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From Feedback to Rewards: How to Build a Loyalty Program that Resonates with Your Audience

Learn how to build a loyalty program that puts your audience first. We also discuss strategies for creating a customer experience that secures repeat...

Francesca Nicasio

Content Strategy Manager

Fact: Loyal customers are some of your most reliable income sources during uncertain times. 

We can see this in action in some of the top brands in the market.

Starbucks, for example, was one of the companies that quickly recovered after the Great Recession. Despite the economic downturn, Starbucks continued to invest in its loyalty program, enhancing its value proposition by offering free refills, free Wi-Fi, and special offers.

Or consider Sephora, which launched its rewards program, Beauty Insider, in 2007, and has since expanded and diversified the program to include personalized offers, exclusive events, and early access to new products. Today, the majority of Sephora’s sales come from Beauty Insider members

All this to say that rewards and loyalty programs can unlock lasting customer retention and revenue.

But there’s a catch: you’ll only achieve these benefits if your loyalty program stands out in an increasingly competitive landscape. 

In today’s crowded market, consumers are bombarded with them left and right. That’s why we’re big believers in customization—tailoring your program to meet your target audience’s preferences and needs.

In this article, you’ll learn how to build a loyalty program that puts your audience first. We also discuss strategies for creating a rewarding customer experience that secures repeat business.

 


 

Importance of customer insights in developing notable loyalty programs


Guesswork often influences strategies when developing loyalty programs. So before proceeding to launching or overhauling your loyalty program, make it a point to challenge your views.

Start with a hypothesis. Let’s say you assume your customers are motivated by discounts. Consider the variables that made you think this way. Is it based on sales performance? 

Next, look at your data and analyze your sales trends. What impact do discounts really have on your sales?

Maybe you discover that discounts do work, but not as much as they used to. Poring over customer insights may show you that many of your customers favor tangible freebies, such as complimentary samples.

In this instance, you may need to discard your original hypothesis. Markets adapt, and customer preferences shift. Use your assumptions as a framework, but refer to actual insights as you tailor your loyalty program accordingly.


Loyalty expert Rory Moss talks about getting data & survey results to customize your loyalty program and appeal to higher value customers.

 

Benefits of insight-driven customer loyalty programs

 

Learning to fine-tune your customer loyalty programs directly translates to concrete benefits for your business. These include.

  • Higher customer engagement. By basing loyalty programs on real insights, you can design initiatives that resonate with your customer base. They’ll feel a deeper connection with the tailored rewards and incentives. The more relevant you are, the better your customer relationships will be.
  • Better resource allocation. Insight-driven loyalty programs help your marketing team manage resources. You’ll avoid spending on generic incentives that may not align with customer expectations. Instead, you can direct the resources toward more enticing initiatives, maximizing the loyalty program’s long-term impact.

Customer insights ensure program success with strategic implementation. Here’s how to leverage this data to build customer loyalty programs that stand out and connect with your target demographic.

 

6 steps to develop a successful customer loyalty program

 

From getting customers on board to measuring performance, launching and managing loyalty programs take work. Follow these 6 steps below to start and gradually increase signups and engagement levels.

1. Conduct customer interviews

 

Shoppers stay loyal to brands that understand them. To get to know your customer base, conduct direct surveys and interviews. Talk to a sample of 10 to 20 customers in person or on the phone, varying between regulars and one time/new customers.

Regulars are the most engaged audience with repeat purchases. Use the interview to identify what they want from a loyalty program. 

One-time/new customers are not as engaged–at least not yet. Take the interview as an opportunity to learn their preferred incentives, offers, or experiences to keep them coming back

Keep the questions consistent across both groups to get a well-rounded perspective. Here’s a set of potential questions you can ask these individuals. 

  • How often do you purchase from our store?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to participate in our loyalty program?
  • What types of rewards or perks would motivate you to join the program? (e.g., discounts, freebies, cashback promos, special offers, exclusive event access, early access to sales)
  • How important is it for you to feel valued and rewarded for your loyalty to us?
  • Do you prefer tiered membership systems or ​​points-based loyalty programs? (i.e., point-based voucher amount vs. bronze, silver, and gold tiers with more valuable rewards as you progress)
  • How likely will you recommend us to others if we offer reward/referral programs?
  • Are there any specific products or categories you’d like to see in the loyalty program rewards?
  • What communication channels do you prefer to receive loyalty program updates and offers? (e.g., email, SMS, social media, in-store notifications)
  • How do you typically redeem loyalty rewards or benefits? (e.g., online, in-store, mobile app)
  • Would you be more likely to participate if the program offered early access to new product releases or exclusive benefits?
  • Do you have any concerns or reservations about joining a loyalty membership program?
  • How likely will you continue shopping at our store with vs. without a loyalty program?
  • What additional features or benefits do you want to see in our loyalty program?

