In the cutthroat world on online sales, customer loyalty means everything. It means more market share, higher profits, higher brand recognition and a stable, growing business. Customer loyalty has two important benefits – firstly, it means the conversion of a one-time shopper into a trusted customer who would always come to you for their shopping needs. Secondly, it drastically increases the chances of word-of-mouth marketing, or customer referral, which is arguably the most effective way of business expansion in the online world.
Loyal customer base is like capital – a valuable resource. And one must treat them that way. A lot of work goes into creating and nurturing a trusted customer base. It requires a solid branding strategy and impeccable customer service. Your customers would be loyal to you if and only if you are loyal to them. Think from the point of view of a customer, for instance. What do shoppers look for in a business? Availability and choice are of course important aspects, but in the online world, there is no dearth of these two (unless of course, you are running a niche business, in which case, you must amp up your market analysis).
Apart from these obvious concerns, a customer looks for a good shopping experience. That means a wholesome user experience design for your website, and avoiding the obvious mistakes that tend to irritate the average customer. The consumer also looks for good customer service – your response time to their queries, your reactions to their feedback, and of course, issues like your returns policy, serving time, etc. These are points that not only can make or break a sale, but also build or destroy customer loyalty.
Let’s look at some of the ways you can improve customer loyalty on your online store, in detail.
How to Make Sure Your Customers Return to Your Online Store
Rethink Your Customer Service
This one is obvious. This is the crux of all customer loyalty strategies. If you don’t have good customer service, all the other resources that you employ in revamping your company image are a waste. Be courteous and always ready to listen. Do not hesitate to admit to your faults, whether in a private conversation or on a social media platform. Work on that returns policy, and try to provide your customers with a hassle free shopping experience.
Rethink Your Brand Image
Point 1 is a necessary but insufficient condition to increase customer loyalty. What you also need is a brand image that your customers can relate to. They should feel at home, when you are serving them. The only way to go about this is to deeply study your customer demographic and tailor your services accordingly. Think of it as creating a personality for your website. A good exercise is to actually imagine your website as a person and model it in a way that your customer base would want to be friends with it. Try it! What do you think would be the gender of your website? Does your existing website sound like it is too full of itself? What would be its favorite films? Although the question of personal choice is a quite subjective one, the question of public perception can be satisfactorily attempted by considering a few sociological implications. Most importantly, give your website and your social media images some personality to distinguish them from a run-in-the-mill online store.
Start with Your Friends
Build a network. The first step to do so is to start with your friends. Encourage them to share your brand image (if they are close friends, then force them to). Find their friends and make friends with them. Give them offers that they would like to avail. Speak out on issues that you think they would care about (#NetNeutrality). Watch your network grow. Customer loyalty is not a static idea. One has to keep working at it, changing gears, strategies and plans to be successful. There is no upper limit for customer loyalty.
Provide tangible reasons for customers to come back and shop with you. Come up with offers and bonuses that they can avail if they shop with you again. Companies like Starbucks regularly use this strategy and come up with offers like this. It is all about understanding the needs of a customer and crafting an offer that would make the average customer feel enticed.
Talk to the Customers
Use email newsletters to let them know about your offers. Use social media to interact with them. Social media doesn’t have to be constrained to Facebook or Twitter. Instagram has been experiencing massive popularity due to its easy to comprehend pictorial format. Instagram for businesses is actually a great way to keep up with your customer base and have conversations with them in an exciting, engaging platform. Keep posting interesting images and you will surely reap the benefits.
In case of questions or doubts, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Browntape. We are always happy to help!