Your online store’s survival can depend on it: make your shoppers loyal!
Being an online shop operator, one of your primary tasks is retaining your customers. Instead of continuously looking for new ones, you have to pay attention to keeping the old ones satisfied and also to reactivating them.
In the following, we will present the techniques which help you reward your present customers, how you can gain the loyalty of the new ones and how you can build a community and “raise” evangelists in the meantime.
We are going to discuss the following topics:
- What do statistics show?
- Fist condition: you should have an excellent customer service
- Enhance your email communication
- Monitor customer behaviour
- Create useful content!
- Ask and listen
- Give points
- Special discounts
- Create a new channel by community building
- Create winners
- Exclusive access only for veterans
- How to carry out all this?
Let’s start with the most important question right away:
Does it really make sense for you digging into the topic?
What do statistics show?
Numbers don’t lie.
So it is not a matter of choice whether you seize the old ones in case you want to have a lucrative business.
Loyalty programmes usually provide a great opportunity for that – you can choose several techniques from the simplest solutions, like the collection of points that is familiar to everyone, to the more complex evangelist-educating campaigns.
It’s almost just your imagination that limits how you can build loyalty.
And according to the researches 87% of the users like loyalty programmes – moreover, they are even essential already in certain segments. 68% of generation Y for example declare they would not be loyal to any brand that doesn’t have some kind of good loyalty schemes.
These programmes definitely work: the vast majority, 83% of loyalty programme participants think that they more likely purchase from the brands dealing more with them.
How can you build such a level of trust? We are going to try to list the hows, although it will not be easy, you’ll have an even harder challenge: how you will be able to implement all the ideas.
First condition: you should have an excellent customer service
We have already talked about this in the article on the increase of customer lifetime value: if you want your clients to return to you from time to time with a positive experience, you have to actively deal with their problems and questions.
Therefore, you need to operate a customer service that is continuously capable of giving them reassuring answers, so that even if they turn to you with a complaint, they can feel that you don’t treat them lightly, on the other hand, you take them and deal with them seriously.
It could also be useful if the customer service doesn’t only play a passive role: you can for example create groups on social sites for your customers, and you can answer the different questions and comments there even if they were not addressed to you.
Enhance your email communication
It’s an obvious tool, but at the same time one of the most profitable among the tools of online marketing: email marketing.
Once you have obtained the data of your customers, if you know their email addresses, their names, and what they purchased from you, you can start sending them personalized emails.
Compose letters that offer relevant products and content and do that in a way so that the customers feel they are important to you, and not that you want more of their money.
How can you sell while making them feel that you care?
For example, by monitoring the service life of the different products. By using automation, you will be able to offer them a more recent product, even a better one, when the lifetime of the previous one comes to an end.
Based on their activities, send them content, which they may find useful: if you make a video on how to use correctly the product they can buy in your ecommerce store, what they should bear in mind, what tips they may not be aware of, send it to the segment that have already bought such products from you earlier.
Help them instead of pushing them aggressively towards making a purchase.
Even the more personalized emails work wonderfully: greeting your old customers on their birthdays or on the anniversary of their registration on your site, and giving them a small personalized present on the occasion, are usually exceptionally well-received.
Monitor customer behaviour
Speaking of personalized offers: by monitoring customer behaviour and by fine-tuning your communication – not only in email – according to that, building trust will be easy for you.
You should not only monitor the purchases: with the help of analytical tools you can also follow which product data sheets the different customers visit, what they add to cart that they still don’t buy in the end.
If you give an individual and immediately available discount on a not purchased product, or if you offer the best of a given category with a discount to someone who has viewed a lot of similar products, you will increase the chances of customers purchasing again from you – and at the same time they will be impressed by your attention to their needs.
Create useful content!
After discussing usefulness, we are going to talk about another topic: content creation.
Content marketing can greatly assist you in acquiring new clients, and in reinforcing of the loyalty of the old ones as well. If questions are asked from you, if similarly formulated problems are frequently addressed to your customer service, or even if a certain question comes up on the various customer forums from time to time, you already know you have found a good topic.
You should process these in a way that you already answer the questions: if your customers have some kinds of problems, they shouldn’t even need to write an email, they should simply be able to find the content giving them the relevant and useful answer.