Regular and one-time shoppers have distinct preferences, motivations, and expectations. Engage with both ends of the spectrum to know what drives each group from a 360-degree standpoint. 

Pro-tip: Gather contact details, such as email addresses and phone numbers, should you require a follow-up.

2. Collate survey and feedback responses

 

You can also use surveys to get more quantitative data on your customers. The goal here is to organize and analyze customer feedback to identify recurring patterns. 

You can do it in a formal, informal, or a hybrid approach.

Formal surveys are recommended for large-scale operations. Here are the approaches to implementing this method for a more thorough understanding of survey responses.

  • Use advanced software to categorize feedback systematically. For instance, you can implement customer feedback management platforms that tag and sort responses based on common themes.
  • Statistical analysis. If you have the resources, consider applying statistical methods to identify patterns quantitatively. It involves frequency calculation of particular keywords or sentiments expressed by customers.

Informal surveys are best for small businesses with limited resources. They’re more qualitative in nature and require first-hand assessment to understand your customers. 

  • Manual review. Evaluate customer comments, emails, or survey responses. The goal is to absorb the qualitative aspects that may be overlooked in strictly quantitative analysis.
  • Key learnings. As you review feedback, jot down a few bullet points that summarize key learnings. These could be recurring themes, noteworthy suggestions, or significant areas of concern raised by customers.

You can also combine formal and informal approaches (hybrid) to maximize both methods’ strengths. Doing so balances qualitative findings with objective insights in a more accessible yet scalable manner.

3. Review and act on the data

 

Knowing what appeals to new and existing customers helps ensure your loyalty program aligns with your overall brand identity. It helps craft your Unique Value Proposition (UVP), which you can use to reinforce your brand message and create a cohesive experience across all touchpoints.

Review the preferences and needs you’ve discovered from feedback responses. Then be sure to offer customers enticing rewards to meet those needs. 

Take Amazon Prime’s paid loyalty program, for example. Industry data shows that 71.8% of its loyalty program members find the $99 annual pricing worth it for all the shipping, shopping, streaming, and reading perks. 

How does Amazon know this? Simple. The company actively creates, distributes, and collects online survey responses.

amazon prime example

Not many businesses have the same resources as Amazon. But it doesn’t mean you don’t have enough data to analyze in your hands. 

Sports retailer TennisGear actively observes their database to understand customer behavior. They grow and keep it accurate through complete visibility across their sales channels and prompts that reminds staff to update or add customer information.

Maintaining a continuous feedback loop with your customers is key to creating a loyalty program that resonates. Send out regular surveys or perform ongoing database analysis to stay current with changing preferences and market trends.

Additional tip: Look at review sites and Google Reviews to draw information about what customers might appreciate seeing more in your programs.

4. Design and optimize the program based on feedback

 

Now that you know your rewards and incentives, optimize your program’s structure and mechanics to incentivize customers to spend more. 

Choose between non-tiered and tiered programs. Non-tiered appeals to a broad audience, whereas a tiered point system suits a diverse customer base with varying spending levels.

Balance the program’s exclusivity and inclusivity if you opt for the latter. Introduce exclusive high-value perks for top-tier loyalty cardholders (e.g., premium rewards, VIP events) and accessible rewards for those in lower tiers (e.g., birthday discounts).

Lastly, decide if your customers prefer simple or gamified types of loyalty programs. Gamification adds interactive elements but often requires more resources in terms of design, development, and ongoing management. 

In Sephora’s Beauty Insider Challenges, for instance, members must first complete a series of tasks to earn rewards. Some tasks don’t involve a purchase but require active engagement. The first challenges include checking out online, picking up orders in-store, signing up for text alerts, and trying Sephora’s in-store shade-matching tool.

If you’re still testing the waters, a straightforward loyalty program can be equally lucrative. 

Melbourne-based fashion label ALPHA60 exemplifies this with a simple earn-and-redeem model: spend a thousand dollars, earn a thousand points, and receive a $50 voucher.

