Customers are the lifeblood of any form of business, even e-commerce businesses but as with all things, they come and go. But what if they didn’t? What if you were able to make them stay?
Harvard Business Review states that Acquiring a new client is said to be 5 times more expensive than keeping an old one. From this, you could logically infer that keeping a previous customer will be more profitable.
Well, this article will show you how you can turn visitors into returning ones by building customer loyalty.
Note: This article is focused on building customer loyalty. If you would like to work on customer retention, check out this article.
What Is Customer Loyalty
A loyal customer is one who is totally committed to your brand. They prefer to use your products and services instead of your competitors.
This might be due to your delightful customer service, your altruistism towards pricing your products, or something else. The idea is, that your customers are so attracted to your uniqueness, they choose you over others.
Why Customer Loyalty Is Important
Having customers who keep returning to buy your products is very important. In a study from Bain & Company, it was discovered that a mere 5% increase in customers retained improved sales and profits gained by 25%.
What you need to take away from this statistic is that as an entrepreneur, you should be putting in a ton of effort into retaining customers.
Doing this can seem daunting especially if you are just starting out but it is not impossible. As long as you have a plan and a vision, you can without any doubt build a unique brand that will keep attracting previous customers.
To help you with this, I have provided some techniques you can employ to start working towards customer retention and building customer loyalty.
8 Ways To Build Customer Loyalty
1. Create a Referral System
Your customers are a great channel for passive marketing i.e. spreading news about your store to their friends and family.
That is why giving them a great first experience is necessary. The goal of creating a referral system is to take control of this marketing channel and make it active.
This involves actively reminding your customers to refer your store and products to their loved ones in exchange for perhaps discounts or an incentive of some kind. By doing this, you are tapping into a customer base you might not be able to reach through traditional marketing.
There are various ways you can go about this. You could reward your customers with a store credit for every customer they bring to your store or do a special offer where they get a particular percentage of the purchase their referral makes.
2. Use Trustworthy & Reliable Delivery Fulfilment Centres
If you are planning on starting an e-commerce business with the hopes of supplying cross-country or internationally, you will definitely need a fulfilment agency.
This choice is highly critical as it can either make or break your store. A lot of stats show just how much customers enjoy quick and comfortable deliveries.
Make sure the fulfilment agency you will be working with has a track record of reliability and on-time deliveries. By providing your customers with an amazing delivery experience, they will be willing to come back for the level of comfort you have offered them.
For this, Globallyfulfill is a company I would recommend. They are a China-based fulfilment centre that specialises in clothing and other apparel.
Using state-of-the-art technology to handle all the logistics of warehousing, inventory management, and shipping, they ensure your products are delivered in the best condition to your customers at the appropriate time.
3. Take Advantage Of Seasonal and Holiday Specials
Holidays are great and special seasons are great for businesses, especially online businesses. So how can you tap into this to build customer loyalty and retention?
Each season and holiday has certain items it is popular for. Christmas has stockings, tree decorations, and gift wraps, Easter has fake eggs, and Halloween has makeup, candy, and pumpkins.
All you need to do is run promotions and specials during or close to these holidays on the particular items you know will be popular during that period.
So just go look at your calendar and plan out which days and seasons you will be targeting and consider if the hot items during that period are a part of your niche.
For example, if you run a clothing business, you could run offers for Christmas sweaters and stockings during the month of December.
4. Contact Your Customers Regularly
The aim of this is to ensure your customers do not forget your brand. Whether it be through phone calls or email newsletters, just make sure your customers are constantly reminded of what you offer.
As you do this, your customers may not immediately require your services but whenever they do need it, your store will definitely come up first in their mind.
Email newsletters are awesome for doing this. Whenever you make a sale to a client or a visitor who interacts with your store or website, ensure you have systems in place to acquire their email address to place them in your mailing list. Be careful though to do this legally i.e. with the consent of the customer.
If it fits into your brand’s image, you can also use physical mail. Yes, this might sound old and out of date but, depending on your product and target age demography, your customers might appreciate it.
