Most Important Digital Touchpoints for eCommerce Stores and How to Optimize Them
Each and every customer digital touchpoint is vital to the overall success of your online store. And optimizing them is about far more than just implementing some eCommerce marketing hacks.
For your eCommerce marketing strategy to be effective, you need to be able to target the right shopper at the right time with the right product. You also need to ensure that it answers critical questions they may have at each specific point in their shopping journey.
This is where digital touchpoints, and how they’re optimized, come into play.
In this post, we answer your most important questions about eCommerce touchpoints, including:
- Why are digital touchpoints important?
- What are the types of eCommerce customer digital touchpoints?
- What are the most important digital touchpoints, and how to optimize them?
But before we jump in, let’s quickly recap what digital touchpoints are.
Why Are Digital Touchpoints Important?
Your online retail touchpoints map engagement from before a customer becomes a shopper until after a sale has been completed. Essentially, they are the foundation of your entire marketing strategy and digital customer journey map.
In a nutshell, eCommerce touchpoints are vital in not only mapping out your customer journey but being able to convert along the way.
Think of them as the building blocks that make up the path between awareness and conversion, engaging potential customers at every step.
And once you know where these building blocks are, you can better map out your buyer journey and optimize for an engagement at each of these points.
In short, digital touchpoints are a big part of the whole customer journey. And without them, it can be impossible to move potential shoppers down the journey to the checkout.
Types of eCommerce Customer Digital Touchpoints
Which digital touchpoints are the most important for online retailers? Well, that depends. Each brand will have a slightly unique landscape depending on its brand, niche, market, and products. Or, simply put: like with all marketing, there is no one-size-fits-all.
To find your specific digital touchpoints, you should be looking internally at your data and trends. However, you should simultaneously put yourself in your customer’s shoes to assess their potential or completed journey to your checkout pages. Or, more technically put, you need to combine a customer-centric approach with internal insights.
Let’s look at some general customer touchpoint examples to get you started. These are the online retail touchpoints you can expect to see in an average eCommerce store, such as:
- Awareness digital touchpoints
- Consideration digital touchpoints
- Purchase digital touchpoints
- Retention digital touchpoints
- Customer loyalty digital touchpoints
Let’s take a closer look at each of these groups.
1. Awareness Digital Touchpoint Examples
Awareness digital touchpoints are the very first engagements a new potential customer might have with your store brand or a new product.
Here, shoppers are learning about your brand or a new product line for the very first time and may need a few stops before they feel like they know you or your products enough to seriously consider purchasing.
Here’s a benefit-focused awareness campaign example from Huel that was run on Facebook.
Ultimately, the “job” of your awareness campaigns and promotions is to introduce your store to new audiences and to engage them until they are familiar with your brand and products. Here are some awareness digital touchpoint examples:
- PPC search campaigns. Search engines are a top digital touchpoint for eCommerce stores. When you consider that 98% of all internet users use a conventional search engine at least once a month, this shouldn’t be a surprise. Therefore, paid search ads can be a powerful way to introduce your brand to potential shoppers actively searching for what you’re selling. Add this sentence: So when you're budgeting to pay for advertising, allocating funds for these PPC campaigns can be a smart move.
- Digital press releases and sponsorships. On the surface, this could sound a little “old school,” but combined with the online reach that social media brings, awareness digital touchpoints like these can drive significant results. This can be as simple as doing an Instagram account swap with a top influencer or hosting an online conference or webinar within your niche. Ultimately, this is about creating a buzz about your product to a large audience that doesn’t know you yet.
- Social media marketing. Social media is a great place to drive awareness — not only with digital ads but also with your content marketing strategy. When you consider that some reports estimate as many as 76% of consumers purchase products they’ve seen on social media, the numbers would agree. This is because these channels allow brands to tell a story, their story writers for hire, enabling them to better connect with potential customers, on an emotional level, at awareness touchpoints.
- Radio, TV, and video streaming ads. Streaming and podcast advertising can also make good digital touchpoints for driving online retail awareness. This form of marketing enables you to reach new markets in terms of digital and video marketing. It can also be used in conjunction with sponsoring — sponsoring a niche-related product, for example.
