7 E-Commerce Lead Generation Best Practices You Need to Know
← Back to Blog Emil Kristensen

7 E-Commerce Lead Generation Best Practices You Need to Know

E-Commerce Lead Generation Best Practices WordPress

You’ve built a loyal audience. It’s not been easy, but by creating a quality product and investing in your customer experience, you’ve got people flocking back to your e-commerce store time and time again.

But if you’re going to keep growing as a business, you can’t place all your eggs in one basket. You need to keep acquiring new customers, too. This is where things can get a little tricky.

Why? Well, the majority of e-commerce brands expect first-time shoppers to constitute more than one-quarter of all visitors in 2021. Yet an astonishing 97% believe these newbies will present significant challenges, with 51% describing them as “easily distracted”, and 45% viewing them as less loyal.

Clearly, you can’t just wave a magic wand and guarantee that every first-time visitor to your site will go on to convert, then return when they’re ready to buy again.

However, you absolutely can step up your e-commerce lead generation game to ensure that those first-timers are the right people, and that you’re effectively engaging them when they interact with your brand. 

With that in mind, here are seven killer e-commerce lead generation best practices you can start using right now.

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Table of Contents

1. Figure Out What a Lead Looks Like

2. Optimize Your Landing Page

3. Offer Live Chat Functionality 

4. Generate More Reviews

5. Create Content at All Stages of the Sales Funnel

6. Build a Sense of Urgency

7. Make Your Site Easy to Buy From

1. Figure Out What a Lead Looks Like

What do you think when you hear the phrase “lead generation”? Most likely, you’re imagining a B2B company selling a solution. In that context, a “lead” is a person whose name, job title, and contact information you pass on to your sales team.

You might have captured that information after they downloaded a piece of gated content, or registered for a webinar. Over time, your sales reps will nurture those leads, sending them case studies and other relevant content, with the ultimate goal of booking a product demo and closing the deal.

That whole process could take weeks or months. And, particularly for enterprise-level sales, it will likely involve multiple decision-makers on the buyer’s side. E-commerce lead generation is totally different.

That’s because the path to purchase is so much shorter. I’m not the most compulsive buyer in the world, but if I want a new shirt, I’m not going to agonize over it for several weeks and ask my accountant for sign-off—I’ll find one I like, then I’ll buy it.

As a result, the word “lead” has a different meaning in an e-commerce context. In fact, there are two distinct types of e-commerce leads:

  • Target lead: Simply put, this is anyone who’s likely to buy something from you.
  • Marketing lead: This is someone whose contact information you’ve acquired. That means you can communicate with them and drive them toward buying from you in future.

So what do those different types of leads look like in practice? Let’s say you’re a sportswear brand. Your target leads could include gym-goers, amateur (and maybe even professional) sportspeople, runners, climbers, hikers… the list goes on. Marketing leads would be any of those people who’ve given you their contact details, such as by signing up for your newsletter.

By necessity, e-commerce target leads will almost always be more top-level than for a “traditional” (i.e. B2B) leads-focused business. If you’re selling a SaaS product for hundreds or thousands of euros a month, you’ll likely only deal with a relatively small number of leads, and you’ll want to know as much about those people as possible so you can build highly personalized campaigns.

That’s just not applicable to most e-commerce businesses. You likely don’t make enough money from each transaction to justify deep personalization, so you’ll be painting with broader brush strokes.

Your task at this stage is to figure out what your target leads look like. Maybe you have just two or three; perhaps you have a dozen or more. Define those personas, then document everything you know about them—as a minimum, this should include:

  • Age ranges
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Purchasing power

2. Optimize Your Landing Pages

Perceived wisdom holds that B2B marketers lag behind their B2C peers. That B2C marketers are always pushing the boundaries, while B2Bs are content to rely on the same old tactics. But that’s not always the case. One area in which B2B often leads the way is landing pages.

In the B2B realm, every visitor could potentially be worth tens of thousands of euros. When the stakes are so high, every landing page must be optimized toward generating leads.

That same pressure doesn’t exist in B2C. Unfortunately, this is reflected in the quality of a lot of e-commerce landing pages, which are often nothing more than a list of products scrolling to infinity.

Often, but not always. There are some exceptional examples of e-commerce landing pages that draw the user in and compel them to take action.

Online wine retailer Winc, which describes itself as the world’s fastest-growing winery, is one brand that gets it right.

Its homepage is laid out like an engaging lead capture form. Click that enticing red button and you’ll be asked a bunch of questions about your taste preferences. Complete the quiz and Winc offers to email you a list of personalized wine recommendations. Hey presto, they’ve captured another marketing lead.

3. Offer Live Chat Functionality

It feels like live chat has gone from a “nice to have” to an absolute essential pretty much overnight. That’s because unlike some customer experience “innovations” I could name, people actually like chatbots. Just consider these two stats:

  • Three-quarters of consumers say they find live chat to be the most satisfying way to communicate with a business
  • Three-fifths of consumers are more likely to return to a website that offers live chat

Why’s it so popular? Because it’s a quick, convenient way to get answers to your shopping-related questions. We all know how frustrating it feels to find a product we want to buy right now, only to learn we can’t track down a crucial piece of information about how it fits, or where it can be delivered to, or whether it’s compatible with a different product you own.

