Getting and retaining customers for your eCommerce site is the crucial element in any successful business plan. This may seem an obvious statement but carrying it out - as eCommerce experts Amazon will testify - is easier said than done!
So, why do we need to retain those ideal customers? And if it's so important, how do we go about it?
Why retain when you can simply gain?!
Because, although attracting waves of new customers will undoubtedly help you in the short and medium term, it is far more cost effective to encourage those loyal customers to spend a little more with you rather than someone else once their free trial, discount offer or double dosage has expired.
Customers who come back to your brand, product or service repeatly must - by the way of denomination - love something about your company. Be it service, quality, price, product, design etc., there is something that they can go on to tell their networks about, spreading the word about your fantastic company and product.
In short this is an opportunity for your best customers to transform into your promoters bringing with them highly targeted and nurtured leads. From this point the advantages of investing in returning customers could explode leaving you with the ideal situation of much of your advertising and promotional work being done by your own clients!
Now, with the reasoning in finding methods for retaining your best and most profitbale customers being undeniably attractive, wouldn't it be great if a list was put together concerning the best methods to retain more customers for your e-Commerce site?
Naturally at Purple Frog we have a desire to service!
3 great ways to retain and gain on eCommerce
Ensuring your site is ranking well in search engines is naturally the starting block and the more targeted your SEO campaign is and becomes can determine how well you will be able to realistically retain those key repeat customers. But finding out exactly what that target audience is looking for is the first step towards successfully retaining your customers.
1. Produce content for THEM
When we refer to them, we mean THEM! The exact customer or audience you want to come to your website in the first place. The ones who will love you product or service to the point where they will come back again and again.
This ties neatly into the keyword research which is mentioned above and will undoubtedly increase your chances of showing up in search engines initially. Naturally the content you produce for your target customer must be filled with keywords - whilst maintaining best practice on-page SEO - and therefore target exactly what they are interested in.
Creating great, exciting and engaging content will allow your customers to feel part of your company and give a human face to an otherwise faceless organisation. This is something we have spoken about before using social media marketing, and it can be a great method of interacting with your current client base.
Whether it be sourcing solutions to problems they have or making them feel unique and valued, social media and adding that personal touch can turn customers into promoters in no time.
The same can be said for blogs posts and other content that is published directly on your site. Creating content that they will want to read, share and comment on will increase the sense of community and attachment to your business or product. Rich media like video is excellent for this.
Inbound marketing experts at HubSpot note that 78% of people watch videos on-line every week, and by 2017 they believe that video will take up 69% of consumer internet traffic. The potential in video and good Video SEO - again a subject we have mentioned before - is huge.
People are far more likely to share your content if it is a video, and engagement is also impressively high. Over recent study found that 65% of users watch video's appearing on Google 75% of the way through or more!
This all points to the importance in finding out exactly what your target audience wants and what they find interesting. Trial and error are important at this stage.
2. Deliver a great UX
UX or User Experience is again something we have stressed before. Ensuring your e-Commerce site is delivering a great UX is important on two levels. The first of these being the usability, for which the best example for e-Commerce is always Amazon.
Their product pages are designed around speed and ease-of-use. The paying buttons are all with the same screen shot as the product, meaning a reduction in scrolling and an increase in the likelihood of a users clicking 'Add to basket' or 'Buy now with 1-Click'. This function is where Amazon is really excelling.
By minimising the amount of effort returning customers have to put in to place an order they have created a user journey which has just of 2 clicks! The same can be said of the final processes of a new customer. It is simple and quick to set up an account which means users can track, manage and view previous orders, as well having access to loyalty features like '1-Click'.
Essentially ensure your entire website is easy to use and accessible for even the most basic user - remember not everyone is a computer expert with infinite knowledge of websites.
Zach Goldstein - the CEO and founder of app creation company Thanx - says "Reducing friction is imperative. Faster throughput translates into real revenue. Merchants lose customers who have to go through several steps at checkout in the hope of having a better experience."
Thanx Zach (couldn't resist) , couldn't have said it better myself.
The second aspect of delivering great User Experience is from an SEO point of view. If your site is delivering poor or worse UX Google will notice. How?
Simple. Your bounce rates (rate at which people leave your landing pages) will be high; your pages visited will be low; and your session duration (length of time users stay on your site) will be also be low. Google will punish your poorly structured site no end, as it (Google) will not want to send its searchers to poorly designed and difficult to use site's!
3. Rewarding loyalty
Loyalty schemes seem a bit of a no brainer when it comes to e-Commerce sites. This is certainly crucial if you are able to create an environment where your customers are inputting their details and creating an account with you.
Whether it be by email, post (yes this is expensive but the personal and thoughtful touch this adds is second to none) or through their account, adding a personalised offer or loyalty programme can dramatically increase your retention rate.
Everyone loves a deal, but the best are when you are rewarded for staying not arriving. Points based system do work, however caution is required as if too many points are needed to get 'deals', people just will not bother.
By creating something tangible that involves rewarding people for their loyalty and giving customers a real reason to come back to your company you will create an environment whereby more people are staying than leaving. Using add-ons, vouchers, loyalty discounts or cards, special pricing and bonuses for ordering through a website will notify your customers that you see a real value in having their business.
Goodwill on your part will work wonders in terms of creating that true loyalty that will turn them into your brand promoters, recommending your company to their networks and friends. Nothing (NOTHING) works as well as a verbal recommendation.
The conclusion to this piece can be very simple.
It is all about the customer. Whether it is creating content for THEM, making THEM feel valued, making it simple to buy and re-buy your products or rewarding THEM for repeat purchases. Ensuring their happiness is the key to any customer retention strategy.
The customer pays your bills. Delight them: excite THEM!