In many retail sectors, first-time visitors to the website make up the collective bulk of online sales. However, most of these potentially valuable new customers often leave the site without ever making contact in a way that would allow the brand to reconnect with them at a different point in their buyer’s journey. In fact, you probably won’t ever know what they were looking for, why they didn’t buy it from you, or how you can improve their experience on the site.

When visitors aren’t nurtured properly they may never add something to their cart, or may abandon their carts for a variety of reasons.

The bottom line for any eCommerce site is that these customers aren’t getting what they need and are leaving the site without purchasing, or without spending as much as they could have. So as I’m about to outline, there is a value to be had from inbound marketing for eCommerce sites.

I want to keep this in my wheelhouse, so let’s talk about a recent experience I had. Some background: I’ve been playing roller derby for years, but I never got into the equipment. I just paid one of our trainers to take care of it for me for several years.

I fit a certain segment, a certain “type of person” (though the only box I like being put in is the penalty box), which could be personified something like this:

Roller Derby Rosie_3

One day I needed to buy some new wheels…

The only thing I knew about my existing wheels was that I had been skating on them for around 7 years and they were blue. Oh, and that 5 of the 8 wheels were bald, which is why I needed new wheels. That was it.

I entered the wheel buying world online and my head nearly exploded. It turned out that wheels have different levels of hardness! And widths! And even heights? Oh, boy.

Guess Which One of These Stories is True

Experience one

I searched roller derby wheels on Google. It led me to a seemingly reputable site. Everything passed muster on the first scan, so I went to check out the wheel inventory, which was beautifully displayed.

I clicked on some wheels and a page opened with a great description that was definitely not a factory regurgitation. They weren’t overly fluffy in the description, but they did mention some things I didn’t understand, like the hardness.

Derby Wheels

At the bottom of the product description, I saw  a call to action (CTA) suggesting that I could learn more about wheels. Once I followed the CTA to a landing page, I found a bevy of intelligent and helpful information on wheels.

There, I learned that the hardness for indoor skates for my weight class is best between 86A and 94A. I also see that hybrid wheels are all the rage, and several trusted brands are offering them. These hybrid wheels can perform equally well on smooth concrete, hardwood or sport court surfaces. I skate on all of those! I learn the “normal” profile of wheels and find the ideal pair for my unique needs as a skater.

The price range is perfect! And there are reviews! Well, written reviews where other buyers disclose their weight and general use (where they skate, etc.). You’d think that a detail like the weight wouldn’t matter, but it does. They list pros and cons. They even use their roller derby names, which  instantly gains my trust. Because, if Fiona Grapple, BeyonSlay or Angela Death endorse a wheel, then I’m interested in reading what they have to say.

In Which the Online Roller Derby Community Saved My Butt (A Change From Them Knocking Me On My Butt)

The reviews from other derby girls alert me that maybe I’m actually getting the wrong wheel. It looks from the reviews that I can stand to have a slightly harder wheel in the hybrid family and still get the grip I want. The roll, however, will be lacking in these. Okay, I think, “well I guess that’ll be a change and I’ll have to work on my conditioning to match my current speed performance.”

After I add the wheels to my cart a new CTA pops up with some suggested accessories. Whoa! I knew I was going to need bearings, but I had no clue I needed 2 bearings per wheel!

Very sad, but true. I really knew this little about my equipment for a sport I’d been playing for years. Imagine how helpful all this info would be to a brand new skater, or fresh meat as we lovingly call them.

I check out with my $80 purchase and am so excited to get my new wheels. Upon checking out, I see a form on the page with an offer to get a full guide to derby gear! I quickly fill it out and get my first email. It thanks me for signing up for the offer and promises to send me updates when safety standards change.

The email also tells me a bit about the most common roller derby injuries and how I can prevent them with different types of gear. I am no spring chicken, so that is one heck of a compelling hook. And having been playing for so long, I can admit my injuries are in the double digits. Every season the player attrition rate due to injury is a financial and personnel burden to leagues around the world. It’s cool to have good info on preventing injuries to share with fellow skaters.

A few days later I get my wheels and bearings, and another email. This time the email outlines experts recommendations on when to replace pads and helmets.

It dawns on me that I’ve been using the same stinky, duct-taped pads, and helmet for over six years. It also occurs to me that maybe that last knee injury could have been prevented. I click through the email and quickly upgrade all my pads; I buy knee gaskets to help further protect my aging knees, a new mouth guard and even a new helmet. This time I’m checking out with $250 in my cart.

Safety Gear for Rosie

I get an email from them again in a couple weeks and I am excited to see what it has to say. It’s seasonal this time and all about skating outside and making sure you still use your safety gear. Plus, it suggests some really cool outdoor wheels, which is awesome because I just bought those indoor wheels and I don’t want to ruin them. It also has a really cool guide to changing your bearings included as an infographic in the email. How cool is that? I forward the infographic to my entire team (about 50 girls) and post it on Facebook for my derby friends in other states and countries to see. It gets a ton of likes and shares.

I’m so excited I found this company!

Experience two

I start by Google searching once again, and find a site that looks fine enough. The UX kind of sucks, but whatever.

Radar Villains

I find some wheels that look pretty cute. The description is clearly from the manufacturer. The reviews all say they’re great. Literally, they are one sentence reviews that say “These wheels are great!” so I go ahead and buy them. My order totals around $60. I  know I need bearings also, so I grab an 8 pack right before I check out. Now my order is approximately $72.

When my order arrives I quickly learn that they need 2 bearings per wheel. So I have to go back and order 8 more and pay for the shipping again.

After I get them on and hit the rink, I find out that these wheels are nowhere near hard enough for me. I have to look up on YouTube how to remove the bearings, so I can  return my wheels for a refund. When I pop out the bearings one of them hits me pretty hard square in the forehead.

In the end, my total spend with this site was $24.

Out of frustration, I then seek out a different eCommerce site from which to buy.

As much as I wish this was all hyperbole, experience 2 is exactly what happened to me last month when I went to buy new wheels.

Because of that, I imagined what I wish would have happened in experience 1, where the imaginary eCommerce site was using Inbound Marketing tactics to engage and nurture me as a customer.

The Moral of These Stories

An eCommerce site can sometimes scrape by with a lackluster user experience, poor conversion rates, no contact nurturing and no persona-based strategy behind their content marketing efforts. On the other hand, a brand that invests in providing value to their visitors from start to finish will thrive by attracting, converting and retaining more customers.

A robust Inbound Marketing program can take a customer from a single purchase to a brand evangelist quicker than you can believe. Rosie’s value not only lies in her repeat purchases, but also in her spreading the word about the great derby gear website she found. In a niche market with growing competition, have as many Rosies as you can get. It’s worth the work to set up a nurturing campaign to address Rosie’s pain points and even think of her needs before they occur to her (like the outdoor wheels).

So I ask you, which experience are you giving to your customers? Need to get in on the Inbound for eCommerce experience. Download our checklist to get started.

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