You’ve had an online business for a while. You know that driving sales to your online store can be akin to battling an army of Roman conquerors with only 300 soldiers. Things can get even harder when it comes to repeat sales. The online sales market has grown so much that the new challenge for businesses worldwide is not only to find but also to keep their customer base.
Any business that wants to thrive needs loyal customers. But how do you convert new customers into returning customers? And how do you keep the customers you already have satisfied? Aside from pouring a lot of money into paid ads, there’s quite a lot you can do to help your business stand out and keep people coming back for more.
Building a strong brand, taking advantage of your social media channels, and having a detail-oriented approach towards your customers can go a long way in acquiring, converting, and keeping customers. Here are 10 well-researched tips for staying on top of your customer satisfaction game.
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1. Help Your Brand Stand Out from the Crowd
Getting your brand to stand out is easier than you might think. You can set yourself apart from the competition in ways that only you can think up. Fast or free shipping and lower prices won’t do the trick. Everyone is already doing that for their e-commerce site. So finding creative ways to reach your target audience can give you a leg up on visibility.
For starters, you can do a brand audit. This means that you’ll be looking at how your brand is viewed by consumers. Notice the efficiency with which your brand interacts with them. Also, look at what your competition is doing well for driving repeat sales.
Developing a mission statement and uncovering your brand values are also very important when creating a strong brand. Know what your business stands for, and know the value you can offer your customers. This will clear out a lot of obstacles along the way. It will give your brand a focused direction that you can always refer to when things don’t fit the pattern.
Any brand needs its own look. This look is comprised of visual elements that display how you want the world to see your business. The color palette, typefaces, design, logo, and brand style are all important in defining your brand identity. Take a close look at your target audience, their desires, needs, and shopping style. Doing this will give you the best indicators about how your brand might resonate with them.
As with everything else in life, change affects your brand identity too. To stay fresh, your brand needs to get a facelift every once in a while. Re-evaluate your mission statement, values, and how customers interact with your brand. This will keep the brand value high and your customers satisfied. Still, you need to be aware that everything worth doing takes time. Your brand awareness will grow over time so don’t stress out if things don’t happen overnight.
2. Create an Unforgettable Customer Experience
There’s not much you can get online that you can’t get on other sites at the same or lower prices. So in a world of plenty and insane amounts of choices, what really makes you stand out is the customer experience you offer. The more you cater to your customers’ needs, the more likely they are to come back as returning customers.
The more their experience makes them feel special, the likelier they are to buy from you again. Providing an unforgettable experience shows you care about your customers on a personal level. Remember, you’re aiming to sell a unique experience, not an item.
If you manage to make the whole shopping experience delightful, you’ll be way ahead of your competition. Charging your customer experience with emotion is a powerful tool. If people find delight in the experience, you’ll have them smiling and feeling good about themselves. Provide an exceptional experience, a desirable product, and outstanding customer service, and you’re set.
3. Keep That Customer Experience Simple
Nobody likes a complicated website. The harder it is for visitors to get what they want, the likelier they are to abandon their shopping cart. The common rate of abandonment is somewhere around 68%. This is obviously a huge loss for most businesses. So simplifying how customers navigate your site is paramount.
For returning customers, giving them what they really want or need is easier. You can customize product offerings based on previous buys. Product suggestions are important in helping them make a decision. The closer you are to offering what they need or want, the higher the chance they make that purchase. Also, in customizing their experience, they’ll want to return for future purchases. Humans are creatures of habit, so take advantage of that.
New visitors are a bit harder to convince. If the volume of choices is too high, they are more likely to abandon the purchase altogether. One way to help them in their search is through UI design. User Interaction is closely linked to User Experience. The first has to do with how visitors interact with your site – the actual site navigation, the latter with the feeling they are left with after that interaction comes to an end.
Was it enjoyable or not? Your site’s UI should make it easy for customers to reach the ordering page. By taking the fewest steps possible and with the right products in their cart, the sale is almost guaranteed. Getting an experienced company to handle your UI/UX design can be one of the best choices you ever make for your business.
Another way to help new customers make a first time purchase is through surveys. Yeah! You read that right, surveys. We’re not talking about your run of the mill multiple-choice, interminable lists survey. A discreet pop-up survey that pertains to customers’ preferences can go a long way. You’ll weed out unwanted products and focus on what visitors need.
And now, the biggie: mobile! If your site doesn’t function properly on mobile devices you can kiss a big chunk of sales goodbye. More and more people are navigating e-commerce sites on their phones and tablets. So it makes good sense to optimize your website to run smoothly on handheld devices.
4. Show Your Customers You Care by Giving Back
In human interactions, mutual appreciation goes a long way toward building long-lasting relationships. This principle also applies to customer-business relationships. Customers appreciate you by returning to buy. Showing a little appreciation towards them can only bring more satisfaction to both parties.
Some small things you can do:
- Add a little extra to your package delivery
- Acknowledge your customer by sending a birthday gift
- Add a personalized thank you note
- Give extra discounts to long-time customers
- Offer incentives for bringing their friends to your site
We all like small surprises. So when your order comes packed with extras like cute stickers, sample products, or a useful item, you are sure to appreciate it. The same goes for your customers. Including a few free items will put a smile on their face and make them more likely to buy again. You are essentially creating an emotional response upon receiving their order. So not only are they excited for getting their products, that excitement grows a little when they feel you care.
If you have approved access to your customers’ birth dates, you can send them something that reminds them you care. Sending a free product, a discount voucher over email, an e-card or actual card in the mail, will make them feel special. This is one of those things you can do to create a strong relationship with your returning customers.
