Wednesday, May 16, 2012

3 ways to engage your online customers

Nowadays, more and more people go to brick-and-mortar stores to see products, but end up making purchases online. E-commerce is becoming an irresistible trend and consumers are now enjoying the fruit of convenience that results from technology advance. According to the industry tracker, U.S. e-commerce sales of $44.28 billion in the first three quarter of 2012 were 17% higher than in the same period last year, web Digital Life wrote. For more detail, please visit here.

As a graduate student in the Northwestern IMC program, in which “customer-centricity” is an approach everyone embraces, I revisit the concept when looking at e-commerce industry.

When it comes to e-commerce, many companies focus solely on boosting their online sales and take any means to promote their products to consumers without considering customers’ online shopping experience. These brands would end up having lots of one-time customers but not long-term customers, who are the drivers of business growth. Some companies aim to collect as much customers’ information as possible, so they set up complicated procedures for online consumers to log in and check out. This will just stay customers away from shopping on the websites.

Good online shopping experience of customers will reinforce a brand. In order to maximize online shopping experience for consumers, a company should engage their online shoppers in three ways:

1.  Don’t swamp your customers with advertising/promotion emails every single day. A lot of companies doing e-commerce try to promote their everyday sales to every customer, but overwhelming customers with irrelevant advertisements will only irritate them. The best way to benefit from email marketing is to send sales promotion featuring the product that best satisfies customers’ needs. The promotion message should be high quality, but not large quantity. For more information about best practices of email marketing, please click here.
2.  Make shopping experience fun. With the advance of technology, online shopping is not limited to computers, but multichannel screens. Making shopping a fun thing will engage customers. For example, Peapod, the Chicago-based online grocery, recently put up a virtual supermarket shelf in a subway station, where people can use smart phone to scan the bar code of items and place the order immediately. This innovative way of grocery shopping attracts people to try.  For more Peapod digital advertising, click here.
3.  Easy to sign in, easy to check out. Online consumers value convenience. If a company can remove unnecessary steps to sign in and check out, consumers will be more likely to use that website. It will be convenient for customers to sign in with Facebook or twitter account, and check out with no more than three steps.

In conclusion, online shopping experience for customers are important and will influence their next shopping experience. Therefore, three tips to engage customers in online shopping are as follows. First, instead of swamping online customers with unnecessary promotion emails every day, send them promotion message that best satisfies their needs. Second, use multichannel screens to make virtual shopping fun. Third, build a system that is easy to sign in and to check out. With all the three tips, customers are more likely to enjoy shopping on your site. Additionally, businesses will benefit from engaging customers in their online shopping.

About the author
Patty Leu is a graduate student in the Northwestern Medill Integrated Marketing Communication program and is concentrating on data analytics and direct marketing. Patty will be graduating in January 2012. Patty can be reached on twitter using the handle @pattyleu


  1. “E-commerce is becoming an irresistible trend…” – I definitely agree with this statement. Nowadays, most people opt to go online to look for things that they need. That is why companies take full advantage of the Internet to market their brands. But one post and one share will not guarantee a purchase. Engaging your customers in one or more ways will up the chance of a sale, and making the online shopping easy, convenient and pleasurable can be key to your e-commerce success.

    [Jamie Viggiano]

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  3. I am extremely happy and surprised to know all these great ways to engage customers. All the e commerce website tries to please their visitors in every possible way so that they can become their customers. By applying all these ways I am sure that site will surely succeed in gaining more and more customers.
    user engagement