As Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) draw closer, we’re sure you are already contemplating ways to boost your sales during this lucrative period. Zoning in on customer engagement within the framework of an omnichannel strategy is a sure-fire way to do that.
An omnichannel retail strategy involves providing your customers with a seamless, personalized experience as they move between channels during the shopping journey. So, when talking about omnichannel customer engagement, it focuses on the techniques utilized to deliver tailor-made messaging and interactions in order to drive engagement throughout the purchasing process.
Increasing customer engagement is a key way to heighten sales, with research by Bain & Company revealing that engaged customers spend 20% to 40% more than other customers. Doing this within an omnichannel strategy, however, can take your BFCM to new heights.
Great Omnichannel Strategies Boost Sales
According to Adobe, brands that merge a strong omnichannel presence with engaging content can gain a 10% increase in YoY growth, and 10% increase in average order value. But, does this play out in the same way over the BFCM period?
In 2020, research from Shopify found that omnichannel shoppers were planning to spend 43% more than single-channel shoppers, with an average order value of $812. Furthermore, the conversion rate of omnichannel informed emails for BFCM had a 12% conversion rate. Retailers fulfilling orders with Tecsys’ omnichannel order management platform YoY order volume increased by 113% in this same period. So, why does omnichannel have such a great effect on sales?
One of the cornerstones of omnichannel is personalization. With an omnichannel strategy, the data collected on customers over various channels are used to provide an experience unique to individual consumers. Personalization has a direct effect on sales with 40% of surveyed businesses attributing it as key to maximizing their sales.
Omnichannel also provides shoppers with greater control over their purchasing journey. They are able to begin their journey in their preferred channel and switch between channels up until they make the purchase without having to repeat any actions. This is incredibly useful for the modern digital shopper as they use an average of six touchpoints. Moreover, 83% of consumers say that convenience is more important to them whilst shopping than it was five years ago. By presenting shoppers with increased convenience, you are putting yourself in an excellent position for generating higher sales.
When looking at ways to enhance sales through omnichannel it’s useful to concentrate on customer engagement within the omnichannel strategy. Year on year, companies with extremely strong omnichannel customer engagement see a 9.5% increase in annual revenue. With that being said, it’s time to look at ways you can enhance customer engagement within omnichannel.
Top 5 Ways To Enhance Omnichannel Customer Engagement for BFCM
Be where your customers are
As we’ve seen, the digital consumer uses multiple touchpoints when shopping. For engagement to really work and be omnichannel, it is vital to know where your customers are at each point of the shopping journey. This includes the channels they are using and the devices they are accessing these channels with. Let’s break down the shopping journey and look at how different consumers are performing actions within them.
When it comes to devices used during this stage, mobile leads the way with 60% of shoppers finding a new brand or product via a smartphone. This is a lot more pronounced among younger consumers with nearly 80% of Millennials and Gen Z using their mobile phone to discover new brands.
On the other hand, the platforms used to discover brands and products differ between different consumer groups.
When it comes to discovery, shoppers will use a variety of channels to find out about BFCM deals, with social media becoming a more important tool and emails still proving to be effective. (Source: Loyalty Lion)
If your target customers are on the younger side, you’ll want your personalized messages to draw attention to your BFCM promotions to take place on social media. Instagram, Facebook and TikTok are key players here. 60% of Gen Z use Instagram to discover new brands. 77% and 72% of Millennials are using Facebook and Instagram daily respectively while half of all TikTok users belong to Gen Z.
Boomers do not use social media in the discovery phase as heavily as their younger counterparts. 41% find brands through TV ads and 37% prefer to use search engines in this stage of the shopping process. If your BFCM budget does not have enough scope for TV ads, search engine ads would be a suitable alternative.
Once again social media is king when it comes to researching a brand or product among the younger generations. This is because they place greater value on the opinions of others to help inform their purchasing decisions.
Gen Z are likely to make purchases based on recommendations from influencers. In fact, 44% of them admitted to doing this already. So if your target market falls here, engage with this group by teaming up with micro-influencers to review your BFCM products.
80% of Millennials will read reviews before making a purchase, primarily on their mobile device. Reviews are such an integral part of the Millennial shopping journey that 85% of them specifically seek out websites that include reviews and almost half will not purchase a product if they can’t find a review on it. With this in mind, it is crucial to include reviews of your BFCM products on all channels you are using for your business. You could consider incorporating user-generated content on your website, mobile app and social media posts, or installing a product review app for your Shopify store.
Boomers do not have much of an affinity to social media when it comes to research. They do, however, value reviews with 42% turning to this. Hence, a similar reviews strategy will serve this generation well. This generation places high value on the personal engagement they can receive in-store from sales associates when they want to inquire about products. In the online environment, this can be replicated through the use of clienteling apps and virtual assistants, which we will get into later.
