eCommerce Brand Loyalty: How to Earn and Maintain Your Customer’s Trust

Ruthie Careyby Ruthie Carey

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eCommerce brand loyalty is a massive factor in the success of online brands. It impacts where people shop, what they buy, customer lifetime values and other critical behaviors and metrics.

However, in today’s omnichannel world, customer loyalty is changing. In more cases than not, it is waning. As MarTech Series notes on brand loyalty:

“The decline in brand loyalty can be blamed on product quality, a lack of selection, or better prices elsewhere. A consumer might even come in contact with a new brand with superior customer service, and instantly be swayed into making a purchase, not thinking twice about the competing brand they may have purchased from prior. Brands that offer incentives such as easy delivery or a flexible return policy can get a step ahead in attracting a consumer. People are simply too busy for a bad shopping experience these days.”

The plain fact of the matter is that consumers are interacting with retailers differently. As a result of this, merchants must nurture and delight them in various ways.

Given how critical eCommerce brand loyalty is to successful customer retention, today, we will take a look at how retailers can increase loyalty among their audience and keep churn rates low.

With that, let’s get started.

Make Customer Service a Priority

Investing in top-notch customer service is a vital component to retaining customers and cultivating eCommerce brand loyalty. Interestingly enough, however, this is one area where many merchants opt to cut costs.

Saving funds in the customer service department is a tragic mistake.

The reason for this is that customer service statistics have shown that, of those who have had a negative experience with a brand, more than half never do business with that company again.

Moreover, as Forbes detailed on sharing positive and negative customer experiences:

“A recent study by business process outsourcing company Sitel Group uncovered a startling statistic about the relationship between customer experience and social media. It found that while 30 percent of consumers who have had a negative customer experience say they would share it on social media or post a negative review online, nearly half (49 percent) of consumers who have had a positive customer experience say they would share it on social media or post a positive review online.”

While this does show that folks are more likely to share positive brand experience, it does not take away from the fact that nearly one out of every three people will share their negative brand interactions with their social media circles.

Therefore, investing in high-quality customer service is critical for enhancing the user experience, increasing sales, and promoting eCommerce brand loyalty.

Some tips for achieving this aim include:

  • Answering customer questions and complaints quickly
  • Enabling customers to reach out to the brand via popular social media platforms
  • Utilize chatbots to reduce the number of open support cases, leaving teams to handle only the more complex and sensitive matters

Personalize Brand Communications

While customers might like a brand and even buy from it, encouraging the elusive second purchase can be difficult. Therefore, to help cultivate eCommerce brand loyalty, retailers will need to forge a more personal connection with consumers.

Therefore, sellers should leverage email personalization techniques and other customized communications tactics. The reason retailers want to personalize their customer messaging is that speaking directly to consumers and their interests can have a dramatic impact on campaign performance.

For instance, as OptinMonster details on subject line creation:

“Email subject lines that are personalized by including a name boost open rates by 10-14 percent across industries.”

However, that is just the tip of the iceberg. By implementing personalized product recommendations, segmented email campaigns and similar strategies, retailers can effectively increase customer lifetime values with email marketing, thereby elevating eCommerce brand loyalty.

By personalizing the email campaigns that consumers receive, sellers are letting buyers know that they are essential to the business and that the brand is interested in delivering the most relevant messages, content and offers possible.

However, this is not the only personalization tactics sellers can use to increase eCommerce customer loyalty.

Build Personalized Shopping Experiences

Personalized on-site experiences not only show customers that the brand cares about their interests, but it also highlights to consumers that the company is relevant to their life and goals.

Additionally, brands that take the time to customize customer experiences are likely to generate more revenue. As an Oracle customer experience study shows, 40 percent of consumers are willing to pay as much as 20 percent more for a premier customer experience.

However, this is not the only salient point from this study that should be acknowledged. As the Oracle report also details:

“Generation Z is paying the most attention to its customer experience. This age group reports having both positive and negative experiences more frequently than Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers. Their perceptions and resulting behaviors will have a far-reaching impact as they eclipse Millennials in numbers, set trends, and influence future business practices.”

Understanding the impact these youngsters are beginning to have on business practices, Gen Z marketing strategies dictate that a personalized shopping experience is critical to boosting eCommerce brand loyalty.

