Scott Hirsch, CEO of Media Direct, is an internet marketing pioneer widely recognized as an expert in e-commerce and the online marketplace.
For those of you keeping score at home, we are getting closer to the one-year mark of the Covid-19 pandemic (declared officially on March 11, 2020), and we are finally clear of one of the most active Atlantic hurricane seasons on record (thanks, 2020).
As a Floridian, I think a hurricane might be the best metaphor I can come up with for what’s blown across the e-commerce and digital marketing landscape over the past year. Everything has changed, particularly how we shop — and how much we shop — online. Consumers have largely shifted their attention and spending to digital channels. It’s a buyer’s market, and it’s all about how consumers engage with brands, as so many brands are competing for their dollars, especially because we are apparently in the thick of a third wave of Covid-19 cases.
If we’re sticking with the hurricane analogy, this storm continues to pack quite a punch, despite the rollout of vaccines, which has gratefully begun. Here are a few things I recommend if you want to keep weathering the storm:
Use Social Media And Direct Email To Launch (Or Relaunch) Products And Services
Chances are your customers might engage with your brand more often on Facebook or Instagram than on your website. Roll out new products and services on all your social media channels — make sure you have a library of quality content and an aggressive posting schedule. And never underestimate the value of direct emails, especially if you’ve already built up a database of customer contacts. If you think email is outdated, think again: Every single social media account is connected to an email address. In tandem with your launch, offer exclusive deals. And don’t forget to offer some sort of points program: This is one of the easiest and most cost-effective way to incentivize customer loyalty.
Optimize Your Customers’ Journeys
Nothing trumpets a brand louder than rave reviews, and most of these raves are generated by great customer service: personalization, easy returns, discounts for repeat customers, fast shipping, etc. If you can provide it, I say do it. Offer live chat on your website. Give your customers a variety of shipping options: guaranteed same-day delivery whenever possible alongside next-day and two-day delivery. Try something I haven’t noticed many e-commerce companies doing: Contact each customer to find out whether their delivery has arrived, whether everything is OK, etc. This personal touch can inspire brand loyalty and spur repeat purchases.
Make Sure You’re Mobile
Americans spend, on average, more than five hours a day on their smartphones — it’s where you’re most likely reading this article. Everything you do must be tailored to mobile users. If your products and services don’t show up clear, bright and bold on a smartphone and your interface isn’t user-friendly (think about someone making a purchase while waiting for a train or in the back of an Uber), you probably won’t sell very much. Starbucks has set the bar pretty high for customer app use, and it’s a great model for doing it right. Target is another good example.
There’s no rest for the weary, unfortunately, as the Covid-19 storm continues. Sharpening your e-commerce game might be the best way to weather it, however long it lasts. Here’s to a successful, healthy 2021.