ALPHA60’s Brand Strategist, Kelvin, explained that ALPHA60 customers prefer simplicity. Just by understanding this tendency led to the brand enjoying a high repeat purchase rate.

Alpha60 earn options


Find what works best for your audience, and consistently seek feedback for future adjustments if needed.

 

5. Make communication personalized wherever possible

 

Before you roll out the loyalty program, establish customer-centric communication channels. Identify where they prefer to receive updates and redeem rewards. Do they prefer traditional in-store redemption like punch cards or through handy technology like an app or a digital card?

If customers raise concerns or suggestions, acknowledge and address these in your response. Show that you value their input and actively strive to improve their experience.

A one-size-fits-all approach in communication may alienate customers who seek tailored interactions. Don’t lose your regulars to more attentive competitors. Pay attention to customer behavior when launching or announcing loyalty program updates.

 

6. Choose technology to run the loyalty program

 

Invest in user-friendly technology to simplify the implementation process. It’ll help your staff to adjust fast, minimizing the learning curve and likelihood of errors.

Loyalty program software like Marsello features seamless integration with ecommerce and POS systems (e.g., Shopify, WooCommerce, Bigcommerce, and Lightspeed) to leverage data analytics.

Syncing in-store and online transactions generates insights to help you deliver consistent loyalty experiences. It’s a hands-off process you can leverage to offer custom-tailored promotions, point earning, and reward redemption across all platforms.

With the right tools, tracking your loyalty program’s performance becomes easy. Take note of the key metrics and indicators to measure in the next section.

How to Measure Your Program’s Success

 

Define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your goals to gauge initial success. Some KPIs to consider are customer retention, referral rates, average order values (including credit card transactions), and customer lifetime value. These metrics measure the program’s overall contribution to your revenue stream.

Tracking KPIs is more efficient with Marsello’s dashboards and automated reporting. These tools feature real-time updates with charts, graphs, and other visual elements to interpret complex data patterns. You can also set up predefined schedules to receive detailed reports.

scottys-makeup-and-beauty-insights-dashboard

Invest in technology to keep your efforts on track. Let your staff focus on refining your marketing strategy rather than spending significant hours on data gathering and reporting.

 

Streamlining Loyalty Programs with Marsello

 

The best customer loyalty program prioritizes the customer experience. So, rather than rushing to launch your rewards or loyalty program, take time to solicit shopper insights, analyze data, design a responsive program, personalize communication, and use technology wisely.

Loyalty programs shouldn’t remain static. Keep ongoing customer engagement by regularly evaluating and updating your program.

If you’re ready to reward customers on their next purchase, start with Marsello’s free trial. Build your loyalty program today while synchronizing your omnichannel strategy.

 


 

Join a community of 5,000+ retailers building sales with Marsello's customer loyalty software

 

Start free trial

 


 

Read more: 7 Steps To Building A Profitable Loyalty & Rewards Program

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    Differentiating Your eCommerce Store From the Competition

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    Written by our friends at BigCommerce, read on to learn our 10 strategies for helping your online store stand out!

    eCommerce stores that stand out from the crowd have a few things in common and can be crucial sources of insight into how to differentiate your store from your competitors’. 

    Using your unique twist to build on what others have done can make a big impression on your customers. As Jack Ma, Executive Chairman of Alibaba, says, “You should learn from your competitor, but never copy.”

    The eCommerce industry is growing at a rapid rate, making it even more important for merchants to be creative and differentiate themselves from competitors. With approximately 1.8 million online retailers in the U.S. and 7.1 million worldwide, shoppers are shifting from in-store purchases to online buying. 

    In 2019, 14.1% of all retail sales worldwide were from eCommerce sites, and this is expected to grow to 22% by 2023. Differentiating yourself is crucial if you want to reach those customers — so let’s dive into some strategies for ensuring that you stand out against your competitors time and time again.

     

    Introducing Marsello Social.
    Does your social engagement convert into sales? Find out with Marsello Social, free for everyone. Plan and schedule posts ahead of time, track engagement and measure the impact of all your posts on revenue.

    Start free trial

     

    Make Each Shopping Experience Unique


    Providing a quality product and a smooth selling experience make for a great start, but that isn’t enough to make a lasting impression. Creating a unique and memorable shopping experience is what will make you stand out from the pack – by making a personal connection, for instance.

    Consider adding live chat to your online store for customers who have questions during the buying process, or take outreach a step further with video chats that facilitate technical support or help customers choose great accessories for their purchased items. 

