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Does eCommerce Customer Loyalty Exist?

Richard ClaytonRichard Clayton
November 17, 2016

Here’s the marketing riddle of the day: What costs 5 times less than acquiring a new customer and nets your e-commerce business as much revenue as 5 to 7 new customers? You guessed it. It’s a returning customer.

Admittedly, returning customers may be a bit hard to come by for those involved in e-commerce. There are significant hurdles to overcome. But loyalty does exist among e-commerce customers. The good news is you can build loyalty among your e-commerce customers with good planning and careful execution.

Why Customer Loyalty is Lacking

In the early days of brick and mortar stores, customer loyalty was almost a given. In many cases, a store enjoyed steady patronage simply because it was the only store available for miles around. But as cities became more densely populated and rural areas became increasingly suburban areas, brick and mortar stores found that they had to up their marketing game to attract and retain loyal customers.

Then came e-commerce. There can be no question that as an e-commerce business owner, you have serious competition on a worldwide scale. Not only are you competing with brick and mortar companies, you are also competing with other e-commerce sites. The sheer volume of choice stacks the odds against customer loyalty in e-commerce environments.

All is not lost, however. You can and should actively work to help customers both become and remain loyal to your brand. Here’s how.

Woo Them with Your Website

First impressions matter. If you want to attract and retain truly loyal customers, the first thing you need to do is check out your own e-commerce site. Peruse it as you would if you were a customer. Ask yourself:

  • Does your website load quickly?
  • Is the copy on your site compelling, or just ho-hum?
  • Are the images and any video content on the site of high quality?
  • Is navigation easy and intuitive?
  • Does your site look just as good on a mobile device as it does on a desktop?
  • Is your shopping cart easy to use?
  • Is there any friction in your payment process?

Unlike a brick and mortar store, your e-commerce site must depend largely upon the user experience your website provides to promote customer satisfaction. Any glitches in your site send shoppers away in droves.

Consider the Coupon

If you want your e-commerce customers to come back, give them an offer they can’t refuse. While you do not have to break the bank to provide a deep discount on a future purchase, it does make sense to weigh the cost of any discount you provide against the cost of having to attract a new customer altogether. In many cases, you may find that even offering a significant discount is more cost-effective than having to drum up new business from scratch.

Engage with Email

While you may be paying much attention to social media marketing, do not neglect the standard email. A gentle reminder of what makes your e-commerce site so great will go a long way toward keeping your customers loyal.

Send special offers throughout the year, tied either to a certain store event or secular event. Make special announcements when you have a new product launch. Personalize your email campaigns for best effect. If you show interest in your customers via a customized email, it is likely that your customer will engage with your company again and again. Why? Because everyone likes to be acknowledged as a person.

Bolster Your Brand

When consumers turn to e-commerce sites, they are looking for convenience and affordability. Build trust by making the entire customer experience convenient and consistent. Ecommerceguide.com offers this bit of wisdom about consistency: “Your logos, lettering and artwork need to be exactly same across your website and any social media platforms you use and potential customers must receive the same brand message and experience, whether on your Facebook page or your Instagram.” Why? Brand recognition matters more than ever in an online environment.

Leverage a Loyalty Program

Though maintaining a loyalty program does require a lot of ingenuity and a fair amount of work, loyalty programs are highly effective at persuading people to return to your e-commerce site. Given a choice between two equally impressive e-commerce sites, the customer will choose the one that offers a good loyalty program.

Why? The answer involves basic human psychology. Humans want to be included in a group. To be a part of something is a central concept from early childhood onward. Loyalty programs appeal to consumers because they are inherently about inclusion into a unique group. Thus, loyalty programs reinforce the thought in your customer that he or she has stumbled onto something worthy of loyalty by finding your e-commerce site.

Offer a Price Match Option

Even if an e-commerce customer never experiences a warm and fuzzy relationship with your brand, he or she may well be loyal if you offer a price match option for your products. The most cynical of your customers cannot fail to notice that a price match guarantee makes your e-commerce site the go-to destination for serious purchases. Why? Because a price match ensures that your customer will be getting the best price, every time.

Make Payment Processing Pleasant

If you want to really prompt customer loyalty, you must ensure that each time your customer leaves your e-commerce site, he or she is doing so with a smile. Ideally, your customers will be spending their last few moments on your site completing a payment process. This is not a point at which you want to provide less than stellar customer service.

While there are significant challenges to building customer loyalty in e-commerce environments, the task is well worth your time and effort. Loyal customers spend more than their one-purchase counterparts, and they often become your best brand advocates.

Ensure their loyalty by offering superior customer service at every turn, from the first time they land on your site through their initial purchase and beyond. Your loyal customers will be delighted, and your bottom line will thank you.

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