking up old ones with generous promotional offers. This can work especially well if you believe your typical customers may have cut back on spending because of their own economic uncertainty. More than ever, consumers want to find good value.
Also, with the understanding that it’s almost always cheaper to retain a loyal customer than to find a new one, consider creating or revamping loyalty programs. Some examples of suggestions for improving a loyalty program to respond to the current crisis came from Antavo, a loyalty management platform:
Consider extending the dates on expired points. As an example, CVS, just did this with their CVS Bucks program. Of course, they also sent out an email to let customers know about their generosity.
Consider making rewards a little easier to redeem, and in particular, offer good rewards to incentivize customers to join your program and to help you meet other sales goals.
Show customers you care about their communities
Even before this current crisis, savvy marketers understood how giving back to communities helped them improve brand recognition, reputation, and even revenue. For instance, plenty of distilleries have begun producing hand sanitizer to give away. Patagonia, the clothing retailer, sends a percentage of profits to environmental causes.
Some businesses may believe the pandemic has strained their budgets too much to consider adding charitable donations. Maybe it’s time to consider the buy-to-give or other incentive models. For example:
TOMS built its shoe and eyewear business by giving away a product for every product purchased.
AmazonSmile donates a percentage of qualified sales to charities designated by the customer.
You could also select some charities and allow customers to add an extra dollar or two at checkout.
Instead of sending excess inventory to the virtual bargain basement or even discarding it, consider donating it.
The long-term outlook for post-coronavirus eCommerce
Social distancing measures have abruptly reduced or even eliminated revenue for many physical businesses. In response, both retailers and consumers have turned to the internet for buying and selling. While the pandemic may have generated an abrupt surge in online shopping, eCommerce marketing analysts expect the trend to continue after the crisis has passed. More people will grow accustomed to the convenience and value, plus some will remain reluctant to spend much time in local shops after they open. While eCommerce stores can expect more opportunities, they also need to overcome a number of challenges. Some sensible improvements to marketing, technology, and business processes can also help to overcome these.
Read why eCommerce is booming during the coronavirus, and how businesses can retain those customers after the crisis passes.
During these days of the coronavirus outbreak, you might have a hard time picturing a return to normal business conditions. Still, you can already see signs that preventative measures have begun to flatten the curve and even turn it around. Doctors and scientists have remained optimistic that they can devise better treatments and effective vaccines rapidly. Hopefully soon, people can start to resume normal activities and companies can reopen their doors.
Still, most marketers expect at least some of the dramatic changes to consumer behavior to last. More specifically, one sector of the economy, eCommerce, has boomed. With that in mind, it’s important to address eCommerce management and marketing strategies that will ensure that you can retain the gains you may have made for a long time after the coronavirus crisis passes.
How has eCommerce marketing fared during the coronavirus outbreak?
To understand how rapidly eCommerce has grown, take a look at one particular segment, food and beverages. According to eMarketer, they had previously forecasted eCommerce sales for food and beverages would increase during 2020. The pre-coronavirus forecasts predicted growth of over 23 percent and over $32 billion in revenues for the year. While eCommerce had only accounted for 3.2 percent of all receipts in this market, they had suggested food and beverage as an example of a segment of eCommerce niche without much current penetration and plenty of room for growth.
Before the crisis, retailers marketing on Amazon may have also enjoyed brisk growth because of the way the largest online retailer had improved logistics to provide quick deliveries. Even though Amazon ranks first in overall eCommerce, it is not the only source of food and beverage. In fact, a large segment of that market also goes to grocers and independent direct-to-consumer companies.
In any case, you should inform yourself by looking at the surge during the first months of coronavirus stay-at-home orders:
Just within the three days between March 12 and March 15, a comparison of that same time period from last year showed that orders in that sector boomed by over 200 percent.
Another survey sampled the time period between March 1 and March 25, and found 183-percent growth.
A poll of consumer behavior between March 1 and March 25 found that American adults reported increasing their online grocery shopping from about 11 percent to 37 percent. Even more, eMarketer reported that shopping online grew steadily more common each week by the middle of March.