Therefore, sellers should be recommending products based on what consumers have viewed or purchased, personalize product page information based on a user’s location data, adjust navigation options to better align with a shopper’s interests, and implement other tactics that speak to specific users.

Create a Customer Loyalty Program

It’s kind of hard to talk about eCommerce brand loyalty without mentioning building a loyalty program.

For those who have considered implementing a loyalty program but have not gotten around to doing so, the time is well past due. The fact is that customer loyalty programs are vital to eCommerce brand loyalty, customer acquisition, sales, and a multitude of other business metrics.

Highlighting this fact, a 2019 loyalty report issued by Bond and Visa showcased that:

  • 73 percent of consumers are more likely to recommend companies with good loyalty programs
  • 79 percent of shoppers report being more likely to continue doing business with brands that have loyalty programs
  • 66 percent of buyers report modifying their brand spend to maximize loyalty benefits

Based on this data, it is clear that such programs are a powerful tool for retaining customers and promoting eCommerce brand loyalty.

Thankfully, there are a variety of platforms sellers can use to easily build out loyalty programs, such as Yotpo, LoyaltyLion, and others.

Gamify Loyalty Programs

While implementing a loyalty program is a great idea, optimizing it is ideal.

Therefore, retailers should seriously consider gamifying their loyalty programs. No matter if merchants decide to implement a point system, cashback offers, tiered programs, or something else entirely, incentivizing consumers to take action and participate can make for an entertaining and fun way to shop.

By incentivizing loyalty programs, retailers are effectively encouraging customers to get to the next level, no matter how that aim is achieved. Typically, shoppers will reach loyalty goals by making purchases, but retailers can also include non-purchase rewards for:

  • Writing a product review
  • Bringing friends and family into the fold
  • Birthdays
  • Membership anniversaries

No matter how retailers opt to structure and incentivize their loyalty programs, the important thing to keep in mind is that it must be fun, alluring and worth shopping with the company over its competitors.

Implement a ‘No Risk’ Return Policy

While providing free shipping and returns is a fantastic way to increase eCommerce sales, it is not an effective strategy for setting a brand apart and forging eCommerce brand loyalty given how many other businesses provide the same offer.

Therefore, for those who are aiming to take things to a new level, it might be worth considering a “try it before you buy it” program. By implementing such a policy, retailers can telegraph that they are so confident in their products that returns will be minimal.

With a “shop now, buy later” type of program, retailers can build eCommerce customer loyalty through an extreme level of convenience.

H&M’s loyalty program provides this same perk, allowing consumers to have items shipped for free, only paying for them if they decide to keep the product. Because of how appealing of a feature this is, retailers can not only use it to increase sales and eCommerce brand loyalty, but also grow their email subscriber lists to target consumers with more personalized offers, thereby helping to maximize customer lifetime values.

Encourage Customer Reviews

The fact of the matter is that the most successful relationships work both ways. Therefore, retailers should let consumers know how much their opinion means to them and invite them to write a review for the brand and its products.

This is an essential tactic to leverage, not only because product reviews are critical to online sales, but also because customers engaging with the brand, and writing product reviews help to keep them invested in the company-to-consumer relationships. The more engaged a customer is, the more eCommerce brand loyalty they are likely to feel.

As far as tactics for increasing and improving customer reviews are concerned, there are a multitude of ways that sellers can achieve this aim, including:

  • Asking for reviews via email
  • Incentivize leaving product reviews
  • Include CTAs to review in product packaging
  • Highlight customer reviews and testimonials on social media

Adopt a Subscription Model

There are tons of reasons for retailers to implement a subscription-based business model. One of the most compelling is the profits that merchants can enjoy. Underscoring this statement is the fact that the subscription economy grew by an astonishing 350 percent in just seven and a half years. As Business Wire stated about subscription economy growth:

“Overall, the SEI data reveals that subscription businesses grew revenues about five times faster than S&P 500 company revenues (18.2 percent versus 3.6 percent) and U.S. retail sales (18.2 percent versus 3.7 percent) from January 1, 2012, to June 30, 2019.”

Revenue aside, subscription models are also a fantastic way to increase eCommerce brand loyalty.

