The online shopping sector is an ever-growing, always evolving landscape. Creating and sustaining customer relationships is key. New ecommerce sites can – and do! – crop up seemingly overnight, fulfilling just about every conceivable human need and capitalizing on the ease and convenience of the online shopping experience. It’s truly never been easier for businesses to turn to ecommerce solutions to maximize their customer base and increase profits, but the highly competitive ecommerce market means that customer loyalty is key to longevity.
But in such a competitive and constantly-changing market, how can businesses keep their ecommerce customers coming back for more, instead of turning to competitors? Here are some of our best tips for creating long-lasting customer relationships.
Make relationship commerce an integral part of your ecommerce strategy
While many businesses start their ecommerce ventures with the best of intentions, the near-constant need to figure out new and creative ways to drive traffic to an online shop or website can create a sort of tunnel vision that takes the focus away from the customer and places it too squarely on the business itself. In reality, retaining customers is almost always going to be easier than recruiting new ones, and the first time a customer purchases something from your business should mark the beginning (rather than the end) of that relationship. Find out what drives customers to buy something from your business, and then harness that data into a strategy that convinces them to keep coming back. There are a number of ways to keep this kind of “relationship commerce” at the heart of your ecommerce marketing strategy, such as:
- Sending out tailored communications rather than impersonal email blasts
- Offering personalized product suggestions based on purchase history
- Keeping customers in the loop on major developments within your business or industry
- Having a loyalty program that rewards customers for sticking with your business
- Providing opportunities for repeat customers to “level up” on experiences or services
In short, focus on creating a relationship that is genuine and personal, rather than something that is solely about getting more money out of your customers.
Create a top-notch user experience
There is nothing more frustrating for a customer than not being able to find the product or service they’re looking for quickly and easily. A poorly designed website interface and frustrating shopping experience can kill a potential customer relationship before it even has time to start. An easy-to-navigate site with a fast and accurate search function is crucial not only for one-time conversions, but to build trust between your business and your customers.
To get and keep customers, your internal search engine should anticipate customers’ needs and wants even when they may not be able to articulate it themselves, with advanced autocomplete features, visual searches, and suggestions for products and services that are related to the search keywords. Customers should also be able to customize their search results with filters for an online shopping experience that feels truly personalized. A streamlined checkout process that makes buying from your business easy and efficient will complete the shopping experience and entice customers to return.
Leverage relationships to drive referrals
An easy way to keep current long-term customer relationships and create new ones is to use your existing customer base to drive referrals and establish new relationships. Reach out to your customers and leverage their social media or web presence to refer new customers to your business; it’s a modern form of word of mouth marketing, which is incredibly important and effective at driving traffic to your website and resulting in new business. Consumers trust their friends and family – and social media personalities who feel like friends or family – so knowing how to leverage that trust should be a key component of any marketing strategy.
A good referral program should be one that benefits everyone. Referral links or codes should offer some kind of incentive to purchase from your business, via discounts or exclusive offers and a small commission for the referee.
Make shoppers feel VIP
Build a long-lasting relationship with your customers by treating them like the VIPs that they are. Offer a loyalty program that allows customers to earn points or rewards that can be redeemed later as coupons or discounts. Encourage customers to return by giving them the first look or priority access to any new collections. Even themed discounts for occasions like Teacher Appreciation Week or Administrative Professionals Day can be a nice surprise for customers that makes them feel seen, appreciated, and special.
Ultimately, despite the relative anonymity of the Internet, customers want an online shopping experience that feels both personal and intentional. By keeping your ecommerce business’s marketing strategy focused squarely on your connection with your customers, you can build those long-lasting relationships that keep people coming back to your business time and again.