By Daniel Hunter
Online retailers hoping for a festive boost after a challenging 2012 should also be looking to increase their year-round trade by utilising effective marketing strategies this Christmas.
Recent research by SellerDeck found that the top reason given by customers for returning to an online store was a previous good experience, with the second most common reason being promotions, offers and loyalty schemes.
These considerations were ranked well ahead of factors such as recommendations from friends and family and positive online reviews, the report found.
With this in mind, SellerDeck advises online retailers to make sure not only that a new customer is impressed by the experience — with a site that is easy to navigate, offers plentiful product information and clear pricing — but to offer them carefully targeted deals after their purchase.
According to figures from the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG), the estimated value of the UK online retail market in 2012 will be £77bn. In the peak Christmas shopping weeks (week commencing 3rd Dec and w/c 10th Dec) £4.6bn will be spent online in the UK.
This means many online retailers will be seeing an influx of brand new customers this festive season — in fact, most should already be seeing a growth in trade, with £6.7bn spent online during October 2012, which represents year-on-year growth of 14%, according to IMRG's figures.
But for too many merchants, it'll be the first and the last time that they see that individual customer. This doesn't have to be the case, though, as every customer that buys something from a site leaves valuable information that a merchant can use to maximise the chances of repeat business.
"The email address that a first-time customer has provided in the run-up to Christmas is worth its weight in gold. A well-focused marketing campaign can work wonders, but don’t spam your customers to death. Keep these offers relevant and simple and don't be tempted to take a one-size-fits-all approach," said Phil Rothwell, sales and marketing director for SellerDeck.
"A customer that has bought a kettle, for example, offer them toasters, food processors, juicers or descaling kits. If they purchased razors, send them a discount voucher on future purchases of blades. Try to get inside their heads and be careful — getting this tactic wrong could consign the marketing emails permanently to the junk folder, or lead to requests to unsubscribe."
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