If you’re living in 2020, it’s more than likely that you’ve bought something online at least once. For many of us, it’s much, much more than once (maybe 100x!). But what drew you to make that purchase?
Understanding the buyer and buyer’s journey is the crux of any good sales funnel, and it can be an interesting and sometimes baffling process when you look at online auctions. Online auction sales typically depend on so many variables. Your marketing plan, the popularity of your organization/brand, the items you’ve acquired; everything plays a role in the sale. You know that. We don’t have to tell you that if you’ve ever run an auction in-person or online.
But what we might just be able to help with is the art of enticing the online buyer. At the time of this writing the US is in a pandemic and nearly every gathering of more than 10 people is being stopped across the nation for the foreseeable future. This social pivot has forced many fundraising efforts to live solely online. What some businesses struggle with, though, is the ability to understand the difference between in-person and digital buy stories.
Attracting and keeping loyal digital customers isn’t difficult, but it requires a slightly different approach than some in-person sales do. Once you’ve got the details down and you’re consistent you can all but bet on growing and retaining your online buyers.
High-quality Imagery & Design
The No.1 thing that we see in online auctions is that the design and the quality of images can make or break a sale. While not all organizations might have access to professional-grade photography, getting good imagery is almost always in reach. If professional images are out of the question, getting great photos might be as simple as considering the staging and lighting for your photos. Well-lit and clean photography from many different angles will always help sell a physical item. There are so many resources on getting good images online. You may also be able to grab high-quality images from the donor's website.
Don’t Sleep on Social Media Marketing
Whether you’re relying on digital word of mouth or you have a big marketing budget, don’t rule out social media advertising and marketing. Creating an event on Facebook to link to and promote your e-commerce platform or your fundraising event is free in many cases.
Social media is also a great place to tap into your personal network to connect new buyers with your brand. You never know which cousin of a friend of a twice-removed auntie might be your next customer.
Make Shopping A Consistently Pleasant Experience
As with in-person sales, buyers want to feel good about a purchase. This means that the experience is a pleasant one with transactions made as easy as possible. While this might come to some more naturally in person, the same basic tenants still apply to online sales. Keep it consistent with your brand and make sure your platform is easy to use.
Pick the Right Platform
Knowing what you’re going for and tailoring your platform to that need is essential. If you’re hosting an online auction, there are tools to make your buyers’ and your donors’ experience feel as luxurious and as tailored as possible. There’s nothing worse than the feeling of being stuck in the wrong platform when it’s too late to turn back, so make sure to do your research well ahead of time. If the platform is wrong for your needs it will communicate that, in the experience, to the buyer.
User Experience Is Key
One of the quickest ways to lose an online buyer is by not considering the payment process and the overall platform navigation. If the space you’ve chosen is unclear, hard to navigate or the purchasing process is unduly complicated, buyers will jump ship with abandoned carts.
This could be casual browsing guests, which is expected to some extent, but can also include serious buyers who were set on a purchase but became too frustrated to complete it. This is one of the worst things that can happen in an e-commerce setting. Avoid abandoned cart heartache by touring your site with fresh eyes. This can be a full walk-through with the buyer in mind or having some of your close friends or colleagues test the experience.
The beauty of online auction platforms (at least the ones we work with), is that the guest is required to register their credit card before bidding. Of course they can browse the online auction catalog before registering, but they cannot bid without a card on file. This makes the back-end closeout seamless for your organization in that all winners are automatically charged and you don't have to hunt down the winners for payment. Inevitably there will be a declined card here or there, but in most cases a simple phone call to the winner usually takes care of this to continue on closeout and and final reporting for your auction.
Keep these tips in mind the next time you set out to attract online buyers. If you’re running an online auction, DCI would be thrilled to help set up your event. We offer custom online auction packages that we can tailor to your needs.