I am a consumer. In fact, I’m very likely your target customer. I am in my thirties—an “elder millennial”, if you will—a mom, a remote worker, and a frequent online shopper. I have purchased products directly from ads on Instagram, I hyper fixate on new things and tell all my friends, and I am easily influenced by products I see on social media.
But I’m also a savvy shopper. It’s not just because I work in the subscription commerce space. Prior to joining Recharge, I was still wary of investing my hard-earned dollars in products from a company I didn’t believe had my best interests at heart. As much as I enjoy the process of finding new products to try, I also want to be cognizant of my tendencies to over-consume.
So finding brands that understand who I am at my core, and provide me with a sense of belonging and purpose outside of the products I consume, has become an integral part of how I shop.
Humans crave a sense of belonging. And more than ever, after forced isolation, we are looking to places outside of the norm to discover that belonging. If I can consider myself part of a group of people with similar interests, all centered around a brand that has tied us together in some way, I’m much more likely to stick around with that product. I want to be a part of that community, and I want the brands I invest in to treat me as such, rather than just another number to their bottom line.
Craft a truthful “About Us” page
When I stumble across a new brand or product to research, my first stop on the website is always the About section. I want to hear how this company got started, and who is at the helm. I am way more likely to purchase from a brand that has a unique story or purpose. Women led? Count me in. Sustainable products and packaging? Heck yes. Developed with scientific backing and research to provide the best for my kids? You bet.
It’s easy (way too easy, if I’m being honest) to just search Amazon for a specific product, check the ones with the best reviews, and have it delivered directly to me in the next 24 hours. Would I rather get those products from a small business who has a story and purpose behind those products? Absolutely! But if that information isn’t readily available, how am I to know the product I like also has a purpose behind it.
Making it easy for me to find out what that purpose is on your website increases the likelihood that I shop from you, rather than these big “giants.”
Pay attention to your reviews on all platforms
Nothing says more about a product’s and company’s legitimacy than reviews from real people. Perhaps because I’ve been in marketing my entire career, or perhaps I’m just a cynic at heart, but I often don’t take the reviews on a brand’s website at face value. I’ll take the extra step to Google search for reviews on neutral platforms or blogs to get a clearer perspective of what “real shoppers” think of you.
I don’t just look at an overall star rating to make my decisions, either. I’ll spend quality time reading through the most recent reviews to determine what people really think. And I almost always ignore the outliers—those reviews who clearly had a vendetta for a very specific and often unreasonable reason and chose to write a negative review.
I’m on the lookout for experiences with customer service, product quality, and anything that can be said for the company going above and beyond to meet their customers needs.
Help us engage with other customers
One of my favorite ways to experience the community of brands I use is through the organic or even more curated communication opportunities with others who have also purchased products. I’d say my first real experience diving into discussions like this was when I first got my InstantPot ®.
My friend recommended I join a Facebook group to see how other InstantPot users were using the appliance—from recipes, to tips and tricks, and even bad experiences to avoid. It felt great to be part of a group talking about something we all collectively owned, where teaching each other how to get the most out of it was the primary purpose.
Meet us where we are
Communication comes in every form these days. My inbox is full of emails from brands—many of which I no longer even purchase from. They often get overlooked due to the sheer volume of emails coming in every single day.
As SMS communications have grown in popularity, so have the amount of messages I have received from various brands. While it can be a slippery slope for brands to engage with consumers via SMS, it’s also a great opportunity to meet them where they are. When done tactfully and not in a way that becomes overwhelming noise, SMS communications can be an effective way to communicate changes to a subscription or purchase, while also showcasing promotion opportunities.
Do I sometimes ignore them? Sure. But I get brand text messages so infrequently that they don’t go overlooked like the messages in my inbox.
The connection I feel with your brand lies far outside of the products you offer. Oftentimes, I am looking to you as the expert in a specific area. Offer supplements? I want to know more about the research your company has found and how I can use supplementation as well as lifestyle changes to enrich my health.
Your company blog is more than just an opportunity for you to key off of SEO terms to be found by new audiences. It’s also a way for your existing customers to use you as a trusted source of information about your vertical. The best part? Your content doesn’t even have to be tied back to the products you deliver. In fact, I find it more authentic when it’s adjacent to your product offerings. It provides me with a holistic understanding of a particular area of my life that I’d like to enrich.
As you grow, remember your community
Your continued optimization and focus on creating a brand that is relevant will inevitably grow your customer base. As an existing customer, that prospect both makes me want to celebrate with you, but also creates a sense of fear that perhaps as you grow, the warm-fuzzies I’ve come to know and expect will somehow go away.
My advice as a consumer? Don’t forget those that helped you grow. And to treat your new customers just as you did your most loyal. Give them the same experiences (within reason) you were able to give your initial community of customers. Doing so will only result in higher retention rates and word-of-mouth referrals.
And with that, I’m off to shop!