A decade or so ago, most businesses develop relationships and loyalty with their customers based on one-on-one and personalized interactions between the company owner or the staff. These days, most transactions occur online. However, customer loyalty remains a key component to the success of any business.
As the Beeketing blog explained, it's more expensive to gain new customers than to retain current ones. A company has to spend a lot of time, effort and resources to find new clients. It's far easier and more profitable to just keep existing customers satisfied, happy and loyal. As a matter of fact, keeping customers happy and returning can boost profitability by up to 75%.
But how does one build customer loyalty? Here are five tactics an eCommerce business can use:
1. Sell Good Quality Products
You can't expect to garner customer loyalty if the customer's first experience with a purchased product is one of disappointment. This is why it's imperative that you sell good quality products. If the item, software, or downloadable content you're selling is poorly made, your customers will not come back. They might also hurt the business further by leaving bad reviews. Conversely, delivering a well-made product will ensure repeat business and develop loyal customers.
2. Provide Great Customer Service
Aside from offering high-quality products, providing good customer service is another vital way for an eCommerce business to develop and encourage customer loyalty. A 2011 survey conducted by American Express revealed that 8 out of 10 customers would not patronize a business anymore after one bad customer service experience.
Providing good customer service isn't necessarily hard or expensive. There are also several options open to companies, like incorporating a live chat to make it easier for customers to reach someone. Self-service options can also make it simpler for clients to troubleshoot common problems or find answers to frequently asked question. Interacting on social media and offering flexible return and exchange plans can also keep clients returning.
3. Be a Logistics Master
Much like the two previous examples, fast and reliable shipping service also strengthens customer loyalty. This is particularly true for eCommerce businesses as they have to master logistics like shipping packages safely, quickly and cheaply to their customers. This also means having a clear concept of how to pack products properly, finding the best courier and service for a specific shipment, and setting realistic expectations with the client. Remember, good products bought at fair prices that arrive promptly or when they're expected will go a long way to earning customer loyalty.
4. Develop a Fun and Relevant Rewards or Loyalty Program
Loyalty programs are an effective but surprising underutilized marketing tactic. Make your customers feel important and valued by offering rewards for their continued engagement. This can be in form of major discounts, free gifts, or instant or early access to exclusive sales. Personalizing the promotions you give loyal customers will also make them feel important and give the impression that the company is taking care of them.
More and more companies are also opting for fun and gamified rewards programs that allow the customers to participate. For instance, a coupon app can give customers access to special deals and promotions while encouraging them to earn badges by looking for deals on particular products. Aside from making it more fun, it also creates interest for the product and could even tap into the customer's social media network.
5. Offer Useful and Entertaining Content
Another way to boost customer value and loyalty is via content marketing. Studies indicate that retail sites that made use of content marketing could have six times better conversion rates than those sites that do not. However, the trick is to make sure that the content, copy, and marketing actions are informative, entertaining, and engaging. One prime example is the weekly digital magazine of fashion house, Mr. Porter. The articles are often about the company's products but they also include topics that deal with health, fashion, food and the arts.
Think about the various ways your customers interact with your company. Make sure they have a positive experience every step of the way and they will keep coming back for more. More importantly, your loyal customers might even tell their friends about your business.[Featured image via Flickr.com]