    Cross-channel marketing is another way to make the customer experience unique. Tools such as shareable wish lists, social media promotions, and on-site product reviews help create a community of frequent customers that interact with each other and build enthusiasm for your brand.

     

    Understand Your Competitor’s Approach


    It’s important to study and understand what your competitors are doing to allow you to create a unique experience for your customers. Analyze your direct competition to figure out the similarities and differences between their approaches and yours and use that information to your advantage.

    Before you start researching your competitors, have a goal in mind for what you need to find out. You might be interested in comparing product offerings, website design, or pricing strategies. You might also want to understand how competitors use social media and where they advertise.

    Some information about your competitors can be gained simply by perusing their websites and signing up for any newsletters or text message promotions they offer. For more in-depth competitive research, use online SEO tools that track keyword usage, web traffic rankings, and backlinks.

     

    9 Ways to Differentiate Your eCommerce Store


    Differentiating your eCommerce store might seem overwhelming, but you can break the process down and tackle specific aspects of your site one at a time. Focus on methods that first highlight the strengths of your brand, then branch out to make your online store excel in these nine areas:

    1. Great customer service

    Product selection and pricing might be what gets customers to check out your eCommerce store, but stellar customer service is what keeps them coming back. Here are some ways to make your customer service the best in the business:

        • Make your policies crystal clear. From returns to shipping and fulfillment charges, let customers know what to expect upfront, which prevents any issues that might damage your reputation.

        • Offer multiple communication options. Some customers might prefer email or phone contact, while others might prefer online chat through on-site chatbots or social media. Keep someone on staff who can respond to these different forms of communication, so customers always feel like you’re listening to their concerns.

        • Ask for customer feedback, and listen to what customers tell you. Track online reviews about your business and be open to changes based on what consumers are saying about you.

    One element of customer service is personalized attention. When shopping in-store, customers may get that personal attention in person – but online, you can personalize your marketing so that it feels like it’s designed just for them. Marsello offers features that help eCommerce store owners implement the below strategies. 

        • Use SMS marketing tools to send exclusive coupons or offers for birthdays and anniversaries.

        • Create a loyalty program and offer exclusive sales for customers who join, making sure that your most loyal customers are always the first ones to know about new products or deals.

    Collect data about a customer, such as date of birth, when they register on for your loyalty program or site; this not only makes personalizing offers easier but also allows you to incentivize customers’ actions with rewards. Fashion retailer, T.C. Elli’s, has done a great job of incorporating data collection and a referral program into their Marsello-powered loyalty program, as shown in the example below.

     

    T.C. Elli's online loyalty widget with VIP tiers
     

    2. A unique brand

    Your brand is your calling card – it’s what makes your store memorable long after the sale is complete. Developing your unique brand can help you stand out in the crowded marketplace and lead to big rewards. Some things to think about when you build your brand:

        • Your brand’s voice: think of this as your brand’s personality. It should be consistent across all of your marketing materials and so distinct from your close competitors that, even without seeing the brand name, consumers recognize it as yours. Your brand voice might be edgy, playful, refined, or practical – just make sure it fits your target market and that it’s consistent.

        • Your brand’s value proposition: show consumers what they’ll get from your store, and your store alone. This should communicate your brand’s value and why you’re a better choice over the competition. Figure out what problem your store solves for customers and how you meet their needs in a way that others don’t.

        • Your brand’s story: a story gets customers emotionally invested in your brand. It may include the reasons you started your business or the progress you made over the years to become the company you are today. A captivating narrative helps customers feel like they know your brand well, which makes them more likely to choose you over a less familiar company.

    Singapore-based lingerie retailer, Our Bralette Club, offers an excellent example of a brand story that speaks directly to its target market and simultaneously offers outstanding customer service.

    Our Bralette Club's powerful store and motive on their online store gives customers insight into what motivates the team behind the brand.

    3. One-of-a-kind products with compelling product pages

    Offering unique products that aren’t available elsewhere gives customers a reason to shop from your eCommerce store instead of exploring another company. And how you present those products matters, too. Compelling product details and visuals help consumers come to a buying decision, giving them the confidence to finalize their purchase.

    Having one-of-a-kind products doesn’t necessarily mean inventing something completely new. In some cases, it might simply mean changing the look of a product to cater to your particular customer base. If everyone else is offering an accessory in standard black and white colors, consider adding a hot pink or patterned version to your product selection.

