Loyal customers or offer hunters?

Consider the difference between loyal customers vs new customers. New customers are necessary to grow, and there is a natural turnover of shoppers for DTC stores so new buyers fill that gap. However, loyal customers spend 31% more according to Marketing Metrics. 

Moreover, loyal customers will take the leap to try your new products, states Patricia Rioux for Forbes Council. So consider all those product plans you have, with your shoppers’ best interest in mind. Who will be your early adopters of those off-the-wall ideas? Loyal customers will be the first to support them.

Now, how can you make the most of this knowledge? Return buyers will only come with a sound customer loyalty strategy (scroll down to skip straight to this!) but first, you need to know what to avoid if your top priority is cultivating return visits:

1. Sales don’t build customer loyalty

When are you most likely to do sales shopping yourself? Perhaps after big holidays, or when a store is closing down. Is that when you want shoppers to connect with your brand? Of course not! 

Online stores want shoppers to discover them for more positive reasons, such as their product being the ideal birthday gift, or the perfect solution to an issue they’re facing.

Here’s an example of Rufatto attracting attention to their store for gift-giving, without a sale or discount on site:

2. Discounts are not crucial to campaigns

We’ve made it clear: Online businesses can’t rely on discount coupons to drive sales. While you may want to include the odd discount in an email campaign, you don’t need to share money-off to make a worthy campaign!

Here are alternative reasons to email shoppers, that don’t involve a discount:

  • Your product is especially useful during the current season. 
    For example, “our parasol is the sturdiest wind-breaker for beach season.”
  • Your service solves a problem many people face this month.
    “As diet products ramp up their advertising, join our mental wellness group to continue healing in good company.”
  • New product or line launches.
    “Our top line of the year is set to launch next month, here’s a sneak peek of what you can get your hands on!”
  • Relevant company news.
    “We just appointed a customer service team to your account, because loyal customers like you deserve personalized attention.”
  • Industry news that impacts your customer base.
    “Inflation hit a new high this month, but our prices aren’t shifting.”

There are too many to list here! Hopefully, it’s now clear that you can communicate with customers for many reasons that do not include a discount.

3 steps to a customer loyalty strategy

Since loyal customers are less price sensitive, what differentiators are they looking for? You’ll find that this question varies by business and audience, but to build a customer loyalty strategy, decide which of these 3 elements might deserve more time or financial investment from you:

  • Customer service team
    Outstanding attention to detail and empathy might be your differentiator. Long-time customers expect to be treated as such, so here’s how to serve them strategically:

    • Give loyal customers a separate customer service line, perhaps directly to you.

    • Check in personally with return customers, with a non-automated, personal email to ask what they thought of their last purchase.
    • Send hand-written notes with their deliveries, writing to them by name.
  • Holiday promotion
    Shoppers that know your brand may be keen to gift your wares. They just need a timely reminder! Holiday marketing emails showing your newest products, or suggestions to repurchase a similar product as a present, will drive return shoppers back to your store.As proof, stores running holiday marketing campaigns via Aument, added an average of US$3,149 to their rolling revenue. That represents 17% of their monthly income. What could you do with an extra 17% income for your store?

  • Educational content

    While educational content often draws new shoppers, you can also use it to reinforce existing relationships. Each time you create a how-to video or tutorial showing multiple uses for your product, email the link to those who have already purchased it. This costs you nothing but keeps you top of mind for shoppers.Too pushed for time to make your own how-to-style or 3-ways-to-use content? No doubt there’s an influencer doing it for you!

To recap: loyal customers spend more, are less price sensitive, and are also more profitable for businesses. So, which of the 3 steps to a great return shopper strategy will you start with?

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