Wednesday, December 19, 2012

How To Keep Your Customers After The Holidays [PART 2]

How To Keep Your Customers After The Holidays [PART 2]

It happens all too often at this time of the year: eCommerce store owners get whipped into a frenzy, trying to get everything ready for the holiday season. A list of questions races through their heads.
Are my holiday promotion emails written? Does my drop shipper have everything in stock? Are my ad campaigns (Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Retargeting, etc.) set up and ready for the holidays? Do I have enough customer support? The list of questions goes on — I know because I am one of those store owners right now.


With all the madness of the holiday season it can be easy to overlook possibly the biggest opportunity that comes with the holiday sales rush: The opportunity to turn your new holiday customers into repeat customers down the road.
Setting your store up for repeat business is one of the easiest ways to increase your bottom line. In the 1-month period shown in the image below, more than half of our visitors to that site (13,601) are returning visitors (people who visited the site at some point before the selected time period).
These returning visitors generated 56% of the revenue for that month. That means that over half of the revenue that month came from people who engaged with us sometime in the month (or months) prior.

So, how are we doing it? And how do you get your customers to come back, engage with you again, and purchase your products month after month?
Here are 2 more strategies you can use to increase repeat engagement (Check out last week’s post for the first two strategies):
#3: Set up an automated follow-up email that goes out after the product has arrived.
If your goal is to have your customers want to do business with you again in the future, make sure they to feel really well taken care of the first time around. An easy way to accomplish this is to send a “How’s it going” email after they have received your product.
The email should communicate something like this:
“Hey, John from here. We see that you’ve had your product a few days now and we want to make sure that everything is going okay with it. If you need anything or have any questions, here is where you can reach us. Etc etc”
This email makes your customers feel good (and therefore think favorably of you) because it shows that your company cares about their experience. It shows that you want to make sure that they are happy with their purchase and that if there is anything they need related to the transaction, you want to help.
Any merchant sending out a receipt and tracking number but not following up after the product has been received is missing a valuable opportunity to connect with customers. Plus, this is an excellent time to ask for a product review.
#4 Do A Non-Product Related Weekly Blog Post
This is the secret sauce. The above 3 strategies aim to ensure your customer has a positive experience with you the first time around and has a discount incentive to shop with you again. Just implementing those 3 strategies will increase your repeat business, but this fourth strategy really brings the noise.
So what is a non-product related weekly blog post? It’s a piece of content (video, audio, text, image, etc.) centered on something other than your products and the offerings of your store.
Most eCommerce stores serve a function of convenience but not significance for their customers: the store is a convenient interface for getting a product, but the store itself has no intrinsic significance. By providing content related to things other than your products, your brand gains significance in the eyes of your customer.
You are no longer the place they go only when they want to buy your product; you are also the place they go when they want to engage with other similar people or consume interesting content. And the more time your customers spend engaging with your brand about the things that matter to them, the more likely they are to remember your products and buy them again.
So, the key to repeat business is to engage with your community of customers (and their friends – we will do entire blog post on this particular topic) in conversations that are relevant to their lives.
By producing a piece of content each week (and sharing with your customers via email and all relevant social profiles) you are getting face time with your community each week, staying present in their lives, and NOT trying to sell them anything. (You’re also building a helluva lot of good will!) You become a fixture in the digital lives of your customers when, as they are going about their internet routines, you pop up with something relevant and useful.
Doing this consistently (but not obnoxiously) takes you from the “faceless-store” category to the “trustworthy brand” category in the minds of your customers. All of this results in customers who like you, trust you, and buy from you again when make offers in the future. And as an added bonus, your customers will begin sharing your content with their friends, which means your brand reaches new people via the holy grail of traffic methods: personal endorsement.
Since we’ve been using this weekly branding strategy, we’ve seen the response to our promotional/sales emails jump by 200%. This is one of the most powerful (and most often overlooked) ways to find growth in your business.
Now is a great time to start! Produce a video or two, write a blog post, and get them out there this month while everyone has their attention on your store for the holidays. Also, be on the lookout for other ways you can do this.
If you want your store to be around for a while, you must look beyond the point of sale. By creating relationships with your customers you can become a trusted source of information about the products you offer as well as related topics of interest. Broadening the scope of your interaction with your customers increases the significance your brand takes on their lives—and that makes the decision to buy from you instead of some other faceless store an easy one.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and please leave any comments or questions below!

About the author

Ezra Firestone Ezra is the founder/creative director of SmartMarketer, an information hub for do-it-yourself entrepreneurs. He is also a partner in BOOM! by Cindy Joseph and the company’s head of digital marketing. He runs a private network of eCommerce websites and regularly consults for companies across the U.S and Canada. Ezra is also the head of We Are Family Manhattan, an all-volunteer, no cost of administration non-profit organization, Ezra organizes the re-distribution of surplus goods and food to those in need.

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