Earlier this year we wrote an article about how Inbound enhances ecommerce, and why it's relevant throughout the full customer lifecycle. Today we're following it up with a look at how to organise your ecommerce department around the Inbound methodology, what typical roles are needed and the skills necessary for someone looking to fulfil these roles.
Inbound methodology recap
In the previous article we included a short recap about what inbound is, and for those new to the methodology we'll do the same here. Inbound consists of four phases; attract strangers to become visitors, convert those visitors into leads, provide relevant support and guidance in order to ultimately close the contact as a customer, and last but not least, delight these existing relations into becoming promoters of your brand.
It's as simple (and complicated) as that. The rest of the article will focus on how you could get your ecommerce department organised around these four phases with additional roles, as well as what skills are necessary for these.
Inbound ecommerce: Roles and needed skills
My colleague Martin Olausson previously wrote an article about how to build an inbound marketing team, which outlines the DARC acronym for evaluating job candidates; Digital, Analytical, Reach and Content. While the focus in that article wasn't ecommerce per se, the conclusion that different skill sets (different emphasis) is needed in the different inbound phases is important and valid also from an ecommerce perspective. So, what typical roles and skills are needed?
In the attract phase ecommerce players have been embracing traditional online marketing methods since day one. Focus have been on leveraging SEO, SEM and PPC to drive organic and paid traffic. With inbound, additional focus has been put on blogging and offsite communication (a.k.a social media). Thus, typical roles like Traffic Manager (SEO, SEM, PPC) and later Social Media Manager, have often been complemented with a Chief Content Editor with focus on writing, designing and producing inbound attract content (emphasis on the Digital and Content characteristics).
The convert phase, in the sense of showing interest in capturing information about a prospect prior to the first sale, has historically not been a key focus for ecommerce actors. The sale itself has been what's captured attention, and as such ecommerce actors have been late to the inbound game. Increasingly, however, the realisation is that if continuing with a one-sided approach of waiting until the customer is ready to buy to engage them, they might have been lost already. Instead, converting visitors to known relations (leads) with great content before the purchase is becoming key in eventually winning the sale. This means we need to add Data Analysts to the team, with focus on understanding what inbound content is working and what is not, so that we can keep building those new relations. Emphasis here is, obviously, Analytical skills.
The close phase is where the sale happens. But there's more to it with inbound than when working solely with an outbound approach in that e-Merchandisers (product ranking, store management) and Email Marketing Manager is often joined by a Marketing Automation expert. Their focus is identifying, designing and setting up a lead qualification processes, as well as making sure that the necessary content to turn known relations into buying customers (and eventually delighted promotors) is created. Hence, their focus is on Content, but they also need to be Analytical enough to be able to structure processes and get necessary insights of results from the Data Analyst.
In the delight phase, turning customers into promoters is most often a joint team effort, where your inbound team works together with a Customer Loyalty Manager (traditionally found in ecommerce organisations, in charge of e.g. Club memberships). If successful, life time value (LTV) will increase and the customer acquisition cost (CAC) will be lower thanks to inbound.
Some final thoughts
Making your ecommerce team prepared for an inbound approach is most often a gradual process, and it should be. Start by extending your team with roles in relation to your most urgent needs; are they primarily located to the attract, convert, close or delight phase? If you can find talent that can cover several phases and related roles with their skill set you can make a gradual transition towards expert roles over time as results are proven and you get to expand your team.
If you'd like to know more about how to use inbound and ecommerce, don't hesitate to get in touch with us at Zooma.
Online Strategist at Zooma since 2012. 15+ years of experience as a manager, business developer and specialist within online and e-commerce. Has a perpetual drive for knowledge, and knows what to do with it. Find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.