Today’s customers expect a lot more from their shopping experiences. There’s a huge range of stores just a click away that can offer all their heart’s desires when it comes to low prices and logistical wishes such as next day delivery. But with so much choice out there, customers are now more empowered to be pickier with where they spend their money.
It’s all about the experience
We are the dawn of a new age – the Experience Economy – where customers are buying experiences over “things”. According to one Walker study, “By 2020, the customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator”.
To meet this need, powerhouse brands have welcomed immersive shopping experiences with open arms, with virtual reality, augmented reality and real-world events seeking to woo shoppers.
But whilst this is all exciting, smaller brands just can’t keep up. Not everyone has the time, money or resources. So what’s a retailer to do?
When it comes to differentiating the customer’s experience, smaller brands need to find ways to establish the human connection that is lost online. Turns out, 65% of customers buy on the basis of their beliefs and return to brands they know to understand them on a deeper level.
Research from Forrester also concluded that emotion is the biggest driver of loyalty in many industries. 70% of emotionally connected customers spend two times more with brands they are loyal to.
The results show that by establishing an emotional bond with your customers, they’ll become more engaged and will stay loyal to your brand for longer.
So what can you do to establish these connections to retain this valuable customer base?
#1 Create an exclusive club
We all know those brands. The ones that made you feel something long after you leave their site or complete a purchase. But, have you ever asked yourself why you remembered them?
Chances are, they stayed front-of-mind because they made you feel special. Customers are people first. This means that they want to feel important and valued. A loyalty program is a perfect way to give your customers that lasting, fuzzy feeling.
Start by using your loyalty program to make your customers feel valued by offering exclusive member-only deals – such as free shipping. You could even offer these customers a free gift when they’ve made a certain number of purchases with you. Maybe they’ve been eyeing something for a while but are waiting till payday to bite the bullet. Surprise and delight them with a discount on that specific product.
You could even nurture this relationship further by adding your most loyal customers into an exclusive loyalty tier. They’ll feel part of a collective cause, meaning they will be more excited to share your brand with others.
100% Pure even encourage a feeling of exclusivity through the name of their tiers – “Pure Enthusiast”, “Pure Activist” and “Pure Evolutionist”. Each name and the rewards claimable make each tier feel like a separate club and gives customers motivation to move up.
#2 Build trust to increase customer advocacy
Social proof goes a long way. In fact, 84% of customers trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations. Reviews can act as a credible source of social proof beyond the standard commercial sales descriptions and images. Customers know these reviews come from shoppers, just like them, who are wearing their products on a day-to-day basis.
Pulse Boutique wanted to reward their devoted fan base for returning to their store time and time again. To establish a relationship with these shoppers, they rolled out their “Pulse Perks” loyalty program.
The program rewarded customers for leaving photo reviews and sharing their experiences on social media. By featuring this content on their website, Pulse Boutique saw an 18% uplift in sales and a 39% increase in returning customers. The user-generated content showed new customers that their brand could be trusted as they could see the products on real women.
Once you’ve made that connection with your customers, they’ll be more excited to get vocal and engage with your brand. As customers spend four times more when referred by a friend, it’s clear that encouraging customer advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing is a great way to acquire new customers that actually convert.
To encourage customer advocacy, elevate the relationships you already have with your loyal customers and strengthen their affinity to you. Annmarie Skin Care built a circle of faithful customers with its “Honest. Wild. Beautiful. Tribe”. The loyalty program rewards members for purchases and also for referring friends.
They’ve made sure that everything about their program – from its name to its purpose – makes members feel like they belong to something bigger. The success of this loyal and engaged community speaks for itself, with members spending 140% more than non-members.
#3 Create a brand your customers can get behind
As we’ve mentioned above, customers love to keep shopping with brands they feel a part of. Whether that’s because you’ve made them feel special or nurtured them into advocates. The emotional bond you’ve established will keep them returning. But the hard work doesn’t stop there.
Consistent communication and coherent branding are at the heart of customer loyalty. To truly get your customers behind your brand, they need to understand exactly who you are as a business, from the products you sell to how you communicate who you are.
According to reports, brands that are presented consistently are likely to see a 23% average revenue increase. So remember to use your loyalty program as another opportunity to tell your unique brand story.
Pulse Boutique made careful design decisions when creating its loyalty program to keep it synonymous with its identity, whilst also giving it space to live and breathe on its own. The cheerful imagery was chosen to build an emotional connection with their shoppers and the signature pink was incorporated throughout to match the store’s existing look and feel.
By creating a unique landing page, customers were directed to a stand-alone, destination page they could return to time and time again.
Shopper behaviour is changing. Customers are craving an experience that excites them and one they’ll want to return to time and time again – so, give the people what they want.
By implementing the three customer retention strategies mentioned above, you’ll be well on your way to securing an active and engaged customer base that will love your brand for the long-term.
To learn more about the strategies needed to deliver retention at every stage of the customer journey, check out our Shopify Plus Loyalty Bundle, complete with webinar, ebook and case studies.
LoyaltyLion is a data-driven loyalty and engagement platform trusted by thousands of ecommerce brands worldwide. Merchants use LoyaltyLion when they want a fully customised loyalty program that is proven to increase customer engagement, retention and spend. Stores using LoyaltyLion typically generate at least $15 for every $1 they spend on the platform.