Will marketing my product online continue to grow after the coronavirus?
Obviously, people have increasingly turned to eCommerce because they want to avoid crowded grocery stores during the crisis. Also, some retailers have limited hours or even temporarily closed, so consumers need a convenient alternative. Still, you can look at past consumer behavior to predict that many of these consumers will continue to shop online after the outbreak.
Predictably, eCommerce spending has surged during the last quarter of each year. Still, it doesn’t die down after the holiday season ends to the the previous first-quarter levels. Multiple-year charts look more like an ascending staircase than like a series of peaks and valleys. During successive years, sales will surge again the next fourth quarter to even higher levels than the year before. This suggests that once consumers get used to shopping online, they tend to keep the habit.
Which eCommerce website management and marketing strategies will help you retain customers after the coronavirus?
Certainly, shoppers will still return to retail outlets after the crisis passes. At the same time, it’s fair to predict that they will also continue to spend more money online than they did before the pandemic. Even if consumers just switched out the equivalent of one out of ten of their normal shopping trips for an online order, it would have a tremendous impact on eCommerce growth.
Of course, you may have plenty of online competition in your niche and cannot guarantee that all of the customers you attracted during the outbreak will return to your business. These eCommerce marketing suggestions can help you retain more of your customers now and in the future:
If you’ve done any consumable marketing on Amazon, Shopify, or even your own eCommerce site, you’ve probably run into subscription orders. You often see them for such consumer goods as coffee and dog food, and they let customers create a recurring order every month, typically at a discount. Such DTC companies as Dollar Shave Club and Blue Apron also rely upon the subscription model. They tend to work particularly well in such categories as food, pet food, and beauty.
According to McKinsey Research, the overall subscription market has increased by 100 percent a year, and about 15 percent of all consumers say they have used subscriptions for convenient, repeat ordering at least one time. The model particularly appears to appeal to younger adults who live in urban areas and earn at least $50,000 a year.
Consumers who take advantage of subscription purchases say they enjoy the convenience and value; however, they also say they’re quick to cancel if they don’t receive high-quality service and products. If you decide to offer subscription ordering, you need to make certain that you have the good products and services in place to sustain it.
Adding a loyalty program to your eCommerce marketing plan provides you with another way to entice customers to return. Typically, these programs offer such rewards as points to accumulate for free products, discounts, or notification of special promotions. Some companies even give their customers extra points for mentioning their products on their social networks or for providing reviews. If you add a referral program to your loyalty program, you can even encourage your current customers to mention your business to their friends.
Provide flexible customer service options
Recently, a lot of businesses have made their return or cancellation policies more flexible to help their customers out during the current crisis. This adjustment can also give your business a way to make certain that you keep consumers delighted, and even when they’re not, you will have a way to learn about issues and try to correct them. Even though you may adjust your return or cancellation policies now to accommodate uncertain customers, you may decide that your flexibility will also help you retain them in the future.
You have probably noted that large eCommerce sites like Amazon usually offer a variety of shipping options. For instance, patient shoppers may even get free shipping if they choose a slower option. Customers with urgent needs can opt to spend more for expedited shipping. You might also consider adding promotions that offer more free shipping options for orders over a certain amount, or you can even make that a perk of your loyalty program.
Build a high-quality subscriber messaging list
In the old days, eCommerce marketing companies would have simply called this an email list. These days, you might also consider giving customers the option to choose text messages over emails. Even though most people already receive a lot of messages from businesses and probably don’t read most of them, that’s not true for some companies.
Plenty of businesses can boast that their customers look forward to receiving their communications because they work hard to offer value in exchange for attention. The more you can personalize these lists, the better chance you will have of having customers who perceive your communication as valuable too. For example, you might send special promotions for coffee grinders to customers who have already ordered or at least browsed your unground coffee bean selection. You could direct the offers for tea infusers to customers who have purchased your leaf tea.
