Building strong relationships with your customer base will help your e-commerce business grow and thrive. A healthy and mutually beneficial relationship between your team and your customers will build trust, high-quality and respected customer service, and a loyal audience that will think of your brand whenever they are in need of specific products or services.
Gaining the loyalty of your customer base will help your company achieve effective organic growth. After all, engaged customers are more likely to share blog posts, leave comments under videos, and—perhaps most importantly—leave positive reviews on sites such as Trustpilot.
Of course, providing an honest, effective, and high-quality product or service will naturally gain customer respect and loyalty—to a degree. But aside from this primary strategy, there are several other methods you can employ to build a solid foundation of followers willing to go the extra mile to share your content.
TOP TIPS FOR BUILDING A LOYAL CUSTOMER BASE
Below, we’ll cover some useful strategies to help you attract loyal customers that will keep coming back for more.
IDENTIFY YOUR TARGET MARKET
Before you attempt to build a loyal following of customers, you need to identify exactly who these people are. Even before creating a product or service, you probably spotted a gap in the market or a reasonable demand for what you have to offer.
Whether you are selling fitness courses, a book, monetised blogs, or cameras, you’ll likely find a common theme in the demographic that underpins your niche. Factors to consider include age, job, location, hobbies, popular social media platforms, and how they consume content. As one of the most important steps, this kind of research will help you narrow down a huge population into a smaller number of people that are particularly interested in your product or service.
Once you’ve identified your target audience, you’ll develop a refined idea of how to reach out to them. Gain insight into your perceived target market by gathering data online.
As an example, professional male photographers have an average age of 41, whereas the average age of female photographers hovers around 34. The most common industries that employ photographers include broadcasting and science and technical services—and a huge portion work as independent contractors. Professional photographers receive an average salary of around $40,000 and use popular social media hashtags such as #PicOfTheDay, #PhotographyEveryday, and #Photogram.
After identifying your target market, their online behaviour and hotspots, and the industries they are involved in, you’ll be able to launch posts and campaigns specifically tailored to these individuals. You’re more likely to gain the attention of loyal readers and customers by directly appealing to them.
RAMP UP ENGAGEMENT
After identifying your target audience, you’ll need to keep them engaged. Posting once in a while might be enough to turn a few heads, but you’re going to need to keep content output consistent to really pique interest and win over brand advocates willing to champion your stuff.
Strive to churn out Instagram posts, blogs, and videos consistently, but don’t sacrifice quality for quantity. Even after you’ve solidified a frequent stream of great content, you’ll need to keep user engagement high.
Many companies produce beautiful infographics and catchy images but seldom communicate with their customers past the initial post. This can lead followers—especially loyal ones—to feel disconnected or isolated.
Incorporate polls, questions, and Q&As into your posts to give your customers a chance to voice themselves. Dedicate some time to replying to comments, and even go as far as visiting customer profiles and leaving comments on relevant posts. This level of personal engagement will make customers feel recognised and valued, increasing the probability of customer loyalty.
You should also consider visiting online forums and Facebook groups that revolve around your niche. These platforms serve as an effective way to reach large numbers of your target audience, often for free.
Use newsletters to keep your customers in the loop. Instead of bombarding their inboxes with promotions and offers, consider crafting a well-designed and personalised piece—released periodically—that offers them real value, not just content marketing.
Include content such as tips on a particular hobby or endeavour, or on how your customers can get a leg up in their industry. Use tools like Mailchimp to add a personal touch and receive valuable data such as bounce rate and advanced testing tools.
Further, consider including links to free blogs and videos that customers can use to their advantage. The combination of a personalised newsletter and free and useful content will likely boost audience engagement and prompt followers to share within their professional circles.
The strategy of time-based micro-series will pull in readers, ramp up click-through rates, and increase customer loyalty with the quality of the content. Many companies send out well-crafted emails that serve as mini-courses directed at specific industries or audiences.
Readers will come to expect each segment of this series at specific intervals. The anticipation, quality, and educational nature of the content will synergise to increase the likelihood of social media sharing and exposure to future loyal customers.
VIE FOR RE-ENGAGEMENT
Just because some customers aren’t loyal now doesn’t mean they won’t be in the future. You should closely monitor your email list for active readers and those who haven’t opened these emails in a while. Badgering potential customers with emails they aren’t reading will only turn them off and irritate them. However, before removing them from your mailing list, you should consider reaching out to prompt re-engagement.
