Have you ever wondered how Moe’s Tavern stayed up and running? I’m not talking about their health and safety standards though that is something very lacking in Springfield, I am talking about Moe’s as a business. How is that business staying afloat?

It is his regulars. Moe’s handful of regulars are spending the most money and are constantly returning, I don’t know why. True, some new potential customers do visit but most will run right back out and won’t spend a penny. Moe’s regulars are what keeps his awful bar alive and it is the same with any business, especially an e-commerce one.

In the competitive world of e-commerce and online stores, you are constantly fighting to maintain and build an audience of returning visitors. They are incredibly valuable traffic for your business as returning visitors are more likely to lead to a sale and are less likely to abandon a shopping cart.

Let’s look at how can you increase the number of returning visitors coming back to your store.

Keep in Touch Through Email & Social Media

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We’ve all done it. We say we will keep in touch with someone but we don’t. Why is that? Because someone doesn’t make the effort to engage. You need to make that effort and engage with your returning visitors.

Two of the best methods to keep in touch with your audience is through email and social media.

Let’s first look at email. It’s the easiest way to reach your regular visitor, because if they have made a purchase or have an account, you will have their email addresses and can start sending them regular email newsletters.

Simple enough, done? No!

Email marketing and newsletters are a fantastic way to drive traffic and sales if done correctly. If not, your newsletter will just end up in a spam folder and your time is wasted. That’s because there is a very thin line between useful email newsletter and spam or junk.

A great way to keep your newsletter relevant is to not just email your audience a brochure. This is something a lot of e-commerce sites can do that people find annoying – it’s just an email full of products being pushed on you. Fill your newsletter with useful content. Does your site have a blog or a resources page? Then you have useful content for your newsletter. This is another incentive for people to click and engage with you.

How often you send emails and what they’re about is vital. If you are too regular with your email marketing, say one email or more a day, it looks like you are harassing your audience and your emails are ignored. You can always change the regularity depending on the season to suit you and your audience.

For example, if your business sells handmade chocolate online, you don’t need to contact your audience every day to tell them about your latest creation. Once a week is sufficient. However, around Valentine’s Day is an acceptable time to send more emails out, driving them to your chocolate coated strawberries. At certain times, your emails can suddenly become more relevant to your audience.

One final point on email marketing and newsletters is about discounts and sales. Both are fantastic ways to instantly drive traffic and sales to your site, who doesn’t like a sale? However, just like the frequency of your emails, how often push a sale is vital. If you’re pestered with a number of emails about ‘flash sales’, the value is somewhat lost.

Another way to engage your audience through email and drive them back into the store is a follow-up email after a purchase. This doesn’t have to be directly after they’ve clicked buy, it could be when the product has arrived or sometime after. Ask for feedback about the product or ask how you can improve on your service, perhaps recommend them another product.

The follow-up email is a fantastic opportunity to get your audience to engage and return to your site, especially if you want to up-sell them a product or service.

Social media is another great way to engage with your audience, anyone can tell you that. It’s a medium where you can directly communicate and engage with your audience. Through your social media channels, you can directly launch new products, drive traffic and sales.

However, you need to build up that following. Unlike email marketing, where you can easily obtain their email address, you need to attract your visitors to follow your social channels.

That’s why it is vital to have your social buttons prominent throughout your site with CTAs, inviting them to follow. As silly as it sounds, a lot of e-commerce sites do not have social buttons displayed or promote visitors to follow them. Why not? If they are regular visitors or have purchased your products before, they are going to be interested in your business and what more it has to offer. When you’re following up on their purchase, why not invite them there to follow your social media.

Beware of your content though – do not turn your social media into a brochure. Your audience will see it for what it is, a sales pitch, and will unfollow. You need to have something to say and engage your audience. You need to offer your audience something interesting, if you blog regularly and create content, why not share it with them?

Sharing your valuable content gives your audience a reason to return to your site and drives them there.

Optimisation

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So you’ve set up your email marketing and are active on social media, now what? Well, now you are driving your traffic back to your site, where will it go to? How can you make sure this traffic turns into sales?

The landing pages that you are driving this traffic to need to be optimised to receive them. If you are driving traffic to a certain product or a landing page for a discount, you need to optimise those pages and streamline the conversion process. Whether it’s simply clicking buy or encouraging them to make an inquiry, that process must be as easy as possible.

Site speed is a key area that every e-commerce business is focusing on right now. Much like the engineering team behind a Formula One car, your competitors are trying to find ways shave milliseconds off their site speed and so should you. Site speed has been directly linked to turning away traffic and shopping cart abandonment, which is why it must be a priority.

Does your landing page convince your user to engage, does it build trust? If you are driving traffic to a product page, does that product have reviews? Users being able to see customer reviews can help reassure them of the quality of the product. If you have a collection of customer recommendations, why not use direct quotes from them? Again, it builds trust between you and your user.

Do you have detailed product descriptions? Such a simple aspect that not every e-commerce site considers yet can be losing them money. People want to know what are they buying.

Using the chocolatier business as an example again, simply showing a photo of a handmade chocolate rabbit isn’t enough. How big is it? This is vital for whether they want a chocolate rabbit that big and how can it affect shipping. Are there any nuts? How long will it stay fresh? These details can make or break a sale, and if you don’t tell your users that, they are likely to seek those details from one of your competitors.

Monitoring

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While you are optimising your landing pages, how can you tell if they’re working?

Through careful monitoring.

Monitoring is vital. It can tell you if your optimisation, email marketing and social campaigns are working, and are having the desired effect. It can indicate where there might be something wrong or if an alteration is needed to improve their user experience.

As well as monitoring your campaigns, Google analytics will be the first to tell you if you are receiving a lot of returning traffic or not.

When monitoring referral traffic through Google Analytics, it is fairly easy to monitor social traffic. Email marketing or newsletters require a unique URL. A custom URL will allow you to monitor incoming traffic from your email campaign, this can be done easily through Google’s URL Builder. Email marketing tools such as Hubspot and Mailchimp can provide you with useful information on emails opened, engagement and CTR, which can tell you if people are reacting to your emails or not.

When monitoring traffic through Google analytics, you want to look at these key aspects;

  • Bounce Rate – If you have a high bounce rate, the page you’re directing your traffic to might not be relevant, or at least might not appear to be to your users. Perhaps the content is not telling them what they expected it to.
  • Session Duration– How long is your audience spending on your landing page? The longer your user spends, the more they are reading the content and the more likely it will end in a conversion. If not, something is wrong!
  • Exit Rate – If a large percent of your audience is simply arriving and leaving directly after, then they aren’t finding that landing page relevant.

These areas are key indicators as to whether your campaigns and optimisation are having the desired effect.

This is how you can increase and convert returning visitors to your online shop. If you’re interested to hear how Ricemedia can drive traffic and increase conversions, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.