When companies' main line of business is selling products and services via eCommerce, experience is everything. Even in the most unique industry niches, there are many similar companies competing with one another. The effort each company puts into its digital marketing and customer experience operations may prove pivotal in determining which of these sellers people buy from, and which ones retain customers over time.

Businesses that purchase turnkey solutions for the harder, more technical elements of their eCommerce operations but overlook customer-focused processes (such as outreach and personalization) may end up falling behind their more adaptive rivals. No matter how good a business's logistics operations are, it can fail to break through to its potential audience if it is lacking in the way it presents itself and its products.

The following are a few important considerations for companies investing in upgrades to their eCommerce practices. These can represent the difference between a happy, growing customer base and audience apathy.

Website personalization

When two people walk into a brick-and-mortar store, they encounter the same products, displays, store layout – everything. The store owner can't shift things around to suit the preferences and interests of the distinct, individual shoppers. When those two consumers go to an eCommerce website, however, the owner of the site has the ability to rearrange the elements of the page to favor preferences, needs and interests.

According to CMO contributor Shane Barker, companies have taken advanced and more effective approaches to personal eCommerce targeting in recent years. Empowered by big data analytics and similar technologies, these organizations have successfully provided their site visitors with recommendations that are relevant and helpful. The key to making these suggestions as highly targeted as possible involves taking information from across many touchpoints. In an era of omnichannel eCommerce, companies should track their shoppers across mobile, social and other platforms as well as their websites.

Barker added that organizations are letting consumers pick up their browsing on websites where they've left off. This is one of the most potentially helpful versions of personalization because it creates convenience while basing the process directly on the client's own history, rather than suppositions and assumptions, even ones well-founded in data.

A customer holds up a credit card while shopping online.What kinds of eCommerce site features make customers ready to buy?

Email marketing and digital outreach

When customers are on a company's website, they receive suggestions from the personalized features on each page. But what can businesses do to draw those shoppers to the site in the first place? That phase of the process is the domain of email marketing and other customized digital outreach methods. Email marketing campaigns carried out by experts using vast reserves of customer data can appeal to repeat customers and convince them to return at rates that will help companies fulfill their targets and objectives.

Marketing expert Neil Patel pointed out that the true purpose of email marketing is to create a greater connection and feeling of trust between a company and its customers. This means delivering useful information through the messages, not just hammering away with undifferentiated advertising. From coupons and special offers to personalized suggestions and time-sensitive discount alerts, there are many relevant and helpful marketing email types.

Companies have to ensure that their email campaigns are targeted effectively, both in their content and in terms of which customers each message goes to. Patel noted that there are numerous ways to add email addresses to a mailing list, from running a contest to offering up generally helpful information such as recipes or tips. Once those lists are assembled, it's time to break down consumers into groups based on their behavior, ensuring each person receives relevant content rather than every email concept the company develops – the latter approach can cause fatigue and disinterest among customers.

Precision targeting in all areas

Personalization and targeting are two of the greatest assets any eCommerce company has at its command. When thinking about how to create a compelling new website or engage in digital marketing, businesses should consider how they can customize and specialize the resulting experiences.

Being an eCommerce business and operating in digital space means having extra freedom to give consumers what they want. What organizations do with this freedom may determine the difference between success and failure in reaching consumers. Companies working with third-party eCommerce partners can inquire about adding these capabilities, rather than trying to handle everything in-house.