Justin Williams is the newest member of the Bluespark team and SVP of Digital Commerce and Channels. I chatted with him about ways for brands to stand out and execute successful ecommerce. Justin had some really great things to say, so I’ve broken the interview into two phases. This is Act 1. "Act 2: The Most Important KPIs", will publish on Nov. 8.
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"What are some of the most important ecommerce trends (current and upcoming) to pay attention to?"
Mastering micro-moments will be significant for brands trying to pull ahead in 2018. Micro-moments are when a user turns to a device (mobile, tablet, desktop, for example), and acts on a personal need. That need could be researching a ski mountain, searching for a restaurant, or deciding to buy a new pair of shoes.
More than three-quarters of Americans use a smartphone, so there is regular opportunity to reach customers.
Understanding, anticipating, and capitalizing on micro-moments -- on instances of information gathering and decision-making -- is critical to shaping consumer actions. Brands have to be there.
Visualization is more important than ever. If brands actually want to get new website visitors, increase their revenue, and attract repeat-buyers, visualization will play a role.
But let’s narrow that down a little more. Visualization is more than just product visualization (which, btw, is important, too).
Brands should focus on creating elements for customers that provide a deeper experience and deeper attachment to the product. Videos are a perfect example. If done well, they help customers generate feelings like empathy, desire, pride, and affection -- they help create a digital experience.
Whatever the visualization medium, though, the point is to create moments for customers where they can become more knowledgeable, more curious, and more engaged.
The Right Content
Personalized and customer-centric -- that's what I mean by the "right" content.
You don't want new visitors navigating away from your website, so having more personalized content for the user is critical. Brands have to make it both easy and engaging for consumers.
The way brands can do that is by personalizing the journey, which, in turn, means understanding who's coming to the website.
For example, having predictive analytics in the background that say, "Hey, if I'm a runner, I'm looking for a Nike shoe, and my size is 12, then it's going to direct me directly to those shoes that make best sense" while also suggesting additional items that I might want with those shoes, as well.
"Netflix has reported that more than 60% of its rentals stem from recommendations, while 35% of Amazon’s sales originate from systems that suggest products an individual consumer might like." - The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
Brands need to get away from the "one size fits all" philosophy. Building smart content leads to having different buyer personas (and vice versa), which helps create communication that fits each customer's needs.
In the 2017 The State of Engagement, Marketo reports that more than half of consumers say brands "send too much irrelevant content." Some organizations have determined even higher numbers. But even half is too high.
If you are vying for wallet share, or dollars, you want customers spending it on your website. The problem with the "one size fits all" philosophy is potential customers will leave your site (or delete your emails before they even go to your site) because the content isn’t relevant.
At the end of the day, whoever has the most, relative, and personal content, will win.
Raising a Team of Influencers
Brands have to figure out how to get the people who are coming to your website to become influencers or advocates. It's a very hard thing to do. It means that brands have to personally engage with and create relationships with their customers. Before people can become influencers, there has to be trust.
Building trust and relationships takes time, though, and having one-on-one conversations (as an example) with customers isn't always realistic. So, how does a brand build trust and create that relationship?
That's really the great wall to bring down.
The opportunity begins the very first time a potential customer comes in contact with a product. That can happen on a website, in a brick-and-mortar store, or somewhere out in the world. But the goal shouldn't be transforming every customer into an influencer.
The goal should be around creating opportunities for customers to experience and relate with the company and products. One media company that implemented an influencer marketing program earned $6.85 for every $1 spent.
The website and social media are important places to focus because the journey is measurable and trackable.
Find the people who are already advocating for your company or your product. Invest in them in unique and valuable ways. Because brands that do -- brands that focus on developing relationships -- will align the customer experience around that.
Along the way, that experience will become more trackable, more focused, and subsequently, more valuable.
Up next, we're diving into the data that helps make all of this possible.
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