How to Build Brand Loyalty with Relationship Marketing through Ecommerce

brand loyaltyBrand loyalty is not built on price. While the correlation between the price and value proposition is certainly important, it’s not the key factor to consider while striving for customer satisfaction.

Why customer satisfaction is important? Aside from obvious ethical reason, there are two practical reasons: brand reputation and increased revenue.

According to White House Office of Consumer Affairs, “dissatisfied customers will tell between 9-15 people about their experience. Around 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people.”

We live in the age of social media when it’s incredibly easy to share both positive and negative experiences with thousands of people. Just imagine that a few of those dissatisfied customers have large following on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or other popular social network.

If a company doesn’t treat its customers well, the complaints can turn into viral social media campaign making it very difficult for a brand to nullify or at least minimize negative impact of such spontaneous outbursts.

This will likely result in customers switching to the brand competitors and lead to decreased revenue.

While dissatisfied customers can tank company revenue, satisfied customers are more likely to become repeat customers and greatly increase company value:

“A 10% increase in customer retention levels result in a 30% increase in the value of the company.” (Bain & Co)

Sustainable business model can’t rely on one-off clients, it requires repeated customers.

Another reason for cultivating repeated customers: to improve brand image and increase exposure, every worthy brand should nurture brand advocates. Only satisfied customers can potentially turn into repeated customers and then hopefully into raving fans and brand advocates.

To wow your customers, you should carefully map out the entire road map of their pre-shopping, shopping and post – shopping experiences.

With pre-shopping experience, it’s a good idea to provide some value to customers before asking for their wallet.

Giving them valuable info and discounts through social media or earned channels will get the job done.

Offline shopping process has its own challenges, but this article is mostly concentrating on online shopping.

Providing great experience during online shopping is a bit trickier process. Company has to make sure that its site is easy to navigate, has complete product description, avoids extra steps in the check out process, etc.

It’s also important to go above and beyond usual buying interface and offer extra features that make customers happy – like offering gift certificates and gift carts, for example. Gift cards and certificates provide a convenient way for customers to buy a gift for someone from company’s store.

A Story about Famous Brand and Customer Experience

Recently I was shopping for a high end tennis racquet from a specific brand that I wanted to give as a birthday present to my friend on his anniversary.

Though I am not proud of it, I have to admit that I let the time slide by, and there were only a few days left for me to make the necessary arrangements.

Since it was a well-known brand used by the top world class tennis players, I figured there would be no problem with purchasing e-gift card. This way I wouldn’t have to wait for gift card delivery, which takes several days, and my friend would get his present on time.

When I visited the site I was not able to find neither e-gift certificates nor e-gift cards. I couldn’t even find ordinary gift certificate, for that matter, let alone “e-enabled” one.

So I had to shop around, find a company specializing in athletic retail, make sure they sell that brand, offer e-certificates, and have a store located in the vicinity of my friend’s house, so he can go there and buy the tennis racquet…

To add to the pain, they only offered gift certificates for $25, $50 and $100. There were no larger denominators. So I had to buy several $100 certificates to accomplish my goal…

As you can see my whole shopping experience was far from flawless. And I can’t say it motivated me to become the brand advocate of that company.

Obviously if I could go directly to the brand’s site, order e-gift card for the denominator close to the purchase price of the racquet, have this gift card delivered in some cool color hinting at its higher  denomination – may be gold or platinum, this could be a completely different story.

How the Right E-commerce Platform Enhances Consumer Experience

Here is an interesting part. It’s not that difficult even for a small company to provide great shopping experience for its customers.
All it takes is the right e-commerce platform for e-commerce store.

Shopify, for example, (popular e-commerce platform for small and mid-size businesses) has multiple features that could be used to increase customer satisfaction.

Among them are:

  • The creation of gift cards and e-gift cards with custom price denominators and customized look and feel,
  • Recovery of abandoned check out (reaching out to customers who abandoned a purchase during check out process and offering them some sort of incentive to sweeten the deal),
  • Coupon creation,
  • and many more.

With Shopify’s powerful e-commerce technology companies can sell online, offline and on-the-go:

In a nut shell, you can start building a relationship with a customer by offering a coupon or discount, continue building a relationship through easy and thoughtful shopping experience, and then turn one time buyers into repeated customers by creating brand loyalty program and offering further incentives and rewards.

It’s not that difficult to set up the entire customer-appreciation process if you have the right tools.

Posted in Branding, Main Category | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Predictability of Social Media Marketing Campaigns

predicting social media resultsSocial media marketing is matured. It’s not in its infancy anymore – we see less hype and more proof of results. There is a clear industry transformation from guesstimation and vague resemblance of meaningful KPIs to a more scientific approach with measurable results and data analysis.

