A guest post by Matt Chatterley of MattchedIT Ltd – thanks Matt 🙂
Over the last few years (or perhaps more accurately, months), we’ve watched the way we interact with each other online change drastically through facebook, twitter and various other less-known services and tools. But how many of us have really sat down and studied the impact these changes could have on our businesses?
Once upon a time it was hard to set up an online shop. They were few and far between and they were major undertakings. That certainly isn’t the case now – we have the technology, you might say.
It’s probably harder to choose the solution you want to use – or to find a reputable developer amongst the masses – than it is to actually go through the motions of planning, implementing and opening your store.
Sadly, many would-be virtual shop-keepers learn a hard lesson shortly after they open – although laying the foundations and opening a shop is pretty simple, making sales is something else entirely.
Marketing is a serious business
You’re reading my scribblings on Nikki Pilkington’s blog – so you must already know that she is well known in Internet Marketing circles, for all the right reasons. I’m sure she and I will agree on this point – the toughest job which lays before you with your shiny new online shop is going to be bringing in customers and making sales.
I don’t mean to gloss over the importance of making sure your website is going to make sales – that’s clearly critical too, but you need an audience before you can even find out if it’s laid out in a manner which will tempt them to buy.
Instead of telling you about the importance of a marketing plan or about all the things you should be doing, I’m going to suggest some ideas for your site itself – some of the things which we are busy incorporating into the in-house eCommerce framework which we use to build sites.
Three ways to engage customers, get referrals and to save those sales!
Engage Customers – There is so much you can do to increase the level of customer engagement your site permits.
Sure, it might make recommendations for similar products – thats nothing new. But how about sending an existing customer a quick tweet when you add a new product the system thinks they’d like, based on their past purchases?
Get Referrals – If you can get your customers to recommend you to their friends, particular over social media, you’ll be tapping into one of the most powerful and effective marketing resources in the world. Perhaps you could offer a discount code if they perform enough “social shares” – or you could issue them with an affiliate code and hand out a share of the cash if one of their friends makes a purchase.
A recommendation from a friend is always going to be stronger than any advertisement you can issue yourself!
Save those Sales – don’t you hate it when the product you want is out of stock? Particularly if it’s a high demand item – by the time an email notification of new stock arrives, the odds are it’ll be sold out again. So why not return to twitter, facebook and other “instant gratification” messaging services?
Get it right and not only will you be able to make your customer feel important with their notification – you might draw in a few of their followers, too!
Social Networking is for life, not just for this year
Perhaps I should say “Social Marketing” rather than “Social Networking”. It’s not going anywhere – and it’s only going to get more important. Sure, like anything online, it’s going to change quickly and we’re all going to have to run to keep up at times, but fortune favours the brave!
That’s why as we push ahead with our development schedule, finding new ways to integrate with and get the most out of social networks is going to remain high on our list of priorities. Is it on yours yet? And if not, why not?
Matt Chatterley is an experienced software developer and one of the directors of Mattched IT Ltd, a web development company based in Hampshire which specialises in providing tailor-made web and software solutions to the business market.