Customer Loyalty: How to Build Lasting Relationships with Online Shoppers

In their hurry to attract new shoppers, online businesses easily lose sight of the importance of keeping existing customers satisfied. And while you do certainly need to expand to grow, nurturing customer loyalty can be more affordable and effective in numerous ways.

Loyal customers tend to become brand ambassadors given enough time. If their lifetime value is significant, you might be able to expand faster by focusing on customer satisfaction rather than acquisition. 

As online stores are able to precisely measure customer lifetime value (CLV), they have an added edge over traditional retailers. They can work with concrete data, as opposed to estimates. 

With that in mind, let’s explore how you can build lasting relationships with your online shoppers. 

Offer Subscription Packages 

The modern online shopper is mainly interested in three things: 

  • free shipping
  • a hassle-free experience 
  • instant gratification

Subscription services combine all three elements. In fact, by 2023, three-quarters of brands that sell directly to customers are expected to offer subscriptions

Subscriptions are now widely available across a variety of industries, from pet food and beauty to spirits and stationary. They are an amazing way to boost your CLV and improve user experience in one fell swoop. 

You can also offer discounts for any long-term subscription purchases. Here’s a good example of this tactic from Somnifix, which offers a significant price reduction for their 12-month subscription. 

You can also offer the benefit of personalization. If possible, allow your customers to choose their own subscription length and package contents. Easy cancellation should also be a part of the bargain, as you don’t want customers to feel trapped.

Offer Complementary Products 

Cross-selling is another simple yet effective way to boost CLV. When you offer products that work well together or that are often bought together, customers are more likely to return and make all of their purchases at once, as opposed to going somewhere else. 

To cross-sell effectively, you need to give your inventory some serious thought. What is it your customers will likely want to buy together? What items can level up your current inventory? 

For instance, Rain or Shine Golf has done a great job of pairing larger items, like golf simulators and hitting bays, with smaller ones such as mats and launch monitors. The customers’ enjoyment of each of these individual products increases when they buy one or more of the supplementary items.

When cross-selling, make sure you also use a plugin that will suggest products that go with the one a visitor is currently looking at. You can’t expect shoppers to do all the work and hunt down the complementary products on their own. You need to point them out, and you’ll want to make sure these recommendations are on point. 

For example, beauty giants Feelunique and Beauty Bay both have a “You may also like” element on their product pages. They focus on recommending products from similar categories and for the same skin type. 

Set up a Loyalty Program

Loyalty programs are your way of rewarding your customers for spending a certain amount of money or time shopping with you. Add to that the fact that 75% of customers will favor a brand that offers this kind of incentive, and you’ll start working on yours immediately. 

The key to a successful loyalty program lies in making the rewards as personalized as possible (or allowing your customers to select them) and gamifying the experience. You want shoppers to be excited about reaching the next level and being awarded a certain status. 

Badges are a great way to boost the effectiveness of your program. So are sensible rewards – whether they are one-time or apply to each order a customer makes. For example, you can offer continuous free shipping to certain members and a permanent 2% discount to others. 

A brand that has one of the most famous loyalty programs in ecommerce is Sephora. Their annual VIB sales are famous in the beauty community, and the perks that come with being a member are significant. Plus, there are certain bragging rights that come with Rouge status, which isn’t all that impossible to achieve.

Visibly Engage with Your Existing Customers 

Finally, you want to ensure your loyal customers feel seen and heard. You can reach out to them in person at times – through email or by adding a note to their order – but make sure to do it on social media, too. This will show others how engaged and interested you are.

Customers will feel special when a brand they love gives them a retweet, repost, or even a simple shoutout. It will only take a couple of minutes of effort on your part to generate great potential upside. 

Real Thread often retweets their customers and replies to tweets when customers receive their deliveries. This is not only an effective way to boost customer loyalty but also a way to show off their products and services, thus attracting additional customers.

Being genuinely active on social media will take you down the route of community building. It can help you come off as much more of an approachable and understanding brand – someone with whom shoppers like to do business. Make sure your replies and posts have a unique voice and don’t sound like a scripted reply.

To Sum It Up 

Building relationships that last may seem like quite the challenge. However, it all comes down to genuinely caring about your customers and demonstrating this fact as often as you possibly can. Whether you offer rewards and stellar customer service or cleverly cross-sell your products, people will appreciate the effort. And, in turn, they’ll reward you with their loyalty. 

Karl Kangur is the founder of Resultcompass.com.

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