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GUEST COMMENT Encouraging customer loyalty post-festive season

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Encouraging customer loyalty post-festive season

A common challenge most ecommerce retailers face is how to encourage seasonal shoppers to return to their online store in the New Year to make that crucial second purchase. Often marketing departments are so bogged down with high profile festive campaigns, they can often forget to implement a post-Christmas customer engagement plan into their wider marketing strategy. This plan should go beyond enticing seasonal customers with January sales discounts; it should be a watertight approach to foster loyalty among seasonal shoppers to transform them into long-term loyal customers. The approach to creating customer loyalty includes a variety of methods such as reward programs, email marketing campaigns and product reviews; all proven to ensure seasonal customers return in the New Year whilst boosting brand visibility and increasing sales.

Reward customers for more than just purchases

The growth in innovative loyalty programs from the likes of LoyaltyLion and Smile Rewards has seen thousands of ecommerce brands reward their customers with points for a wide range of activities as well as purchases. A well-executed loyalty program can help online retailers increase customer engagement, lifetime value and retention. The benefits for existing customers are well known, but how can ecommerce retailers use these programs to attract new seasonal shoppers who only intend to make one festive purchase for themselves or as a gift? The simple answer is by rewarding them for more than just their initial purchase. Brands like Vanity Planet use loyalty programs to reward customers with points for anything from opening a new account, to reading their blog or following their social media profiles. The brands can choose how many points to reward new customers with for each of these activities and typically a high-value purchase will be worth a significant amount of points, which can then be redeemed against their future New Year purchase. With a dedicated loyalty dashboard, customers are able to see how many points they have accumulated and how many more actions they need to make in order to earn more points. Savvy retailers can reward new customers who have earned the most points with a complimentary gift or special discount to motivate them to return in the New Year and take advantage of their points. For a new customer who perhaps was unfamiliar with your brand and thus had no expectations, being rewarded for a multitude of activities alongside purchases is a fantastic way of encouraging repeat purchases that they otherwise may not have made, and ultimately creates loyalty in a previously unfamiliar brand.

User-generated content creates social proof

Often seasonal customers buying gifts for loved ones will rely heavily on product reviews before making a purchase to ensure the gift is perfect for the recipient. This is not just common with expensive technology products from leading ecommerce giants like Amazon and Argos , customer reviews are almost expected from customers when shopping at any type of retailer no matter the size, product or industry. With this expectation in mind, brands must ensure that user-generated content (UGC) like reviews are an integral part of the customer’s buying journey as they can help remove any initial doubt and aid decision making. If a customer has purchased a gift for a friend and is then sent related product recommendations featuring reviews, their interest will be piqued and they may be more likely to return for that second purchase for themselves.

UGC content like reviews or tutorials help to provide an unbiased perception of a retail brand and its products for seasonal customers who rely on social proof to persuade them to make that crucial second purchase. Socially savvy fashion brands like Fashion Nova make clever use of Instagram feeds featuring customer images on their product pages, whilst Superdrug adds customer reviews to their product pages. Both of these are fantastic ways of showing new customers what loyal customers are already saying about your brand.

Email marketing campaigns to drive conversions

Email marketing is by far one of the most popular ways of reaching both new and existing customers to ensure your brand is always front of mind during and after the festive season. The classic ‘welcome email’ series is a common way for retailers to not only welcome newsletter subscribers but also a great way to thank seasonal customers for their custom. A new customer who opens an account for the first time could trigger an email similar to that from which features the latest collections, expert style guides, strong call to actions and more importantly a discount on a customer’s next purchase – an easy incentive to encourage them to return. Order confirmation emails are similarly a crucial opportunity for brands to communicate with new customers by promoting related product suggestions and asking for reviews. Perhaps the most well-known use of email marketing is monthly newsletters, which provide the ideal opportunity for brands to share upcoming New Year promotions and collections. Its imperative newsletters have strong subject lines, rich content and desirable discounts to lure shoppers back to make that second purchase. By taking advantage of personalisation and segmentation, brands can be even more effective with targeted campaigns aimed at particular demographics, for example, guest account holders. Ultimately, having regular email campaigns set-up is the perfect way to engage customers, drive conversions and build loyalty with your brand.

Effective content marketing for engaged customers

The importance of a watertight content and social media strategy that focuses on both current and new customers cannot be stressed enough if your store is hoping to drive post festive sales. Content should be created that provides value and helps new customers learn more about a brand they are unfamiliar with. Articles like comparison tables, video reviews and visual style guides are all practical ways of engaging new customers and moving them further along the sales funnel towards their second purchase. Using effective content mapping, brands can create a range of valuable content to target new customers at every stage of their buying journey and subsequently transform them into loyal customers. Brands like Glossier and Wah Nails use social media creatively to amplify their content and build relationships with new customers to encourage them to join their social community. Whilst long-form content on a website can drive conversions to product pages, short and snappy social media posts enables brands to shout about campaigns like special promotions, friend referral schemes and new releases and more importantly have a conversation with customers. Having a social strategy to support a content campaign will help reinforce your brand’s identity and build trust and loyalty among customers.

Letitiah Obiri is a marketing consultant at leading fashion supplier Fashion Book Wholesale.

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