How to Use Customer-Based Marketing Strategies to Grow Your eCommerce Brand

Ron Dodby Ron Dod

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For most eCommerce retailers, their most immediate goal is to establish methods for increasing revenue. To achieve this aim, it is necessary to boost eCommerce sales.

As a result, brands often focus an inordinate amount of their marketing efforts on earning new customers. However, as most are aware, generating new customers costs significantly more than retaining current customers.

The fact of the matter is that customer retention strategies are often a far more profitable route for retailers to follow than turning new leads into customers. As Business2Community reports on why a brand’s existing customers are its best customers:

“The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 percent – 70 percent. Meanwhile, the probability of getting a prospective customer to buy products from you for the first time is only 5 percent to 20 percent. So, you’re at least 40 percent more likely to convince an existing customer to buy from you again than you are to convert a prospective customer.”

For this reason, customer-based marketing strategies for eCommerce companies is one of the best ways to grow a business. At this point, the question becomes:

What are the best customer-based marketing strategies for eCommerce retailers to utilize for increased sales?

That’s exactly what we are here to break down.

But, before diving into the details, let’s lay a little groundwork.

Customer-based Marketing Strategies for eCommerce Explained

Broadly speaking, there are two different kinds of marketing campaigns that retailers are likely to run:

  • Product-based marketing campaigns
  • Customer-based marketing campaigns

As far as product-based strategies are concerned, the campaign tends to revolve around reaching consumers with what is presented as a superior product to others within its category.

two types marketing campaigns retailers run graphic

With a product-based strategy, retailers tend to highlight the specific features of an item or its lower price point. Based on the product marketed, merchants will likely choose one tactic over the other.

For example, many technology products will opt to go the route of differentiation while those selling items such as extension cords will likely choose to show off their lower price tag.

On the other hand, with customer-based marketing strategies, eCommerce retailers beat a completely different path, opting instead to focus on continually engaging existing customers, as pursuing these individuals is likely to be more lucrative, as mentioned earlier.

Therefore, with customer-based marketing strategies, eCommerce businesses will often focus less on the amazingness of a certain item as they will engage the customer’s desires through personalization and loyalty efforts. The point here is to deepen the relationship with the individual and build stronger company-to-customer bonds.

With that understanding, let’s explore seven of the most highly effective customer-based marketing strategies eCommerce businesses can use to keep customers engaged and coming back for more.

Strategy #1: Utilize Automation to Drive Engagement

Using marketing automation platforms can be extremely advantageous for eCommerce retailers. This type of tool enables sellers to reach far more customers with much more personal messages than if they were to communicate manually.

hello fresh email offer

The idea here is that retailers can continually reengage their customers by sending out personalized emails that feature highly relevant content, product and offers. The high level of relevancy is achieved through segmenting email subscribers by a multitude of characteristics such as:

  • Gender
  • Location
  • Purchase history
  • Products viewed
  • Content consumed
  • Level of activity/engagement

Thankfully, there are a variety of platforms that retailers can employ to get started with eCommerce email marketing automation. Many of these services will possess segmentation features, in addition to a panoply of other useful elements such as analytics, landing page builders and the like.

Through the use of email automation, retailers can engage customers with a wide array of marketing messages designed to suit a customer’s particular tastes, thereby significantly increasing the chances of earning a conversion.

Strategy #2: Leverage Feedback Surveys

Performing eCommerce market research is an essential task for growing an eCommerce brand. The fact of the matter is that if merchants are not in touch with their customers’ wants, needs and opinions, then providing a more satisfying and enriching experience will be extremely difficult.

Therefore, one of the customer-based marketing strategies eCommerce retailers will want to employ is the use of customer feedback surveys.

michael kors opinion survey popup

Feedback surveys are an excellent way of helping to cement the bond between brands and shoppers as these questionnaires let customers know that a company is interested in their input. If they see the changes they request put into action, this lets them know that their voice has been heard.

