Enhance the Human Experience to Boost Online Sales

Garret Cunningham

The rise of e-commerce in recent years has led to a decrease in the “human touch” that has traditionally been critical to the success of retail businesses. So it’s no surprise that one of the keys to boosting online sales is creating and enhancing human connections between customers and your brand.

Creating human connections is essential for e-commerce retailers looking to enhance customer engagement, increase sales and foster loyalty. It is about creating an online shopping experience that feels personal, engaging and caring. The best way to achieve this is to provide outstanding customer service, clear communication and great products.

Here are 4 strategies you can follow to get there:

1. Take Advantage of Personalization

Personalization is key to creating human connections online. This starts by leveraging data analytics to understand who your customers are, including their preferences, purchase history and browsing behaviour. With this knowledge, you can guide their shopping journey and offer customized product recommendations and a tailored shopping experience similar to what they would find in a physical store.

Also provide valuable content that’s personalized to customers, such as tailored product offerings. Ensure that your customer communications (including emails) provide value, whether it’s through exclusive offers, value-added content that’s informative or important product updates.

Look for opportunities to add a personal touch where you can, such as by addressing returning customers by name. This can go a long way toward helping customers feel welcome and appreciated. And target your emails to specific customer segments with relevant messages based on their behaviour and preferences, instead of just sending mass emails.

A U.K. e-commerce retailer was using a popup message for visitors who showed exit intent, encouraging them to remain on the page. However, the message was generic and wasn’t targeted or relevant to specific customers. We limited the message to customers who had shown engagement on the site, such as by viewing products or adding products to basket, and showed them the products they had viewed along with relevant offers.

This strategy resulted in a 30% engagement rate by customers who saw the popup, among whom 3% went on to complete a purchase. The result was a revenue increase of more than £500,000 in one year.

2. Engage Through Storytelling

All marketers understand the ability of good storytelling to engage customers from an emotional point of view. Look for opportunities to create a brand narrative by sharing your brand’s story and values along with the people behind the scenes to strengthen emotional connections. For example, you can use blogs, videos and social media to tell stories that resonate emotionally with your audience.

The caveat here is that you can’t rely on your homepage to do this work alone. The biggest landing pages for most e-commerce retailers are product pages, not the homepage. These product pages can’t be so focused on the products themselves that they neglect to tell your brand’s story of who you are and what you’re about. Otherwise, your business risks becoming just a commodity provider.

3. Foster Community Engagement

Create online forums and groups where your customers can connect with each other as well as with your business through social media interaction. This helps foster the emotional connection to your brand.

Meanwhile, be sure to actively engage with customers on social media platforms by responding to their comments, participating in relevant conversations and sharing user-generated content.

Also create a loyalty program that rewards repeat customers and keeps them coming back. This can include discounts and early access to products or exclusive deals so customers know that their loyalty is appreciated and not taken for granted. Keep these customers informed about new products, changes in service or company news.

Also encourage loyal customers to post reviews and ratings for your business online, whether positive or negative. Then respond to and act on their feedback to show that you value it and will take action to make improvements as needed.

Rapha, which sells cycling clothing and accessories, has done a great job of fostering community engagement with its customers. The Rapha Cycling Club is a global community of passionate cyclists who enjoy exclusive access to the company’s most sought-after products and experiences, including unique brand collaborations. The club organizes hundreds of rides and events in locations around the world, helping members feel like they’re part of the tribe.

A U.K. e-commerce retailer created an Insider community of customers who opted into emails and got the inside track on product offers. A popup window offered membership in the community to everyone who visited the site. However, signups for the community were only 0.2%. We limited the popup window to targeted customers and showed them products they had looked at and highlighted the benefits and value of joining the Insider community. This increased the signup rate to 3% and boosted email opt-ins by 8,000.

4. Create a User-Friendly Website Experience

This starts with making sure your website’s navigation is intuitive and accessible. Here, it’s important to avoid the “curse of knowledge,” or looking at your navigation based on your understanding of your site, not your customers’ understanding.

For example, list products based on your customers’ needs and concerns, not on your predetermined categories. Think about every detail, including the size of fonts and buttons and the colours of fonts and backgrounds. Ensure that customer service is easily accessible through multiple channels including email, telephone, social media and 24/7 AI-driven chatbots.

And don’t forget to optimize your site for mobile users. With the increasing use of smartphones for online shopping, you must make sure your website is mobile-friendly.

Finally, don’t let your website become stagnant. Look for ways you can use technology to offer new and exciting customer experiences. This includes using augmented reality or virtual reality to create immersive online shopping experiences, such as offering 360-degree views of products like clothing and furniture.

We worked with a U.K. e-commerce retailer to reposition and reprioritize certain elements in the navigation based on a user’s behaviour. This resulted in a 15% increase in engagement and 35% boost in the conversion rate.

Don’t Forget the Human Touch

Enhancing the human experience in e-commerce is about creating an online shopping experience that feels personal, engaging and real. By implementing these strategies, you can not only increase sales and reduce customer acquisition costs, but also build a loyal customer base that feels connected to your brand.

Remember: In the digital age, it’s the human touch that can make all the difference.

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