Ecommerce companies often face what I like to call the onsite engagement dilemma.
On the one hand, business leaders want to do everything in their power to convince the people who visit their sites to buy something. Attracting these shoppers in the first place can require significant time and resources.
If someone leaves without completing a purchase, all the effort that went into bringing in that shopper was for nothing. This line of thinking is what leads many ecommerce companies to implement popups that appear as a shopper attempts to abandon – a last ditch effort to capture revenue.
Yet, while studies show that popups do help drive some additional purchases, shoppers overwhelmingly find the appearance of overlays to be intrusive to the user experience, and often irrelevant. In fact, popups have been rated as the most-hated advertising technique. Google has taken note of shoppers’ attitudes towards popups, and earlier this year started punishing sites that use overlays in their search rankings.
What’s an ecommerce marketer to do? Should she simply implement popups in an attempt to maximize conversions? Or, is it best to abandon the use of popups altogether in the name of a higher Google search ranking and better customer experience?
Many ecommerce marketers see this as an either-or decision, but I’d argue that there’s a middle ground. There are several tactics for running onsite engagement campaigns that shoppers will find useful. Here are a few tips:
Make your onsite engagement assistive rather than transactional
First and foremost, reconsider how you define onsite engagement. Specifically, stop thinking about onsite engagement solutions as simply popups that are designed to force a customer to pause before leaving a site. Instead, think about onsite engagement solutions as tools that help the shopper throughout the customer journey.
One way onsite engagement tools can be helpful rather than transactional is by assisting a shopper in finding what they’re interested in. For instance, if an e-commerce company is selling apparel, and noticed that a customer tried to purchase a shirt that was out of stock, an onsite overlay could appear that shows medium shirts in similar styles. When you consider that 73% of visitors will abandon a site within 2 minutes if they can’t find what they’re looking for, a feature like this could be very helpful.
Also, instead of simply serving customers generic messages when they attempt to abandon an ecommerce site, you could focus your onsite engagement efforts on intelligently profiling customer behavior, and using the information you gather to display helpful features, products and messaging in real time.
For instance, if a customer tries to abandon after looking at a product, you could recommend similar products in the same product category. Onsite engagement solutions could also provide a browsing history so that shoppers can go back to previously viewed items, as well as search assistance to enable shoppers to refine their product searches quickly.
Design an overlay that’s unobtrusive and responsive
A key aspect of making your onsite engagement solution helpful is taking steps to ensure that the solution enhances the user experience. This begins with implementing an onsite engagement solution that is noticeable, but not obnoxious. For instance, instead of having an overlay that freezes the entire site, you could instead have an overlay enter as a sidebar. You want to give your customers the option to engage, rather than force engagement.
Also, with the growing shift to mobile commerce, make sure that your onsite engagement solution works well across mobile and desktop channels. By 2020, mobile commerce will make up 45 percent of total e-commerce. You want your onsite engagement solution to be responsive and display messaging well on whatever device they are using.
Encourage your customers to share their purchases on social media
Many e-commerce companies simply use onsite engagement solutions to encourage their shoppers to complete a purchase, but equally important is encouraging customers to share the items that they end up buying. Considering that 92 percent of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family more than all other forms of advertising, it makes sense to have an overlay appear immediately after a shopper completes his purchase to encourage social media sharing.
If you make your onsite engagement assistive, user-friendly and social, you’ll be miles ahead of the vast majority of your competitors’ marketing efforts.
Terri Mock is the chief revenue officer of Ve Interactive.