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.

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