New customers are entering your sales cycle. And your team is ready to fulfill orders today.
But how do you transform this sudden wave of excited customers into lifelong buyers?
Well, let’s state the obvious: it’s not easy.
Brand loyalty starts with customer satisfaction. And reports show that “91% of unsatisfied customers who switch over to another service provider will never come back.”
Moreover, it’s a daunting task to earn loyalty from 10 people. How do you scale it to 100 or 1,000 customers?
New consumers offer an opportunity to cultivate brand advocates. Let’s explore how to accelerate customer retention.
Hooking Your New Customers
Research shared in the book, “The Loyalty Effect,” unveiled that “Building loyalty with 5% more customers would lead to an increased average profit per customer of between 25% and 100%.” It’s vital to build relationships with customers early.
Strive to satisfy your consumers’ needs. That means anticipating problems, offering quality customer service, and being a trusted resource in your industry.
“Customer loyalty may be the most important area of focus for ecommerce businesses in the next couple of years. It is simply much more profitable to sell to loyal customers than it is to constantly seek out new ones,” writes Armando Roggio, contributing editor for Practical Ecommerce.
Loyalty can’t be bought. So, your team must create a plan. Start by integrating customers into your brand’s culture.
What values do your brand represent? Does it entice people to learn more? And how can customers participate?
The best companies make a bold effort to claim their brand values. Apple has innovation. Hot Topic represents teenage rebellion. And Nike inspires everyone to become an athlete.
These brand qualities are then infused into everything—products, tweets, and customer service. The goal is to etch positive impressions onto your customers’ minds.
On both surface and subliminal levels, brands are saying “if you want to be like __ then buy __.” The more powerful the storytelling and symbolism, the more the loyalists buy in.
So, to scale loyalty, businesses must engage consumers. Work with your team to develop habit-forming experiences.
Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: Building-Habit Forming Products, says, “Habits supercharge growth, increase defensibility, increase value of the user to the company, [and offer] greater pricing flexibility.”
According to Eyal, there are four fundamental elements to hook consumers: a trigger, an action, a reward, and an investment.
IMAGE VIA CMXHUB
A trigger prompts the consumer to use your product. The action is the simplest behavior to receive the customer’s response.
The reward is the tangible or intangible recognition the customer gets for taking the action. And the investment lures the buyer into participating in the next trigger.
For example, Facebook notifications reminds users to add friends. After the user logins, she can add a friend with one click.
The user is happy to have more friends in her network. She keeps the notification setting on because the user desires more friend requests.
Develop strategies to keep your consumers coming back for more. These principles offer the opportunity to build long-term engagement.
The Framework for Engagement
Gallup defines customer engagement “as a customer’s emotional or psychological attachment to a brand, product, or company.” Engaged customers are more loyal and profitable than average customers. It’s a definitive predictor of company growth.
But don’t make engagement a superficial goal. You can’t just tell your team: “Go engage!”
“Consider customer engagement as a continuum. At the low end of the continuum, people simply demonstrate an awareness of the company’s brand product or service. Moving along the continuum, they appreciate the quality and relative elements of the product or service,” says, Terri Nolinske, Ph.D, research associate at the National Business Research Institute.
The Spiegel Research Center reports that the digital ecosystem is reshaping how brands approach customer engagement. Instead of the traditional funnel, companies must identify engagement as an engine.
In this new framework, “brands and consumers are synergistically interacting with each other in new ways that can have a powerful impact on customer value.” Engagement is an ongoing process fueled by endless customer interactions.
IMAGE VIA SPIEGEL RESEARCH CENTER
Try integrating this new model into your business strategy. That may involve co-creating content with customers, building a social media newsroom, or adopting a mobile app platform.
“Recognize success in customer engagement requires the need for continuous improvement. The business should have alternative strategies and should test to see which ones will work the best,” writes David Cacik, head of marketing at LiveAgent.
Today’s engagement landscape is evolving. Discover opportunities to improve your customer relationships.
True loyalty is the holy grail of customer satisfaction. Every business should aspire to attain it.
“Customer satisfaction breeds true loyalty. When you are highly satisfied, when your needs are completely met and your expectations are consistently met and even exceeded, you simply cannot imagine using another product or service,” states Inc. contributing editor Jeff Haden.
