With the aftermath of COVID-19, the war in Ukraine, the rate of inflation, and so on, the current eCommerce landscape is a tough one.
That’s the bad news.
The good news, however, is that there are things you can do to still stay afloat – and even thrive.
In our webinar on the eCommerce marketing Trend predictions for 2023, our Senior Content Marketing Manager, Camilla spoke to some industry experts about their predictions for 2023 (and possibly beyond). The experts include Aynsley Peet, strategy consultant at JH and eCommerce Director at Cox & Cox, Phill Manson, founder of PAASE, and Aaron Quinn, Founder & CEO of eHouse Studio.
In this blog post, we will cover some of the discussion from the webinar, to help you become more equipped for what the future of this year holds. We will look at the five trending problems, and give you some advice on how to solve them.
1. Tough economic climate
In this tough economic climate, consumers have less money to spend. Fortunately, they are still spending – take a look at our Black Friday report, for example – they are just spending money more mindfully.
However, it isn’t just consumers who have to watch the pennies. Brands are dealing with equally squeezed budgets.
So how do you make sure your marketing efforts are effective, even when money’s tight?
Read on to find out.
Collect and use the right data
It is vital to know your shoppers well if you want to succeed. As Phill suggests, brands should put customer data at the heart of their strategy.
Make sure you’re collecting the right information from customers, and using the right tech to analyze it. When thinking about which data to collect, ask yourself: “How is it relevant to the brand itself? Is it going to lead to more effective marketing?”
Build trust with UGC
Consumers are spending their money more mindfully. They will be less likely to spend money on a brand they aren’t sure they can trust, so easing purchase anxiety is crucial. As Aynsley mentioned in the webinar, when using user-generated content (UGC), consumers can gain confidence in your company through seeing other customers happy with your product.
UGC can be useful across many industries. You can deploy UGC anywhere on your website, or even use it in marketing emails and social media. The software to implement UGC is cheap and easy to use, and the content made by your customers will help your brand grow organically. Consumers can also see how other customers utilize your products.
An example of its effectiveness, as revealed by Aynsley, is that Cox & Cox typically see a 40% conversion rate increase when UGC is applied.
Create and maintain a strong brand
The strength of your brand is important as, like UGC, it will give consumers more confidence to buy from you.
One way to make sure your brand has a strong image is by making your unique selling points clear, whatever they may be. Promote your USPs and back them up with social proof.
Another way to make sure your brand stands out for the right reasons is making sure your product discovery is strong.
Finally, make sure your product copy is unique and relevant to your brand and target market. You can use videos and AR (augmented reality) to help customers envision how your product fits into their lives.
Be mindful of the tools you use
There are many tools out there, including many AI tools, that will promise you that they will help you reach your goals. But not all tools are created equal, and when you’re feeling the pinch, it’s important to make sure the tools you’re paying for are effective.
When considering a tool, Phill recommends you to keep ROI in mind. Will this tool be relevant to your business, and will it help your profits?
Now that customers have to be mindful as to what they’re spending money on, value for money is more important than ever. But value doesn’t just mean the cheapest, or the best discount.
For brands selling more expensive products, the customer experience can be the deciding factor on whether customers spend money on you or not.
Keep in mind what customers want, and find ways to deliver those things. This is your opportunity to stand out from your competitors with the full package – a great customer experience and a great product creating amazing value to the customers.
2. Customer’s willingness to switch brands
Our research shows that more than 1 in 3 consumers have no problem switching brands and almost half of consumers would switch to a different brand depending on the circumstances. Loyal customers switching brands has become more and more likely since the COVID-19 pandemic.
But brand retention is important, especially when customer acquisition can cost five times more than retaining existing ones.
So how do you keep customers coming back?
Loyalty and membership programs
Aaron told us that loyalty and membership programs have been very impactful in previous recessions. Making a cohesive brand experience that allows customers to earn points both online and in-store, and balancing that well can be very effective.
Some companies use both paid and free membership programs as an option for customers. This may work for your brand, but make sure you’re providing what your customers want. Paid memberships can be an opportunity for another source of revenue, but why would customers choose to stay and pay?
Memberships and loyalty programs, whether free or paid, can be a source of a wealth of data about customers. This can allow you to create personalized, relevant customer experiences, which makes it more likely that customers will stay.
3. Social media & social commerce
Whilst social media and social commerce can both be effective tools to use for your eCommerce business, it is also important to consider their limitations.
Whilst social media can be incredibly effective in building a customer base and showcasing and gathering UGC, it is important not to be overly reliant on using a single platform, as social media platforms can change quickly and businesses can’t access the same wealth of data from their social media accounts as they can from their own websites.
Similarly to social media, using a social commerce platform such as TikTok and Amazon marketplaces can mean businesses can’t reach the data and insights they need to understand their customers.
On top of this, marketplaces don’t allow you to be as creative or original when selling your products, and you have no control over your visibility.
Make sure you aren’t reliant on selling on these platforms, and that you understand your marketing mix. As Phill explains in the webinar, think about your marketing funnel and what’s coming down into it. If you stop doing x, what happens? If you do more of y, what happens?
It’s important to have a curious mindset, and to not just follow every trend without understanding why you’re doing it.
4. In-store versus online
This time last year, the metaverse was on everyone’s minds. Now, Google searches of the metaverse are 1/5th of what they used to be. In other words, most people aren’t searching for the metaverse anymore.
But what does that mean for small and medium eCommerce businesses?
The metaverse isn’t the only clue that consumers are feeling digitally fatigued. It’s likely that, after so much screen time during the pandemic, customers want to go into physical stores instead.
Businesses should consider putting new technology – such as the metaverse – on the backburner for now, especially if they’re small or medium sized. They should instead think about investing in the customer experience, bringing together brick-and-mortar store elements with online elements, if possible.
It is, as always, vital to understand your customers, so look at your data and see how digital fatigue has affected them. Once you know that, you can look into creative ways to solve these problems.
5. Creating and managing an experienced team
As Phill and Aaron discussed, building and maintaining an expert team may be hard in this period. Finding the right resources for the right cost is crucial, as brands looking for them will likely be on a budget. Retaining valuable employees is just as important as retaining customers.
Creating job specs
When it comes to creating job specifications, make sure there are clear objectives showing what the brand wants to achieve and where it is going. People want to make a difference, so including how they will in the specification will give them a sense of purpose.
Choosing between in-house experts or agencies
According to Phill, brands should change how they recruit and what they’re looking for, to make sure they are being as intentional and effective as possible. Do you want specialists or generalists? How do you train them? Do you work with partners and agencies?
If you are enlisting help from an agency or partner, it’s crucial to get people experienced in the tech that can communicate between you and the agency or partner tech. This will ensure that you’re maximizing your effectiveness.
6. Testing & optimization
Having the data and using it to analyze and make decisions is not enough. Make sure you are always testing and optimizing all your channels. You can run A/B tests, multivariate tests, or, with Fresh Relevance, you can even run Contextual Auto Optimization tests.
We predict that marketers don’t – or won’t – have time to do manual A/B testing anymore, and so this AI approach that we offer can make all the difference.
If this was insightful, or you want this information (and more!) in a different format, watch the webinar on-demand here: eCommerce marketing Trend predictions for 2023.