Depending on your order volume you might not have the time to personalize every single order. Still, even a printed thank you note with your actual signature on it, can help in building that customer-business relationship that you want. If your brand style is quirky, you can send a quirky quote. If your brand is fun, a good joke can turn someone’s day around. Think long term about how these little details will impact your brand’s relationship with your customers.
Extra discounts can strike a chord with your existing customer base. Send an email thanking them for their purchase and offer a discount for their next visit. You can also remind them of the extra benefits they’ll get when referring someone to your site. The sky’s the limit when it comes to new and inventive ways of showing appreciation towards your customers.
We mentioned before that most products have lost their originality. You need to sell the experience, not the product. So adding value to all your online efforts will help you grow your audience. You can do this through customized experiences. Send recommendations that pertain to specific needs and offer valuable products.
Paying attention to your customers’ needs should translate into longer lifetime value. This basically means that your attitude towards your customers is one of the most important factors. If your brand goes above and beyond to keep people happy they will return. Yes, all these take time to chisel-out, but they’re definitely worth the extra time.
5. Offer Promotions to Returning Customers
Direct on-site promotions make people happy. You can make your buyers feel special if you use a pop-up promotion when they revisit. Add some details about their previous purchases, like “we saw you bought X product and we’re happy to offer you Y at half price” and you’re sure to make a sale.
Also, think about a points system! Offering points as rewards feels like you’re not spending as much since you’ll end up buying something with those points. A rewards system helps people feel more at ease with their purchase decision as they feel like they’re getting their money’s worth, like they’re getting a little something extra. It can also help your customers feel appreciated.
6. Give Value Through Engaging Content
The amount of information out there is overwhelming. The internet has taken conventional ways of staying informed and blown them up. Now, every question, every idea, and any subject you might be interested in has many different answers. This is where value comes in.
Creating valuable content goes beyond generating content to drive clicks to your site. People are more and more interested in the meat of the subject. They expect to get valuable insight from the content you provide. If your blog posts, articles, or even product descriptions are fluff, flaky, or unsupported, your visitors will look elsewhere.
Informational content can help your readers make a decision, a buy, or provide a lifestyle guideline. This type of content strategy will go a long way in retaining customers. Still, it is not enough to just write good content. Engaging your readers should be the ultimate goal. Your content strategy needs to be transparent, have social integration, and be data-driven. Generating insightful blog posts and articles will take your business to new heights.
A big part of personalizing your content generation process is through asking questions. Make sure you have a system in place for asking your customers for feedback. You can use tools such as pop-up surveys, long-form email surveys, or star ratings to better understand each customer’s choices and preferences.
7. Focus Your Social Media Efforts
Social media is a leviathan on its own. Having a social media content strategy starts with listening to your customers. Yes, it is important, even here, to generate high-quality content. Instagram and Facebook posts need to be engaging, insightful, and transparent.
These are the same values that other types of content you share (i.e. blog posts) should be consistent with. If you know how your customers tick, you’ll know what type of information is most valuable to them. The point is not only to create the content but also curate it. You can:
- reshare past posts
- post user-generated content
- link to experts talking about similar subjects
Also, think about sharing your customers’ social media posts on your own pages. This will definitely add a star to your customer satisfaction rating and show you care about what they think. This strategy will have loads of benefits in the long run. You can:
- grow your trustworthiness
- generate sales through social proof
- grow your customer’s visibility on their own channel
It’s a win-win situation. You can even go so far as to choose ambassadors for your brand. You can offer them discounted or free products for marketing your brand on their channels.
To supercharge your social media presence, make sure to answer questions in the shortest time possible. Being quick and efficient with your replies will add value to your brand identity and make your business look professional. Doing this will help your customer-business relationship stay fresh and light.
Offer special deals for your social media followers. This will strengthen the bond your brand has with your followers and result in repeat sales. You’ll increase visibility with freebies, competitions, and special discounts. Remember to ask your followers to share, comment, and like your page or particular posts. By increasing your visibility you make it easier to push for new sales when posting promotional content.
One caveat with social media is paid ads. If you use paid ads too early, it can hinder your advancement. First, try to grow your audience in an organic way. Use any or all the suggestions mentioned in this post to reach a good level of traffic. You can also find other great resources online. Then, start building your mailing list. By working with what you already have you can focus. This helps you see the important details regarding how people interact with your brand.
8. Keep Everyone Happy with Fast Fulfillment
Think about it! You get an email saying ‘your products/package will arrive in approximately 2-3 working days’ but it actually gets to you by tomorrow. How does that make you feel? Well, pretty awesome, right? Fast fulfillment means happy customers. It is as easy as that. The reason behind this influx of positive emotions is the ‘want it now’ mindset. The world is on fast-forward. So the sooner you fulfill the order the sooner your customer gets to enjoy the products they buy from you.
9. Use Big Data for Big Results
Using big data helps you get to the core of the matter: getting to know your customer’s likes and dislikes. By gathering and analysing customer related data, you position your brand on the path to success. Data will ultimately allow you to customize the hell out of the customer experience you are offering.
Social media is an important player in gathering data. You can post questions, coupons, and deals. Then, analyze how customers or potential customers interact with your offers. Every comment, like, and share is a data point that gives you deep insights into your customers’ buying personas.
10. Go Above and Beyond
This is by no means an exhaustive list for driving sales online. There are many more inventive ways to get your customers to care and buy from you again and again. Still, we can think of a few more ideas that we haven’t explored in this article:
- Promotion through product packaging
- Show that what you have to offer is ugent and scarce
- Frequent emails to existing customers
- Account registration encouragement
The power of your imagination is the only limit to how much you can do about driving sales. Can you think of other ways to drive repeat sales online? Feel free to comment and discuss with your friends or business partners. Do you want more information about subjects related to e-commerce? Check out our other insightful posts!