Are you worried that your online competitors are stealing customers from your business?
If so, you're not alone. In our recent survey, 46% of businesses told us this was their greatest fear. Another 27% were worried that competitors' prices were lower; 18% reported concerns that their competitors have better marketing.
But business is competition, so how can your company gain the advantage?
In order to outperform your competitors, you'll need to think strategically about the differences between your business and theirs. Here are three steps you can take to make it easier.
Your business is your brand - without a strong brand and a solid reputation, you'll find it much harder to convert and retain customers.
Check out online reviews to see what customers are saying about you. When customers give you a glowing five-star review, what do they praise the most? When they're unhappy, what are the most common complaints? Many customers feel more able to voice their opinions online than in person, so this is an excellent way to learn what customers really think of you.
Understand your brand's appeal from the customer's point of view - why do they buy from you instead of your competitors? Does the customer perspective align with your company's presentation of the brand?
Once you've explored opinions of your brand, get to know your customers' needs and desires:
One of the simplest ways to discover this information is to conduct a consumer survey. As the majority of consumers use mobile devices, a mobile survey lets you reach them wherever they are and provides an easy way for them to respond.
It's important to keep track of what advertising and marketing tactics your main competitors use, from SEO and SEM to social networking and email marketing. Notice any changes in their approach so you can gain insight into their broader strategies.
Take the time to audit your competitors' online performance:
Subscribe to your competitors' email marketing campaigns to see how they're using this channel. Use a non-corporate email address for this, to avoid flooding your business inbox with competitor marketing campaigns or tipping off your competitors about your research activities.
Now learn more about your competitors' customers (and how they could become your customers):
Guesswork won't give you the insight you need to make the right decisions, but accurate data will.
To obtain data on your customers and how they interact with your brand, consider using lead conversion software. This can track key metrics including: impressions compared to click-through rates; conversion rates of different customer segments; conversion rates of different landing page designs; and how your chosen metrics change with the time of day, the day of the week or even the seasons.
Copyright © 2015 Paul Liascos, managing director of ReachLocal UK.
While the key sales period for a seasonal brand might only span three months of the year, optimising your site, securing advertising and mitigating bounce rate begins long before your customers start shopping.
With the first inklings of Christmas hype only a few weeks away, it’s not too late to implement the following suggestions and increase traffic during your key sales period.
While your customers don’t want to hear about Christmas in June, advertising slots, opportunities for collaborative competitions and potential brand advocates are already primed for the festive period.
Determine your key sales period in Google Analytics and schedule coverage, advertisements and promotions which straddle these dates and overlap by a few weeks either side — it’s surprising how many people will buy a Christmas tree in the January sales.
Custom landing pages are valuable for both organic search and increasing the relevancy of your pay-per-click (PPC) ads.
Optimise your landing page by including keywords and phrases in the title and include popular search terms within your website copy. Once your page is optimised, ensure that users have a pleasant shopping experience by making the purchasing process as simple as possible.
Allow users to sort results and provide an intuitive search function if budget permits. Highlighting your delivery terms (i.e. free delivery/next day delivery) also appeals to shoppers in a rush.
User-testing of your landing pages, your mobile site and your checkout process should be carried out before your sales period really kicks in. If you don’t have the budget for conversion rate optimisation, consider asking your own team to process test orders and highlight anything that could put customers off.
As of 2nd September, Product Listing Ads (PLA) on Google have been replaced by Shopping Campaigns. Google Shopping Campaigns allow you to bulk edit product groups and they offer access to your inventory and product feed information in Adwords.
While Shopping Campaigns are designed to respond to past complexities associated with PLA campaigns, users should familiarise themselves with the new features before increasing their PPC spend.
Brands often make the mistake of posting only when it suits them (i.e. 9-5) and they forget that the majority of their target audience will be active on social media during evenings and weekends. Once you know when your fans are interacting, you can schedule your posts accordingly.
Copyright © 2014 Victoria Browne, copywriter and social campaigns manager, Fluid Creativity.
Thanks to the internet, businesses can find themselves competing against competitors all over the world. As a result of globalisation, customers are getting bombarded every day with brand messages. Even when you have an excellent service or product, simply getting people's attention and having your company stand out is a challenge.
What’s more, people are busier than ever. Customers today know they have alternatives and won't hesitate to turn to them if you don't meet their expectations. All customers have to do if they're not happy is click away from your site, do a quick search for what they need, and then you're out of the picture. With more people shopping online, improving your customers' experience with your website is essential to maintaining a solid client base and getting referrals.
There are many ways to keep your customers satisfied online, depending on your operational constraints and needs. You could try the following options:-
Customers want to be able to see what they've picked out from your site, not only to make sure they have everything they need or want, but also because they need to see what everything is going to cost them. Make it easier for your customers to see what they've selected, what each item costs, what the total expense will be and how much you're adding in taxes and/or shipping.
Discounts need to be clear, too. They help customers feel like they're getting a good deal. Mention promotions and offers one last time, such as a reduced rate for spending more than a certain amount. This way, customers get a second chance and won't feel cheated if they find out about them after buying. In general, keep the shopping cart near the top of your page, because people tend not to scroll down far. It should be easy to spot and identify.
Customer service software, such as CRM applications, allow you to determine things like how long it has been since a customer visited your site or what they bought. This enables you to suggest other items or services, send reminders or even automate sales. Your customers often get a streamlined experience and at the same time, they feel as though you're treating them as an individual.
If you don't follow up with clients, they can get the impression that you are lukewarm about them — and that’s when competitors can easily attract their attention. Email is a decent way to follow up, but more and more companies are also using text. Remember, your customers don't just want confirmation of their purchases. They want to be involved, and they need a helping hand once in a while.
Ask for feedback and touch base just to see if their needs have changed. Offer more information, support or access, and send reminders about events, maintenance or other options. As Forbes suggests, testimonials and customer reviews work well because they build trust and inspire customers to take action.
Jack Bishop is an eCommerce guru, writing for Shopify customer service software solutions. He has a passion for helping small businesses run well with modern technology.
The online retail world has blown up in the last five years. Businesses of all sizes are selling direct from their website – allowing products to be purchased from customers all around the world.
For many people, clicking a button just isn’t the same as the experience that comes with going shopping in a store.
Finlay Clark talks about “fulfilment” (or lack thereof) in relation to online shopping. Coming up to Christmas – do you feel additional pressure selling products online? How do you ensure customer satisfaction is always achieved especially at this time of the year?