With the cost of finding new customers five times higher than retaining existing ones, a retention strategy is essential for your ecommerce business to thrive.
We spoke to Nic Dunn from Charle Agency about how to create engaging and memorable online shopping experiences that keep customers returning. Read his expert answers to our eight customer retention questions below.
1. Tell us about yourself and the services you provide ecommerce merchants.
My name is Nic and I am the founder of Charle Agency. We’re an ecommerce agency and Shopify partner based in central London. We work with brands from a range of industries to design, develop and launch ecommerce websites.
We begin our projects with a discovery phase to gain a thorough understanding of the goals and strategy of the brand. Then we carry out bespoke development to produce unique, memorable and feature-rich websites that keep customers coming back. We use bespoke Shopify themes to produce experiences that are engaging and push the boundaries of ecommerce design and technology.
We work with brands on a long-term basis delivering day-to-day design and development services whilst also offering strategic ecommerce consultation. Monthly check-ins are part of our experience to maximize clients’ conversions, increase their brand awareness and deliver the best ecommerce services for retailers.
2. It costs less to keep an existing customer than it does to acquire a new one. In your experience, what’s the most important thing a merchant can do to keep their existing customers?
When your goal is to keep your current customers, you must understand the buying cycle. When we work with brands, we consider five main steps on the customer journey to identify opportunities for improvement. These include store experience, buying experience, logistic experience, customer support and returning customers.
First, consider store experience. Use engaging content and the best on-site functionality to wow your customers and maximize the chances of seeing them again. Deliver relevant content and design it in a way that is visually engaging.
We also recommend looking at your site’s user journey. What pages are you suggesting they go to when they land on your site? Have clear indicators, such as banners, that make it easy to move through your store.
To increase the likelihood of a customer returning, your buying experience needs to be the best. But what do you do when they’ve purchased and not come back? Use a loyalty program to incentivize customers to return to your store. Allowing your customers to earn points for actions on- or off-site increases the chances of them remembering you. LoyaltyLion offers a range of ways customers can earn points which is key for increasing lifetime value. And, you can incentivize them to refer their friends as a cost-effective way to acquire new customers.
Additionally, you can send customers targeted messages via email automation and SMS marketing to prompt them to come back and buy.
3. In your opinion, how can merchants use their existing customers to drive long-term growth?
Getting new customers is much harder than attracting old ones. Use a mixture of purchase incentives and features such as loyalty programs or email marketing to attract customers back to your store. Once you develop a strategy that improves the number of times customers return you can start building up revenue targets. This will allow you to report on your strategy’s performance and make data-driven decisions to grow your business. Never stop finding ways to maximize this strategy.
4. With more customers buying into a brand’s personality rather than its product, what can merchants do to showcase their unique brand identity as a way to attract new customers and build up a loyal customer base?
As an agency, we value creativity and visuals as much as effective technology. Brand consistency is vital to make your business memorable and stand out from competitors.
Make your brand identity more than a logo. Your ecommerce store should embody your brand colors, shapes and illustrations throughout. Product design and packaging is a great place for branding inspiration. For our clients, we ensure all ecommerce user-interface icons, call-to-action buttons and banners are in line with the brand identities.
Finally, a quick test. Place your hand over the logo on your website. If it doesn’t continue to feel like your brand (beyond product imagery), then further work is needed to embody the look and feel at every level.
5. Forbes found that brand consistency can increase revenue by up to 23% and makes you 3.5 times more visible to customers. How can a merchant make sure their brand is presented consistently?
As an ecommerce merchant, you are likely running a marketing strategy that covers multiple advertising platforms for both online and offline. Wherever your customers see you, they must see you consistently. Compare your offline, Facebook ads, Instagram ads, social media channels and packaging with the visual identity you are portraying online. It must feel like one big family and not visually independent.
6. Many merchants find that they can attract shoppers to their site, but struggle to get them to convert for the first time. What practices can a retailer put in place on-site to encourage new visitors to convert (make a purchase or become a member of their store)?
There are several ways you can improve the conversion rate on your store, especially for first-time customers. There is no hard and fast rule and it can take months to years of trial and error to find out what works for your customers. Remember it’s never one task – it’s an evolving strategy – you’ll need to continually try new things and adapt to the changing habits of your customers.
Here are some conversion rate optimization ideas to try:
- Appealing language – clearly outline your unique selling points (USPs) and work on the copy so it appeals to your customers.
- Features that appeal to your customers – loyalty programs help to improve customer retention and engagement with brands. Users who earn points for purchases that can be exchanged for exclusive benefits spend more and purchase more frequently.
- Trustability – deliver a practical page structure and professional design – customers want to feel confident you are a reputable merchant.
- Drip-feed diverse content across every page – use every page as an opportunity to tell customers more, for example with a “Recommended for you” section, even on pages that are less relevant to your products. It also means you can appeal to customers looking to buy and also those who want to learn more.
7. We found that 77% of customers will join a loyalty program if the benefits are clearly communicated and 78% would if the sign-up process was simple. Could you share some of the principles you use when creating a user-friendly loyalty program for your clients?
Keep it simple! Don’t complicate how users can earn points or the effect will be lost. Give your program an engaging name. Give members a way to easily view their points balance, redeem rewards and understand how to earn more. We integrate this directly onto your site with LoyaltyLion in the “My Account” area and produce campaign banners that educate customers on how it works.
8. Which brands would you say are currently excelling in the ecommerce space and what can our readers learn from them?
Doisy & Dam are a brand we work with that are offering an outstanding ecommerce experience. We helped create an ecommerce site that immerses users in their product and bright, colorful identity. We knew it was important for customers to see brand consistency between on-shelf and online.
They’re also offering a real-time search bar that allows customers to see content such as recipes and products as they are typing. Content is an important part of Doisy & Dam’s ecommerce strategy, so we built a Recipes section where shoppers can buy directly from recipe pages. They also show shoppers intelligent product suggestions acquired from multiple data points.
By immersing customers in the brand, product and content online, they are creating a delightful experience that customers want to return and engage with.
This article originally appeared in the LoyaltyLion blog and has been published here with permission.