When it comes to winning over online consumers, smaller companies often struggle to compete against large brands that dedicate considerable money and resources to advanced website technology, cloud-based marketing strategies and targeted emails.
Amazon and Etsy deliver personalized shopping recommendations and remember you every time you log in. Leave something in your online shopping cart or bail in the middle of your search for a new sofa, and you’re sure to receive automated marketing emails from Wayfair or Target to remind you of your pending purchase or give you content to persuade you to return to the website.
It’s inside the showroom where small businesses win the sale, by delivering personal attention and a great shopping experience that seems effortless. But how can these businesses continue to compete with large retailers when most customers now do the majority of their research and shopping online? The answer: by investing in integrated, automated technology that mimics the showroom experience with minimal effort and expense.
Drive Online Consumers to Visit in Person
Sherman’s, a small family-owned home furnishings chain in Illinois, knows enticing online shoppers to come into the showroom is their best chance at a sale, so they recently teamed up with PERQ to implement an automated email nurture tool. The emails are personalized based on how the recipient interacted on the website and direct online shoppers back to the website. They feature an embedded calendar that allows website visitors to make an in-person appointment via our interactive scheduling tool.
“As an independent retailer without the vast resources of larger competitors, we’ve never been able to create a proper email nurture campaign on our own. This is exactly what we’ve dreamed of, as it keeps the customer engaged with us at critical times,” says Dave Weiss, Sherman’s marketing manager. “While we can always improve our web experience, it still falls behind the in-store experience we offer. We know once we get a guest in the store, there’s a very high likelihood they’ll purchase from us.”
Provide Calls to Action in Marketing Emails
A critical component of the emails are calls to action, propelling consumers to move to the next step in the shopping process. “We see a high level of response and conversions via that scheduling tool embedded in the email,” Weiss says. “The emails are super relevant, providing tips and follow-up on whichever product category they expressed interest in.”
The emails generate automatically based on specific items the shopper shows interest in and other information provided while interacting with the website, like their timeframe for making a purchase.
For those not ready to commit to an appointment, the personalized emails contain other questions and content that all direct shoppers back to the store’s website, driving them to return to the site and engage with other website experiences until they’re closer to converting.
Engage Online Consumers
Our data shows the vast majority of consumers shop around online before visiting a business in person, so businesses should never neglect that segment of potential customers. Instead, lure them in with an engaging, interactive website that makes their shopping experience less of a chore and more like the in-store experience, much like what big e-commerce sites provide.
After they engage with the website, follow up with targeted, actionable emails to help guide the consumer along to conversion — or a least inspire a visit to the store.
“The beauty of it all is that it’s designed to engage our guests in natural, small steps. We can’t jump straight from awareness to asking for the sale, and this helps fill in the gaps,” Weiss says. “It’s much easier for the guest to make those micro-commitments, leading them further down the path to purchase without feeling like they’re being sold to.”