As you may already know, we asked some amazing experts three questions about upcoming eCommerce trends. Check out the list of speakers and the answers to the first question here and the second question here. This is our third and last blogpost about the panel discussion on eCommerce Predictions for 2018, and today we’re diving into the discussion sparked by the question on the greatest tools out there:
What are some new or improved tools that will help eCommerce businesses in 2018?
Andy Mura: As Sam pointed out, a revolution will come from voice, so user interface and user experience will be dominated by voice, which will also affect SEO. Obviously, people will not search for red shoes size 11, you can use your voice and just ask your assistant to find the best shoes for you, and that’s why content will play even a bigger role in general. Voice will revolutionize marketing and personalization and everything.
Another big revolution in terms of eCommerce is customer journey mapping and automation. We know all about email automation and stuff like that, but even smaller businesses will have to introduce at some point behavior-triggered automation and more specific triggers in their reactions and now there are great tools for, for example, customer journey visualization, and also automation builders and so on. In some cases, maybe bigger cases, having virtual salespeople and stuff like that, we’ll have it but that’s maybe a little bit farfetched for now.
Sam Mallikarjunan: I’m not going to say HubSpot, I’ll be way too on-the-nose, but there’s two, and I promise I’m not being paid to pitch any of these, but just sort of along our themes, one of them again thinking in terms of SaaS companies, there’s a company called Hotjar that’s really good at helping you understand how people are using your software and what they’re trying to do. One of my favorite quotes in the entire history of business is the Henry Ford, “If I ask my customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse” sort of thing. So basically, any technology that gets really good at understanding what people are trying to accomplish with their purchase and getting really good at selling to them from that perspective, and the usability of the website and just understanding it better. Intercom is another good example of that.
The other one is, I like this tool called Yotpo. I don’t like the mentality of “my sales and marketing team can beat up your sales and marketing team”. I really like the mentality of “my community of empowered and motivated fans can beat up your sales and marketing team.” So whether it’s Yotpo or anything else like that, things where you can get your community together and use them to power your own growth, that’s going to be super useful as you’re trying to break through the noise in 2018, 2019 and beyond. Getting a force multiplier so that every time you get a fan it actually makes the cost of customer acquisition cheaper. Break the math, we have to invent a new math now because people have infinite LTV if you start using them to acquire new customers. So those are probably my two.
Joanna Wiebe: I knew I’d be surrounded by people who would have really good tool recommendations and I have some that are great, but we see people relying so much on tools, like “Tell me what to think, tool,” and that’s how pilots crash planes, is not remembering when they’re supposed to kick in and solve the problem instead of relying on the tools. So although I think there are great tools, I want to point out that people and thinking brains continue to be the greatest tool you can have. People who are going to create the actual stuff that sells your product and write the content for it. All this talk about creating this great content and how to get people to create videos for you and that is all going to take humans. A tool can only do so much, no matter what anybody wants to believe.
That said, there are good tools for this stuff, so when I talked earlier about personalization and the democratization of actually personalizing without having to buy some enterprise product and hire 7,000 people to do it, use tools like RightMessage, that’s a brand new SaaS product for really essential personalization. Bounce Exchange has been really good for this over the last few years, and they’re also really good for building your list, which as I mentioned continues to be a thing. So those are the bigger ones I would say, RightMessage and Bounce Exchange, if you’re looking for tools to help with this.
Ian Moyse: I’m going cheat a little and change the word tools for process because I sit on a lot of panels, both virtual and real, and I’m always the one in the room that sticks my hand up and says the majority of businesses are the long tail of smaller businesses, not enterprise who are sophisticated at process and tools, how do they do this? I’m thinking of a customer I’m dealing with right now who’s eCommerce but they’re not big, they don’t have hundreds of employees, but they’re serving a worldwide base because they can with the environment and technology, the world we live in now with the web and etc.
So with the process piece, one of the big things I’ve seen as successful that’s helped people once you tweak—and it can be very effective and low-cost in B2B and B2C—is influencer communities. How do you draw people into wanting to click through to do a transaction with you and how do they find you in the first place and where is your buyer, your buyer persona or buyer dynamic? Where are they? What I found very effective is to use social to identify where that community is, reverse out of that and look at who influences them and how can I get those to share good content, so it brings all these pieces together. You still need to create good content, maybe your own, maybe from a third party, but how do I get it to the right people who I want to transact with me to draw them in? If I send it out, okay, it’s obviously blatantly [marketing]—as Sam said there, if he says HubSpot, it’s obvious, if I say it, it has a totally different connotation, because I’ve got the independence piece.
