*Editor’s Note: This article is a contribution from Fiona Stevens, head of marketing at LoyaltyLion. It’s part of a series that explores the impact the coronavirus crisis is having on the world of ecommerce. Here are additional resources to help you navigate your marketing strategy during this time.
When crisis hits and consumer confidence is low, cash flow and stock levels can become all-encompassing concerns. Ecommerce merchants are left with two options. The first is to keep plowing money into acquisition strategies in the hope that mud might still stick somewhere. The second is to double down and find cost-effective ways to retain those customers that you already have relationships with.
Across the globe, COVID-19 has undoubtedly left us in a state of crisis. Yet this particular dark cloud has a silver lining. Despite social distancing and isolation, relationships are strengthening and communities are forming—from the gyms that are hosting free online workout classes, to the neighbors who are offering to go to the store for those who cannot get out and about.
This is a silver lining that exists for ecommerce merchants, too. In this article, we’ll look at how to keep your customer relationships strong until this particular storm has passed. Why is this so important?
- When it comes to keeping the register ringing, existing customers are most likely to have the confidence to continue completing purchases during difficult times
- While acquisition activity might be put on pause, your existing customers could still be your secret weapon if you encourage them to act as advocates
- Once the crisis passes, stronger customer relationships and newly formed communities could be the thing to help you get back on track faster
How do we recommend keeping your most valuable customers engaged over the current weeks?
Keep your customers close
Although consumer confidence is dropping, there will always be those that continue to shop online. Your priority needs to be ensuring that they shop with you rather than somebody else.
Give your customers more reasons to continue spending at your store. If they have rewards available and ready to claim, be sure to remind them. If they are close to the points threshold needed to unlock another reward or move up to another tier of your program, encourage them to take action to hit that threshold. You might also run member-only promotions such as double points events or time-based special offers on particular product lines.
Consider what you can be doing to keep consumers feeling confident about purchasing online, and about purchasing from you.
What might this look like in practice?
- Waterdrop used this opportunity to reach out a caring hand to their customers. Their message apologizes for the closure of their stores, while reminding shoppers that their online store remains an option. They top it off with a promotion including free shipping and double loyalty points to help brighten these dark times.
- OFFBLAK regularly sends on brand and straightforward loyalty emails. They always include a points update and show the rewards that can be claimed in exchange. This message reminds previous customers about their brand and the perks they could be benefitting from. This can be enough to encourage customers to shop again.
Form new relationships
Many retailers have made the difficult decision to hit pause on acquisition channels such as pay-per-click (PPC) and Facebook advertising, having seen effectiveness drop below sustainable levels in recent days. This piles on the pressure, but acquisition doesn’t have to halt entirely.
Your existing customers who know and love your brand are your biggest asset at this time. They are the ones that can leave you reviews which will convert other customers. They are also the ones that can spread the word about your brand, and introduce you to their friends and family.
Incentivizing both reviews and referrals with loyalty points is the best chance to keep these behaviors going in the sure knowledge that they could help you make a better impression as traffic increases while consumers are confined and combating boredom. And even if they don’t make a difference immediately, they absolutely will in the long-term as things start to return to normal. You can also incentivize social media engagement, rewarding customers every time they mention your brand or use your brand hashtag on Instagram.
Get people talking about your brand as much as possible, even if it’s just mentioning that they’re wearing your super comfy sweatpants while they work remotely.
Which brands do this well?
- Darn Good Yarn’s loyalty program, Karma Points, offers 500 points for leaving a review or referring a friend—a generous incentive since 500 points is worth $5 or a free gift. This encourages customers to complete the actions and reap the benefits, while helping to grow Darn Good Yarn’s customer base and sales.
- Your Super uses its loyalty program to incentivize user-generated content on Instagram. They award members 50 points when they post a picture with the hashtag #yoursuper. These posts are a form of reviews and act as social proof of the quality of the brand and product which help with Your Super’s conversion rate.
Create a community
Recent research from LoyaltyLion shows that 68 percent of consumers are motivated to be loyal if they know that a brand shares the same values as them. Take this opportunity to prove to your existing customer base that you align with and share their beliefs. This will help you form a strong community of customers with a sense of belonging.
Incorporating messaging around your brand values into onsite popups, welcome or post-purchase emails helps to remind customers what you stand for as a brand. You can also build the things your customers believe in into your program rewards and the ways in which people can earn points.
Whether you pick temporary causes that bring customers together in the current climate, or continue to support the issues and concerns that your customers share with you longer-term, there is much you can do to show shoppers that you know them, and that you’re the kind of ethical ecommerce store they want to associate with you long into the future.
- withSimplicity, a clean skincare and makeup company, sent a heartfelt company update to their customers amid COVID-19. They stay true to their brand in their messaging by encouraging people to continue to spread kindness and love to their community, and communicating the efforts they are making to create a safe and satisfying shopping experience. They finish the email with a free recipe for homemade hand sanitizer, showing customers they value their health as well as their custom.
- You could take inspiration from Edgard Cooper’s loyalty program rewards, which give customers the option to claim a charitable reward like donating a meal to a dog shelter or planting a tree. To show your support for ethical causes during the COVID-19 crisis, you could give customers the option to donate to institutes in need, such as emergency services or caring for the eldery.
We’re in a period of uncertainty, but just as it is bringing out some of the best behaviors in people, so too can this be an opportunity for brands to prove to their existing customers that they care. This is a time to own and nurture your relationships with your existing customers, and continue to create meaningful connections that will last a lifetime.
Looking for more ways to adjust your marketing strategies to navigate the coronavirus crisis? These resources may be helpful.Back to Blog Home