Experts have touted the benefits of personalizing the customer experience for years. However, the recent surge in eCommerce engagement has now made personalization a crucial capability instead of a competitive advantage. A staggering 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions. But, an even more remarkable statistic is that 60% of customers are frustrated when their interactions are not personalized.
Because of this expectation, many brands have adopted a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model to reach their customers before, during and after the sale. Brands that have a direct line to their consumers have a significant advantage when it comes to engagement. They can build brand advocates and continue the relationship long after the first order arrives.
To create an engaging and emotional customer relationship, brands should consider both short- and long-term strategies. Etailers that center the customer experience and communicate with empathy and understanding will tap into a market hungry for connection and authenticity from the brands they shop. Here is how to turn your relationship with customers from simply transactional to long-lasting advocacy.
Begin with Short-Term Customer Engagement Strategies
Customers begin the next phase of their journey when they click the buy button. They replace their expectations for pre-purchase personalization with expectations about delivery. Even with shipping logistics delays, customers still expect inexpensive, quick delivery whenever possible.
Short shipping times might not always be in a brand’s control, but communication and transparency about the process can put a new customer’s mind at ease. Keep information at customers’ fingertips with an email when an order is shipped. The landing page should include tracking, estimated delivery dates and order information all in one place.
Shipping emails have the highest open rates of any type of email communication, and they can be an excellent way to drive engagement for new customers. Some simple ways to elevate your shipping emails include:
- Including the estimated arrival date in the email.
- Sending proactive communication about shipping delays.
- Inviting new customers to join your loyalty program.
- Promoting a complimentary product to their purchase.
Transactional emails should give customers the information they need, but they can also drive engagement while they eagerly anticipate their orders.
Earning Repeat Customer Loyalty
Communication after the purchase can be a make-or-break proposition for a new customer. When a customer experience is delightful, that customer is more likely to buy. But how a brand treats customers after the purchase has a significant impact on when that purchase will happen and how much it will be.
Continue Personalizing Your Customer Relationships
After a purchase, retailers have a wealth of knowledge about customers and their preferences. However, many brands resort to a one-size-fits-all approach to engagement with customers. These strategies include ill-timed emails based on the last purchase, frequent irrelevant offers and a static website experience.
This strategy can leave brands straddling a fine line between annoying customers or ghosting them. Neither option is a good experience. Instead, effective continued engagement is based on interactions and personalization. Understanding who a customer is and serving the types of content and experiences that reflect that knowledge is the way to win hearts and secure a share of wallet.
Build an Exceptional Loyalty Experience
Loyalty programs should incentivize customers to continue to buy, attract new customers and re-engage inactive customers. But, cutting through the reward program noise can be difficult, especially if they only offer points. Instead, brands should distinguish their loyalty programs by offering other perks, including:
- Exclusive sales and offers
- Workshops, expert advice and other services
- Early access to and sneak peeks of new products
Discounts are a good short-term strategy to drive a sale, but meaningful and deeply valuable relationships are built by prioritizing exceptional experiences. Building a customer loyalty program that offers incentives beyond just a discount will go a long way to nurturing brand advocacy.
Localize and Personalize Content
A personalized customer experience shouldn’t begin and end with email marketing. Bringing that customization to your website demonstrates to customers that you know who they are. Dynamic landing pages funnel in customer intelligence to create a customized experience. Whether a customer has purchased once or a hundred times, brands can tailor their experience. Some of the opportunities for personalization can include:
- Demographics from your customer profile
- Past purchases and wishlists
- Geolocation and shipping addresses
- Traffic sources and behavior on the page
These customized landing pages can boost conversion rates by up to 30%, making them well worth the effort.
Nurture Your Brand Evangelists
A successful customer relationship relies on the long game. Instead of spamming customers with irrelevant messages and offers — driving up your unsub rate and your customers’ tempers — treat their inbox and your budding relationship with care. Do not give them a reason to disengage before they have the chance to get to know you better.
Digital shopping accelerated dramatically during the pandemic. It also shifted consumers’ buying behaviors — especially for younger shoppers. A whopping 75 percent of US consumers tried a new shopping behavior like eCommerce, curbside pickup or mobile orders. These changes were in response to increasing economic pressure and even changing priorities.
And DTC brands have a special opportunity to win new customers — 25% of customers tried a new private-label brand during 2020. And 73% of those customers plan to incorporate that new brand into their buying routines. While eCommerce growth slowed from the break-neck 2020 levels, 2021 ushered in the beginning of the new normal for consumers. Many customers who tried new ecommerce options in 2020 have made their buying behaviors permanent.
This zeitgeist offers DTC brands a unique opportunity to win new customers. But, to keep those customers coming back, brands must effectively and efficiently collect and act on customer data. Simple segmentation can offer basic personalization, but elevating that customer experience takes more. And customers can tell the difference. Utilizing customer intent data, intelligent targeting and exercising patience and empathy are winning strategies.