For True Customer Affinity, Go Beyond the Sale Online

For too long, traditional retailers have depended on print ads, the Web and television to create desire in their customers’ minds.

But to really build customer affinity, your Web site has to be more than just an e-commerce store. Too often, B-to-C and B-to-B sites serve the sole purpose of transactional functionality. Get ’em in, get ’em out—and minimize the click-to-order ratio. That’s how we resolve this abandoned shopping cart issue, right?

It’s not always that simple. Shopping carts are often abandoned because the customer was distracted or lost interest, or found the shipping too expensive—not merely because the checkout process was painstaking.

Of equal importance, is a customer’s experience with the brand online beyond the shopping cart. However, creating, instilling and enforcing the desire to order isn’t easy in a self-service medium like the Internet.

Search—both paid and natural—must be optimized, and you must make all customer contacts relevant. For example, use product- and category-specific e-mails prompted by a customer’s actions and prior purchasing behavior, provide personalized landing pages, and make intelligent product recommendations.

The next step is to force the removal of transaction-based blinders and align your marketing efforts more closely with those of social networking sites.

Does your company host a blog? For those that do not routinely read the blog, are entry compilations available via RSS feed?

Are you using a blog application that facilitates search engine spider crawling? Have you considered an “Ask The Experts” or “Tech Tips” podcast? Have you created—or encouraged your best customers to create—videos depicting product uses or alternative applications? If so, are those videos posted on YouTube?

Try these things to make your Web site—and the ad dollars earmarked for the Internet—spark desire and ultimately sales.

Todd Miller is a director with San Rafael, CA-based catalog consultancy Lenser.

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