You can play it safe and just ask your clients after they make a purchase if they would like to be added to the physical mailing list.
Do ensure that you provide an option to opt-out or unsubscribe from your mailing list.
Remember that you are trying to make them feel comfortable and satisfied with every interaction they have with you.
5. Encourage Feedback
You cannot be perfect. While running your store, you will definitely make mistakes, some of which your customers will notice and be willing to discuss when it is requested.
By working on this feedback, your customers get to see themselves as important to you and become repeat customers.
One way you can get feedback from your customers is through reviews. Encourage customers to drop their honest reviews on your products and their overall experience after they make a purchase. Here’s a detailed explanation on how to do this.
You can also use surveys. A very common survey experienced business owners use is the Customer Satisfaction Assessment Test (CSAT) surveys. This survey provides some insight to how much satisfaction customers derive from interacting with you and your products.
What is more important is to take the feedback and actually work on it. Write up an appreciative response anytime a client provides feedback be it good or bad.
Once you start implementing the feedback, make sure you inform your clients of these changes so they know you are listening and that you value their input.
Just remember that you cannot satisfy everyone and not all feedback will be positive so ensure you prioritise the growth of your business.
6. Provide Loyalty Offers
Who does not like a good offer? Everyone’s looking to save a little more money and you can use this to your advantage.
Loyalty offers are discounts and offers you provide to customers who have returned to purchase from your store. It serves to show how much you appreciate their patronage.
A Hubspot article on creating customer loyalty states that ‘Acts of kindness create a feeling of obligation in the person who instinctively wants to repay the kindness.’ This is the principle that loyalty offers work on.
Providing extra value for a customer can leave a lasting impression and a sense of obligation that results in a tight customer-store relationship.
Doing this can come in two forms. There’s the in-your-face loyalty offer where the customer knows you’re going the extra mile to provide them with that offer.
This offer sometimes involves the customer hitting a target or milestone to gain access to it. Then there’s the subtle offer that comes in the form of a surprise gift, maybe free personalised swag.
It does not always have to be some huge offer that could excessively affect your profits especially if you are just getting started; it could just be a 5% per cent discount for people who have made at least three purchases.
Make sure it’s easily achievable and free of ridiculous Terms & Conditions.
7. Invest In A Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
Having impeccable customer service and providing your customers with a seamless experience with your brand can require you to invest in software that allows you to track things and set automated actions.
Although, this is more for seasoned e-commerce store owners who have a large pool of customers to manage. As a beginner, you do not need this.
Investing in CRM software can be helpful to you and your team (if you have one). It allows you to store and have access to vital customer information like purchase habits, transaction records, and more anytime, anywhere.
This makes solving customer issues easy as all the information you’ll need is in one area.
It also provides tools that analyse this information to construct systems for providing loyalty offers. You can also segment your customers in a manner that allows you to provide them with personalised marketing campaigns and offers.
All these culminate in a better and smoother experience for your customers, giving them a reason to come back for more.
8. Be Consistent
Building a reputable and trusted business requires consistency on your part. This means that your customers should trust you to keep delivering whatever makes you unique.
This is vital because when your customers help promote your brand to another person, the service and uniqueness remain the same.
To do this, you need to set your goals and then build actionable plans. If you plan on regularly posting at specific times on your socials, do not falter.
If you plan on sending welcome emails to new sign-ups, make sure they go out every single time. If you plan on sending confirmation emails every time a customer makes, do so.
View it as though you were a Live TV Channel with regular programmes airing at various time slots. If you are not consistent with the programmes, you will lose viewers.
If you are not consistent with your brand’s uniqueness, you will lose customers. This means you may have to set up automated systems that do things without your supervision.
A loyal customer base that keeps returning to purchase from your store makes up a huge percentage of your profit so it is only logical to work hard at building one.
As you have seen, the secret to doing this is an understanding of what makes your brand unique, dedication to creating a consistent image, and for some, using tools that allow for automated processes.