This is a guest post submitted by Kayleigh from MicroStartups.
Simply setting up a decent online store isn’t going to get you very far in the world of ecommerce. For a start, you’ll need to put in effort to get it noticed by the people you’re trying to reach.
Enter chat marketing. In this post, we’ll look at the primary strengths of chat marketing in the context of ecommerce.
Real-world stores can skate by through having the right locations (a coffee shop in a busy shopping mall probably won’t need to do much promotional work), but location is immaterial online. Merchants need to do more to be found, using SEO to slowly earn decent rankings.
But what then? Getting visits to a competent site is rarely enough: for any given type of product you could sell online, there are inevitably hundreds of viable sites serving your intended market, allowing potential customers to breeze through numerous options before deciding which to pick. Site optimization, then, isn’t merely a nice addition. It’s a necessity if you want to compete.
This means polishing your on-site copy and images, ensuring excellent performance and stability, and catering to all device types and sizes — but it also means providing an exceptional support service and maximizing the value of each shopper through savvy marketing, and you can manage both through a single solution by concentrating on chat marketing.
Human interaction strengthens customer loyalty
What is it that makes a customer want to shop from the same store on multiple occasions? It can be pricing, of course, or service efficiency: maybe one retailer in particular uses a courier that the customer prefers.
But those aren’t the only things that matter. Something that continues to rise in importance is the cultural perception of a brand. With so many similar options available to them, consumers want to buy from sellers who seem to be worthy of their money.
Any given brand can stake its claim for cultural support by laying out its code of corporate ethics and/or building a strong reputation for treating its employees, suppliers and customers well.
And what better way to show your customers that you care about their happiness than by using live chat to engage with them? After all, the least you could do is nothing at all.
Putting some time into training support assistants to properly represent your brand (even occasionally stepping in to get involved directly) will ensure that more customers go away with positive views of you.
Free conversation is ideal for product recommendation
Part of making the most of every visitor involves raising the average order value. Even someone who develops brand loyalty might only return once or twice due to rarely thinking about the types of product that you sell.
When you have their attention and they’re clearly interested in ordering, it’s possible to talk them into ordering something more than they originally intended. Sure, you can provide dynamic recommendations in your marketing materials and at your checkout phase: that’s become standard practice in online retail, and it certainly works with a reasonable level of consistency.
Providing manual recommendations, though, can be a lot more convincing if handled by a support assistant who really knows how to sell. Personality matters. There’s an art to figuring out what other products might interest someone and talking them into going beyond their selected budget, and it can be complex.
A salesperson might ask a shopper how they intend to use a given product, talk about their own buying habits to form an accord, mention some products to gauge the response, then pick one for a hard sell. There’s no great way to replicate this without having direct conversation, and text is more convenient than audio.
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Automated elements can ensure 24/7 brand representation
International retail is bigger than ever before, plus there are plenty of people who shop outside of conventional office hours: this means that being able to respond to visits and generally engage with people at all times of the day is extremely valuable.
Additionally, though the online retail process has a lot of component parts to it, the retailer is always held responsible for whatever happens. If a courier fails to meet its promised delivery slot, there’s an excellent chance that you’ll have to deal with the unhappy customer.
If you’re taking the ostensibly-hands-off dropshipping approach, you still need to own supplier mistakes: there’s an excellent chance that your customers have zero idea that you’re not fully in control.
And while you can’t always resolve an issue, you can at least acknowledge it — and that means achieving 24/7 brand representation. Chat marketing with automated elements can allow this.
Deploying support assistants and automated processes in combination, you can ensure that midnight customers have their queries noted and their abandoned carts chased.
Logged chats provide powerful analytics data
Making your store as good as possible requires you to pay close attention to the performance metrics, but it also requires detailed input from your customers to make sense of those metrics.
You can send out surveys, of course, but those tend to be effective when they move beyond basic score-based questions — so how do you dig deeper into customer sentiment? Live chat is the answer, allowing you to pose detailed and contextually-appropriate questions to really dig into what’s happening.
What’s more, since it’s so simple to save text conversations, you can automatically store all your live chat logs and use that information to look for overarching customer experience patterns (and ensure that subsequent conversations regarding existing cases are handled more efficiently).
Text-based discussion is way more accessible
Website accessibility is an admirable goal, but it’s also a win-win: the more people who can comfortably access and use your website, the more money you can make.
And while there aren’t that many people out there who can’t use standard websites, there are enough to make a financial difference — and certainly enough to damage your brand’s reputation if you don’t make a concerted effort to accommodate them.
Chat is great for accessibility purposes and for various reasons. Not everyone can talk, or is comfortable talking, but most people can use text input through some means. And then there’s the matter of language.
Even if you support numerous languages through your store, that won’t automatically help with support, and it’s much easier to navigate a language issue in text (with the option to embed Google Translate) than it is to attempt it in audio.
Wrapping up, chat marketing is excellent in myriad ways, allowing you to build customer loyalty, engage in effective upselling and cross-selling, provide 24/7 support, use all the collected data for analytics, and reach more potential buyers. If you’re not already using it, now is the time to make it a priority.
Kayleigh works at MicroStartups, the top destination for industrious entrepreneurs. Sharing inspiring stories about the best businesses from around the world, MicroStartups is your dose of entrepreneurial motivation. Head to their Twitter for the latest entrepreneurial news and side hustle tips @getmicrostarted.
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