Staying power, by Mindshare’s Robin Phillips

Getting consumers to your brand online is one thing; keeping them there is another, writes Mindshare’s Robin Phillips.

By Robin Phillips, regional head of outcomes at Mindshare MENA

Have you heard that Covid-19 has had a massive impact on e-commerce in this region? Yes? Me too and about 20 times a day in any number of presentations.

So, we know more people are doing it. But if they are, then how do we ensure they choose our brand, site, platform or app over others and how do we ensure they come back and do it again and again?

Engaging and targeting the right audience is traditionally where the attention and focus has been centred when planning and running campaigns. While this continues to be of paramount importance, we also need to further understand and develop our thinking and approach towards customer experience and how we are seamlessly taking these users along their customer journey once we have their attention.

There are some key customer experience strategies that we focus on when creating that seamless user journey on-site. Firstly, ensuring everything becomes personalised. There is no better sense of engagement between brand and customer than the customer feeling that there is a real personal connection.

This can be activated through imagery, personalised discounts, language selection, offers based on historical browsing or even recognising personal events (birthdays, joining dates, purchases, etc.) With all this, a sense of loyalty will form, ensuring repeat and longer engagement.

I mentioned the use of personalisation to drive offers based on historical browsing. Another strategy that falls within this domain is to ensure the user is aware of other possible purchases from the brand. The approach will lead to upselling and cross-selling the consumer, but the feeling of relevance and targeting displayed will again enhance the consumer experience.

A major frustration on most commerce – or indeed many brands – sites is the lack of ability to engage with brand custodians. Consumers want to find things out there and then. They need to understand whether they have interpreted the content correctly, how long shipping takes, what are the extra taxes and whether they can have it in blue. All these answers are probably available on the website either in the fine print or just through a general search, but what better experience than if the user can interact with a friendly representative who can answer their questions. If brands are unable to do this with a human contact, there are several chatbots and other technologies that can also do the job.

As technologies develop so does the opportunity to engage with consumers. Developments around AI and the ability to try on products like shoes and sunglasses become game-changers, while also focusing on the need and importance to be a mobile-first business throughout any e-commerce set-up or transformation. The mobile approach also lends itself to social platforms and another route to engage with your target audience. Using these social platforms and aligning your brand with contextually relevant content means they will comfortably leave their social channel of choice and feel a connection with the brand because of exactly that, its contextual relevance.

I have focused a lot of this article on the on-site recommendations, and that is mainly because there is already a great understanding of how to bring users to the sites. As an industry, we are already familiar with ways of employing programmatic strategies that will use dynamic creative optimisation or just simple forms of retargeting that can engage with users once they have spent time on the site and possibly left. We have a plethora of data and tools around us that will ensure we are picking the right audience sets both for re-engagement and when prospecting. This piece is solid, although it will continue to evolve and offer up more opportunities.

So how do we summarise this? Well, we know through multiple data sources that consumers will not buy or engage with a brand if their user experience is poor. The digital interaction is how many relationships are now born, and with multiple other brands or sites to engage that users can switch instantly to, it is imperative that the first impression is good. Loyalty can be achieved, and retention of users increased, which will obviously have an impact on your bottom line. There are many ways to do this, and I have listed only a fraction of them above. But overall, keep it personal, keep it relevant and ensure it is intuitive and seamless.

So, when you are told that Covid-19 has had a massive impact on the region again and people are spending all their money online, tell them that’s great but also we now need to focus on how to keep them there.