Because every customer has the potential to become a loyal follower, re-engagement campaigns serve as effective tools. Send out an email telling your disengaged customers that you’ve noticed their lack of interest. Perhaps tempt them back with targeted offers, discounts, or rewards.
If you doubt the power of a re-engagement campaign, simply look to the daily news email Morning Brew. The company managed to drastically improve their open rates and inbox placement after an effective re-engagement campaign.
GET FAMILIAR WITH GOOD SEO PRACTICES
SEO—search engine optimisation—underpins the success of many online businesses, blogs, and services. Simply put, SEO helps to determine the visibility of your website on popular search engines such as Google.
Let’s say you own a blog about running. You publish articles about technique, recovery, and physiology. Now, imagine somebody who has never heard of your site before. They type the word “running stretches” into Google and tap the enter button. Good SEO practices will determine how far up your site ranks in the search results. If, say, 200,000 people search for this term each day and your site ranks third, you’ll likely receive a lot more clicks than if it features on the fifth page.
Various factors will make your content favourable to SEO algorithms and help to drive your site up the ranks. The most important factors for e-commerce businesses include:
These are the words potential customers enter in a search engine when looking for specific content. You must incorporate these words carefully throughout your content for maximum effect. Search for keywords that have a high search rate but low competition.
Content serves as the cornerstone of an SEO strategy. You need to publish frequent and high-quality content that fully satisfies a keyword-rich search result. Blogs are a fantastic way to capture a loyal audience and provide a steady stream of informative content. Other viable forms include:
Good SEO practices will grab the attention of potential customers as they enter specific queries. Keep them engaged with sleek website design, easy navigation, and high-quality yet concise content.
3. PAID PROMOTIONS
In a world rife with competition, splashing some cash on paid promotions will help to bring your brand to the fore. Several social media platforms allow you to sponsor posts and advertise content. Making this investment will enable you to develop an ad campaign that targets specific demographics.
Far from a shot in the dark, you can tailor ads and sponsored posts to pop up at certain times in the feeds of your target audience only—thereby helping you appeal to consumers most likely to transition into loyal customers.
Most major social media platforms offer this service. However, sponsored posts perform particularly well on the image-based platform of Instagram. Here, a massive 75% of users take action—including visiting a website—after exposure to a sponsored post.
INCENTIVISE YOUR AUDIENCE TO CONSUME AND SHARE YOUR CONTENT
Click-bait blog and video titles and well-edited podcasts will tempt your target audience to click on your content and give it a whirl. However, you can secure a loyal fanbase by offering them something in return.
Place coupon codes at the bottom of your articles, announce discounts part-way through your podcasts, and instruct viewers on how to get involved in giveaways at the end of your videos. By giving back to your consumers—and offering them tempting prizes—you’ll quickly build up a strong foundation of loyal readers or viewers.
UTILISE BLOG SHARING TOOLS
You shouldn’t expect casual consumers to go to great lengths and paste your URLs all over social media. Instead, you should aim to make it as easy as possible for them to cross-pollinate your articles and videos using easy sharing tools.
Position “share this” buttons throughout your blogs, ideally with specific social media icons to enable customers to open up a platform with the click of a button. You can also use widgets on Twitter, such as Tweetmeme, that convert lengthy and complex URLs into concise and convenient ones.
FOSTER A COMMUNITY
Chances are, your content, services, and products attract like-minded individuals. Plus, your informative videos and detailed blog articles probably get the cogs of their mind turning. People involved in a specific industry—especially a niche—often love exchanging ideas, conversing, and nerding out together.
After you’ve drawn in a good number of loyal followers, consider making a community page. Facebook Groups provides a good tool to make both public and private groups. Alternatively, you can make a similar space on your own website.
By providing this online platform, and by actively participating in it, you’ll form a close bond with your most loyal fans. They’ll feel as though they are part of something, and your brand will serve as the platform’s host. This sense of community will drive your loyal audience to value your business and share your content, driving more traffic your way.
ONE LOYAL CUSTOMER ADDS MORE VALUE THAN NUMEROUS NON-LOYAL BUYERS
Taking these steps to develop a loyal customer base will pay dividends. Gaining the support of even a small group of people that feel connected to your business and speak highly of your products and services adds serious value to your brand. These customers are more likely to open your newsletters, buy your products, and share your content.
Utilise the methods above to attract customers that are likely to stick around and help you grow your brand.