Since a subscriber list can prove such a valuable way to retain customers, you may consider offering some perks to entice people to join. For example, you could offer a one-time coupon that entitles your new subscriber to a discounted purchase or upgraded shipping.
Why develop better plans for eCommerce marketing?
Steps you take today to improve your eCommerce website management and marketing can help you enjoy your share of the current eCommerce boom. Once this crisis has passed, your improvements should also help you retain and attract more online shoppers in the future.
DTC retailers have been affected by COVID-19. Pivoting your 2020 marketing plan using e-commerce, data, and direct sales platforms will help you recover.
By the Middle of March, AdWeek published the sobering news that DTC stores had been among some of the first retailers to close because of the coronavirus crisis. At the same time, these companies’ rationale for closing may point to strengths — and not weaknesses — with many of the brands. To develop an effective media plan for DTC brands, you might consider some of the strongest examples in the industry and how they coped even when retailers had to close.
Rethinking the media plan for DTC brands for post-crisis 2020
Adweek’s take on early closings by such DTC retailers as Glossier, Warby Parker, and Allbirds contained some encouraging insights. These companies did not necessarily lock their physical stores because they struggled more than typical retailers. Instead, many of them believed they could ride out the storm without brick-and-mortar outlets because they had already developed a strong online presence. In fact, some DTC retailers only sell online or at least, began with e-commerce marketing before establishing brick-and-mortar stores. In this time of crisis, they could simply return to their roots.
Pivoting e-commerce marketing strategies after the coronavirus crisis
To develop your plan for DTC marketing after coronavirus, it could help to consider the example of one very young company and then, consider some advice for the industry as a whole.
Success through infrastructure, data, and innovative direct sales platforms
Zak Normandin founded Iris Nova, a soft drink company that sold offline through its own retail stores and the hospitality industry. Normandin spoke about remaining unafraid to pivot his marketing strategy, and how this alleviated sales losses during the past couple of weeks after many of his offline channels lost business or closed.
Now backed by Coca-Cola, Normandin first gained attention with the novel tactic of marketing more through text messaging than web platforms. ‘In fact, customers can directly order crates of beverages through SMS. With more people staying home, demand for home delivery has increased and this ordering method appears increasingly popular with the company’s customer base.
The company does have financial challenges because of the loss of retail business, but Normandid says that he’s thankful that they had already invested heavily in brand awareness, marketing intelligence, and technology for their mobile direct ordering system. As an example, they’ve also developed retail technology they used for their own cashless store. Even though they needed to shutter the store during the coronavirus crisis, they can use this tech to generate additional revenue in partnership with other companies.
Digital DTC marketing trends for during and after the coronavirus crisis
Jerome Shimizu co-founded DoGood Media and serves as its chief data and analytics officer. He observed that stay-at-home measures have made consumers increasingly dependent upon direct orders. At the same time, lots of legacy companies have failed to keep up with this model. He mentioned that more old-fashioned businesses could benefit by looking at the ways newer players, like Iris Nova, have developed their online customer base.
It’s also a good time to make certain brand messaging expresses sympathy to the stress many customers have experienced during the crisis. As an example, McDonald’s had a chance to procure at least an extra million masks to donate to healthcare workers when it ordered protective supplies for its own employees. This act of enlightened self-interest helped the company improve their brand image as a good employer and community member.
For a DTC example, look at Brands X Better. A couple of dozen DTC brands, including Clean Simple Eats, Boll and Branch, and Harrow Sports, have teamed up together to commit a percentage of sales to a charity effort. These individual brands all cooperate to donate money and promote the effort. In turn, the website also helps promote the companies. The message on the Brands X Better site tells visitors that by buying from these brands, they can help support worthy causes and of course, keep the companies in business and employees at their jobs.
It’s already time to develop e-commerce marketing for after the coronavirus
As demonstrated by these examples, your ability to weather the current crisis and bounce back stronger afterwards depends upon the actions you can take now to respond. You might also need to remain flexible in the way you meet consumer demand, even though you have to make drastic changes to your original marketing and advertising plans for the year.
