In 2015, Cyber Monday generated more than $3 billion in online purchases, making it the largest e-commerce sales day in U.S. history.
The massive deals and discounts offered during the annual post-Thanksgiving event were largely responsible for the day’s extraordinary sales.
But another, less obvious factor that proved instrumental in driving sales that day was buyer confidence.
And while sales soared to record-setting highs last Cyber Monday, a majority of organizations believe that they could have been even better. According to the October 2016 commissioned study, “Boosting Buyer Confidence Drives eCommerce Success,” conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP, 67% of companies think their buyers are making purchases at or below the minimum confidence threshold.
By elevating the confidence level of your prospective buyers, your business can drive more sales than ever and ensure greater customer satisfaction.
Confidence is critical for e-commerce success
One way to define confidence is “the feeling of being certain that something will happen or that something is true.”
Today’s buyers are smart, and they’re wary of spending their hard-earned cash on products or offerings that won’t be up to snuff.
When they make purchases, they want to be sure that they won’t be returning their items in the near future if they break or simply don’t meet their expectations.
On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being no confidence and 10 being complete confidence, 80% of companies surveyed by Forrester Consulting estimate that their buyers prefer to have a confidence level of 7 or higher before making a purchase.
But how can businesses instill confidence in their prospective buyers?
One valuable, yet underutilized tool that companies can use to increase customer confidence and drive sales is an online customer community.
What kind of content inspires buyer confidence?
Prospective customers gain confidence by learning as much as possible about the products or services they’re interested in purchasing.
By offering comprehensive information about their products or services through online customer communities, companies can better educate their prospects and influence decision making.
But businesses must make a concerted effort to provide the right kind of content at precisely the right time in the customer journey.
In a recent Forrester Consulting survey, companies identified the three types of content they find most valuable in aiding online purchases. These include:
- Customer ratings and reviews: Peer recommendations loom large in prospective buyers’ purchasing decisions. Nearly 70% of customers most trust user-generated product recommendations – compared to 55% who most trust company-generated content.
- Live phone or Web chat customer support: People often view customer service as a post-purchase tool, but it can be an incredibly effective pre-purchase tool, as well. Speaking to a customer service rep before buying a product could provide a prospective buyer with the information he or she needs to confidently conduct a transaction.
- Q&As: Like ratings and reviews, Q&As enable customers to interact with and learn from one another. Discovering what kind of experiences other buyers have had with your company could be exactly what your prospects need to hear to inspire them to act.
By providing prospective customers with essential information about your products or services – via customer ratings and reviews, customer support tools, Q&As, and other relevant content available through a customer community – your business can help buyers to make smarter purchases, increase customer satisfaction, boost revenue, reduce buyer dropout, and drive long-term customer loyalty.
Leverage a customer community for your best Cyber Monday ever
The $3 billion in sales generated during Cyber Monday in 2015 represented a 16% increase over the prior year.
The outlook for this year’s Cyber Monday appears equally bright, and an even greater opportunity exists for your online retail site to benefit from the influx of enthusiastic customers in search of the best deals that day – as long as your organization is able to instill a high level of confidence in your buyers.
Leverage the power of an online customer community to educate your prospective shoppers, inspire confidence, and experience your best Cyber Monday ever.
Download this Forrester Consulting thought leadership paper, Boosting Buyer Confidence Drives E-Commerce Success, to discover how you can get started.
This blog originally appeared in Multichannel Merchant.