As retailers and consultants, it’s easy to focus on our website’s conversion rate. We spend countless time chasing that almost mythological 3 to 4% conversion rate for our sites in hopes that by achieving that number, all of our revenue, scalability, opportunity and other challenges will simply disappear.

However, today I challenge you to focus on the other 97%. In the current marketing landscape, we find that most retailers spend 80% of their marketing budgets or their ecommerce budget, focusing on just that 3% because it provides the most measurable return.

Understanding the Mobile Market

Today, as the e-commerce shopping experience has become more commoditized, we’re beginning to find that the opportunity to grow our revenue and brand lies in our ability to connect with users on an emotional level.

According to Comscore , the number of mobile-only internet users has now surpassed the number of desktop users. That’s huge. So, as more and more people continue to shop through smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices, it’s important to bridge the omni-channel gap one more time.

So far, “omni-channel” has meant having a responsive, mobile-friendly website that shows up well in multiple browsers, on multiple devices. We’ve focused on omni-channel experiences in terms of operations and order management, ERP and how to seamlessly integrate inventory across multiple channels, but now it’s time to focus on an “omni-channel brand.”

Developing a Brand for the Online Audience

Most retailers have focused on developing a brand in a brick-and-mortar setting, but haven’t focused on developing a brand that resonates with an online audience.

So, how do you focus on creating an omni-channel brand that nurtures the 97% of people who don’t buy during their first visit to your website?

There are many strategies to consider, but perhaps the most invaluable approach to developing a solid online brand presence is the use of user-generated content, or UGC. By leveraging the power of user-generated content, retailers are able to solve that ever-present challenge: content creation.

Leveraging the Power of User-Generated Content

Many retailers have trouble creating enough quality content, curating and posting it across all of their channels, because they lack the proper resources to manage it across various social media platforms, their blog, and other web properties.

By utilizing user-generated content, you give your audience the ability to generate a percentage of the content on your site while cutting down on the percentage you need to create, yourself. You can do this through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and many other mediums that support the uploading of user-generated content. Allowing your customers to interact with you on your website is an incredible opportunity to grow your brand.

Digging Deeper Into Engagement Analytics

Taking a closer look at how you’re managing the various channels of your brand can be a great way to do some introspective marketing analysis. Many retailers try to grow independent channels for their brand; they focus on Instagram, Facebook, user interest, their blog, podcasting, PR – all the while not having a clear strategy that draws that interaction traffic back to their website. Instead, these retailers wind up building an Instagram brand or a blog brand instead of their own website brand.

So, what are some steps we can take as retailers that will allow us to start building brand engagement on our website? The first thing we need to do is delve deeper into the minds of our target users by implementing enhanced demographical reporting. This will help gauge the type of audience our ideas are reaching and whether or not our engagement strategy is on the right track.

One of our favorite analytics tools is According to Janrain. It’s a social sign-up tool that allows you to pull demographic information tied to a contact record of anyone who creates an account on your site. So, if someone creates an account on your website using their Instagram account, Janrain will pull and compile all of the demographic information associated with that user’s Instagram account, giving you a richer profile on your customer.

It gives you insights into age, gender, interests, social interaction and many other attributes that a retailer in today’s dynamic marketing environment needs to know. This allows you to market to your customers smarter – not harder.

Brand Engagement End Goals

Another important thing to understand is the undeniable fact that marketing is now, in many cases, a technology action. All social networks and most online web forms now have APIs. That’s why as a retailer, it’s important to start thinking logically about how you’ll program your website to interact and engage with these social network sites, in order to encourage customer engagement.

A simple way to start developing user-generated content is to leverage an existing third-party tool, such as Crowdtap. Eventually though, your real advantage will be engaging and interacting with customers through social media.

Once you’ve mastered the art of online brand engagement across multiple media channels, you’ll have mastered the 97%.

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