Aus­tralian con­sumers to­day are savvy – in­creas­ingly they’re go­ing on­line to re­search a prod­uct they’re in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing, es­pe­cially to read cus­tomer re­views and com­pare com­peti­tors. In fact, the lat­est Sal­mat Mar­ket­ing Re­port showed that search en

Business First - - CONSUMER - By An­drew Lane

Con­sumer pur­chase trends are chang­ing. While Aus­tralia has for many years lagged be­hind over­seas mar­kets in the eCom­merce space, brands and con­sumers are clos­ing the gap – par­tic­u­larly in light of Ama­zon’s ar­rival to Aus­tralia. We are more com­fort­able search­ing for, and in­creas­ingly trans­act­ing on­line.

This high­lights the need for re­tail­ers to en­sure their on­line game is strong. Here are three ways mar­keters can help their brand stand out on­line:

1. In­vest ap­pro­pri­ate re­sources in search

Brands that use search suc­cess­fully of­ten find it to be the high­est per­form­ing mar­ket­ing chan­nel driv­ing in­ter­est in prod­ucts and sales. How­ever, many mar­keters con­tinue to un­der­value Search En­gine Op­ti­mi­sa­tion (SEO). This points to a dis­con­nect around their un­der­stand­ing of it, and how they’re us­ing it.

In terms of time in­vested in SEO, mar­keters of­ten de­fault to a ‘set and for­get’ ap­proach. Typ­i­cally it will be some­thing they look at as part of a web­site build, re­build, or up­date – and ex­pect it to con­tinue per­form­ing well as months go by.

For suc­cess over the medium to long-term, mar­keters should ded­i­cate a suf­fi­cient por­tion of their an­nual mar­ket­ing bud­get to search – how much will de­pend on the in­dus­try and com­pe­ti­tion. They also need to set them­selves up from a re­sourc­ing point of view. They need a con­sid­ered strat­egy, as well as peo­ple who are able to cre­ate qual­ity con­tent to which ads are driven, and man­age the web­site.

2. En­cour­age on­line re­views

Sal­mat’s re­search showed that 62 per cent of mar­keters do not be­lieve that on­line re­views in­flu­ence con­sumer pur­chase de­ci­sions. How­ever, two in five (40 per cent) con­sumers said an on­line re­view would in­flu­ence their de­ci­sion to pur­chase. Fur­ther, 37 per cent said they of­ten go on­line while in-store to as­sess cus­tomer re­views be­fore pur­chas­ing a prod­uct. The good news is that, de­spite the as­sump­tion that cus­tomers are more likely to leave a neg­a­tive re­view, con­sumers are al­most three times more likely to write a pos­i­tive re­view than a neg­a­tive one.

This presents an op­por­tu­nity for mar­keters to en­cour­age on­line re­views. Mar­keters can ei­ther dis­play re­views on the brand’s web­site us­ing a plugin like TrustPilot, or else­where on­line on Google, so­cial me­dia or other third party plat­forms. Once this is in­te­grated, mar­keters can start en­cour­ag­ing re­views by email­ing a cus­tomer post pur­chase and prompt­ing them to write a re­view.

And don’t shy away from pub­lish­ing the neg­a­tive re­views ei­ther – be­ing au­then­tic and trans­par­ent is im­por­tant for build­ing trust among po­ten­tial buy­ers. No one be­lieves it when all they can see is pos­i­tive re­views. Neg­a­tive re­views also pro­vide a chance for an ex­pe­ri­enced mar­keter to en­gage with the

dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomer to man­age and ad­dress the is­sue, and ul­ti­mately turn sen­ti­ment around.

Hav­ing a so­cial lis­ten­ing tool in place is im­por­tant to en­sure mar­keters are aware of what’s be­ing said about their brand, and where the dis­cus­sion is hap­pen­ing – it may not be through the chan­nels you ex­pect. So­cial lis­ten­ing can be time in­ten­sive and medium to large com­pa­nies may find it favourable to out­source these re­quire­ments to an ex­ter­nal spe­cial­ist. On the flip­side, smaller com­pa­nies may find it most cost ef­fec­tive to man­age and im­ple­ment so­cial lis­ten­ing in­ter­nally, with ad­vice and guid­ance from an ex­ter­nal part­ner.

3. Con­nect your on­line and off­line as­sets

De­spite the in­creas­ing num­ber of peo­ple who are shop­ping on­line, our re­search found that in gen­eral, most Aussies (49%) still love to walk into a store so they can see and touch a prod­uct (58%) and so that they can walk away with it im­me­di­ately (59%).

Many Aus­tralian brands are very ac­tive on­line, but on­line sales count only to­wards a small part of over­all rev­enue. Peo­ple are us­ing on­line search and eCom­merce chan­nels in the discovery stage – par­tic­u­larly on mo­bile - but re­vert to bricks and mor­tar when it comes to the pointy end of the pur­chase. Given this, it’s cru­cial mar­keters con­nect their on­line and off­line as­sets to help cus­tomers with their jour­ney to pur­chase. Brands do­ing this suc­cess­fully have a mo­bile re­spon­sive web­site, and the cor­rect con­tact, lo­ca­tion and open­ing hours on Google and their web­site.

Fi­nally, util­is­ing mea­sure­ment tools to track pur­chase be­hav­iour is crit­i­cal. Once upon a time, stores saw on­line as a ‘com­peti­tor’ rather than a fa­cil­i­ta­tor and com­ple­men­tary chan­nel. How­ever, hav­ing mea­sure­ment tools in place will en­able mar­keters to demon­strate how on­line ac­tiv­ity is in­flu­enc­ing off­line sales. An­drew Lane, Head of Sales and Mar­ket­ing for Sal­mat.

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