- Storefront and marketplaces. Social media storefronts and online marketplaces are other discovery touchpoints online retailers like you can use to tap into new markets and attract potential customers actively searching these channels for products. In short, they give you a few extra third-party awareness digital touchpoints and enable you to maximize your visibility.
- Word-of-mouth marketing. Since word-of-mouth marketing went digital, it’s become an awesome way to spread awareness while boosting sales. For instance, peer-to-peer recommendations are automatically considered more trustworthy than brand messaging. Therefore, you don’t just gain exposure to a new potential customer with their shares; you gain a new possible customer who already trusts your brand. In other words, using their customer satisfaction.
A good example of this bullet in practice is the Sozy ambassador program, with founder Lanai Moliterno stating, “It is the only thing that shows what you are building has true value.”
Bottom line: First impressions count, especially as the online space gets increasingly saturated. Therefore, getting your awareness digital touchpoints right, matters.
2. Consideration Digital Touchpoint Examples
The next stage on your digital customer journey where you should be placing and mapping digital touchpoints is the consideration stage. This is the stage where they have been introduced to your brand and now need a little more information about your products and how they can solve their problems or needs.
An excellent example of this in action is with remarketing eCommerce Facebook ads. Here’s a campaign from West Coast Kids doing just that.
According to WebFX, 96% of first-time online store browsers will leave your website without purchasing. Therefore, almost all your awareness traffic will need to be brought back through off-site marketing, making digital touchpoints crucial at this stage.
Why? The consideration stage helps you position your products in the minds of your consumers. While it’s deeper than awareness, the new potential customer may need a bit more information — and trust — before checking out. These retail touchpoints can be off- and on-site, and deciding on what to place, and where, will depend entirely on your brand, data, and products.
Here are some consideration customer touchpoint examples:
- Visual merchandising. Your store’s visual merchandising is one of the most important touchpoints. While your awareness campaigns initially bring shoppers to your store, your on-site visual merchandising ensures they stick around to learn more about your brand and products. This includes your site’s homepage, layout and navigation, category pages, and product collection on-site ads and pop-ups.
- Email marketing campaigns. Email is a powerful touchpoint for remarketing campaigns, especially when engaging with new signups who have just discovered your brand and have you fresh in their minds. You will, of course, need to include email signup targeting in this stage as well.
- Retail brand blog. Think whitepapers, how-tos, and product buying guides. Your online store blog is an important digital touchpoint for your awareness (search and content marketing) and consideration (remarketing) campaigns. They also give you a chance to show that your store is an authority and expert in the niche while answering important questions they may have around your niche.
- Digital remarketing ads. Remarketing social media and PPC marketing is key to educating and bringing new potential shoppers back to your store. Here you want to highlight the value of your products and show how your products are the answer — even better if you can add personalization. And they can be even more powerful when you combine them with a product discovery landing page.
- Content marketing. The key here is added value. When combined with social media, content marketing is another powerful content marketing tool that you can use to move potential customers to the buying stage. This means staying active on all your channels and engaging with customers on a human-to-human level.
- Customer service and support. Your on-site customer care is definitely an important touchpoint. By being able to answer any questions a potential customer might have, in real-time, can help you guide them to the next stage — purchasing — quicker. A good example of this is implementing online chat on your store.
3. Purchase Digital Touchpoint Examples
While the purchasing stage can seem to happen primarily on-site, your off-site touchpoints — such as strategically placed digital ads, email marketing campaigns, and third-party review sites — play a big role. This is an essential component as it helps drive your hot, ready-to-buy shoppers back to your store.
Here’s a good example of a back-in-stock email marketing campaign designed to do just that.
The key to retail touchpoints that fit into this stage is that they are collectively intended to engage customers into one final action: purchasing.
Ultimately, it can involve your entire marketing channel list, working seamlessly together with your store functionality to drive shoppers to your checkout pages. Here are just some examples of purchase customer touchpoints:
- Shopping cart and checkout page. Your store’s checkout flow (from product page to shopping cart and checkout pages) is integral in not only concluding a sale but optimizing profit potential. Whether it’s a well-placed upsell or a simple, streamlined cart flow, these digital touchpoints for eCommerce stores are probably one of the most important.