A strong e-commerce platform and online audience can help carry you through times of weaker offline, retail sales. During the crisis, lots of consumers have turned to online ordering, so you just need to let them know you’ve made that available for them. You may even find sales boosted by consumers who are more likely to order for home delivery than to travel to a retail outlet right now. To build your brand imagine, consider actions and marketing that can demonstrate how well you adjusted and strove to help protect your employees and your community. In some cases, you may even find it easier to stretch limited resources if you can find other like-minded companies to partner with.
Most people still associate consumer packaged goods, or CPG, with items sold on the shelves of grocery, drug, and discount stores – but the category is actually much broader.
CPG refers to the kinds of packaged products that people consume and need to replenish, like coffee, dog food, and soap. Historically, limited space on store shelves drove much of the competitiveness in the market. More recently, CPG digital marketing has offered companies the chance to grow beyond the limitations of physical space and sometimes, even to capture a larger share of that. Find out more about e-commerce digital marketing trends for CPGs and how this information can help inform your marketing.
CPG Digital Marketing Trends and Consumer Preferences
Most people still buy their packaged products in local stores. At the same time, online demand has been growing every year, as demonstrated by these consumer products marketing trends from IRI, an online sales insight service:
Online CGP sales grew by over 34 percent in 2018 alone.
Online revenue accounted for 11 percent of total consumer packed goods sales.
Even more interesting, internet sales of consumer packaged goods made up 64 percent to the total market growth for both offline and online revenue.
Which Platforms Sell the Most Consumer Packaged Goods?
Besides sales numbers, it’s also informative to see what sorts of platforms most of these sales came from. According to IRI, over half of the sales came from internet-only retailers. Some of the largest examples include such online grocery stores as FreshDirect and Peapod. CGP digital marketing from the websites of mostly brick-and-mortar stores produced about one-quarter of the sales. Companies that directly sell their own products have a smaller but rapidly growing share.
How is DTC Marketing Impacting Sales and Growth?
Because of the loss of many retail outlets, manufacturers have recently struggled even more for a share of physical store space. To make up for this loss, they have increasingly bypassed traditional retailers in order to connect directly with consumers. According to the Shopify blog, direct-to-consumer, or DTC marketing, has accounted for 40 percent of sales growth in the market.
Direct marketing has done more than help established CPG manufacturers offset slowdowns in their traditional selling channels. It’s also launched such purely DTC marketing brands as Dollar Shave Club and The Honest Company. In some cases, new brands have begun their lives online, found success, and then made their way into retail stores. For example, Deliciou is an Australian company that markets their packaged seasoning blends online but has also recently found shelf space inside such large U.S. retailers as Whole Foods.
What CPGs Do Shoppers Buy the Most?
What kinds of packaged products do people buy online the most? In general, people most commonly turn to the internet to order non-food items. More specifically, vitamin supplements, pet supplies and food, and skin care products, and coffee have enjoyed brisk online sales. Also, shoppers have increasingly begun to turn to online retailers for more sensitive purchases. As an example, the demand for adult incontinence products boomed by 84 percent in the past year. Consumers turn to internet ordering and delivery options for convenience in sometimes, for privacy.
What Drives Consumers to Choose Online CPG Retailers?
An IRI consumer survey asked online shoppers what options they looked for in e-ecommerce stores. They survey takers could select more than one option. The survey found:
Free delivery motivated over half of respondents to purchase online.
Almost half said that if the delivery isn’t free, it should be reasonably fast.
Four out of ten of these online shoppers also liked in-store pickup options.
About one-third of the survey takers would consider subscription services that automatically sent supplies periodically, typically at a discount over just ordering one time.
According to the survey, online shoppers also want to find online retailers who will offer them good deals. Over half plan to search for discounts and coupons and use various sites to compare prices.
Using CPG Marketing Trends to Inform Your Marketing Strategy
Right now, online sales of CGP make up a relatively small but rapidly growing share of the overall market. They can help producers offset increased competition for retail store space through online sales. In some cases, e-commerce marketing can even help new brands get established by making online sales and even getting enough brand recognition to earn coveted slots at brick-and-mortar stores. Now that you understand the benefits of selling CPG online, you can explore ways to get consumers to buy products online that they still may be used to picking up at the grocery store.
