Intelligent links are essential for marketing.
You probably don’t give a lot of extra thought to your links once they’re live, but they are crucial for a successful marketing campaign. They take your customers directly to the products they want to buy — or at least that’s what they’re supposed to do. From your social media efforts, to your Google ads, to your online storefronts, links are the glue that holds everything together. Is your glue working?
Making sure your customers can buy your products is critical for driving sales. It seems like a no-brainer, but something as fundamental as the functionality of a link between customers and the products they love frequently gets overlooked. Your links are meant to be the easy, smooth bridge between your products and the people who need them, but it’s often the links you use that become the very barriers that stand between the two.
You know the experience.
Maybe you’re drowning in customer support tickets from your UK customers who can’t find one of your products in their regional store after they saw one of your ads on Twitter. Or maybe after reviewing your performance metrics, you noticed your international customers have a much higher rate of cart abandonment sessions than those in your country.
For whatever reason, your link didn’t accomplish its one job. It’s irritating.
These issues are part of a growing broken shopping experience called the Purchasing Gap, a problematic chasm that’s only widening as you grow your e-commerce base around the world.
Restore Broken Bridges to International Sales
One huge factor contributing to the Purchasing Gap to be attentive to is Geo Fragmentation. For example, did you know that Amazon.com has 14 storefronts to meet the localized needs of its global audience?
Simple links can only get your customer from point A to point B. More specifically, they can only connect your customers to one product page, irrelevant to where they are in the world or which device they are using. In short, you may have customers from multiple countries, languages, storefronts, and currencies — and a long list of potential combinations.
Here’s where it gets messy. Your Chinese customers can end up with billing information in Euros, your customers in Chile could be getting backorder messages for products that are out of stock in their local store, your customers in France will see astronomical international shipping fees instead of appropriate charges from a regional store, and the rest of your customers overseas might wind up on pages in a language they don’t speak. Add to the mix some error messages, a lot of frustration, and a whole lot more abandoned shopping carts.
“[O]nline commerce is still limited by one of the most fundamental barriers – geographical separation. In order to take advantage of the enormous international audience, global marketplaces like iTunes, Amazon, Newegg, eBay, and even Wal-Mart have had to create storefronts that cater to each separate country or region. iTunes for example, is now comprised of 155 separate storefronts, while Adidas has just under 50.” (Geniuslink)
In an increasingly global marketplace, these audiences are growing more and more fragmented by these localization needs.
You need to ensure that your game or app customers in Japan are linked to the right regional storefront for their Android — even if they’re using an OS they haven’t updated in a couple years — and in the correct currency.
Modern shoppers are used to getting exactly what they want, on demand, no matter where in the world they are or which device they are using. By staying aloof to the rifts you’re creating for your customers, you’re extinguishing their interest and deferring their purchase — or worse, you could be losing them to a direct competitor.
Having a cohesive buying experience reflects well on your brand and builds trust with your customer. It’s vital to the success of your e-commerce sales that you bridge those gaps between your products and your potential buyers with a seamless experience and keep those angry reviews at bay.
Simplify Painfully Complex Marketing Campaigns
Imagine you just got approved for a $100,000 marketing budget for social media to push that new state of the art 4K TV. Feeling excited? I bet you are.
You start with some geo-targeted ads on a handful of social channels. Did you remember all 14 unique links for each Amazon storefront? And of course there’s all the other e-commerce platforms where your brand is present. You’ll also need unique links for the various devices and operating systems — maybe 20 or so — to optimize your campaign for each country.
That’s a lot of links to lose sleep over.
One way you can go about saving some time (and sheer mental fatigue) is to get the
links to do the grunt work for you. There are various tactics and tools that offer help by aggregating all your geographically-specific links and devices and then redirecting your
customers appropriately. Most of these intelligent link solutions do this by collecting information about the title or product identification number and then delivering a search results page to your potential customer. They are basically mapping tools. If you’re already doing that, this is a great first step for leading your customers in the right direction. Still, this solution is dropping them off around the corner from their final destination.
A more sophisticated approach automates the process of finding your products across multiple storefronts. This allows you to optimize your links and help potential buyers find the right product page for their localized needs. Solutions using an automated approach are more than just a mapping tool. They ensure that links are updated, even when they change on an international scale. In short, they deliver your customer a direct link to the exact product page they want — alleviating them from the additional step of rifling through a general search results page within an e-commerce site.
Aggregate Fragmented Insights
A successful marketing campaign involves a lot more than just establishing a healthy social media presence that drives more traffic to your product pages across the many storefronts where your product is for sale. It’s important to make sure you have the infrastructure to provide the smooth, rapid buying experience that modern digital shoppers expect, but you also need the ability to capture your buyers’ preferences. The better you understand your customer, the more you can grow your audience, improve engagement, and ultimately, increase your sales.
You likely already know the importance of using a variety of reporting tools like Google Analytics and other third party software for gathering insights. The best marketers will want to capture a full picture of the consumer’s interests to better understand their path to the shopping cart — and as much as they can about all their stops along the way.
If you try to use standard links to collect this kind of data, you may find yourself tangled up in an intricate web of unique links. You’ll spend too much time building custom links for hundreds of unique customer fragments.
Some intelligent link solutions will aggregate this data so that you can gather those valuable insights about your customers without having to build a web of links to follow their path to purchase. Simple links that just connect point A to point B can’t weave together the robust and insightful path to purchase, but intelligent links can help you more clearly understand your customers and create the right buying experiences to ultimately increase your revenue.
Avoid Walls Between the Sale and the Customer
Another common way that marketers try to collect more information about their prospects is to put up walls to gather insights (like short surveys and newsletter sign ups). These can be very helpful at certain stages of the buyer’s experience, but more often than not, they are a hinderance. Every additional click you force upon your potential customers is not only putting a stumbling block between them and their shopping cart, it’s also irritating them and dampening their interest.
One of the most unobtrusive ways to observe your modern e-commerce shopper is to use retargeting. However, most retargeting solutions only let you plug them in on any site you control, which limits what you can learn about your customer base. The most forward-thinking solutions use targets and pixels built right into — you guessed it — your links<span style=”font-weight: 400;”>. When you use a link management solution with this technology, the pixels will capture the customer’s interests and intents, anywhere they are on the web, without adding any friction to the buying experience.
Advanced targets take insights from a link’s performance to understand your customers, where they are located, and which products they are interested in and which marketing channels the preferred to use to learn about your offering. If you sell your products on sites you don’t own like Amazon or iTunes, this technology allows you to still learn about your customer’s activity through the intelligent links you build for them to use. A solution that sits on top of your marketing stack and will track your marketing performance at a higher level, across various channels, will help you more fully understand what your marketing efforts are doing and make your next campaign much more effective.
Re-Evaluate Your Solutions
Selling and promoting your products or services internationally, across many marketplaces and platforms, mandates careful planning. To provide a positive experience for your consumers, you need to prepare a uniform, tailored experience across every one of the many storefronts where your product is available. As the unique ecosystems that you use to sell your products grow more complex, staying informed about trending e-commerce problems and staying open to trying new solutions will keep you ahead of the curve and ahead of your competition.
Though problems like Geo-Fragmentation can make your job increasingly complicated and keep you from creating and testing innovative ways of engaging with your audience, there are already solutions like intelligent links that are designed to meet the market’s changing needs. Continually staying educated about the ways you can improve your marketing toolbox and streamline your various campaign processes can be daunting, but it starts with little things — like getting a link to do more for you.