Inbound Commerce Methodology is an effective, unique marketing approach. It works by applying inbound marketing practices directly to eCommerce retailers, thereby giving them the tools that they need to create a marketing strategy that appeals to their dream customers. This methodology essentially turns traditional marketing - which is oftentimes marketer-centric, interruptive and uninteresting - on its head, instead encouraging the creation of personalized, targeted marketing and an aesthetically pleasing, easy-to-navigate website to attract visitors and turn them into returning customers.
Breaking it down a little further, the basic idea behind the Inbound Commerce Methodology is the Gruen Effect. Named after the creator of the shopping mall, the Gruen Effect is when a store is so well-designed and inviting that shoppers become enticed not only to enter, but also to purchase more than what they came for. Thinking of a company’s website as their virtual store, this means that the site needs to be designed to draw people in and keep them attracted, effectively moving them along the buyer’s journey and converting them into delighted customers.
How do eCommerce retailers ensure that their site is accomplishing this task? First, they must know who their visitors are - what they are looking for, what they’re interested in, what challenges they face - and speak directly to them. Developing well-researched buyer personas -fictional representations of an ideal customer - and constantly keeping these personas in mind is an effective means of accomplishing this task.
With these personas in mind, retailers must then plan and create a site that effectively speaks to visitors in each stage of the buyer’s journey - attract, convert, close, and delight - and motivates them to become returning customers.
- First, the retailer must attract the right people to their website at the right time. This is done by providing prospects with information - in the form of blogs, photos, social media posts, etc., - that answers any questions that they may have, provides a solution to their problems or offers the product that they are looking for.
- Once a visitor is on a website, the next goal is to get them to convert into contacts so that they are in the company’s database and can be reached at a later date. Every site visitor has two choices once they reach a website’s homepage: explore or bounce. To get them to choose the former, eCommerce retailers must design a site and marketing material that is attractive, easy-to-navigate and interesting. This means including appealing and educational content, creating an attractive site design that gives users a feel for the brand, using photography that allows shoppers to visualize themselves benefiting from the product, etc.
- Next, it is time to close these contacts into customers. Something as simple as streamlining the shopping cart and making it easy for customers to check out can help accomplish this task. Beyond this, eCommerce retailers can also send targeted email campaigns, employ abandoned cart recovery programs, and use other techniques to optimize their site for conversions and interest.
- It is important to note that, in many ways, the transaction is just the starting point. Successful eCommerce retailers aim to understand their buyer personas on a deeper level and continue to provide them with material that will nurture a long-term relationship. In other words, they aim to continuously delight their customers and turn them into promoters for their company. All customers want to feel special and understood, and any retailer that takes extra steps to make them feel this way - through, for example, personalized follow-up interactions, product suggestions, or VIP accounts - will be more successful over time.
Not sure if your website is properly employing inbound commerce methodology? Check out your site’s bounce rate, conversion rate and average order value. If your bounce rate is high or your conversion rate and order value are low, perhaps it is time to consider redesigning or reaching out to an eCommerce marketing agency for help.