This article is for serious eCommerce businesses that are looking for GENUINE tips on how to achieve growth! Are you one of these businesses? If yes, then you have come to the right place. Hi, my name is Francisco, and I am the owner of Planet Marketing, a Digital Marketing Agency. My company specializes in Google Ads, Facebook Ads and Remarketing. Over the years, I have helped quite a number of eCommerce businesses find their feet in the competitive environment by building customer loyalty. In this article, I am going to share my tips with the rest of the world! The article covers the following areas;
What challenges do eCommerce businesses face?
ECommerce businesses across the globe face a number of challenges. It’s not too farfetched to say that every business that’s out there is looking to achieve growth. That's a universal fact. But how do businesses grow? Well, businesses grow by attracting new customers. Not only that, but businesses also grow by retaining old customers.
This last fact is often neglected. In their rush to find new customers, most eCommerce business owners tend to forget about their old clients. That’s not the right approach. In fact, it’s far easier to make your pitch to people who have already bought from you than to a completely new target audience.
Anyway, businesses know what they want. They want to achieve growth. They want to increase their profit margins. Businesses are also aware of what needs to be done to attain those goals. Growth can be achieved by attracting new customers and retaining existing customers. That’s something that I have already mentioned.
So, where do businesses err? Where do they get things wrong? After all, if you know what you want and what needs to be done, you should be able to easily come up with steps to take you to your goals. Well, if only things were that simple! Fact of the matter is, eCommerce businesses operate in a difficult environment. Below are some of the challenges that they face;
For eCommerce businesses, competition is not only local. Today, it’s possible for people in Bangladesh to compete with those in the United States. The internet has make the world a truly global village.
Competition is usually good, save for the fact that people in Bhutan can afford to charge less for the same products and services than businesses in the United States. That’s because they don’t have as many overheads.
Cart abandonment and low customer loyalty
Cart abandonment is a really big problem for eCommerce businesses. It's a symptom of low customer loyalty. Imagine spending all that time and money to get people to your site, only to have them leave unceremoniously without buying anything! That’s actually very common.
It means someone had decided to buy but for some reason, they leave your site without completing the purchase. There are some things that you can do to recover abandoned carts for your eCommerce business. Read the article in the provided link for more.
This tends to be a major challenge for eCommerce ventures. People will not buy from you if they feel your site is not secure. And who can blame them? Not when there have been so many instances of people losing their hard earned money to cyber criminals.
Search Engine Optimization tends to be a challenge for eCommerce businesses. But why? Well, most such businesses are not bothered to do content creation. And it is only through content creation that you can boost your visibility. It’s how you get noticed by Search Engines.
The great thing about traffic that comes from Google and other search engines is that it is almost free. You may pay somebody to write an article on your behalf, but that’s it! But SEO does not happen overnight, which can be frustrating for beginners. So, what do you do in the interim?
There good news with regards to SEO is that there are many online SEO tools that you can use for your eCommerce business. You also need to be patient. It takes time to be noticed by Google and Bing etc. It can take years!
Why customer loyalty matters
In the world of eCommerce, there are customers, and then there are loyal customers. A customer will buy from you and leave. The very next day, they will be hard pressed to remember where it is exactly that they made their purchase. And when they wish to make another purchase; even of the same product, they will go elsewhere.
A loyal customer, on the other hand, remembers your business. And they come back for more purchases. It doesn’t matter that you may be priced above your competition. Your brand has essentially become a part of their life. They trust you to deliver your side of the bargain.
And they are willing to pay a premium for doing business with you. Think Apple. People are willing to sleep outside in the cold to be the first to buy a newly released iPhone. The same applies for other products by other manufacturers. That’s customer loyalty for you! It can sometimes appear to border on fanaticism.
Loyal customers can also act as your brand’s ambassador. Decades ago, they would spread the world to neighbors, friends and family via word-of-mouth. Today, the word is spread using Social Media. Now, that’s a tool that’s worth exploring as far as customer loyalty is concerned.
The great thing about having loyal customers is that they essentially do the hard work on your behalf free of charge. They are one of the most portent weapons in every marketer’s toolkit. But, how can eCommerce businesses build customer loyalty?
How eCommerce Businesses can Build Customer Loyalty
I have already revealed some of the benefits of building customer loyalty for eCommerce businesses. For one thing, having people who are loyal to your brand means you won’t have to spend so much on advertising. It’s easier to convince people who are familiar with your brand to buy from you. So, how can you build customer loyalty?
- First, you need to build people's trust in your business. That's the best way of gaining customer loyalty. Your brand’s loyal customers trust that you will deliver the results that they are looking for. That trust is based on a number of things, as I will show below. Needless to say that trust and loyalty are important for the growth of your business. No business can survive by attracting only new customers. To prosper, you need to retain as many of your customers as is possible!
- Offer great service. That’s the first port of call as far as building trust is concerned. Some eCommerce businesses tend to neglect this aspect. But the fact of the matter is that people probably do not care that much about you as a business. They care about you inasmuch as you are able to deliver the products or services that they are looking for. So, make sure that you do deliver, and people will keep coming back.
- Treat the customer right. To say the customer is the kind would seem like a cliché. However, it still applies today just as it did a century ago. People will not come back to your business if your staff is rude or if it is aloof. Put on a smile and go out of your way to please the customer. Of course, you will come across difficult customers every now and again. Again, you need to put on that smile!
- Offer discounts. Your discount can come in the form of free shipping. As an example, you can offer people a 10% discount on the 5th purchase. That’s one way of making sure that people remember your business when it matters. Or you could offer free shipping on all purchases. That’s a psychological move. Shipping costs tend to be one reason for the problem of shopping cart abandonment that we mentioned above.
