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How To Build Customer Loyalty In The Age of eCommerce

The cost of acquiring a new customer costs your company five to ten times more on average than retaining an existing one. However, nurturing customer loyalty in the golden age of eCommerce and fast fleeing customer preferences isn’t easy.

Free shipping, which used to be one of the top baits for customers, is no longer a privilege; it’s a necessity most companies have to adopt. Add up instant price comparison tools, multiple product review sites and the growing power of online influencers, whose recommendations can leverage a product from the “unknown” to the “household name” status overnight.

Rewards programs, coupon codes and membership bonuses seem like a shaky footing to build long-term relationships with your customers these days. So what should you do instead?

Trust your customers first and don’t expect them to trust you immediately in return. Businesses who manage to take the risks of customers’ shoulders and pull it themselves create a solid foundation for loyalty – trust and credibility. And here’s exactly how this is done.

How To Build Customer Loyalty In The Age of eCommerce

Respect Customers’ Privacy and Customers’ Data Integrity

Here’s the deal: while the majority of customers don’t mind giving away a lot of personal information in exchange for more personalized product suggestions, over 40% of them admitted that the delivered promos failed to meet their expectations.

The reason? A lot of eCommerce retailers these days are guilty of pushing the products they need to get rid off, rather than actually proposing best product matches for the customers. Such “cheating” ultimately works against your brand loyalty. Shoppers these days are smart enough to understand when they are being hoodwinked. Force-feeding products to your users stands for poor customer experience and at the same time, you are also depriving yourself from the actual product preferences and marketing data.

When customers decide to provide you with their personal information, there’s a certain level of trust in place – they are counting on you to use them to their advantage, not to share it with, or sell it to, anyone else or use this information to “spam” them.  Don’t violate that trust. Instead, build your brand ethos and principle around it by:

  • Clearly outlining what type of data you collect and how do you use it afterwards. This should be highlighted in simple language on your Privacy Policy and Terms of Conditions pages. Additionally, it’s worth putting disclaimers at order pages and opt-in pages.
  • Create secure payment gateways and bulletproof financial information storage systems. If your payment form looks glitchy, is not encrypted with SSL certificate and does not feature multiple payment options (apart from credit card), you shouldn’t expect users to trust you a lot. Investing in secure data storage options is an essential step to make as well, especially if you want to appeal to millennial shoppers, who are highly concerned with their credit card data privacy and related frauds.
  • Have a scenario in place for handling customer information breaches. No matter how accurate your systems are, data breaches still may occur. In that case, your duty is to inform the customer immediately and show the genuine concern, along with an assurance to find the best solution fast; rather than trying to keep everything under the rug while you are looking for a quick fix. If your customer ever discovers this problem, your reputation will be ruined for a good and you even might be taken to the court.

Offer Complete Transparency

The complete transparency trend has started to grow rapidly among SaaS startups and now steadily transfers to eCommerce.

Offering super detailed product information is an old hat, yet it’s still a big advantage the eCommerce industry has over physical storefronts.

Your next weapon is customer reviews, which are now trusted by 88% of online consumers. Having an unbiased review system in place, where customers can easily exchange opinions on the product can drastically boost the loyalty factor.

Yet, it is important to keep those reviews unfiltered. Fake reviews are easy to spot and will create suspicion from your customers, rather than trust. Authentic negative reviews can actually be good for your business as they help you to understand which products are in favor, and which ones you should get rid off as customers don’t like them. Last, but not least, some negative reviews among the positive ones can actually boost your conversions, as customers will deem them more authentic.

However, users tend to leave negative reviews far too often, more than positive ones. Here are a few actionable strategies to encourage more interactions from your community:

  • Offer special bonuses for frequent reviewers to encourage your loyal customers to leave a review after each new purchase. Those could be discount codes, rebates, special offers etc.
  • If your products are visually appealing, create a branded hashtag and start curating user-generated content on social media.  Featuring product submissions will not only increase your brand visibility but also make you appear more friendly and approachable to your exciting and new customers.
  • Make sharing a review simple: include a CTA in your receipt; send out requests to your new newsletter subscribers and CTAs on social media. The key here is not to appear to bluntly demanding or promotional.

Consider adding a QR code asking for a review to your receipt – a highly undervalued place of web real estate your businesses has. Your customer has just received fine service and paid for it. While they are are still in the right state of mind, ask them for a quick and easy favor of leaving a review.

Don’t ever consider getting “fake reviews”: No matter how this quick win can seem appealing at the early stages of your business, don’t ever put your reputation at stake by paying someone to include reviews about your businesses and products. Just like buying fake followers on social media will likely do you no good, boosting your reviews non-organically will only mess up your analytics data, put your reputation at risk and can result in massive customer frustration.

Teach Your Customers To Look Beyond The Price Tag

The vast majority of modern customers constantly engage in price comparison, especially with all the tools available out there.  The key to winning the minds of constant “best deal” seekers is to lure them with additional value, which can’t be directly measured in dollar terms. You may consider the following approaches:

  • Offer awesome customer support. Treat each customer as if they are a VIP member. Offer assistance prior to them asking for it. Offer multiple support channels – phone, email, social media. One savvy entrepreneur started using Snapchat to offer customer assistance and troubleshooting with purchased video equipment.
  • Offer free product training or bonus educational material: a cool recipes e-book for peeps who recently bought kitchen appliances; a series of makeup tutorials for beauty fans; detailed DIY instructions for installing and configuring a Smart TV. You can think of a small attractive bait for pretty much any product category you have on your website. Make it short, sweet and easy-to-apply, so that customers could sense instant value from getting it.

Do you have any suggestions to build customer loyalty within eCommerce? Please share them in the comments below.

Images: ” button keypad with customer loyalty word, raster  /Shutterstock.com

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Elena has been working in the digital marketing industry for the past 5 years, first as a cubicle dweller and now as an independent marketing consultant and copywriter. She has a knack for elegant traffic growth hacks, requiring little (if any) investment and creative content marketing.

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Comments
  • These are some great points, Elena!

    I especially liked the section about teaching customers to look beyond the price tag. Offering excellent customer service and support is a salient aspect of any business, but especially goes a long way for eCommerce businesses. It’s important to not only demonstrate your brand’s value, but to also create a brand-consumer bond that shows your brand is more than just a faceless organization. By interacting with your customers – responding to blog comments, being personable on social media, and answering questions in a timely manner – shows your brand cares about them as people, rather than as mere consumers.

    Great post!

  • Great tips Elena. Your point about not doing fake reviews is spot on – they are always obvious




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