Here are some facts related to social analytics:

  1. Over a year ago Google added social analytics section to its analytics platform. So now businesses can analyze not only direct conversions coming from different social networks, but also assisted conversions, which is extremely important. As with any type of marketing only low percent of visitors convert right away, and addition of assistant conversions helps to provide better picture of actual commercial impact of social interactions.
  2.  Major social networks now have their own analytics tools that could be used to dive in and dissect every aspect of user interactions – we have Twitter analytics, Pinterest analytics, Linkedin analytics for company pages, and of course Facebook analytics. Facebook analytics, especially after recent addition of Facebook insights, is by far the most comprehensive analytics platform around. And it is freely available to all Facebook advertisers.
  3.  While Tumblr and Instagram do not have their own analytics yet (to the best of my knowledge), you can use Google analytics and the whole slew of 3d party analytics tools to analyze various aspects of social media activity in these social networks.
  4. Of course, 3d party analytics tools are available not only for Tumblr or Instagram, but for the majority of social networks, big and small, general and industry-specific. They are spreading like wildfire catering to particular business needs to further enhance social media analysis.

The ROI of social media marketing campaign is still one of the most difficult factors to predict in digital marketing industry due to highly volatile chain effect.

On Facebook, likes and comments can cause increased post shares and vice versa – which in turn can increase post feed ranking – which can increase organic reach – which can increase exposure.

On Twitter, favorites and replies cause the literal growth of a tweet (when viewed from Twitter platform, it appears larger than non-engaged tweets) – which increases tweet visibility – which can spur the number of re-tweets – which can stimulate organic reach – which can increase exposure.

On Google Plus, Pinterest, Linkedin and other social media channels we can observe similar chain reaction as well.

(Dashes in examples above are used to visually demonstrate a chain effect.)

In essence, each of these steps can potentially cause a butterfly effect and turn your campaign into viral hurricane. Unfortunately, you never know which auction will cause this viral effect or whether it will be triggered at all during your campaign.

Viral side of social media marketing is uncontrollable and can’t be calculated in advance, it’s not reliable and should be considered as a pleasant (and sometimes huge) bonus.

While viral effect is unpredictable, usual results of social media marketing campaigns can be predicted with pretty much the same probability as the results of PPC marketing and other paid advertisements.

Companies that run professional social media marketing campaigns rather than treat social marketing as a sporadic activity,  know their metrics (ie: normal reach, traffic and conversions for tweets/ Facebook updates/ Pinterest pins, etc.), and can use them to deliver predictable and desirable marketing outcome.

Plus, with a roaster of analytics tools to track and analyze each step of the campaign, it’s now easier to identify the most successful episodes and use them as building blocks in future campaigns.

After all, this is what social media marketing strategy is all about – test, identify the winning combination of campaign elements, engage, build influence and reach, drive traffic, increase ROI, enjoy new customers. Rinse and repeat.

Posted in Main Category, Social Marketing, Social Marketing Secrets | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

There is No Such Thing as Social Media Marketing!

social media marketing and seoThis title is a bit of exaggeration, but it sure got your attention, right? Let’s continue.

There is no such thing as SEO. There is no such thing as Online Branding. There is no such thing as PR. I can go on and on.

While a few years ago such statements would be absurd, now we need to look at a bigger picture. All those marketing disciplines still exist, yet they shouldn’t be considered as stand- alone strategies anymore. They all are a part of digital marketing, and can be effective only when working together.

Let’s review a few examples.

Social Media Marketing and SEO

Google states that social signals are not important factor in gaining first page position in SERP. It’s a myth. There is no correlation between strong social signals and rankings. While this may or may not be true (I would advise you to take official statements with a grain of salt), the fact is social signals do impact SEO, at least from the indexing point of view.

If search spiders do not “live” on your client’s site, and only visit it occasionally, the easiest way to get new page indexed within minutes is to reference it from influential social media account (doesn’t matter whether it’s Twitter or Facebook). This is not a theory. We’ve done it thousands times.

PR (public relations) and SEO

You might wander what public relations have to do with SEO. Until recently there was a clear sequence – SEO experts helped to optimize press-releases to rank better in SERPs, then after a mass-distribution through PR aggregators, those press-releases generated a massive array of inbound key-word targeted links which helped the overall ranking of a site and specific pages.

Theoretically both departments could work as stand-alone units without the necessity to be in constant contact with each other. Not anymore.

Enter the era of Google penguins otherwise known as killers of duplicate content. Google frowns upon massive press-release distribution that generates a lot of duplicate content. And while it might benefit your company from PR perspective, there is a good chance your search rankings will be negatively affected at the same time. Today press-release creation and distribution requires a careful balancing between PR objectives and the realities of search ranking.

Social Media Marketing and Public Relations

While PR department doesn’t have to collaborate with SM department during the development of PR campaigns, PR advertising and branding dollar will stretch much further if these campaigns are coordinated and supported by related social media activities.

If you’re seasoned marketing executive, I am sure you can easily think of at least dozen examples that support this point of view. Your comments are welcome.

Posted in Main Category, Search Engine Optimization, Social Marketing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment