98% of E-com Shoppers ‘Deterred’ By ‘Incomplete Content’
E-commerce is a powerful force in marketing, but imagine how much stronger of a retail profit center it could be with the other 98 percent of sales it could be making? According to recent research from Episerver, only 2 percent of e-commerce site visitors convert.
In an emailed announcement on Tuesday about the cloud marketing software provider’s findings titled “Reimagining Digital Commerce,” Episerver reported most site visitors are performing pre-purchase research. But even accounting for that, most visitors are so turned off by “incomplete content” that they don’t return.
“The study illuminates a mismatch between brands’ content management strategy and consumers’ expectations,” reads the announcement, “meaning brands are leaving a lot to be desired with the digital experiences they deliver. With so many brands now competing for consumers’ fleeting attention online, the quality and accuracy of content literally means the difference between making a sale and losing a potential customer forever. When consumers browse brands’ websites, they’re window shopping, and a poorly designed website with opaque or non-existent product descriptions will turn them away just as quickly as a disorganized or dirty-looking store.”
Complete Content, Seamless UX
OK, Episerver, so what do consumers want to see?
Considering 92 percent of the e-commerce site visitors weren’t planning on buying anything, according to the research, what were they there to see? Episerver says among those shoppers, “45 percent are searching for a product or service, one-quarter are comparing prices or other variables, and more than one in 10 are looking for store details.”
Store details include location, hours, etc. So brands can personalize e-commerce sites for those shoppers to get them to convert in-store. Maybe that personalization takes the form of a coupon for a specific store or something else that matches that shopper and query, the research suggests. (Local search-related marketing applies to the next subhead of “personalization,” as well as “online-to-offline” conversion.)
Episerver says: “44 percent are interested in brands customizing coupons to them based on their location.”
Continuing on the theme of pleasing these visitors, to get them to either continue and buy or return and buy, is having e-commerce sites with seamless user experiences “from navigation to checkout” that supports engagement, according to the research.
Because the ones who return to buy want a “product page for the item they're looking for. Another 18 percent look at sale items first, and 7 percent seek out customer testimonials before anything else.”
Cluttered sites or app displays can be just as much of a turnoff to consumers as cluttered storefronts, says Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at Episerver.
The research shows 59 percent of the consumers in the survey are interested in having a personalized e-commerce experience.
“Consumers have also grown tired of traditional tactics, like personalizing for their name and contact information,” reads the report. “Even nuanced demographic information like gender, age and income are now viewed as routine, even expected. The personalization benchmark now includes personal information, like purchase and personal interests, as these details are more useful in guiding shoppers toward their next purchase.”
Don’t be creepy; be helpful. (The research doesn’t actually use the word “creepy.”)
“Just one in 10 shoppers are interested in being greeted by name when shopping in store,” it reads, “compared to the 23 percent of consumers who want in-store associates to use a mobile app to locate and order the product they’re looking for in another store or online. Likewise, 16 percent of shoppers want brands to use a mobile app to determine the product they’re most likely to want from the inventory that is currently in stock.”
At the same time, consumers tell Episerver that personalizing their experiences online and in-store shows the brand cares about them.
“Content marketing” may be a newer concept, but marketers have been beating this drum for at least a decade. E-commerce marketers with consistent brand experiences in every channel win, said Shari Altman, president of Altman Dedicated Direct, to Target Marketing in 2009.
“Like everything on the Web, you need to respond very quickly to what the prospective customer’s expectations are,” she said in the article about DRTV-to-Web conversions. “So if you ran a TV campaign, when they show up at that URL that you just advertised, they’d better recognize it.”
As for content, SEO requires precision, as the January 2016 article in Target Marketing titled “A Typo Cost 80% of Conversions” emphasizes. So before visitors can be satisfied with content on e-commerce sites, they have to find it.
Then when they get to the site, they not only have to see brand consistency, as Altman pointed out, but they have to see the site as a destination they want to reach, said Tim Ash, CEO of SiteTuners, in a 2011 Target Marketing article. E-commerce marketers have 1/20th of a second to make a good impression, he said all of those years ago. Chances are, consumers are less forgiving now.
Here’s what Ash said then: “If this first impression is poor, conversion will suffer,” Ash says. “People will often immediately leave (‘bounce’) from a site that is perceived as ‘cheesy’ or unprofessional.”
What do you think, marketers?
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