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GUEST COMMENT How to improve customer loyalty and boost online sales

In this challenging climate, ecommerce has become the lifeblood of the retail industry. As brick and mortar stores have been forced to close, the importance of attracting customers to your brand and winning their loyalty online is more important than ever before.

Customer retention has always been the key to great sales: boosting retention by just 5% can deliver profits of between 25–95% (Bain & Co.). However, with the Covid-19 virus driving all sales online for the foreseeable future, maintaining a loyal customer base could be the difference between surviving and closure for many retail enterprises.

But what are the best ways to build customer loyalty and win repeat business? Below, I’ve shared a few of my favourite tips to help you do just that.

Build up a true understanding of your customers

Before you can win brand loyalty, you need to know who your customers are and what they want so that you can provide it. Taking the time to compile demographics and establish behaviour patterns should give you greater insight into your clients’ wants and needs, helping you to develop the right sales approach to keep them onside.

Undertaking market research is a great way to find out more about your customer base. By gaining insight into areas like typical income, interests, age, location, sex, occupation, and shopping habits, you can start to form a picture of your archetypal customers. You can then choose strategies that are more likely to appeal to them. For example, if your shoppers are millennials with environmental concerns, you could stock eco-friendly products or make a pledge to offset your carbon footprint.

If you’re new to customer profiling, then it’s worth taking a look at Hubspot’s eight-step guide that will walk you through the process.

Offer the right products and services in these times

One of the best ways to retain customers is by ensuring your offering matches their needs. After all, if you’re always able to supply them with the things that they’re shopping for, they’re much more likely to remember you as a go-to retailer.

However, it’s worth remembering that, in the current climate, your customer base might be looking for slightly different products and services than usual. For instance, Lyst reported that there has been a rise in the number of people searching for loungewear, like hoodies, slippers, and tracksuit bottoms, as a result of the UK’s lockdown conditions. If you spot a similar trend in your retail area, it is worth boosting the visibility of these items and ensuring you have stock levels to cover demand. 

You may also wish to consider reviewing how well these pages are SEO optimised on your retail site to try and attract more organic search. If you’re not familiar with this process, Moz has a very good beginner’s guide to on-page SEO you can follow, or, you could seek advice from an SEO expert.

Continue to reward loyal customers

It’s important to remember that it’s a difficult time for your customers, so, if you are able to do so, make sure you continue to provide rewards for loyalty. Not only will they feel like their business is appreciated by your brand, but they’ll probably remember the moment that you provided a positive perk in a time of overwhelming negativity to lift the gloom. 

There are a few ways you could choose to reward your customers, including flash sales, discounts, three-for-two offers, and free delivery, so pick one that will appeal the most. Remember to market your offer across all your channels to ensure returning clients know about it — you might just pick up some new business on the side as others see what is available.

Engage through your social media channels

Social media is a powerful tool for building brand loyalty. In a survey by marketing blog Ambassador, 71% of respondents said that having a good customer service experience through social media made them want to recommend the retailer to someone else. 71% of people also said they would leave a site if they didn’t get a response from the brand within five minutes of asking for assistance. These two findings really highlight the importance of having exceptional, timely social media engagement.

With this in mind, it’s vital that you have someone on hand to monitor your social media channels to maintain a good connection with your client base. By posting quality content, replying to comments, and dealing with complaints swiftly, people can see that your brand is alive and kicking and caring for its audience. And, when the news is always negative at the moment, why not use your company social media to share only positive stories to build a good feeling around your business?

Take my tips on board and you can begin to build up that loyal customer base that may just prove essential in these troubled times. 

Jonathan Birch is creative director at digital marketing agency Glass Digital

Image: Pexels

Author image courtesy of Jonathan Birch/Glass Digital

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