Mark Ballett is an ecommerce expert with more than 25 years’ experience helping retailers to grow and evolve. He was Supply Director of Cable & Wireless, and CEO of several telecoms companies at the beginning of the internet era, played a leading role in an £80M broadband start up, as well as leading Norweb Telecom's growth from £10M to £100m turnover.
Breakout from Lockdown
Ecommerce has just become a war zone and only the fittest will survive. This is the second of a four-part series of articles on how to rebuild your online sales after Lockdown.
Part 2: Reconnecting with Your Customer Base
Let’s start at the beginning. Are you an order taker, or do you make an effort to manage your relationship with your customers? By that I mean, do you take the initiative to contact them, for any reason, even to try and sell them more stuff?
If you do, then you will already have the tools you need to get started. If you don’t, for whatever reason, you now need to. Lockdown is nothing less than an extinction level event for retailers and right now current and potential customers may not be aware that you are still operating, let alone open for business.
If you are worried about spamming your customers, then don’t be. I am not suggesting you send them spam. Send them something useful, of value, or at least of interest. New products, or promotions come into the category.
Don’t you get emails from companies that seem to pop-up too frequently, but you DON’T unsubscribe from? I do and I do not unsubscribe because I like the brand and want to know what they are doing. From time-to-time I even buy something I didn’t realise I wanted. It’s called brand loyalty (brands are the subject of the next article in this series). It’s what will enable you to thrive in the long term.
I apologise for the simple list that follows, but we manage this for several businesses and work with many others and it is quite surprising how hard people find this, even though it sounds obvious and easy. These practical steps apply whether you are doing this for the first time, or you are getting started again after Lockdown:
Get an email marketing system, like Mailchimp. You should pay for additional features and learn how to use them.
Organise your contacts. You need to split them into groups with similar needs, or who buy similar things - you are likely to have more than one. If you don’t you probably haven’t thought about this enough.
Exactly what, varies greatly, so it is hard to be specific, here. Of course, you need a legal basis for which to communicate by email. If you contacts are customers, then you have a legitimate reason to contact them, so long as they are offered the opportunity to opt out from future communications.
Be relatable. Coming out of Lockdown, you may want to demonstrate your solidarity with your customers’ struggles and offer something of more value than normal. For instance, we will reduce our prices by 25% for all new business we take on during the remainder of 2020.
For each group, think of something they might find, interesting, valuable, or useful. Yes, it can be something as simple as a discount code, but perhaps you can be more imaginative than that. For instance, for anything with a membership feel to it, quizzes are popular now.
Design some interesting emails - different ones for different groups - that work at the headline, sub-head, and content level and are SEO savvy. They need to look good as they are an envoy for your brand.
Reuse the content. Creating content is hard work, but what many people forget is that once created it can be reused. Send it out and then, if it is bloggable, add it to your blog and post links to this on social media. This will help to build credibility and engagement, which is critical for converting new customers. We have found that what we have to say about selling online has got us business.
Monitor the results. Now there is much to this, but it is your engine for generating sales. You need to monitor and correlate your store activity, from Google Analytics, Sales Console and any other analytics source you have access to – there are many - with the emails. You can learn much by doing this and you can steadily improve your open rates and sales, (you should use this understanding to tweak your site too).
- Adjust & Repeat on a regular basis. As regularly as you have something of interest, value, or usefulness to say.
If you aren’t convinced, then think about why you are reading this:
- What’s in it for you?
- Did you find something of value, or interest, or something that may be useful?
- Does it make it any more likely you’d buy anything from us, or recommend us to a friend?
If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of those questions, then QED - get reconnected to your clients! Next time, it’s all about strengthening your brand.