Rose Hamilton, EVP and CMO of Pet360, believes there is a lot more to ‘etailing’ than simply selling a product. At Pet360, an e-commerce website for pet owners, the focus of marketing and digital efforts is to become an effective resource for pet parents. Before her time at Pet360, the website was transaction driven. But with Hamilton’s help, it has become community driven, with an emphasis on the user experience.
It is now a one-stop-shop for not only buying pet related products, but also learning about pet wellness issues, reading pet parenting related blogs and connecting with other German Shepherd, Scottish Fold or fuzzy hamster owners in the Pet360 community.
At eTail East 2013, during the Social Commerce and Social Engagement Summit, Hamilton shared the following 6 tips she believes will allow any company to transform transaction focused online platforms into online communities:
1. Identify an executive sponsor for your upcoming efforts. Decide what higher up member of your company is going to sponsor your efforts. If the CEO is worried about ROI and the budget they will have to allocate in order to hire an editorial staff, then attempt to bring in the CFO of your company, in order to better justify costs.
2. Define the value of customer engagement. Make sure that you understand how your marketing efforts will justify your financial goals. In other words, come to an understanding with your executive sponsor on how you will monetize your future online efforts.
3. Shape the culture of your community. Begin to understand your consumer’s emotional motivations and engage accordingly. This begins in-house with the engagement of your own staff members. If they aren’t engaged in the online community, how can you expect people outside of your company to engage?
4. Leverage consumer feedback to guide decisions. Feedback is NOT failure, thus in order for you to test certain community themed changes to your online platforms, you must create a risk-tolerant culture within your organization.
5. Integrate consumer engagement. Consumer engagement efforts must be spread over the whole of your organization. Everyone must be empowered to further along your company’s engagement methods.
6. Measure quality over quantity. Focus on planned content as well as segment tailored content, rather than just customer acquisition and traffic. measurement.
By following these steps, Internet retailers will be on the way to creating true online communities. Click here to see how Rose has applied these steps to her own business.