With more people online than ever, it’s no wonder online businesses are booming. Sales are up, money’s being made, and even my mom, who uses an iPhone with her index finger, loves Amazon. It’s the perfect time to grow your online business, but how can you make it exceptional? And more importantly: how can you turn your newly-acquired customers into returning customers?
Reward Your Customers
Take a look at some of your favorite stores. What do you see? Your favorite shops are constantly throwing offers into their customers’ faces, and it’s not only for their new customers’ benefit: these seasoned stores understand that loyalty is everything, and to keep their returning customers happy, discounted deals, memberships, and other ways to save entices people to come back for more. For example, eBay now has eBay Bucks, which rewards customers 1% cash back to use for other purchases. Ulta Beauty rewards points with their Ulta Beauty Ultimate Rewards card. Depending on the size and age of your store, certain kinds of rewards programs will work best for you.
Not only do deals make shopping more fun for these customers, for some people (ahem, myself) it alleviates the guilt associated with online shopping. Making a customer feel good about their purchase encourages them to shop more, because they can afford it and not have to worry that they made the wrong choice.
Keep Your Customers In the Loop
Taking charge of your social media and keeping your shop’s Facebook and Instagram accounts is a must, but it doesn’t hurt to be “old-fashioned” and utilize e-mail as well. Newsletters and blasts are effective, but you also don’t want to spam your customers’ inboxes too often. A weekly e-mail informing your customers of this week’s deals will be perfect, and anything more than that just might be annoying!
Here is an example of an e-mail most customers won’t mind seeing:
And a bad one:
Both of these e-mails are from Groupon, and both were pulled from my own inbox. The first one’s great because not only does it promise a really awesome deal, but it’s relevant to everyone! The second one’s just okay. Maybe if I was into Pink Floyd and was the kind of person to go see cover bands live, but the truth is I don’t know why they’re sending me this and I could care less. Also, it doesn’t even allow me to choose my own deal!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been an idiot when it comes to online shopping. I famously bought by accident 100 bottles of biotin off the Nature Made website my freshman year of college with my mom’s credit card, and this would be a more interesting story, had their customer service not been so helpful when it came to correcting that order.
I remember that experience fondly because not only did the representative on the phone help me amend my error, but she was sweet and funny, and made me feel like a friend rather than a customer. With your store’s customer service team, it’s important to hire personable people; not only should they be good at their job, but they should be good, lovely people too! These are the folks who will have the most “face time” (be it over phone or e-mail) with your customers and will be most representative of your business when a customer’s in need.
Every store is unique, but on some level, there’s going to be another store similar to yours. Stand out! Returning customers will choose your store over others if you offer the best prices and deals on the ‘net. The reassurance that your products are the most affordable available will make your customers feel good about their purchases, that the bargain is as the quality, and that every time they shop, they will always choose your store over a competitor’s.
There will always be opportunities to improve your store. A store that’s up-to-date impresses your returning customers and makes them feel that they’re engaging with a website that’s always striving to do better.
Whether your store is big or small, there will always be certain pressures to tweak your catalogue, the layout of your website, your staff, and even your brand as a whole. You know the age old saying, “the customer is always right”? That’s true about your customers’ preferences! Returning customers will be more than happy to come back to your store if it’s perfect in their eyes, their needs, and of course, their wallet.