Ask the Expert: Maximising customer engagement

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Are you doing the right things to capture customers’ attention online?

Your website might be bursting with offers and exciting new products, but are you targeting customers in the right way? VE Interactive digital consultant Mary Constantinou shares her tips for securing customers’ spend.

After much feet dragging and heel digging, the jewellery industry is finally beginning to unlock the enormous potential of e-commerce, with the merchants who incorporate online now making up the majority of the sector.

As technology evolves, so too do consumer habits. Today, the reality is that your customer is as likely to pick up that perfect piece of jewellery from the comfort of their own home, as they are from a velvet cushion in Hatton Garden.

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Whether it’s clicks or bricks, the name of the game is still driving sales. Considering the average online conversion rate in the market stands at a paltry 2% compared to 20% to 40% offline, it is crystal clear where jewellers’ focus should lie – customer engagement.

ENGAGEMENT RINGS TRUE
No doubt you have an online marketing strategy in place, tasked with highlighting your beautiful products and drawing potential customers to your site. After all, it doesn’t matter how magnificent your house is, if nobody comes to visit.

Here’s a chilling stat for you. On average you have just four seconds to keep customers on your e-commerce website. So if your website doesn’t effectively engage visitors from the off, all that business that you’ve fought so hard to attract is likely to slip out the back door in the time it took you to read this sentence.

Improved conversion rate should be your number one goal and with small improvements you will see bigger returns. Try following these three stages of the user experience, where a little engagement can go a long way.

1. ADDRESS YOUR BOUNCE RATE
Your first opportunity to engage with visitors is at the landing page. Bouncing visitors (users who don’t visit more than one page before leaving the site) on average account for 40% of web traffic to jewellery websites. If four out of 10 visitors to your store left after one step inside you would want to know why, and the same is true online.

Contrary to popular belief, engagement is not about bombarding customers with a barrage of information as soon as they touchdown on the site. Just like with selling on the high street, it’s all about timing. Your website should be your best salesperson, and what all good salespeople have in common is impeccable timing – making the right interventions at the right stage. To ring in more conversions, this is exactly what your e-commerce site needs to do.

When addressing bounce rates, the user’s journey must be considered, and more specifically where you fit into it. Sure there are many reasons a visitor will hit the back key, yet when a new customer arrives at your landing page first and foremost they will want to know they’ve come to the right place.

Remember you only have those fickle four seconds to turn a newcomer into a new customer, so don’t make them guess. Make sure your messaging is strong and obvious. A couple of lines on what defines your business, placed in a prominent position on your home page (such as the header, or the sidebar) will leave visitors under no illusions as to what they can expect. From this point on you can focus on guiding visitors through your site all the way through to the checkout process.

Sure, poor design and sluggish loading times will have today’s evermore unforgiving users turning away, but the most common trap e-commerce websites fall into is failing to properly segment their content. A cluttered home page will frustrate users, so make sure your site is easy to navigate with clear guidance, as it will be needed at each point of the user journey all the way through to the checkout page.

Making a successful first impression and giving customers that clear sense of direction is vital in guiding customers through your e-commerce site and ringing in those all-important conversions.

2. CHECKING OUT
To be frank, if you don’t have a guest checkout feature you’ll lose more customers. Asking people to type through reams of registration forms, which could be during their commute or lunch hour, has become a cardinal sin, punishable by abandonment.

Yet despite all your best efforts to optimise your e-commerce site, some customers will still try to drop off your site at the check-out page – around half of them to be more specific. However frustrating this is, it represents a fantastic opportunity to engage with these visitors through an automated chat function.

With this technology, customers who attempt to close or leave the browser are met by an automated chat window. This window can be used simply as a conversion tool (offering company information or discount codes) or in an interactive customer service role (providing pre-loaded answers to customer questions). It also offers first hand insight into what your customers are looking for on the site, by saving all the input feedback.

This chat function can increase conversions while offering site visitors a greater level of service. If someone left a pile of items at the till in your high-street store you’d rush to offer them assistance immediately. So why not do the same online?

3. EMAIL AFTERCARE
One thing that’s often missing from the online shopping experience is that personal touch. Customers will indiscriminately browse one faceless site after another; whether it’s to compare prices elsewhere, browse for promo codes or just take their dinner out of the oven, some customers will still drop off your site at the checkout stage before making a purchase.

However where there is awareness, there is opportunity, and what better way to form that connection than by sending visitors who’ve already engaged with your site a personalised email? This can include reminders, promo codes or simply a thank you for their interest. Aftercare is not just for products, but for your customers too.

Market leader Astley Clarke is one of the many jewellers that has added retargeting to its online marketing repertoire, and is currently reaping the benefits. Its CRM manager Matthew Flinn explains: “Jewellery purchase is often a high involvement consideration and we find that returning customers have a much greater propensity to convert. Therefore tactical initiatives such as retargeting are a great way to keep the brand front of mind and assist prospective customers through the various stages of purchase consideration.”

Email is an excellent method of driving direct sales. A friendly, well-written and tailored email will act as an extension of your customer service, helping you stand out in an online market where one-way communication has become the dominant trend among retailers.

It is important to remember that email reengagement is dependent on getting that address in the first place, so it is vital to prompt customers to offer their details as early as possible in the buying cycle.

THE BOTTOM LINE
The retail landscape has transformed irrevocably in the past decade, with digital now part of the furniture in fashion. Yet one truth stands firm: customer engagement is crucial. So if you can deliver open, responsive and thoughtful customer service online through timely engagement then your conversion rate is likely to soar.

Mary Constantinou is a digital consultant for jewellery and speciality retail at VE Interactive.

This Ask the Expert was taken from the November issue of Professional Jeweller. To read the issue in full online, click here.

 

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