Researchers found that “86% of consumers say personalization plays a role in their purchasing decisions.” To earn loyalty, customize the buyer’s experience.
That may include segmenting email lists to send special promotions. Or offering personalized recommendations on the homepage. It’s an effective way to scale your loyalty efforts.
Netflix sends customers personalized emails based on their viewing behaviors. The streaming service company wants to keep consumers aware of new show releases.
Relevancy is also an important element of personalization. A mother of a newborn baby doesn’t want information about college entrance exams.
“You can start personalizing your experience from a user's very first visit to your site based on the referring source. For instance, altering product pricing and promotional offers, images on landing and product pages, or the amount of text on a page to make an experience as relevant to a user has possible,” says Brian Honigman, a New York City-based content marketing consultant.
On the Shopify Plus platform, ecommerce store owners can personalize their websites. This ensures a tailored experience for their customers.
“It’s so easy with Shopify,” says Brittaney Sarmiento, site administrator at Crislu Jewelry. “I have a lot more flexibility to customize the site and change the way it looks based on customer behavior.”
Fresh Insight From Brand Ambassadors
Brand ambassadors take many forms. It can be a buyer who tells his friend about your product. Or a customer who shares all your Facebook posts.
“If you want those all-important referrals in the future and if you want to keep your business solid, it's your current clients that are going to be your biggest asset,” writes Adam Heitzman, co-founder and managing partner at HigherVisibility.
Online fashion retailer JustFab empowers its faithful customers—fabshionistas—to share social content around its products. And the ambassadors earn perks for participating in program-exclusive missions.
IMAGE VIA READYPULSE
The issue arises when companies stop there. They are just grateful for the brand awareness. And that’s perfectly fine.
However, there’s an opportunity to gather insight. Learn more about your consumer’s habits from your brand ambassadors.
Market research will help you understand buyer behaviors and scale the findings to a targeted audience.
Let them be your eyes and ears on the ground. For instance, ask brand ambassadors to interact with your customers.
From promoting upcoming sales to observing consumer’s reactions, brand ambassadors have the ability to acquire useful information.
But don’t take it overboard. Consumers know when a brand is being inauthentic.
Brand ambassadors can do more than generate social buzz. Equip them with the tools to monitor customer behavior.
Retention as the Goal
Research uncovered that “when consumers are aligned with a brand, they give it twice as much share of wallet as those who are not aligned with that same brand.” It’s difficult for customers to switch brands when they love you.
At the end of the day, your team wants business growth. And to increase customer retention commit to your strategy.
Micheline Nijmeh, CMO of LiveHive, Inc., writes, “Improving customer retention needs to be a top priority, and it doesn’t have to be difficult–but it does take focus and commitment.”
Several factors determine why customers decide to stick around. Beyond initial satisfaction, buyers must possess an emotional connection with your brand. That’s when they are excited to read your email newsletters.
Some customers are die-hard fans. No matter the price of your services, they will maintain their loyalty. In this situation, price is trivial and the value of your brand outweighs the costs.
Also, there are buyers who love telling others about your business. They are grateful to post a product review or refer a new customer.
IMAGE VIA VIBEWEBSOLUTIONS
All levels of brand loyalty should play a role in your ecommerce store. Just be mindful that some levels may dominate others.
For example, if you’re focused on brand advocacy, develop opportunities for customers to recommend your products. You may even want to build an advocacy program.
Tom Edwards, chief digital officer at Epsilon, suggests adding the following qualities in your advocacy programs to sustain loyalty:
- Show customer appreciation in the form of surprise and delight triggers.
- Empower the consumer to truly carry and own the brand identity.
- Use recognition as a tool to transform a loyal consumer into a vocal brand advocate.
Use brand loyalty as a way to boost customer retention rates. It’s the key to maintaining a profitable business.
New customers offer value, but loyal customers offer lifetime value. Train your team to scale brand loyalty when there’s a surge of new buyers.
Execute the Hook model to build customer relationships. Gather data from brand ambassadors. And remember, your goal is customer retention.
Cultivate brand loyalty. Start with your new customers.
For more tactical ways you can do this at the different touchpoints of the post checkout experience, please read: