Staying top of mind with customers is more difficult than ever for ecommerce companies.
There is simply too much noise, and too little attention span. Consider the following:
++Today's typical ecommerce customer is a smartphone junkie. A recent study by Flurry reveals the average American spends 162 minutes per day on his or her mobile phone. Most of that time is spent on mobile apps, along with Facebook, Twitter and other social media websites.
++Content marketing is the new rage; 70 percent of businesses are creating more content than they ever have before. Much of that content is blog posts, articles and new website pages. All of this content is hitting consumer eyeballs like a fanned deck of cards.
++Social media activity is through the roof, referring substantial amounts of traffic to websites. Facebook dominates (for now), but Pinterest, Twitter, Reddit and LinkedIn are too big to ignore.
++It's not just social media competing for consumers' attention. During the hours consumers are not glued to their mobile phone, laptop or desktop monitor, they are peppered with marketing and advertising messages from television, newspapers, magazines, direct mail and billboards.
Given that consumers are in a constant state of distraction, how do ecommerce firms keep customers engaged-and how can they tell if they are succeeding in establishing a genuine connection? Perhaps the most important thing to remember is that connected customers are measured by engagement, not by being names on lists.
Ecommerce firms fail when they measure connectivity (brand awareness, reach, engagement, etc.) based on metrics such as email subscribers, blog subscribers, Facebook fans and Twitter followers, as well as the specific interactions that take place on those networks. Consumers "raise their hands" multiple times a day, following this brand and that one, liking posts throughout the day - without necessarily giving much thought to any of these actions.
A company could have 10,000 Facebook fans but still have little genuine customer connectivity. In order for ecommerce firms to truly connect with customers, marketing must be engaging, broad-based and integrated.
Don't just talk to customers, get them talking to you. For instance, social media promotions that involve customers sending in photos of themselves using a firm's product produces far more engagement than a firm just talking about its product. A company should use its blog and social media sites to ask for feedback on its products, service and brand. Raise issues for discussion. Encourage online product reviews, both on a website and elsewhere.
Marketing through multiple channels is critical, given the distraction level discussed earlier. Ecommerce firms must consistently present their brands across the Web, creating engagement opportunities on their websites, as well as within social media, offline materials, etc. And in all cases, their online marketing pages must be optimized for mobile users.
Today's consumers pinball from one place to another when engaging with an ecommerce business. For instance, a man receives an email blast and sees a product he thinks his wife might like. He visits the website and sends her the link to the product in the form of a Facebook post. She then goes to the brand's Facebook page to learn about the company. A week later she sees a remarketing display ad when visiting a news website in the same niche, reminding her about the company, which reminds her about the product, which reminds her to order it, which she now does. This is an example of omnichannel marketing, where an ecommerce firm creates a consistent, seamless brand experience across the board. Omnichannel marketing enables firms to be ready and willing to engage customers anytime, anywhere.
From this we can see that connected customers engage brands at multiple times in their digital journey and in multiple ways, emphasizing the importance of tracking consumers' movement to understand the true definition and value of connected consumers.