Customer Loyalty in E-Commerce? Here Are 5 Tips to Improve It:
So, you’ve set up your e-commerce store-front, begun to market it, integrated SEO into your web listings, and put out a killer line of products. Is it time to sit back and let the profits roll in?
Well, yes. But with all the intensive focus that many new companies have on building their name ID and connecting and appearing to new customers, it’s easy to forget that existing customers are between 60-70% more likely to make a purchase than the 5-15% odds that new customers have. Customer retention might seem basic, but it is critically important to maintaining a successful online business. Luckily, we have five key tips below that will help you do just that.
1. Amazing Customer Service
Unless you’re working for the Department of Home Affairs, it’s well worth stressing the special importance of the basic business principle of excellent customer service. This doubles for e-commerce platforms, which face extreme competition. Your customer service is literally the difference between a satisfied, returning customer who may sing your praises to their friend group and a site covered in negative reviews that people hastily click out of.
Fortunately, the web is a rewarding place to practice customer service for the attentive marketer. One key tip, especially for stores geared to younger customers, is to have multiple ways of outreach. The standard email and phone line is a good start, but increasingly, many successful companies operate contact services on Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram. By creating multiple ways to contact you, you not only allow your customers to contact you in the way most familiar to them, but you also boost the web presence of your company and create the opportunity to build a more personable brand, which leads to…
2. Create a Personal Experience
Imagine you’re attending a Halloween party and you need the perfect darkly gothic outfit. You walk into a store, and looking around, you notice its minimalistic design, well-lit white walls, and salespeople dressed in crisp suits. Are you feeling confident that they’re going to understand your needs?
Of course not! Modern day consumers, faced with a plethora of options for their e-commerce needs, value a unique and personalized experience very highly. An old cinema cliché runs “Know your audience” and its good advice here. The first step to knowing your customers is to gather data, by collecting info on what is purchased, what is browsed, and how much time is spent in each section of your storefront.
With this data, you have everything you need to start tailoring your experience. Selling high end products to young professionals? Stick with neutral colour web pages and elegant web design that screams quality. Children’s toys? You’re probably better off with vivid colours and interactive graphics. At the end of the day, you want to create a unique web experience that customers will remember and come back to time and time again.
3. Loyalty Programs and Freebies
This one is actually pretty obvious, I mean, who doesn’t love free stuff? What you may not know is that 70-75% of customers think loyalty programs are meaningful to their relationship with the brands they are most loyal to. That’s a pretty staggering amount, and in a business climate like that, it’s hard to justify not having one.
Now of course, as a small or fledging e-commerce site, it might not be feasible to offer expensive big-ticket items like occasional free delivery or a 2 for 1 special (although these can be very successful). But don’t be deterred, with a little creativity, it’s pretty easy to add some low-cost measures that can really go a long way. An idea that I’ve come across and loved is giving users the option to add a free, personalized card and message to their purchase. This is very low cost, but it’s very useful to people who are sending products as gifts, and it can really make a difference to their desire to use your site again, particularly if the cards are tasteful and of good quality.
A loyalty program itself can be a remarkable source of staying power as well. If you offer free delivery on every fifth purchase, for example, that’s a good incentive for a customer to make at least five purchases on your site. Best of all, should they choose not to, you haven’t lost a cent – a true win-win situation.
4. Targeted Marketing
Targeted marketing is definitely a key piece of strategy for online companies, and e-commerce stores are no different. Who among us has never clicked off a website to address a notification or because the clickbait article in the side-bar was just too (hey, no judgement here) irresistible?
The point here is that oftentimes, consumers may need a slight nudge to get them focused again on your site. There are many ways to do this, from using social media algorithm marketing to promote your products on social media sites when customers have been browsing your site, to sending out (although not too frequently, no one likes a pest) marketing emails that may include recommendations based on past purchases and an update on any amazing specials you might be running that week.
Engagements such as these are very important in a marketing environment where attention is an important commodity. By reminding your customers that you exist, and that you’re, in a way, thinking about them, you definitely help to ensure you’ll be on their minds whenever they do need to make a purchase. This leads us to the last key tip…
5. Abandoned Carts
Life is busy, a fact I certainly don’t need to remind small business owners of. Sometimes, customers may get distracted and click off with a full cart left behind them. In fact, a shockingly high 79% of all carts created on e-commerce sites are abandoned after being created.
Now, the reasons for these abandonments can be anything from genuine changes of mind, to a quick peek at a low bank balance, to a simple distraction from check out. What definitely doesn’t hurt is to have a quick email or notification that reminds people that they have a cart waiting for them if they are ready to purchase. Although this strategy is used by giants such as Amazon and Uber Eats, it’s an easy one to miss and can really give you an edge over competitors.
Need one way to enhance this technique even further? Include a link that can take your customer directly to checkout with the cart they have. By cutting down on them having to re-find and re-add everything to the cart, you’re far more likely to secure a purchase.
Attracting new customers and putting your name out there is of course absolutely vital for any fledging e-commerce site, but be sure not to neglect actually keeping and deepening the relationship with the customers you do have. By following these tips and integrating them into your storefront, you’ll be sure to have a business that keeps customers returning time and time again in no time.