If you want to be successful in the long-term, you’ll not only have to acquire new customers, but you’ll have to master the art of customer loyalty as well. After all, it is much cheaper to persuade existing customers to purchase from you again than to win over completely new customers.
The more you turn customers into loyal fans, the less likely you are to be dependent on external factors to make sales.
Has Facebook massively reduced the reach of your organic posts? No problem - your customers will still visit your shop.
Is your website temporarily down due to technical issues? No worries - your customers will try again later.
Your competitors are spending double your marketing budget to grab your target audience before you do? Well, your customers are so satisfied with your business that they'll ignore those ads and come back to you anyway.
If you’ve been an entrepreneur for more than five minutes, you’re well aware that there are good times and difficult times. Having a loyal customer base can help you survive those difficult times.
How can you create such strong customer loyalty that it almost ensures these users will return to your shop again and again?
Be more than “just” an online shop
These days, online shops are about as rare as sand on a beach. And the competition gets stronger every day. That is why it’s so imperative to stand out from your competitors.
Shops that sell the same products with the same product descriptions and the same product images as their competitors will find it increasingly difficult to win over customers. If you don’t stand out with those elements, then the price is the only way to get those customers to buy from you, which is often difficult to maintain and remain profitable.
You need to ask yourself how you can inspire customers in a way that price is not at the forefront. This is only possible if you more than just an online shop. Become an expert, share your knowledge on a blog, offer in-depth product videos. In other words, you need to add value to your shoppers.
In the end, it’s the little things that can make the biggest difference.
Putting in more effort in than your competitors definitely pays off. It not only increases the chances that new customers will discover your online shop, but it will also build loyalty with your existing customers
An online shop that consistently shares and publishes posts that fit the theme of their shop (e.g. “7 myths about protein bars”) will become the first place customers head to for information and products.
If you can provide important, interesting, relevant information as well as the right products, shoppers will be more likely to buy directly from you. In essence, by building trust, you are building up your reputation as a credible and reliable shop.
Show your face
Most online shops are quite impersonal and look very similar at first glance. To the customer, there is often no big difference as they don’t really know who they are buying from.
This provides you with another opportunity to stand out from your competition. Instead of hiding behind your shop, you should come out from behind the curtain and show shoppers who you are.
Recommended reading: 5 Things to Keep in Mind When Creating an "About Us" Page
Who packs the packages? Who works in support? Why did you open your shop? If you started your fishing gear shop because you’ve been fishing your whole life, have experienced thousands of beautiful moments on a boat and want others to share your hobby, then you should let your customers know about your passion!
One of the most important and effective marketing strategies is storytelling. Does your online shop or your products have a unique story? People love a heart-warming story and this can motivate your shoppers enormously.
This strategy works well because we, as a society, love stories. We love stories about holidays, office Christmas parties, first dates, crazy weekends, and even stories about how and why you came up with the greatest product ever made.
Connecting your brand to a story can give customers a completely different perception of your shop. Instead of being a standard run-of-the-mill shop, having a story gives your shop character.
Which shop would you rather shop in?
Online shop A: Hello! We are an online shop that sells camping gear!
Online shop B: Hi! We love camping! Ever since we were kids, we went camping almost every weekend! During our trips, we learned a lot about nature and how to camp the right way! We opened this shop to share our experiences and knowledge with you!
It doesn’t have to stop there either. Show photos of your employees (“If you have any questions about our products, Anthony can help you”) so that shoppers know there are real human beings on the other side of the screen to help you.
The popular eco-friendly brand “Reformation” does a great job of doing this. The “About” section in their header is filled with information about their sustainable practices, but also information (videos!) about their employees!
Click on the image to enlarge (Source: Reformation)
Reward customers for their loyalty
Even if you implement the first two tips, you should create additional motivation to strengthen the connections between your shop and your customers.
One option is to create a loyalty programme where customers earn points for every purchase and can convert those points in discounts for future orders.
Alternatively, you can reward your loyal customers with other privileges:
Free shipping from the second order
Exclusive offers or product bundles
Vouchers or cashback
Rewards for referrals (ambassador programme)
Discounted prices for subscriptions
Standing out from your competitors by showing who you are, talking people behind your shop, adding value to your customers and offering attractive discounts for loyalty. In the end, your customers might even advertise your online shop for you and get you some new customers!
Download our free whitepaper on building loyalty with customer engagement