For any ecommerce owner, it’s important to make predictions about your sales patterns. This helps you effectively set goals and monitor your brand’s success during different seasons and organically create traffic during off-peak times. However, the world is always changing and sometimes there are unpredictable events that will affect your business and your sales. During these slow periods, you may be wondering how you can sustain your business. We have the perfect solution, and it’s called customer retention and community building.
During these slow sales periods is the perfect time for you to focus on increasing customer retention and building out your brand community. This will ensure you have customers ready to shop with you once the slow season is over, and you’ll have successfully built a community of loyal brand advocates who will shop with you for their lifetime.
Let’s go through a few reasons why investing in these loyalty-building strategies are the key for your brand to maintain itself during slow sale periods.
Build your online brand community with empathy
Your customers are always looking for something to belong to even if they’re not making a purchase. When sales are slow, you can invest more time into building an online brand community with cost-effective methods that won’t negatively impact your bottom-line.
Since customers are spending most of their time online on social media, this is a great tool for you to leverage to bring customers together virtually and give them a place to connect. Sharing Instagram stories of your customers using your products or re-posting their photos to your account are great ways to not only market your products via social media, but also to show your customers how much you value them.
The key to creating a thriving online brand community is to put yourself in your customers’ shoes, identify what they value most, and give them a place to connect with others who share those values.
Ensure you’re offering a great onboarding experience for new customers
Giving customers a warm welcome is important, especially during off-peak periods. Creating an effective onboarding experience is one of the best ways to do so. You can do this by sending personalized welcome emails or offering incentives like discounts or rewards.
Creating a great first impression is always a must, but it is especially important in times when sales are slow since you want those new customers to keep coming back. In fact, almost half of customers admit that their decision on whether or not to remain loyal to a brand is made after their first purchase.
Once a customer makes an account with your store, you have access to a variety of information that can help create a personalized onboarding experience. For example, you can include the customer’s name in the subject line of a welcome email or you can make personalized product recommendations based on their browsing or previous shopping experience. Either way, effectively welcoming new customers during off-peak times sets the groundwork for a lifetime of loyalty.
Offer rewards and increase sales with bonus-point campaigns
One way to stand out from the crowd is by offering your customers a loyalty program to incentivize their shopping at all times. Loyalty programs are a great way to retain customers for the long-term by giving customers something to work towards.
Offering enough points to redeem a reward before even making a purchase is also an excellent customer acquisition strategy that will create a great impression in your customer’s mind. For example, giving your customers the chance to earn enough welcome points and social media engagement points to redeem rewards like free shipping can increase your purchases even during slow sales periods.
You can also give your customers a reason to shop more when your sales are down with sustainable promotional campaigns. For example, having limited-time-only bonus points campaigns are a great way to leverage your loyalty program to increase engagement, just like One Love Organics did with their double Love Club loyalty points weekend. This tells customers that they’re getting more value out of an immediate purchase because they’ll be earning those extra points.
The benefits of loyalty program campaigns are two-fold because after earning all of their points, customers can be further incentivized to make another purchase during off-peak seasons to redeem their points.
Find other ways to engage with your customers that’ll have a lasting impact
While your marketing strategy may usually revolve around increasing sales, using strategic retention strategies during slow sales periods will pay off greatly in the future! For small businesses with strapped resources, off-peak seasons provide a great opportunity to explore other marketing avenues.
If you aren’t already incorporating content marketing into your brand, now is the time to start. When you have some downtime, instead of investing in paid advertisements, you can put more time into creating a value-added content marketing strategy that increases your brand’s SEO. For example, creating a video channel with product tutorials, or starting a lifestyle blog around your brand’s values are long-term strategies that will increase your customer engagement and website traffic. Botanical Republic, for example, provides customers with blog posts that range from educational posts about their brand processes to skincare tutorials and guides.
Content marketing is a great way to continue building a lasting relationship with your customers that goes beyond sales.
Use the downtime to make any updates to your website for a better experience later
Just as downtime is a great opportunity to develop your marketing strategy, it’s the perfect chance to get around to all those projects you’ve been putting off because you didn’t have the time before. One of the most important success factors for any ecommerce business is a high-quality online user shopping experience.
Use your downtime to update and improve your website to impress customers when they are ready to shop again. An effective website should provide a consistent brand image, make it easy for customers to navigate, and be accessible wherever your customers go to access it. For example, Bath and Body Fusion has created a beautiful web experience that matches their brand, provides a clear navigation bar, and includes clear call-to-action buttons throughout.
Optimizing your web experience is a must to keep customers coming back all year long.
Transparency is key during uncertainty
When you’re affected by an unexpected event that slows down your sales, it’s important to remember that your customers are likely to be affected too. Show your customers that you care and are thinking about them with transparent and authentic communication.
Your loyal customers have built trust with you as a brand and expect you to be very honest with them during slow sales periods. If something is going to affect how long their deliveries will take, let them know. If some of your products will be out of stock, let them know. Email communications during slow sales periods are a great way to continue developing your relationship even when your customers may not be thinking about making a purchase.
You can also use empathy in your email marketing to show that you understand your customers’ pain points and are willing to offer a solution. Organizational planner brand, Simplified sent out email communications offering their customers discounted teacher planners to show that they care about the struggles they’re facing.
People often say that honesty is the best policy and the same goes for with your customers!
Retaining customers when sales are slow will help you in the future
Although no ecommerce store wants to see their revenue decline, slow sales periods offer the perfect opportunity to improve other aspects of your brand to increase your customer retention rate and develop your brand community. Luckily, there are many online tools out there to help you with these goals. When it comes to loyalty programs, as the industry leader Smile is an easy-to-use software that can help you improve your customer retention right away. The best part? It’s free to start and won’t impact your bottom line when revenues are low.
Focusing on things like improving your onboarding experience, offering exclusive loyalty program campaigns, and creating a great web design are all low-cost growth strategies that will have positive impacts long after your sales pick up again. If you invest in retaining your customers now, you’ll see the benefits in the future.
Just because your sales slow down, doesn’t mean your community-building has to.
This article originally appeared in the Smile.io blog and has been published here with permission.