How To Turn Happy E-Commerce Customers Into Brand Loyalists
If someone asked you to name your favorite food, I’d be willing to bet you could come up with an answer within seconds. But what if you were presented with a more pressing question? Something more difficult to pin down, like naming your top five vacation destinations of all time? Would you be able to name them without hesitation, or would you need to take a moment to think back on the last few trips and reminisce on the memories made in order to rank them?
I know what you’re thinking. Now that you can’t get that much-needed vacation out of your head, you are asking yourself, what does all this have to do with your customers?
Consumers have needs and wants. They are constantly searching for products they need, and along the way, they often discover products they desire. But with 290 million internet users in the U.S. alone, finding new customers requires a strategic focus and substantial investment, which brings me to the first step for any e-commerce optimization project: Make your e-commerce experience memorable.
It’s no secret that it’s significantly more expensive to work to acquire a new customer than it is to retain one you already have. The good news? Social media platforms are disrupting traditional advertising models through advanced targeting and low-fee structures.
Facebook and Instagram currently have the lowest barrier to entry for paid advertising. Brands of all sizes can drive qualified traffic to their online stores for a low cost per thousand impressions (CPM). But as any online merchant knows, just because you can get the consumers onto your site, doesn’t mean that traffic will translate into a transaction. This is where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes into play.
Working in partnership with Shopify, our team at Grass Monkey has developed a guide for e-commerce merchants inspired by client-backed data that focuses on implementing website functionality that turns happy customers into brand loyalists. These website features not only enhance the customer’s shopping experience but also personalize their order process.
1. Product Reviews
BrightLocal’s 2018 “Local Consumer Review Study,” which surveyed 1,000 U.S.-based consumers, found that “86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses,” and “70% of consumers read four or more reviews before trusting a business.”
Be proactive. Set up automated emails to check in with customers following their orders to request reviews, and let them know how much you value their feedback. Ensure product reviews are prominent on your site and easy to find. Linking to a page with all your product reviews in the main navigation or footer is an easy way to show customers you take customer service seriously. And the most important advice? Allow customers to share photos. Based on what I have seen, when it comes to product reviews, a picture really is worth a thousand words.
2. Customer Loyalty Program
According to the “RetailMeNot Incrementality Study,” a 10-minute online survey of 1,018 U.S. adults conducted in 2018, 93% of participants agreed that if a retailer offered good discounts, they would purchase again. Furthermore, 48% will avoid companies that don’t have discounts.
In the Amazon age, brands struggle to build a customer base and grow store revenue without providing visitors with a series of discounts. Unless you are the only store that carries your products, consumers will find them elsewhere and likely for less. From email sign-up promo codes to annual calendar promotional periods, customers have grown to expect regular discounts.
So, how do you satisfy the customer without hurting your brand equity? This is where customer loyalty programs come in handy.
Reward your customers for valuable actions like sharing on social or referring friends. Show them you’re thinking of them with annual birthday rewards. You can also reward your best customers with exclusive rewards as part of a VIP program. Tier your loyalty program so customers start to see their reward points adding up with every dollar they spend. Oftentimes, the more customers feel they are earning, the more likely they are to purchase more. Increasing the cadence of your orders and the units per transaction can really impact your bottom line.
3. Personalized Website Chat
The “J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Chat and Email Benchmarking Study,” which analyzed the responses in 3,563 chat and 3,573 email interactions over a 12-month period, found that 60% of customers who have used chat would “definitely” recommend it to others.
Ever wonder why customers spend five minutes browsing your products but don’t purchase? Well, what if you could ask them?
Thanks to the evolution of text messaging (MMS), customers have become more comfortable with online chats. Gone are the days when online chat was reserved for customer service issues or questions regarding an online order. Today e-commerce brands are embracing online chat software for a variety of use cases from real-time stylist advice to one-on-one fit consultations.
Cover your bases. Utilize artificial intelligence (AI) to answer the most common customer service questions you receive so your staff can focus on more personal customer conversations. Link to informational pages, such as returns and exchanges, available shipping methods and size guides.
Running an e-commerce business requires time and capital, but with today’s emerging technologies, business owners can find support where they need it most with the help of third-party apps and software. So, before you set out on your next e-commerce optimization journey, just remember: when getting to know your customers, you are a consumer too.
Amelia Castellanos | Vp of Digital Media