- Customer Experience
- Ecommerce Marketing
Black Friday Marketing Strategies: Building Strong Customer Experiences and Driving Sales
Megan Wenzl | Aug 15, 2023
Feb 2, 2023
Senior Marketing Lead
There’s no denying it: today’s consumers are much harder to sell to. Since the dawn of the internet age and, in particular, the birth of ecommerce, consumers’ expectations for the brands they buy from have been continuously on the rise.
This is, of course, largely due to the fact that shoppers now have more options than ever. Moreover, against a backdrop of inflation and economic uncertainty (which many sources say is contributing to a decline in retail sales), consumers are both shopping online more and becoming more discerning with who they give their money.
As a result, brands selling in almost every market are having to find new ways to beat out the competition in order to increase conversions. And while this means they have to get more creative in the marketing department, there are three traits in particular that consumers are prioritizing above all: Social proof, personalization, and trust.
As the leading customer marketing platform for Shopify brands, Okendo wanted to dig into the shifts taking place in the ecommerce space and analyze how consumers are choosing to spend their money. Furthermore, we wanted to uncover what brands need to know in order to capitalize on the opportunity they have over the next few months. To do so, we commissioned a study of over 1,000 U.S. consumers.
Here’s what we found.
Online reviews have always been a lifeblood for ecommerce sellers. And in today’s digital-first world, they have surpassed word of mouth as the ultimate driver of social proof. However, their importance is currently skyrocketing. Why? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
95% of consumers say they believe reviews are at least somewhat important when making a purchase decision, with a significant portion (34%) asserting that they are “extremely” important. Further, nearly half (49%) of consumers said that reviews played a more important role in purchasing decisions during the 2022 holiday season than in years past.
The truth is, the modern consumer is much more perceptive about how they spend their money. The emergence of ecommerce as society’s preferred shopping channel has opened up new opportunities for brands to reach new audiences and increase revenue. But at the same time, it has also given consumers more buying power and options than ever before. As a result, their expectations of the brands they do business with have increased, while simultaneously their trust has fallen.
A recent survey by PwC found a glaring gap between the trust consumers have in companies (30%) and the trust business leaders think consumers have in their organizations (87%). As a result of fallen trust, it’s important to know that this could be a significant reason consumers are paying closer attention to online reviews shared by their peers.
Our research found that nearly all consumers (97%) look for reviews at least some of the time before making a purchase. Another 44% noted they look for reviews before making a purchase “most” of the time. Meanwhile, more than a third of shoppers (34%) look for reviews before they make a purchase “every” time.
Reviews not only provide the confidence that shoppers need to make informed purchases, they also have a direct impact on a brand’s bottom line. 88% of shoppers say they are willing to spend more on a brand with excellent reviews, with more than a quarter (28%) saying they are willing to pay “significantly” more.
With today’s ultra-competitive landscape, it has become more important than ever to collect and leverage reviews to grease the purchase funnel and drive additional revenue.
Review collection is one step. But the truth is not all reviews are viewed the same.
Brands have relied heavily on influencer marketing to drive content and reviews from personas that have aggregated large and loyal followings online as a way to drive customers and convert sales. And while this approach may drive eyeballs, in this age of trust and authenticity, it turns out that these paid relationships are less influential than we thought when it comes to acquiring customers and driving conversions.
Today, most consumers know that influencer marketing is generally a pay-for-play relationship. In fact, 90% of consumers say reviews from real customers are more impactful than those from influencers. While credible influencers only align themselves with brands that they have a genuine interest or belief in, they are still incentivized to promote a product or service. In many ways, this dilutes the impact of their reviews and heightens the importance of authentic reviews from genuine customers.
Similarly, review platforms that enable reviewers to include user-generated content (UGC), such as photos and videos, have become a more critical piece of the authenticity and trust equation. 87% of consumers say that UGC included in product reviews improves their value in informing their purchase decision, with 42% saying it improves value “significantly”.
Reviews platforms like Okendo allow brands to showcase customer experiences through ratings and reviews that include UGC from real customers in the form of photos and videos. Not only is this a more cost-effective and low-lift way to market your product, but it’s also more authentic than highly polished photos and videos produced by a brand.
79% of consumers say that personalized brand experiences in the form of product recommendations, relevant offers, and personalized communication are an important
component of their shopping experience, with more than 1-in-5 (22%) saying that personalization is “very important” to their experience.
While personalization may be ideal, it’s also become much harder to achieve. Merchants today face a privacy-personalization paradox with the inherent tension between brands’ needs for sensitive consumer information to deliver personalization and consumers’ needs for privacy. And with Apple making changes to their platforms in the name of privacy, and Google announcing its intention to retire third-party cookie tracking, the situation becomes much more complicated.
As a result, it’s more important than ever for brands to collect and leverage zero-party data — data that is shared directly and proactively by consumers with permission to use for future marketing purposes. Ecommerce brands utilizing zero-party data collected through channels such as reviews, micro-surveys, questionnaires, and more can fuel more personalized and effective campaigns that build stronger customer connections and scale their business.
The good news is that most consumers are willing to provide zero-party data with a brand to improve their ability to offer personalized shopping experiences, but only if they trust the brand. While 21% of consumers said they would provide their personal information, seemingly without stipulation, 50% report that they will do so “but only if I have some level of trust in that brand already.”
Similar to our personal lives, trust is the currency that transforms interactions between two parties into bonafide relationships. When brands establish trust they earn the right to learn about their customers on a personal level. This understanding, which can be formed through tools like in-moment micro surveys that engage customers in highly contextual ways, elicits powerful insights that allow brands to create those hyper-personal experiences.
Understanding further the importance of trust, 95% of consumers say that trust is a factor in deciding what brands to do business with, with 55% saying it is a “significant” factor. By understanding how to cultivate authenticity, brands can establish trust and fuel zero-party marketing strategies that act as powerful drivers for revenue and retention.
Ecommerce brands today are facing a patchwork of complexities that are making selling online more challenging than ever before. Indeed, the shift to a more privacy-centric web, the disruption of traditional targeting strategies, evolving consumer expectations for personalized experiences, and increasing advertising costs can be daunting for online sellers.
However, the truth is that there’s also an enormous amount of opportunity for brands in the months ahead. By leveraging the power of reviews & surveys brands can elevate their insights collection strategy, establish more personalized and authentic marketing strategies and drive what’s become the ultimate differentiator in today’s market: trust.
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