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Sales Tactics and E-Commerce

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Coupons and vouchers are used in e-commerce to acquire new customers or customer information.

So effectively, this means that you can acquire new customers by handing out either literal coupons like flyers out in the streets, or emailing and using digital coupons that tell people about your product offering, and often offer some sort of discount.

The way you can get customer information back from this is by sometimes asking people to fill in email addresses to get these coupons, and also you can track the performance of different marketing activities by seeing how these coupons are redeemed.

There are two different types of coupons:

  • One is a unique single coupon
  • The other is a single code coupon.

Discount codes

Unique single-use code

A unique single use code is either a code or a web link that can be used once by one individual. And the great thing about this is it gives you real close tracking about where that person is coming from, and it also ensures that that particular code can only be used once. It gives you great control over the level of discount and the frequency of discount that you’re offering as part of that discount code.

Single code

Second option is using a single code, and this is typically one code or one link that can be used unlimited times by multiple different people. And again, one of the benefits of this are that it’s easy to set up, and it can give you one code and also a lot of other people, but the danger is that you have less control as you don’t know where that code is being distributed, and you don’t know who is using that code.

Remember, when you’re using discount codes there are special websites that are set up to harvest these discount codes from a whole host of different websites so that people can go to the website, type in your particular URL or your particular products, and see what discounts are available for that type of product.

It’s quite a common shopper behavior, to go to a website, find the product that they want, put it in their basket, and then when they see that there’s a box on the checkout that says ‘Discount code’ or ‘Voucher code’ they will often go away on to a different web browser and search for voucher codes for that particular product.

There is a danger that the single code voucher code that you’ve set up could be available on that site. That means that you end up giving a discount to more customers than you had originally intended with that discount. Of course, you might also decide that it is, if a customer is that driven to get at least a slight discount on your product, and the level of discount is shallow enough, that you might be willing to, or happy to let them have that discount rather than them going in and looking to buy your product from a competitor.

Dynamic content

Another key tactic that can help drive conversion on your website and help you sell more product is what’s called dynamic content. So, dynamic content is when the content on the site is changed to make it as relevant as possible for the particular person that is viewing the site.

So this might be based on actions that they’ve taken already on your site, or information you know about them as an individual, or the characteristics they’ve got, based on the information in their browser, or it might be based on where they’ve come from up from previous sites. The benefits of this are that it displays relevant content to the person and gives them a higher likelihood of conversion, and as a result, gives your website higher conversion rate. And it’s also relevant that if you can show highly relevant content to people, it’s likely that they’re going to buy more products, and as a result, have a higher average order value.

Some businesses that do this very well. Netflix will very effectively show you content on your site and on your account that is tailor-made based on the products that you’ve already watched. And it will be very different to the content they’re showing to someone else on their account based on the content that they’ve watched. So, this makes it easy for you to quickly find the products that are most relevant and that you’re most likely to enjoy out of their huge range of content that they’ve got on offer.

Likewise, Amazon, which has an enormous range of potential products is very good at saying, “Based on these products that you’ve bought, or these products that you’ve looked at, or even just this information that we know about you from how you’re browsing the web, these are other products that we think will be relevant to you.”

The overall advantage of dynamic content is all about just being as helpful as possible to the shoppers, to show based on all the information you know about them, to show them content, and products, and services that you think will be of interest to them. You can add value to their experience, and you are most likely for them to want to buy, so you’re giving them what they want and making it as likely as possible that they choose to purchase from you.

Live chat

On a lot of websites, an instant messenger type application pops up, says hello and gives you the opportunity to communicate with a correspondent on the other side, and they’re there to answer any questions that you might have.

This has a number of benefits.

Increased customer satisfaction

It’s basically making a lot easier for the customer to get the questions answered that they need. So this is particularly useful on complicated products or high-ticket item products where the customer needs quite a lot of information about the product, and that information would be difficult to concisely to deliver to them through a standard product page.

There’s a whole host of different questions an individual might have. Let’s take a camera as an example. It has lots of different features and benefits. They might know some of those but not others, and have particular questions that they want to be able to ask of an expert.  And laying all that out through the standard product description would potentially make the product description very long. However, now they have someone there who’s an expert who can answer their questions can quickly get them the answer they need and deliver the satisfaction that they’re looking for.

Increased time-on-site

The increased time-on-site is an interesting one, because again, this has potential search engine optimization benefits. Google looks at the time that people typically spend on a site, and uses that as an approximation of how valuable that trip has been to that site for that user. And so, the longer people spend on your site, the better benefits you get from an SEO point of view.

Lower cost per customer served

This is because a single account handler can serve a large number of customers. It’s done over text rather than over voice, and so you can have several conversations going at one time, so which makes it more efficient.

Increased the conversion rate.

All of this hopefully drives higher conversion rates, because you’re answering the key questions that a shopper has. You’re giving them the opportunity to ask any additional questions. It also gives you the opportunity to position the best features and benefits of your products to make them most likely to go on and purchase.

