When it comes to building a successful online business, cultivating a brand and making sure your customers are aware you’re out there is only half the battle. The other half is all about making sure you’re bringing in enough repeat business. That means cultivating a sense of brand loyalty in those that do choose to make a purchase with you.
Today’s consumers want to feel like they have a relationship with the businesses they buy from. This is even more the case with small businesses or independent contractors. Like any relationship, the business-customer relationship needs to be cultivated, maintained, and nurtured. Here we’ll take a closer look at how you can not only win the loyalty of your customers, but maintain it for many years to come.
Any eCommerce store owner is likely to have spent a fair amount of time in the beginning on simply driving traffic, and with good reason. Before you can get a customer interested in what you do, you need to let them know you’re out there and help them find you. If you’ve been successful at this, then the chances are you also know quite a bit about the people that visit your site.
You know where they came from. You know which search engine they use, whether they use a mobile device or a desktop system, and what search terms successfully sent them in your direction. If they found you through social media, you know what platforms they use. You probably have a pretty good idea of what motivated them to check out your store in the first place. In other words, you already know many of the ways your customers are alike and different from one another.
That said, marketing campaigns that treat all your customers the same won’t be nearly as successful as personalized marketing campaigns. No one likes receiving generic form letters or marketing emails that feel canned. Make sure you’re personalizing at least 50% of your messages to your customers. This can be done by creating custom segments or customer groups based on common traits, habits, and buying patterns, and then tailoring marketing strategies to match.
Take a moment to consider a few of the brands you yourself feel loyal to. What keeps you coming back to them again and again? What makes you continue to choose them even though lots of other options are available? The chances are pretty good that it’s about a lot more than just low prices. Your customers feel the same way about the brands they’re into.
At the end of the day, you’ll need more than just the lowest prices on the block in your corner to inspire true loyalty in your customers. If that’s all you bring to the table, there’s nothing keeping your customers around if some other guy comes along and offers prices that are lower still. Instead of essentially paying people to stay loyal to your brand, consider adding the following:
Start by considering what concepts and principles really motivate your customers. Think about how your brand might fit into their lives as a result. Are they people that live hectic, busy lives and want convenience more than anything else? Do they like the feeling of being exclusive and having access to something not a lot of people do? Do they enjoy feeling connected to their community and their service providers on a personal level?
Next, look for a way you can recognize a given need in your customer and reward them with features or options that speak to that need. For instance, exclusivity lovers might respond well to “just for you” deals or early access to special features. Convenience lovers might appreciate life hacks or express options.
All customers will appreciate being welcomed to the fold, being thanked for their purchases, and being rewarded for continued loyalty with discounts, special deals, or special gifts. (Well-timed trigger emails can help with this.)
Last, but certainly not least, modern consumers are looking for a lot more than just great products to buy. The most successful entrepreneurs fill this need by giving their clientele other reasons to visit their site or social media accounts. That means turning your site, social media profiles, and emails into resources for stellar content, helpful tips, and entertaining reads, in addition to great products and services to buy. Here are some tips to remember:
Whether you’re adding the content to newsletters, apps, a Twitter feed, or an on-site blog, it’s of the utmost importance that it be in line with your brand and everything it stands for. Ideally, it complements the products and services you offer or shows the customer how they can get more out of them.
Any content you send or provide to your customers can’t be “just anything.” Skip the generic filler content in favor of unique, useful content that informs, entertains, or helps. Make sure it’s well-written, engaging, and concise. Never allow your customers to feel misled in any way. Label sponsored content and posts as such, be transparent, etc.
Decide upfront what you want your voice as a service provider and an individual to be – serious, helpful, funny, etc. – and stick to that. Take advantage of this chance to help your customers get to know you and form a connection to what you stand for.
At the end of the day, cultivating a loyal customer base is all about making the effort to get to know your customers and anticipate their needs. It’s about letting them get to know you as well. Treat your customers the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their shoes, and you’ll see it come back to you in spades.
Erika is the Chief Marketing Officer at Springbot where she leads all brand, product, marketing campaigns and communications. In her limited free time, you’ll find Erika running through Atlanta with her yellow labrador Sunny or sharing marketing insights on Twitter @ebrookes.