For some brands, live chat can be an effective way to support and engage visitors from the moment they hit your website. It lets you strike up a conversation, answer questions, discern the consumer’s specific needs, and guide them in the right direction.

Fireclay Tile does this well. Unless you’re a builder, tiles likely aren’t something you buy every day (or even every decade). So the moment you land on the site, that reassuring live chat box pops up, holding your hand through the path to purchase.

But for other brands, this sort of immediacy feels like overkill. If I’m buying a pair of socks, I don’t need a chatbot to help me do it.

Mobile phone retailer Carphone Warehouse gets the balance right. When you arrive on its homepage, there’s not a chatbot in sight. But click through to the pay-monthly deals page—where purchases are far more complex than simply choosing a device and adding to a bag—and you’re instantly offered the chance to live chat with an expert.

4. Generate More Reviews

Customer reviews matter. How much?

Well, just 48 percent of consumers say they’d buy from a business with a review score lower than four stars.

Maybe you’ve already earned a bunch of great reviews, so it’s no longer a focus for your business. But you can’t afford to rest on your laurels, because 73 percent of consumers only pay attention to reviews written in the last month. In other words, if your reviews are out of date, they’re not doing you much good.

So you need reviews, and you need to generate them regularly. But you don’t want to spend all your time on it—you’ve got a lot of other priorities. What you need is a passive, scalable way to bring in a consistent stream of reviews. In short, you need automation.

Automating the process of review generation means that every time someone buys from you, they’ll be asked to review your product. Review platforms like Feefo can do this for you, automatically emailing customers within days of them making a purchase.

If you’re going to do it yourself rather than through Feefo (or an alternative), ensure you make it as simple as possible for customers to leave you a glowing review. Remind them what they bought, and direct them straight to the review page.

5. Create Content at All Stages of the Sales Funnel

When we talk about creating content for the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel, we often envisage B2B marketing, because the sales cycle is so much longer.

But this strategy is still super relevant to the e-commerce space. Consumers still want very different things at each stage of the funnel—it’s just that those stages are a lot more condensed:

  • Top of the funnel: A shopper first becomes aware of their need. Maybe they’ve just been invited to a party. They need a new outfit, so they search for inspiration around fashion trends.
  • Middle of the funnel: They’ve found something they like. Maybe it’s a style of dress, or a jacket, or a pair of shoes. Now, they want to shop around for options.
  • Bottom of the funnel: They’re ready to buy. Now, you need to convince them that you’re the right brand to buy from. Maybe they’ll look up returns information, read your reviews, or search for a discount code.

That’s a pretty simplistic end-to-end view of the B2C e-commerce buyer journey. Each of those steps could take no more than a few minutes. In reality, not every shopper will pass through all three stages. Some might leap straight to stage three. Others might start at one, get to two, then bounce right back to one again.

You don’t necessarily need to predict every possible path to conversion. Instead, focus on getting all the right content in place so you’re prepared for all types of user journeys.

6. Build a Sense of Urgency

NTWRK, a live stream shopping app, made over $100,000 in 24 hours by selling limited-edition platinum money counters created by celebrity jeweler Ben Baller. At $250 apiece, that equivalates to more than 400 units sold.

Why did this work? Because urgency is one of the most powerful ways to generate leads and convert them into sales. That’s true in all industries, not just e-commerce.

It’s doubtful that 400+ people all felt a pressing need to buy a platinum money counter at the same time. But because this was a limited-time, never-to-be-repeated offer, the event generated a lot of hype—and that hype led to sales.

Now, I’m not saying you need to start selling $250 platinum money counters yourself. Whatever your product, you can absolutely create a sense of urgency around it.
Fashion e-commerce giant ASOS does this well. Its newsletters are packed full of time-limited offers that prompt consumers to browse and buy right now, not in a week.

7. Make Your Site Easy to Buy From

This point should sound obvious, yet it constantly surprises me how many e-commerce stores are difficult to buy from. Calls to action are unclear. Key information is hidden or missing. Currencies don’t automatically convert based on the shopper’s location. It’s so frustrating.

To make matters worse, consumers have high expectations. In fact, 80% will leave an online store that doesn’t offer convenient navigation, relevant search, or clear product information.

Just like that, all your lead gen efforts are wasted, simply because it’s too hard for people to find what they’re looking for on your website.

So it’s a worry that just 9% of e-commerce leaders say they’re “very satisfied” with their site’s search functionality. And it’s unsurprising that 68% are planning to improve their site search in 2021.

Implementing smart site search is one of the best things you can do to make your customers’ lives easier. Again, ASOS does this well—you only need to type a few characters in the search box to be offered all the most relevant options, plus information about how many products are available within that category.

Want More Conversion Optimization Tips?

We’ve put together 12 CRO resources to help you drive more leads and revenue.

Whether you’re looking for satisfaction guarantee examples or product page examples, we’ve got something for you.

You’ll also get immediate access to 23+ other bonus resources, categorized in Notion for your convenience.

Download Swipe File Now →

Conclusion

None of this is rocket science. Any e-commerce brand worth its salt should already be doing a lot of these things. The biggest learning is to understand how all these best practices intertwine to help you generate leads and drive sales.

For instance, live chat on its own can be effective. But combined with better-optimized landing pages, efficient site search, and engaging, helpful content, it’ll deliver far stronger results.

How do you generate leads for your e-commerce store? Let me know in the comments below.

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