E-commerce merchants invest significant time, energy and marketing spend into driving visitors to their websites in the hopes these shoppers will make purchases. This is a great first step. But it becomes expensive over time to acquire customers who make one-off purchases without returning to your site again for future conversions.
A better goal is to cultivate a loyal customer base full of consumers who make recurring purchases, keep up with store updates and even spread the word about your company.
Turning your e-commerce customer base into a community goes a long way toward building deeper, more loyal customer relationships.
The True Value of Customer Loyalty
We live in a world where e-commerce is more accessible than ever—which is mostly a great thing. But it also means your online store is competing for market share in a competitive landscape. It’s safe to assume customers can get whatever you’re selling elsewhere. So, why should they buy from you? It’s your job to demonstrate the value your store provides to its customers.
Providing solid service and a good product lineup is not always enough, unfortunately. Forbes cites the potentially surprising results of a study from Bain & Company:
Only 60 to 80 percent of customers who describe themselves as satisfied do not go back to do more business with the company that initially satisfied.
In other words, doing everything right doesn’t guarantee you’ll forge a connection with any given customer.
What is e-commerce? In its simplest form, it’s the buying and selling of items online. But there’s much more to it than just the exchange of currency for goods and services. To truly connect with customers on a deeper level, online retailers have to go above and beyond to distinguish their stores through excellent service, unique branding, and a convenient user experience.
Define Your Company Values
As Econsultancy reports, 64 percent of people say the main reason they have a relationship with a given brand is that they share common values and beliefs. In order for customers to know whether you hold beliefs in common, you must first define and demonstrate your company’s values.
An online merchant selling clothing may elect to differentiate themselves by branding themselves as eco-conscious. To convey its commitment to sourcing their inventory sustainable and making the world a better place, this clothier could:
- Emphasize their materials and business practices in line with this eco-friendly branding.
- Donate a percentage of sales to a non-profit organization centered around preserving natural resources, plants or animals.
- Volunteer as a staff completing beautification projects like planting trees—then blog about it.
At the end of the day, your target audience will be made up of a subset of people sharing similar values to your company. Put plenty of thought into these values and beliefs, then make sure you’re making them a prominent part of your overall branding strategy. This will help set your company apart from the pack while also fostering loyalty that runs deeper than just standalone purchases.
Ideally, your customers will feel like they’re part of a like-minded community—something that will keep them coming back to engage with your brand.
Take Advantage of Social Media
Social communities increase user satisfaction, which in turn boosts customer retention. Social media is a great place to get the conversation started for your customer base. If you’re posting primarily promotional content, you’re missing a golden opportunity to ask questions, share interesting or helpful links and host fun contests. When people like interacting with your brand, they’re even more likely to tag a family member or friend who could very well become a loyal customer, too.
Turning your e-commerce customer base into a community can, in turn, boost loyalty and retention over time.