It should come as no surprise that Millennials and Gen Z are well primed for making purchases on social media. 58% of them want to be able to purchase goods directly from their social feed, and 81% agree that social ads should have a direct link to purchase. Research by eMarketer showed that 59% of Millennials used a mobile retail app to make a purchase - the highest of all demographics.
Providing a wide range of purchasing options will therefore be important to capture and carry on engagement throughout their journey.
Know your customers in and out
The messaging that you send out to your customers at each of the stages should reflect and relate to them on a personal level. With all the data accrued about their shopping habits and product preferences, you can collate a selection of sale items that match them and appear in the relevant channels. After all, 79% of shoppers are only likely to engage with an offer if it reflects previous interactions they have had with the brand, so don’t skip out on this.
You can give these personalized messages and recommendations a real boost by incorporating video. This is by far the preferred content among consumers.
(Source: HubSpot Research)
The inclusion of product videos in personalized BCFM emails could lead to 200% to 300% increase in CTR. Targeted social media ads with explainer videos is another great option as these can increase conversion by 20%.
ForChics sent out an email to shoppers who purchase eye products frequently, featuring the bestsellers in this category. To enhance the efficacy of the email, a UGC review video was included. (Source: Chronos)
Personalization also extends to the customer service aspect of the shopping journey. In this context, personalization means that a full history of interactions in respect of customer service is accessible by representatives to prevent shoppers from having to relay information repeatedly. This is something that 75% of consumers expect, so ensuring a centralized database populated with each customer’s past interactions will be a big help in keeping them in your grips. With the threat of COVID yet again imposing shipping delays and fulfillment issues, it’s best to be prepared for an influx of queries during this period.
Be consistent across all channels
Creating a consistent experience across all the channels in your arsenal will be key to keeping potential customers engaged throughout their journey over BFCM. 60% of Millennials expect a consistent brand experience on all channels, and you’ll be able to retain 89% of your visitors by ensuring this.
Not only should the content, tone and visual aesthetics remain the same, but also the ability to perform the same functions across channels. If social media is going to be a key feature of your BFCM campaign, you should make your content on these platforms shoppable, and incorporate customer service aspects to mimic the desktop, mobile site, mobile app and in-store experience.
In the past year, purchasing via social media has increased by 36% indicating a shift towards social media becoming an extension of eCommerce. Also, 70% of people expect to message businesses more for customer service issues, whilst 40% of holiday shoppers say they are more likely to purchase from a brand if they are able to message them on social platforms.
With this in mind, to meet expectations whilst remaining consistent, consider unifying the chat experience with the inclusion of a social messaging app in your online store. Facebook Messenger can be easily integrated onto your Shopify store with an app.
Gigatech streamlines the chat experience with the inclusion of Facebook Messenger on their store as a way for customers to get support.
So, by reinforcing consistency through functionality, you can meet expectations and increase your likelihood of a sale.
Take assistance to the next level with AI
Being available at all times to maintain customer engagement can be a bit of a struggle without a large team. Virtual assistance could, therefore, come in handy to truly achieve omnipresence.
When it comes to e-retailers, 43% of consumers expect 24/7 assistance. Moreover, 90% expect an immediate response to their support questions, with 53% ready to abandon their online cart if they can not obtain a quick answer. Support tickets generally increase during the BFCM period. In previous years it has increased by 65% so the addition of an AI-powered virtual assistant will be your best bet in tackling this.
Virtual AI assistants can provide immediate answers to customer questions with a conversational tone and even provide user-specific suggestions. Aside from customer service capabilities, these tools can be deployed throughout the shopping journey allowing users to make a purchase, be notified of shipping details, and be prompted to leave feedback.
Use SMS Marketing
A useful tactic in omnichannel marketing seems to be the inclusion of SMS. Omnisend found that omnichannel campaigns involving SMS at some point were almost 50% more likely to end in conversion. This could be down to the responsiveness consumers have with text messages, with it taking just 90 seconds for someone to respond to a text.
Engagement rates are also through the roof when compared to another popular form of communication - email. Compared to email, engagement rates of SMS messages are 6 to 8 times higher, and as we are concerned about engagement rates, it’d be amiss to leave SMS marketing out.
It’s useful to keep in mind that texts are a two-way conversation tool, so encouraging responses is extremely useful and can help you deliver relevant deals. (Source: Postscript)
If you want to add SMS marketing to your BFCM campaign, you’ll need to obtain permission from your customers first. Include the option to receive SMS marketing on your checkout pages now and incentivize opting in, perhaps with early access to deals and promotions. Once you have that, craft personalized, friendly messages informed by previous activity to send at different stages of the shopping journey over the BFCM period. This proved to be lucrative for a beauty brand during BFCM last year, reporting a total of $30,149 earned from SMS campaigns by the end of the sale.
BFCM is an exciting period for eCommerce merchants all over the world. With many brands providing their customers with an omnichannel experience, ensuring your own omnichannel efforts are exceptional will be a must over this sales period. By prioritizing engagement, you’ll be better able to tailor your content and enhance the efficacy of each of your channels.