This could be a blog entry, a video or even infographics: the most important thing is to give real answers.
In addition to that, as we have already mentioned earlier, you can set your imagination free in connection with the product as well: you shouldn’t only demonstrate what the drone, the lawn mower or the mobile accessory you sold is capable of: you should also give useful hints.
- How can I use your product better?
- How can I extend its lifetime?
- How can I clean it without damaging it?
- Can I repair it myself or I need to take it to a repair shop in any case?
- Why is it buzzing and bubbling anyway?
Those who answer such questions can count on being trusted even in the long run.
Ask and listen
You should regularly ask your returning customers on how shopping in your store feels for them.
By organising voting, by using questionnaires, you can extremely effectively collect useful data, you can learn at first hand what you should change in order to ameliorate the user experience.
Process the results, publish them, but you should not stop there: if many people request an additional function from you, build that in, and communicate it towards your audience that you did that because they asked you to do so. You are not the person who simply peeps in their wallets while they are talking to you, but the one who shapes the shop according to their needs, just to make purchasing more comfortable for them.
Point collection may be a simple but effective solution: everyone is familiar with it, everyone knows what it is about. It’s up to you, what the returning customers can exchange the points to – it is best if it’s a free decision to be made by the customers, which means you offer a good number of gifts to choose from.
That’s because the more freely the rewarded can choose what they would like to have, the more freedom of choice you give them, the more valuable they will consider the outcome.
- how the users obtain points based on different parameters,
- built-in customer referral programme,
- rewards granted based on social networking,
- VIP programmes with different customer “levels”,
- customize how customers can spend their points,
- personalize the attributes of the cart and the products more easily.
It’s also substantial to grant special discounts. The simplest way of doing this is probably when the higher RFM segment your customers belongs to (for details see our article on the increase of customer lifetime value), the higher discounts you offer them – either as a percentage of the price or by offering them certain things for free, like free delivery.
You can also offer discounts based on their previous purchases: if they regularly buy from a specific product category for example, you can give them discounts on these products.
Create a new channel by community building
Create channels, through which you communicate only with certain “privileged” users – sort of VIP clubs, for instance closed groups on Facebook, where the system of the online shop automatically invites in email those who have been registered members for the last six months (and who have purchased let’s say at least 3 times already).
You can share exclusive content through these channels, you can ask questions – if you communicate actively and helpfully, the news will spread by the members, and this is one of the best ways of “bringing up” evangelists and of reinforcing and sustaining their loyalty.
The main reason for which this is true is because social media sites provide a great opportunity for two-way communication: you don’t tell your audience anything, but you talk to them and they talk to each other and thus a discussion begins and a community is being built.
You can carry out prize promotions, even with participation exclusive for the loyal customers. You should take advantage of the opportunities the social media offers to spread the word about yourself.
And you shouldn’t just send the prize to the winners: talk to them, ask for their permission to display them on your page – you should make the others able to imagine themselves being in the winner’s position.
You can do that more simply as well, without organizing any special games behind it. Oreo for instance, regularly introduces “fan of the week” on its Facebook page, they provide him publicity in exchange let’s say for some sort of a small creative product placement for example.
Exclusive access only for veterans
If you introduce a new product with a major campaign, provide early access to your most loyal customers: by doing that, you can increase the product’s value in their eyes and also in the eyes of the “outsiders” with the exclusivity, while collecting inestimably useful feedback and testimonials.
At the same time, you can further reinforce loyalty, since you perfectly show how generously and with how special treatment it is you reward those who choose you over a long period of time.
How to carry out all this?
It may seem a great deal of work putting into practice all that’s described above – however, if you do it smartly, your job will be easy.
First of all, you don’t need to deal with everything at the same time: start with community building, ask a lot from your customers and extend your loyalty programmes according to their needs.
Presence in social media and content creation are almost for free compared to how useful they are – you can organize those even in-house, with minimum expenses while still pulling your audience even closer.
And for the programmes requiring special software solutions, if you can, hire a developer who can implement them – and don’t save on that: the aim is to enhance user experience, and because of a less competent developer, carrying out a not certainly excellent work, a single bug may create irritation instead of satisfaction.
In that respect we are happy give support, should you require any Magento eCommerce related help.