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Smart Furniture Web Tip #5: Creating Customer Communication That Boosts Conversions

Furniture World News Desk on 10/12/2014

by Gil Cayabyab

Customers shopping for furniture are very likely to want communication with salespeople before converting. Even more than customers who are searching for lower-cost goods, big-ticket shoppers want all the information and advice they can get.

In the ecommerce universe, where inventory can’t be touched or physically interacted with, the possibility that shoppers will have questions increases. Online furniture retailers need to meet the challenge of offering simple, convenient access to their furniture experts across multiple channels. Focusing on communication to provide detailed information builds customer trust and increases conversions.

Improve your customer communication by using these key tactics:

Provide multiple communication channels
It is vital to allow shoppers to communicate with you however they need to -- chat, email, and phone -- so that they can shop in ways that are most comfortable for them. A furniture shopper will require more touchpoints than shoppers researching almost any other product, and justifiably so; they’re about make a sizable financial investment. Someone looking for a sleeper sofa may visit your website multiple times, engage in online chat, request a few swatches to narrow down options, and speak on the phone with your team before making a final purchase decision. Keep in mind that they’re not being difficult -- just coming to terms with their purchase.

Build a communication database
Following up with potential customers will keep you front of mind and build trust in your brand. Send emails ensuring customers received swatches. Call them directly and answer any lingering questions they have. Confirm that you’ve received their communication. It is vital that your team maintains detailed notes and tasks assigned to any open opportunities so that they can make the most of each lead. For added benefit, centralize these notes in a database so every team member has access to them and can view each customer interaction. This prevents backtracking, allows customers to have their questions answered by whomever is available, and keeps the shopping journey moving forward.

Personalization is the key to email conversions
Emails sent to past customers and newsletter opt-ins should be as targeted as possible. At SmartFurniture.com, detailed profiles are assigned to customers whose style and pricing preferences become known through prescriptive personalization. Using this personalization data makes each communication more meaningful to the customer. The numbers speak for themselves: these personalized emails have click-through rates that are 7x higher -- and convert 10x more often -- than general emails.

Even if you haven’t employed active customer profiling, you can use click path and past purchase history data to identify general preference trends and tailor promotions and messaging to match specific shoppers.

Give them the power
Allow your customers to determine how you communicate with them via email. A preference center will allow them to tell you what kinds of communication they want and how often they want it. Systematically checking to see which contacts have gone idle should prompt you to cross-reference if they still want to receive communications at all. If they do, it is an opportunity to adjust your communication style to help them become more engaged.

Measure your metrics
How do you know if your communication tactics are working? Conversion data is the key performance indicator in email marketing, but there are many other metrics that will help you hone an effective strategy. Engagement stats can pinpoint what is working and what requires improvement. Open rates, click-through rates, and on-site behavior should be tracked and tested in order to determine if relevant subject matter is being promoted. Irrelevant messaging equals fewer conversions.

Strategically and systematically tag each email with specific campaign data that’s both logical and easily trackable. Pay close attention to on-site click paths, conversions, and drop-offs in the browsing cycle to improve your efforts. No matter how effective an email marketing campaign is, it can always be improved to appeal to shifting tastes and preferences.

When reaching out to customers, it’s important to remember that each communication becomes part of a customer’s overall experience. It’s your responsibility to make sure that experience is both positive and memorable. If you do, you’ll create lifelong customers. In all aspects of the customer communication, always strive to exceed expectations.

About Gil Cayabyab and SmartFurniture.com: Gil Cayabyab is the Vice President of Marketing at SmartFurniture.com, the pioneers of Design-On-Demand® ecommerce where they combine web based visualization technologies and mass customization to provide customers with the most personalized furniture buying experience on the web. Since joining Smart Furniture in 2007, Cayabyab has focused his energies on helping to provide the best user experience online from both a promotional and technical perspective and has helped to grow revenue year over year with strong partner relationships and innovative technologies such as SmartProfile.
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