SEM Marketing for Consumer Packaged Products
Just as it’s important to leverage good product placement in stores, you can use search engine marketing to put your brands directly in front of customers. Both for paid and organic SEM marketing for consumer goods, you need to make certain that you rise to the top for the sorts of terms that searchers are likely to use for products like yours.
For instance, shoppers might not know to look for your brand of hypoallergenic soap or organic, fair-trade coffee, but instead, they may search for those terms or specific problems your product might solve. To optimize your web pages, make certain you research the kinds of search terms consumers might try. Use those terms to optimize your headings, descriptions, and content. In addition, you should try to build your e-commerce shop’s authority by encouraging high-quality incoming links from other relevant websites. For example, you might seek reviews on blogs, issue press releases, or get listed in high-quality directories.
Besides organic search, CPG manufacturers have spent millions of dollars on paid search marketing, according to Search Engine Land. One standard tactic consists of promoting useful content related to their brands. For instance, a packaged food manufacturer might create simple recipes that feature their products. Colgate found success by producing oral health information that related to diabetes. If you find that the direct keywords for your product are too difficult to ranks for in either paid or organic search, you might consider researching some relevant topics that are still interesting to people who might buy your products.
SMM Marketing for Consumer Products
Today’s consumers often learn about products from social media. Social sites can also help you express your brand personality and connect with consumers in a way that helps them identify with your brand. Gartner found that almost nine out of ten companies focus upon delivering a memorable customer service. In a market like consumer packaged goods, when products may seem like interchangeable commodities at first glance, your social presence can provide the key to helping your brand stand out.
SMM marketing also lets you target specific demographics that reflect your buyer persona. For instance, mothers drive a good share of consumer packaged good spending. Moms also login to Facebook about 10 times a day and make up a large part of the audience for Instagram, Pinterest, and other social sites. If you want to target mothers or many other groups, social media marketing can offer you the right audience. If you use the social site’s advertising platform, it will give you the ability to tune your e-commerce digital targeting very well.
For social sites, experiment with a variety of advertising formats and posts. Videos and graphics tend to capture attention, but you may also want to use text sometimes for testimonials, ingredients, or other useful content. Try to showcase your brand’s personality, and certainly, respond to customers when they post questions or comments about your products, ads, or posts.
Even though you should focus heavily on your call to action, you should try to provide plenty of content that will interest customers in a way that doesn’t always seem like selling. Social sites provide a good platform to spotlight your company’s commitment to worthy causes, how your products solve problems, and even your customers. If you’re selling ketchup, dishwashing soap, or lotion, you need to make certain people remember your brand positively, and your social media can help you do that.
Consider Multiple Channels
Customers tend to research online, if they eventually purchase at an e-commerce site or at a local store. Some manufacturers worried about cannibalizing offline sales when they first considered online sales. Many have found that instead of hurting brick-and-mortar revenue, the additional exposure has actually improved demand and even helped them leverage better visibility on physical shelves, besides providing additional revenue through internet purchases. Some companies began purely online and eventually made their way into stores because of their brand recognition.
A recent BrandShop survey found that today’s over 80 percent of consumers expect to have the option to shop when they visit a brand’s website. About the same percentage of survey takers said they’d shop at their favorite brand’s site if they could. For many products, they also like to take advantage of convenient options to have consumables delivered on a monthly schedule.
If you’re going to promote your company and your business website, you might as well give customers the option to purchase there instead of forcing them to find a retailer or distributor. This also lets you take more control over your customer’s experience and also, gather more data on their shopping behavior.
Why Embrace E-Commerce for Consumer Packaged Goods?
With consumer packaged goods, e-commerce is where the growth lies. The exposure, brand differentiation, and extra sales you make online can even help you compete for better placement offline. You’re also not at the mercy of retailers for shelf space and perhaps as important, control of the customer experience and consumer information.