And it works. Anyone that says influencer marketing doesn’t work, and I’ve had this argument with people, believe me, I’ve done it personally, hence I get invited to things like this because I’m on the right lists, the right places, and I’ve done it organically, low-cost, using online simple tools, and boy does it work like you would not believe. But it’s just understanding the process of how do you do it. It isn’t sophisticated tools, it’s not big budget, it’s understanding what you need to do to tie those pieces together and I think that’s the big thing I think that, if you get it right, can have a major impact on eCommerce and there’s no rocket science to it and anyone can do it.
Erik Huberman: Yeah, a lot of great thoughts! Hotjar is actually something we use a lot in terms of testing, heat mapping and testing, what people are actually trying to do on your website, that’s massive. You know, some of the things that I actually neglected to talk about in trends that I think are really important: SMS messaging is becoming a really good marketing channel. People are getting more used to getting marketing SMS. Don’t treat it like email, don’t do text blasts with sales, but treat it similar to the chat conversation we had a few minutes ago. Treat it as a way to connect with your audience and make them feel more like they have this concierge experience. There’s a lot of SMS tools that are popping up—we’re actually helping advise on one right now—that is in stealth so far.
We actually use HubSpot, so I’ll jump in for Sam there and HubSpot’s been an awesome tool for us and it’s been great, we even treat our own business like a SaaS business and frankly that has been a great tool and this is just a plug for them.
There’s actually a trend right now, something we saw in 2017, from a mobile app perspective, the average person downloads less than one app a month. So creating a mobile app for your company seems really dumb, but what’s interesting is Google has already done this and Apple’s working on it, because of the way the cell service internet works now, you can actually have a mobile app experience through streaming as opposed to downloading, getting that same usability and user interface from a mobile app perspective, but without having to fill your home screen on your phone with a ton of apps. This is something that will be rolling out in the next six months from Apple and has already rolled out somewhat from Google. We actually invested in a company called Tapcart that seamlessly takes all that content on an eCommerce site—Shopify, Magento, etc—and rolls it into a mobile app to allow for that experience because, again, that usability factor becomes really important. I’d say HubSpot, Hotjar, Tapcart, look at different SMS platforms (there’s a few spinning up), are probably some good new tools to be looking at for eCommerce.
Erich Litch: With SMS, don’t you think that’s got a short life, because the more successful it becomes the more annoying it is for everybody? [SMS is] like the holy place where you can get content that you know is very very protected, close to you. If I start getting a ton of SMS from companies, and I already do from certain providers, don’t you think then it’s just a very short period of time before we shut all that off?
Erik Huberman: No, because it’s already regulated. It’s already the same as email in that sense. You can opt out whenever you want, so if you’re getting annoyed, just opt out. So the nice thing is, like with email it wasn’t until 2010 I think that they introduced CAN-SPAM, so before that, you’d get all those Viagra emails we all had seen back in the day. I’ve heard consistently this general statement that email marketing is dying, email marketing is dying, email marketing is dying, and yet I’ve been doing this for a decade and I haven’t seen any slippage in open rates, conversion rates, any metrics that matter. I haven’t seen a single change better or worse. It’s been consistent for about a decade so when I hear those kind of terms, frankly it’s just that 99% marketers have no idea what they’re talking about, they like to speak and use these terms and put a meme up, but email marketing is not dying. SMS, people are getting more receptive to, so I think it’ll be the same thing. I think it’ll end up being another channel that is more engaging that some people like, some people won’t, when you don’t like it you opt out, you won’t give people your phone number. It’s pretty simple in that sense.
The same thing with Facebook Messenger, you’re just not going to allow them to message you. If you do, it’s because you wanted to. You can’t think of this as an individualistic kind of terminology, like “I hate getting texts so I this is never going to work.” You have to think of the masses, that if five or ten percent of people don’t mind getting text messages, that’s another five percent of people that now you have a new engagement channel for, and that’s big numbers at scale.
And that’s wrap! If you need a recap, you can watch right now the whole discussion on eCommerce trends for 2018. Any smart tools were missed out? Share your thoughts below.