Live chat mechanics

There are several different platforms that could help deliver live chat.

There are third-party services such as LiveChat and Olark. And this allows sales and customer service agents to use their live chat service. It’s very important that, if you are going to use live chat, you fully understand the way that you’re going to implement it, and how you’re going to resource that live chat in a way that it delivers on the customer need.

Customers are generally quite impatient, so if they’re asking a question over live chat, they will expect an answer very quickly. And so it’s important that the agents who are handling a live chat have all the relevant information at their fingertips, so they can quickly, efficiently, and most importantly, accurately answer the customer’s question.

And if you can’t do that, you potentially need to consider whether having live chat is the right thing to do for your business. After all, you might be better off at handling customer inquiries through a more traditional ‘contact us’ platform, which, although isn’t as instantaneous, gives your customer service handlers more time to find the correct answer. So, it’s all about understanding who your customer is, how quickly they need the information, and then how well your business is resourced to deliver that information to them.


Another key element of maximizing the conversion rate of your website is about having reviews on your site.

The importance of reviews

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. People like to be given information about how good or bad a product is likely to be before they buy. Think of when you’ve recently met a friend, and they’ve been out for dinner at a particular restaurant, or been seeing a particular film. Suppose you were thinking of going to one of those places, you would obviously ask, “How was it? What was it like? What did you think?” So that you can make a more informed purchase. Likewise, if you’re booking a holiday online, you’d almost definitely go somewhere like TripAdvisor where you can get real detailed reviews and comments about how the whole process and how the whole holiday has been, so that you can make a more informed decision.

And the same goes for when people are buying other items online. They want to get as much information as they can before they purchase, and that’s where reviews on site come in.

And these can either be:

  • Reviews about the overall site and how credible and how reliable it is
  • Reviews of particular products on the site

Adding review functionality

And there’s lots of different providers of these types of reviews, and there’s also different ways you can do it. So there are businesses like Trustpilot and like FIFO that are elements of software that make it easy for people to leave reviews about your site. And you can buy web services like Magento or Shopify that have review rating or review leaving functionality in the user interface as well. And there’s different pros and cons that you should consider when you’re choosing which one to use.

Some of the key considerations that you should have in mind when choosing which type of review interface to put on your site are:

  • Does it allow people to leave a star rating? This can often be a really good shortcut for shoppers to understand how good the product is.
  • Does it allow only people to leave a review that have actually bought the product, or does it allow anyone who happens to be on your site to leave a review? Again, there can be pros and cons associated with each of those.
  • Can the review just be allocated to a particular product, or can it be spread across all of your products in a particular category to give people a general sense of the quality and caliber of your products?

Handling reviews

Likewise, there are some interesting things you should think about how you handle the reviews that you get on your site.

There’s often some debate around how negative reviews should be handled. There’s very little debate around the fact that a negative review is an opportunity for you to correspond with the customer, make the situation better, and as a result, hopefully they’ll leave as a customer with a good view of your business. But some people would advocate that it’s a good idea to (after you’ve done that) remove the product or that review from your site, if the software you’ve used gives you the possibility of doing that.

However, other people would say that you should leave some negative reviews, especially if there’s some conversation that follows, visible on the site. That shows that the issue has been dealt with actually help give your overall review system credibility. People know that, yes, the majority of people have enjoyed this product or had a positive experience, but one or two customers haven’t, and that gives them confidence that the overall review process is reflective of how customers have actually enjoyed the experience.

All of this is just about giving customers more information at the time of purchase so that it makes it more likely that they will go on to buy, which is a good thing for you as a retailer.  

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Graeme Smeaton

Graeme Smeaton is the founder of Royal & Awesome. Along with a proven track record in defining and delivering marketing strategies that drive significant growth and create real shareholder value, Graeme is highly commercial. He has extensive experience managing PLs and other key financial statements, while being an operational board director of AFG Media Ltd, and has experience negotiating with suppliers, distributors and licensing partners.

By the end of this topic, you should be able to:

  • Identify the channels and formats used to generate e-commerce customer interest including e-commerce websites
  • Analyse user behaviour on an e-commerce platform
  • Critically assess opportunities for creating e-commerce conversions

    Data protection regulations affect almost all aspects of digital marketing. Therefore, DMI has produced a short course on GDPR for all of our students. If you wish to learn more about GDPR, you can do so here:

    DMI Short Course: GDPR

    The following pieces of content from the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library have been chosen to offer additional material that you might find interesting or insightful.

    You can find more information and content like this on the Digital Marketing Institute's Membership Library

    You will not be assessed on this content in your final exam.


      Applied E-Commerce
      Graeme Smeaton
      Skills Expert

      Marketing strategist Graeme Smeaton will introduce the key concepts of effective e-commerce and will teach you how analytics allows for refinement of the model. You will become familiar with the elements of a successful e-commerce website and the process of traffic generation. Graeme will also introduce you to various sales tactics, including channel selling. Finally, you will recognize how the e-commerce Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems can help you maximize user experiences.