As it stands, the average response rate for email surveys is 30 percent.

Through the insights provided by audience members, merchants can establish a variety of ways to improve the customer experience and increase conversions. Some of the ways that surveys can help retailers include:

  • Fixing product features
  • Improving website usability
  • Creating more relevant content
  • Enhancing customer support

That said, it is important for merchants not to get down about the criticisms they receive. In reality, handling positive and negative reviews for an eCommerce store is a vital skill for merchants to possess. In fact, the positive reviews that a seller receives doesn’t teach them anything about how to improve their business. It is only the more unfavorable feedback that enables a brand to better its products and services.

employ customer feedback surveys graphic

By leveraging feedback surveys as one of a brand’s customer-based marketing strategies, eCommerce retailers can simultaneously engage customers and breed a more profound sense of loyalty.

Strategy #3: Create a Rewards Program

Here is an uncomfortable fact about the current eCommerce landscape: Customer loyalty and retention are declining.

As Forbes reports:

“A recent study of more than 34,000 consumers worldwide… shows that customer loyalty and retention are declining. Specifically, two-thirds of consumers surveyed said they are more likely to switch to the competitor that provides the best customer service or experience.”

For retailers to create a superior experience that keeps customers coming back, a loyalty program is critical to this end.

sephora customer benefits list

Turning to Forbes once more, discussing the value of investing in loyal customers, the publication reports:

“Loyalty programs are another great way to create long-term relationships and boost sales… 77 percent of consumers say they are likely to stay with a brand that has a loyalty program… 70 percent of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand with a good loyalty program… 63 percent of consumers say they’re prepared to modify their spending habits in order to maximize the benefits of a loyalty program.”

While there are a variety of ways to build a successful loyalty program, the key is to make customers feel special when they buy from the brand. This could mean providing them with points, exclusive offers, gifts, coupons or an occasional free product.

No matter which loyalty program structure retailers opt to leverage, this is one of the most effective customer-based marketing strategies eCommerce brands can leverage to increase sales and keep churn rates low.

However, a loyalty program isn’t the only way to recognize a brand’s most ardent supporters.

Strategy #4: Celebrate Advocates via Social Media

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are all prominent online portals where consumers express their identities, interests and thoughts about various subjects, including interactions they’ve had with brands.

Naturally, social media outlets are a fantastic way to celebrate a brand’s most loyal customers by sharing the user-generated content (UGC) these folks have created.

Not only does sharing this content show consumers that their favorite brands are indeed listening to them, but it makes them feel incredibly special to see that the company is willing to put these folks in the social spotlight.

However, retailers need not sit around waiting for customers to create content that relates to the business. There are a multitude of ways that retailers can inspire user-generated content to get published.

Some of the most popular customer-based marketing strategies for cultivating these types of posts are to run social media contests and giveaways, which incentivize customers to promote a brand through posting UGC.

Doggie-oriented subscription box service, Bark, features tons of user-generated content from its followers on the company’s Instagram profile, thereby celebrating its users while also forging a deeper bond with its customers (and their pets).

subscribe opt in buttons page barkbox

However, retailers can (with permission) take things a step further and post engaging user-generated content on their site. This is an excellent customer-based marketing strategy for eCommerce merchants as it takes the devotion to customers to the next level, while also providing new shoppers with the social proof they require to feel comfortable making a purchase from a company with which they are relatively unfamiliar.

Strategy #5: Reward Customers for Referrals

While loyalty programs and referral programs are sometimes thought to be similar in nature, in reality, they serve drastically different functions.

Whereas loyalty programs are a great customer-based marketing strategy for incentivizing existing shoppers to make repeated purchases, referral programs act to entice customers to get their friends and family to buy from a brand.

Referral programs, outside of being an excellent tactic for sales growth unto themselves, are a magnificent bridge between retaining customers and acquiring new ones.

referral programs graphic

The reason that referral programs are such a favored customer-based marketing strategy is that existing shoppers will naturally want to share a business with their network via word-of-mouth (assuming they have had a great experience). Referral programs merely incentivize this behavior with rewards for each new person they bring into the fold.