- Email marketing. Email marketing campaigns are a major retail touchpoint in the purchase stage. While keeping potential shoppers engaged with your brand with a regular newsletter (building trust and relationships), they are a great tool for bringing potential customers back to your store to buy. A well-timed promotion, for instance, will take a shopper from consideration to purchase, and a cart abandonment email could re-engage.
- Store functionality and navigation. Can your potential customer find the products they are looking for? Is the product customer feedback good? Do your pages load quickly and efficiently? These are important things to address if you want to ensure you keep browsers engaged and convert them. In short, your store and its design are important digital touchpoints.
- Customer service and support. Customer service and support play a role throughout your buying journey, acting as digital touchpoints along the way. Whether by email, SMS, online chat, or social media messenger, engaging with your customers is vital in moving them through the entire process and building long-term customer loyalty.
- Logistics. Your eCommerce shipping and fulfillment offers more retail touchpoint engagement beyond the purchasing stage (your FAQ, return policy, and shipping promotions). Delayed delivery or expensive shipping, for example, can make a shopper abandon their purchase altogether in checkout.
- Online merchandising. Online merchandising offers a series of customer touchpoints. For instance, your product collections, and category and product pages and how they are optimized, help potential shoppers find the right product quickly and efficiently. This means the way your products are arranged throughout your store is heavily responsible for driving sales conversions.
4. Retention Digital Touchpoint Examples
The buyer journey doesn’t just end once a customer completes a sale. Every post-purchase retail touchpoint that happens immediately after a sale ensures that you can create a good shopping experience until the product is delivered and unboxed.
Additionally, how you engage with shoppers in the weeks after can help you encourage long-term retention and lead them into the final buying stage: loyalty. Basically, your after-sale customer service directly impacts your recommendation and repurchase chances.
And as we know, if you want to build an online retail brand that enjoys continued growth and profitability, you need high customer retention. Here are some digital touchpoints at the post-purchase or retention stage to consider:
- Logistics and customer service. Your order fulfillment, shipping, and customer service through the post-purchase process are all touchpoints whereby you can not only engage with your customers but influence their long-term impression of your store brand. This can be as simple as ensuring your post-purchase email or messaging automation flow is as communicative and personalized as possible.
- Community options. Post-purchase is a great time to reach out to new customers with community options. There are several channels you can use to build digital communities. For example, introducing them to a niche-related Facebook group could help you prolong post-purchase engagement and increase that feel-good feeling for your brand. Or consider encouraging a customer to download your store app or join your VIP program.
- Customer surveys. Immediately after the delivery of the product order is the best time to re-engage to get customer feedback. Not with hard-sell offers, but with a genuine interest in how they found the experience. Not only are you more likely to get reviews (if you don’t wait too long), but customer surveys help you get a shopper's fresh experiences. Ultimately, engagement and data from this touchpoint help optimize other touchpoints along the journey.
5. Customer Loyalty Digital Touchpoint Examples
Also known as the advocacy stage, the loyalty stage is super important for long-term growth. Here you want to specifically engage your customers in a positive way on a consistent basis to encourage brand loyalty.
These touchpoints are about more than generating repeat business. They are about building a community of brand fans and advocates.
Here are some of the most well-used loyal digital touchpoint examples:
- Personal milestone email marketing. A well-timed, personalized email can go a long way to building loyalty. By acknowledging and rewarding customers on crucial days, such as birthdays or first-purchase anniversaries, you not only engage customers but make them feel considered.
- Referral programs. Another popular way to build long-term loyalty is with a referral program. By offering customers incentives to be brand ambassadors, you not only encourage fans, but you can use these advocates to grow your reach to new potential shoppers.
- Rewards programs. Reward and customer loyalty programs go a long way to boosting brand perception and building loyalty. While special promotions and discounts or new product launch “sneak peaks” boost sales, your eCommerce marketers will also have access to shopping behavior data they can use to optimize other touchpoint promotions and earlier stage brand interactions.
Sephora is an excellent online retail example of a brand doing all three to boost retention, loyalty, and long-term growth. In addition, their comprehensive point system includes exclusive savings, free gifts, and makeup events.
The bottom line is that there is an abundance of digital touchpoints online retailers like you have at your disposal at every stage to engage customers while growing your business long-term. So, where is your eCommerce digital marketing team to start?
