While all brands want shoppers to hit the buy button as soon and frequently as possible, the importance of how retailers relate to their customers cannot be overlooked. In 2016, how and when you communicate with shoppers should be your No. 1 priority. Good communication and content fosters customer loyalty, which in turn secures continuing sales.
So when is the best time to nurture that customer-brand relationship?
The first 24 hours after a new customer makes a purchase is when he is most excited, which makes it the ideal time to deliver additional content or ask the customer to share his experience.
Sadly, most retailers go silent after a shopper hits the buy button. In fact, only 16 percent of companies are focused on customer retention. This is unfortunate, as it costs five times as much money to nab a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.
“But this is the moment [after a sale] that retailers need to capitalize on in order to retain their customers,” says Amit Sharma, CEO and founder, Narvar. “By making the most of this new ‘moment of truth’ by engaging their customers, retailers can foster loyalty and greater CLV.”
Here are some tips to cultivate thriving customer relationships outside of the purchase funnel:
1. Create a repeating customer journey cycle.
Rather than looking at the purchasing process as a linear trip, brands should design experiences that encourage shoppers to return to their site repeatedly. Start by mapping customer journeys across all channels, and then identify where they’re most likely to experience negative outcomes — for example, late shipments, damaged items, returns or exchanges. Then take each of those engagement points and design content or processes to proactively address each one.
Inversely, identify touchpoints on the journey where customers are going to experience emotional highs and find ways to celebrate them. Be purposeful on both counts — turn negative outcomes into opportunities for sincere dialog with your customers, and highlight positive outcomes to strengthen the customer relationship.
Identify touchpoints on the journey where customers are going to experience emotional highs and find ways to celebrate them.
2. Get personal.
Brands need to create experiences that personally resonate with each shopper. While 93 percent of decision makers think they are delivering a personalized experience, consumers feel a different way. According to the TimeTrade State of Retail 2016 survey, only 26 percent of customers feel they receive a personalized retail experience across channels.
The brands that are successfully engaging their customers are combining real-time customer behaviors, interests and preferences with customer data to provide a personal shopping experience. Ways to implement personalization include encouraging user-generated content and incorporating well-curated product recommendations on a site. Or creating an emotional connection with a consumer by focusing on the shoppers’ personality or lifestyle. In fact, the touch can be small, as simple as calling the shopper by her name, rather than “valued customer,” or setting the default currency and promotions to reflect the consumer’s location.
And these personal touches can make all the difference. According to end-to-end ecommerce solutions agency Echinda, shoppers who engage with personalized recommendations typically convert over three times more frequently.
3. Scout opportunities for great content.
Brands should look for opportunities in both the pre-purchase and post-purchase phases for content that inspires and educates their customers in a variety of ways. For example, buying guides, reviews, or inspirational content during the critical research phase can help customers make better selections at the outset. And after checkout, tips and tricks, product care guides, accessory recommendations, warranties and other product add-on help can help shoppers make the most of their purchase.
4. Be authentic.
Today’s consumers are smart, savvy and skeptical. They seek the truth in brands and expect authenticity. “[Consumers are] asking brands and the retailers to not only deliver great products, but to do it in a way that’s socially responsible, to make sure that their supply chain aligns with their marketing message, and ultimately to ensure that all of these pieces coming together are not in conflict with each other,” says Dana Cho, Partner at IDEO.
5. Meet customers where they want to be.
Omnichannel no longer means simply existing in multiple channels to facilitate a purchase. Instead, today’s retailer needs to think about how customers are using each channel and, in return, deliver content, support and experience where the customer wants it.
For example, fashion jeweler BaubleBar recently added SWAT (“Service With Accessorizing Talent”) Stylists to their ecommerce team. These team members are a cross between a customer service rep, personal stylist and an in-house influencer. Their relationships, advice and interaction with customers seems to be paying off. During a test period, 19 out of 20 people on Instagram who interacted with a member of the SWAT team ended up making purchase on BaubleBar.
“Companies also need to think about deepening relationships with customers in a way that drives genuine curiosity, interest and engagement. This is what inspires customers to come to you over and over again, rather than a loyalty program.”
“True customer loyalty happens when you have both attitudinal loyalty (they love you) and behavioral loyalty (they buy you). To achieve both, brands and retailers have to not only deliver great product, but do it in a way that’s socially responsible and reflective of your company’s mission,” advises Cho. “Everything from the supply chain to the marketing message need to align and come together, without conflict. Companies also need to think about deepening relationships with customers in a way that drives genuine curiosity, interest and engagement. This is what inspires customers to come to you over and over again, rather than a loyalty program.”
We’d love to hear how you nurture your customers outside the purchase funnel, or if you’ve been inspired by great examples out in the wild – hit us on Twitter @narvarinc.