The fact is that subscription businesses are incredibly convenient for customers as they don’t have to place recurring orders. Moreover, consumers are often met with varying goodies through this type of setup, thereby keeping things fresh and exciting–thereby avoiding subscription fatigue.

Truth be told, subscription programs are perfect for eCommerce retailers who sell products that require frequent replenishment, such as skin care products, cosmetics, foods, doggy chew toys, household goods, and the like.

However, while convenience may not be enough on its own to lure customers into a subscription, retailers can wow them and help to engender eCommerce brand loyalty with perks like discounted pricing for the first month, free shipping, random gifts, and niceties.

That said, simply offering a subscription service may not be enough to build eCommerce brand loyalty. Therefore, it is wise also to implement additional features like flexible billing options, a preference center to give customers more control over their subscription, and similar tools for personalizing the service.

Connect with Customer Psychologically

Here’s the thing: Terms like “brand” and “branding” get thrown around so much these days that the meaning of these words has become somewhat watered down.

When talking about what a brand is, it should be more than just a logo or look that separates a company from the competition. It should be an all-around personality.

When it comes to cultivating eCommerce brand loyalty, consumers are not (in the long-term) willing to stick with a company that doesn’t resonate with them on an emotional and psychological level.

The truth is, in order to make that kind of connection with an audience, a brand must embody the promises that it promotes and deliver on the goods.

Consider brands like Red Bull, GoPro, Nike or even Zappos for a moment. All of these companies have built a dedicated fan base by crafting more than a product. Each of these businesses crafted a culture and narrative that propels the company and connects with consumers.

For merchants to successfully generate abiding eCommerce brand loyalty, it is necessary to think about the values and personality of the company honestly and actively seek out consumers who embody those same beliefs, attitudes and ideals.

Provide Multiple Points of Contact

In the current omnichannel eCommerce environment, customers are looking to connect with brands on a multitude of different platforms. Therefore, sellers should make it exceedingly easy for them to reach the business using their method of choice.

That said, retailers should make customer service reps available via phone, email, live chat, and social media. Moreover, if resources allow, merchants should also consider implementing a chatbot to resolve simple questions and requests at all hours of the day and night.

The point here is that the easier it is for customers to get in touch with a company, the better experience they will have with the business. When customers have a stellar experience, there is a greater chance of eCommerce brand loyalty developing.

Share User-Generated Content on Social Media

According to Hootsuite’s Digital 2020 report, a surprising 52 percent of brand discovery takes place on social media.

For retailers who are looking to increase eCommerce brand loyalty, the first thing they want prospective buyers to see when they come across the company on social media is its customers loving their recent purchases.

Therefore, merchants should be eager to share and promote user-generated content. The fact is that using user-generated content is a powerful driver of eCommerce brand loyalty for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, it provides new customers with the social proof needed to not only feel comfortable to buy from the company, but excited to complete their purchase and get their products in the mail. As data from Stackla reveals:

“79 percent of people say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions, yet only 13 percent said content from a brand is impactful and a mere 8 percent said influencer-created content would highly impact their purchasing decisions.”

What this shows is that content shared by a brand from an average user can be more effective than hiring an influencer to promote a product.

Secondly, when a company shares a customer’s content on social media, the spotlight is on them, and that makes shoppers feel appreciated and special. When shoppers feel recognized by a company, eCommerce brand loyalty is likely to increase.

Understanding this, merchants should encourage followers to snap photos of themselves and their new purchase, tag the brand using dedicated hashtags and share the content on the company’s account (with the user’s permission).

Final Thoughts

Increasing eCommerce brand loyalty and retaining existing customers is critical for growing a company.

By focusing on the customer and their overall experience with a brand, retailers can effectively engender loyalty and help shoppers fall in love with the company.

However, implementing all of the strategies mentioned in this piece (and other equally effective tactics) can be quite daunting for some merchants. This is understandable, as revamping the customer experience and building something new is a lot of work.

That said, if your brand wants to ensure that it is putting forth a first-rate customer experience that successfully engenders eCommerce brand loyalty, then reach out to Visiture for a Commerce Transformation consultation.

Our Commerce Transformation program is scientifically proven to enhance a company’s acquisition, user experience and retention effectiveness, helping merchants achieve up to a 23.64 to 1 ROI.

Reach out today and see how Visiture can transform your company’s online performance!

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