To determine the most important digital touchpoints for your eCommerce brand, you want to look closely at your digital customer experience data to see what is performing well and where you are lagging. Ultimately, these will depend on your specific audience’s preferences, needs, habits, and market situation.
However, there are some key touchpoints that most successful online retailers have in common. Let’s quickly look at these top retail touchpoints and how you can optimize them.
What Are the Most Important Digital Touchpoints, and How to Optimize Them?
Digital Touchpoint #1: On-Site Marketing and Merchandising
You can drive all the shoppers you want to your store, but if you are not engaging with them the right way once they get there, you will lose them. Ultimately, your online store and how it functions is your most important customer touchpoint, and how you structure it and your products is vital. That means your product display and sorting are especially important.
The best way to optimize your product sorting is to ensure you are showing the right product at the right time to engage store browsers. Even better if you can combine personalization with retail KPIs and advanced product sorting automation when arranging product displays and category pages.
Digital Touchpoint #2: PPC
The next must-have digital touchpoint for eCommerce stores is PPC campaigns. There are a variety of channels at your disposal, and choosing them will depend on where your market, or prospective market, is hanging out.
Let’s look at the net digital advertising revenue share of major ad-selling online companies worldwide from 2016 to 2023, according to Statista.
To optimize these digital advertising touchpoints to their maximum potential, you need to:
- Take advantage of keyword or interest segmentation
- A/B test every campaign before throwing big budgets at them
- Monitor campaigns and be ready to tweak them in real-time
- Take full advantage of remarketing campaigns
- Look into PPC automation tools to use the power of machine learning
Digital Touchpoint #3: Email Marketing
Email marketing is a great way to engage potential customers and shoppers one-on-one. In fact, email is a key digital touchpoint at every stage of the buying journey, from consideration to loyalty. And when it is optimized correctly, it can be compelling.
One study found that email marketing messaging is about 5X more likely to be seen when presented via email than Facebook.
The best way to optimize this prominent digital touchpoint is to make sure you align it with the buying journey. This means:
- Looking at existing data and surveying current customers
- Identifying triggers
- Fine-tuning your buyer personas
Here’s a comprehensive customer persona example that shows all the possible triggers for various stages and the digital content marketing that moves a shopper along their customer journey.
Digital Touchpoint #4: Social Media
Another critical digital touchpoint on your eCommerce buyers' journey is social media. Not just in terms of digital advertising but social shopping and marketplaces, content marketing, and customer support. Being able to engage back with potential customers in the moment can be very powerful in terms of conversions. Here are some statistics.
Undoubtedly, social media is a powerful touchpoint in your buying journey. Additionally, it’s one of the few types of touchpoints that can be used across your entire shopping experience. And when optimized, it can boost your entire:
- Digital advertising strategy
- Content marketing strategy
- Customer support strategy
- Overall digital marketing strategy
Digital Touchpoint #5: Customer Service and Support
Your customer service and support offers another unique opportunity for you to engage with your customers one-on-one. Whether by a well-placed FAQ page, implementing online chat, or engaging back with potential customers' social media questions, how you interact with your customers matters.
At every buyer journey, you want to be as quick as possible to address any questions or concerns a potential customer may have. You also want to ensure these encounters are as pleasant as possible while staying tightly within your brand voice. Why? Because these engagements also play a big part in your overall brand impression, affecting short-term sales, long-term retention, and customer loyalty.
Final Thoughts: Tweak, Tweak, and Tweak Again
There you have it, the leading eCommerce touchpoints. Any of the digital touchpoints highlighted in this post can prove highly effective when it comes to digital journey mapping. Additionally, you have access to these possible digital touchpoints as well:
- Text/SMS marketing
- Influencer marketing
- Online events and promotions
- Post-purchase logistics
- Voice assistants
Ultimately, it’s not enough to just use the most popular touchpoints. You want to ensure you are tailoring them specifically to your brand, niche, products, and audience, as well as current market trends and changes.
And when it comes to touchpoint optimization, you want to tweak, tweak, and tweak again. This means optimizing each of these touchpoints until they send a steady stream of customers through your checkout to steadily grow your profits and business, long-term.
Have digital touchpoint questions? Feel free to get in touch with our eCommerce merchandising and marketing experts here.