- You can also run a customer loyalty program. Maybe you will be offering prices or coupons to people who buy goods worth so much from you. That’s what many businesses are doing today. Loyalty programs are a good way of making sure that your customers will keep coming back. They want to earn whatever it is that you are offering, and they will keep trying till they have hit the mark. Meanwhile, your brand will gain a positive impression in their minds.
- Market on Facebook to create brand loyalty. Facebook Ads are, as I mentioned at the top, one of my areas of expertise. If you need help in this regard, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. I am ready to help you. Marketing on Facebook begins with a free Facebook Business Page. Once you have set that up, you can use the platform to start answering questions from existing and prospective customers. You can also run Facebook Ads. There are several Facebook Ads Campaign Objectives that can help you build customer loyalty. And example is Brand Awareness.
- Retarget your customers. Retargeting is also called remarketing. It’s most popular (or infamous) with Google. You may have noticed certain ads following you from site to site. Facebook also does remarketing using what is called Pixel. The beauty of retargeting is that it gives you a second chance to reach out to a potential customer. This may be somebody that has abandoned a cart on your site. Or somebody that visited your site and showed an interest in a particular product. Remarketing can boost your conversion rate by as much as 400%. In terms of building customer loyalty, it ensures that your business remains in your prospects’ minds as they move across the web.
Why reviews matter for eCommerce businesses
Online reviews are another subject that I have covered quite extensively on this site. When people hear about reviews, they mostly think about platforms such as Yelp and Google. These platforms are free, and no doubt, they are quite good.
However, if you want to really benefit from the power of online reviews, you should consider signing up with companies such as Shopper Approved and Trustpilot. These are companies that have been approved to syndicate data to Google for use in Seller and Product ratings. But why are reviews a game changer for eCommerce businesses?
- Reviews can help you build customer loyalty. Today, up to 88% of people say they trust online reviews. That’s in spite of the fact that these reviews are written by complete strangers. The phenomenon is really remarkable! As a business, knowing this can be a game changer. You need make it easy for your customers to review your business. You can automate the process with companies such as Shopper Approved. That's a great way of building trust in your business.
- Up to 90% of people will first check out online reviews before making a purchase. Again, that’s a staggering statistic. It means that no eCommerce business can afford to ignore online reviews. If you want your business to grow, then you need to have a presence on as many online review platforms as is possible.
- Negative reviews can have an adverse impact on a business. As an example, a drop in 1 star on Yelp can affect your bottom-line by as much as 9%. However, that is not to say you should panic when you receive your first negative review. In fact, negative reviews are a part of life. There is no way of escaping them. And people actually trust businesses that have a few negative reviews more than those that do not have a single one. If you have a squawky clean profile on Yelp, then that’s taken to be a sure sign that your reviews are fake. Anyway, here are free templates on how to answer negative reviews.
- We have already noted that Seller and Product ratings come from online reviews. They are syndicated to Google by companies such as Shopper Approved. And here is the thing; businesses that display Seller ratings in their Google Ads can expect an increase in CTR of up to 17% percent. Again, that’s a startling piece of information. It means that online reviews can be a real game changer for eCommerce businesses.
- Having reviews is one thing. Having a poor rating is another. It can have a real dent on your bottom-line. That’s something that I have already alluded to. In fact, about 43% of people say they will not buy from a business that has a rating of 3 stars or below. So, you need to make sure that not only are you getting reviews, but also that the reviews that you are getting are great.
- Remember what I said about SEO being a challenge for eCommerce businesses? Some eCommerce businesses simply do not have the time to create content to attract people via Google, Yahoo, Bing and other Search Engines. But, if you stop to think about it, you will realize that the prominent players out there do not actually have blog sections. Does Amazon have a blog section? Does eBay have one? Maybe they are there, but they are pretty much obscure. Yet these businesses are still strong on Google. How does this happen? Well, the trick lies in user generated content. That’s the other power of online reviews. They allow you to turn your customers into free ambassadors for your brand. And they also become free content writers for your business. Having a reviews section is a must in this regard. Reviews are truly a game changer. They are free content from your customers.
How to get reviews
In the final section of this article, I am going to quickly show you how to get reviews for your eCommerce business. It's a topic that I have already covered a lot on this blog. You can check the relevant sections for more information. So, how can eCommerce businesses get reviews?
- Every eCommerce business needs to claim their Yelp page. That’s the first port of call for most people. Yelp is free, so, you have not excuse for not claiming your page. Another thing is that even if you do not claim your page, people are still able to review your business on the platform.
- You should sign up with companies such as Shopper Approved and Trustpilot. I have already mentioned these companies in this article. They are Google Approved online reviews companies. Once you have signed up, you get their software on your site. Your customers can then review your business after making purchases. And this data is syndicated to Google for use in Seller and Product ratings. The companies that I am talking about here will charge you a monthly fee. But it’s worth it, considering how your business can grow as a result.
- You can also get reviews on Facebook. In fact, most people are not aware that Facebook has become HUGE when it comes to online reviews. So, if you want to put your business on the map, this is where you should go. I have already noted that you should have a free page.
Clearly, customer loyalty and great reviews are a game changer for eCommerce businesses. Reviews are one way of building customer loyalty. They help businesses build trust. And trust is what it’s all about when it comes to customer loyalty. People will only be loyal to businesses that they trust. One thing to note is that trust and loyalty are not abstract concepts. They are worth real money in the business world. Having Seller Ratings can boost a business’ CTR by 17%, as an example. And a loss in one star on Yelp can have devastating consequences to a business’ profit margin.