During her time marketing for eCommerce businesses, and helping others, Chloë Thomas has seen a lot of people struggle to get to grips with it.
In a bid to help them out, she created the MasterPlan which helps companies to plan, develop and grow eCommerce businesses. And amongst a lot of other things, not only does she write books but also coaches and consults with business to help them out.
But despite all that, she actually graduated from university with a degree in History. And in fact, she only got into the world of marketing in a bid to find something interesting to do between her second and third years.
She ended up with an eight-week marketing internship at Barclays Bank. And she was so good, they ended up offering her a job for when she had finished her course. It is now the world she has stayed in.
Very quickly, she found herself climbing through the ranks until she became a Head of eCommerce for another business.
As you can imagine, Chloë has a lot of knowledge on the subject. And guess what? She shares some that, with us.
Whilst working at Barclays, she started off by trying to get customers to use online banking. But due to an oversight meaning they had no email addresses of their customers, they had to send all their customers a postcard asking for it.
From there, she also worked in direct mail and strategy. But a downside to marketing in a big corporation is that she only got to see a small part of the process.
That led to her applying elsewhere and becoming Direct Communication Manager for a website mail order business, which had 120 stores. In charge of catalogue mailings, email marketing, and the loyalty program, she was able to see data and results, which she found much more exciting.
But just as the eCommerce websites were starting to get popular, the company she worked for went bust (we don’t think it was her fault). But that then meant other businesses were after her to help them jump on the bandwagon.
As a Head of eCommerce, she felt like a kid in a candy store, with thousands of unused customer email addresses at her disposal.
It was there that she really experienced how accountable you need to be about your marketing.
Using coupon codes to track every piece of paper (leaflets, ads, etc.) that had led to a sale. Plus, numbers are the most important part of a social media marketing campaign.
The number of followers, total engagement and impressions are all important figures that show the true success. Ultimately, everything you do in terms of marketing needs to either increase brand awareness or sales.
What Small Businesses Get Wrong
A majority of business owners are doing well. But the point is, that they could also be doing better. What Chloë finds is that a lot of business owners become paralyzed by options.
That’s either as a result of being in fear of whether or not what they’re currently doing is enough, and becoming obsessed about whether they should be doing this new thing they’ve heard about.
But in the end, those who do the best are the ones who have found a good route to market and are just going at it. Or, are actively testing new routes rather than just complaining about things not working, or the cost.
Understand Your Customers
The most effective use of your time, according to Chloë, is to actually listen to your customers. Work out what they want, and make sure you’re the one giving it to them.
You can do this by looking and finding out how you can improve so you can optimize what your do. Plus it is also making sure you’re going down the right routes to get yourself out there and in front of them. One way is to give them the information they’re craving, is through content.
But listening to your customers is a lot more than just answering the phone when they ring you.
One strategy you could use is a two-stage sign-up. That means that when people sign up for your emails, the landing page also takes them to a survey. There, you can ask them a series multiple choice questions to get a feel for who they are, and what they want.
That way, you better understand your customers so you can tailor your marketing to the majority.
But at the end, it is also a good idea to ask them an open-ended question and provide a text box. When you have a large enough selection of answers, you can then import all those responses into a word cloud tool.
That will then produce a pretty picture made up of the most common words which were used. Not only does that give you an idea of the things they find most important, but also the types of language they use.
Placed on everyone’s desk, all your staff have a reminder of what your customers want.
Your Best-Selling Product
But the most important way to listen to your customers is to pay attention to what your best-selling product is.
Of course, if something is selling well, then it means the customer really likes it. And this is really important information which you can use everywhere to make decisions.
You should then email customers regularly about what your most popular products are. And also make sure your new customers are also aware.
But you also need to make the product as easy to find as possible on the website. It’s a common thought process to put your products which sell the least, on your homepage. Although you may sell a few more of those, imagine how many more sales you’d get if the most popular products had a prime position?
These are also the products you need your customer service team to know inside-out. They need to be able to answer any question a customer may ask in order to make sure every possible sale goes through.
And also look at ways you can expand the range with different colours, sizes, and styles.
How eCommerce Looks Today
When starting out, you need to ensure you’re passionate and knowledgeable about the products you’re about to start selling. That’s because you’re going to be spending a lot of your time talking about them.
But it is a lot easier for eCommerce sites to start life these days with a wide range of options at your disposal. That also means that the market is getting more competitive. And the answer for success is often to find a niche.
It’s great being a big and successful business. It means you have the ability to do more testing and take a few more risks. But it also means that business can become a little flabby around the edges.
Often, they spend money and waste effort on things that may no longer work in the businesses favor, purely because they can afford to.
But the size of a business is also irrelevant, because the fundamentals are always the same however big or small it may be.
That’s why many big business owners read the books Chloë Thomas writes, which are aimed more for the smaller business. Her latest book, Customer Manipulation teaches you how to influence your customers to buy more, and why an ethical approach will always win.
A No.1 book on Amazon, it is a must-read for businesses and marketers who want to get more customers. That’s because these days, the business and marketing strategies should be entwined.
The best ways to get in contact with Chloë are either view LinkedIn, Twitter, or the contact form on her website.