Beauty brand Ultra has a stellar referral program in which the company calls upon its most loyal customers to refer their friends, giving the referrer and the referee a $10 off coupon for an order of $30 or more.

Customer-based marketing strategies that reward existing customers and new ones alike serve as a powerful bond builder for the current shopper while starting new relationships on a high note.

Strategy #6: Educate via Email Marketing

Sending email newsletters is an excellent customer-based marketing strategy for eCommerce companies, particularly those in the B2B space.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group:

“When it comes to customer relationships, newsletters must be seen as a long-term investment: they work their magic over time… 50 percent of our users said that email newsletters influenced their B2B purchases… Often, the newsletter served to grow or retain a vendor’s reputation or to maintain a relationship during dry spells when users lacked the budgets needed to actively conduct business.”

The fact of the matter is that not all customers will always be ready to convert. Sometimes, brands must take the time to nurture customers and stay connected with them, even when they are not actively in the market to make a purchase.

Sending out newsletters and educational content is an excellent customer-based marketing strategy for eCommerce merchants as it helps to build trust with consumers and inform them about a product’s benefits and features. This will help to ensure that when they are ready to buy, they stick with the brand instead of hopping over to one of its competitors.

Through educational eCommerce email marketing campaigns, sellers can show customers how a specific product works, highlight its features and benefits or showcase behind-the-scenes videos that help to give more insight into a product.

Through customer-based marketing strategies such as this, eCommerce retailers can help shoppers feel like they are a part of the business, keep them in the loop on updates or promos and help to foster deeper connections that will eventually serve to help grow the company to greater heights.

Strategy #7: Provide Superior Customer Support

It is impossible to talk about customer-based marketing strategies eCommerce retailers can use to grow their business without mentioning customer service.

The reality is that the quality of customer service provided by a business can make or break relationships. In fact, the reason why companies like Zappos.com have cultivated such devout, fervent fan followings is because of their customer service. In fact, the online shoe retailer recently launched a service where people can call Zappos to ask for help on literally anything.

zappos customer service page

However, incredible customer service doesn’t just engender loyalty, as it also results in elevated sales levels.

According to a Zendesk report on the impact of customer service, 52 percent of survey respondents stated that “a good customer service experience led them to purchase more from the company.”

Therefore, customer-based marketing strategies should be steeped in a mindset of providing the best service possible, bar none. This means answering customer questions and concerns expediently through a variety of portals (phone, email, live chat, social media, etc.), as well as going above and beyond for shoppers when necessary.

Additionally, ensure that it is easy for customers to contact the company by listing its phone number (if applicable) at the top of the website, making contact forms streamlined and straightforward, placing a live chat option in the bottom right corner of the screen and implementing other easy-to-find support features.

Moreover, if a company is so inclined, chatbots are an excellent option for fielding customer questions after hours. In fact, when examining the top UX eCommerce trends for 2020, chatbots are a prominent movement as the majority of customers have found their interactions with this technology to be positive.

However, chatbot or chat-not (see what we did there?), the ultimate aim is to provide the highest-quality customer support of any company, no matter the industry.

Final Thoughts

The customer-based marketing strategies eCommerce businesses opt to implement will be instrumental in a brand’s continued growth and success. While earning new clients is an essential activity, the key to progress and prosperity lies in retaining customers and ensuring that they remain loyal to the business.

The customer-based marketing strategies listed here can help merchants to cultivate the type of experience that keeps shoppers engaged and coming back for more.

However, successfully implementing these tactics in a way that maximizes retention and sales is easier said than done.

If your brand wants to ensure that its retention strategies are proficiently designed and implemented to serve their intended purpose, employing Visiture’s eCommerce marketing services can significantly amplify your company’s effectiveness in maintaining rock-bottom churn rates.

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