    Your product pages need a few essentials to meet customer expectations. Transparent pricing and details, such as size, color options, and materials, help consumers make an informed selection. To make your product pages more engaging, add descriptive copy that entices the customer and pictures that show the product in a variety of contexts.

    Include fun and personalization in your product pages. Witty copy or creative photos help sell products that aren’t particularly exciting on their own. Showing customization options with a range of features prove that you can meet your buyers’ individual needs. (Remember to use humor only if it’s appropriate for your audience, message, and brand.)

    Avoid bogging down your product pages with too much information. It should be easy for your site visitors to find the information they need. Creating a clear, consistent template across all of your product pages helps customers compare multiple items to make their selection.

    This product page from NaturallyCurly offers an example of clear product information (including ingredients, a description of what customers can expect, and details on how to use the product), a high-quality product image photo that accurately sets customer's expectations, and they even go the extra mile with the addition of customer reviews (take note of the rave review this customer has about NaturallyCurly’s customer service, helping customers to feel confident in the brand):

    Haircare specialists, NaturallyCurly's product listing for Curl Junkie Curls in a Bottle

    It’s worth mentioning that clear product descriptions, high-quality images, proper tagging and categorization of products, and add-ons like customer reviews also help with SEO and will improve the likelihood of acquiring new customers organically.

    4. Competitive price point

    Pricing can make or break a sale, but this doesn’t mean that you need to undercut everyone else to capture market share. If your prices are higher than the competition, showcase the reasons why. 

    This product page from évolis Australia dives into the specific details about this hair product to let customers know what it is that makes it stand out and why they should buy it instead of potentially similar products on the market. By drawing customers' attention to ingredients in the product and reinforcing that it was designed by industry professionals, shoppers will feel more confident that they're purchasing a product that will serve their needs as expected.

    Evolis' online product listing for Promote Activator

    5. Easy-to-navigate site

    Ease of navigation affects how long visitors stay on your page, and the longer a visitor lingers, the more likely they are to buy. Put navigation buttons in an easy-to-find place on every page so customers can quickly access your home page or their checkout cart.

    Watersports supplies store, Splash, has an easily navigable and visually enticing online store. Drop-down navigation menus at the top of each Splash page make it easy for customers to quickly access specific categories based on what specialized equipment they may be shopping for, and a link to the customer’s cart offers quick checkout capability.

    The Featured categories section is another way Splash reinforces its visual aesthetics and easy-to-use navigation. It works as a quick way to get shoppers where they need to go, in a much more visual-forward way than does the main navigation bar.

    Splash's featured categories on their online store

    Page load speed is another aspect of site design you need to consider. When your site takes too long to load, consumers are likely to go elsewhere to find what they need. Set up separate versions for computer users and mobile users to optimize loading and presentation.

    6. Streamlined checkout process

    With an overall cart abandonment rate of 55% to 80% for online merchants, developing a streamlined checkout process is one way to keep customers around until the sale is complete. Here are some ways to ensure that checkout goes as smoothly as possible:

        1. Create a clear, simple way for customers to add items to their cart. A button with the words “Add To Cart” should be displayed prominently on each product page.

        2. Include a button on each page that takes customers immediately to the payment page. A “Buy Now” or “Pay Now” button helps to encourage impulse purchases.

        3. Let customers quickly peruse what they already have in their carts. A drop-down visual enables them to check the contents in their cart without leaving the product page, making it easier for them to add new items. Also, show a summary of all items in the cart whenever a new item is added.

        4. Eliminate barriers to buying. Give customers a way to buy as a guest instead of having to register with your site to make a purchase, and offer multiple payment options to ensure buyers aren’t deterred by not having the right type of payment method.

    For a good example of a simplified checkout, look at the Heirloom Traditions Paint page below. The drop-down cart menu lets customers see everything in the cart without leaving the shopping page.

    Heirloom Tradition's online cart

    7. Run a referral program

    A good referral program can differentiate your eCommerce business by creating a relationship with customers that turns them into brand ambassadors. About 83% of people say they trust recommendations from friends or family members, making word of mouth a valuable way to introduce your unique brand to new customers.

    To create a referral program that stands out from eCommerce competitors, meet your customers where they are. That might mean rewarding customers for referrals on social media or embedding the referral program details on your main page to make sure site visitors know about it. You can integrate your referral program into an overall reward program, as wellness and beauty brand, Switch2Pure, does in the example below:

    Switch 2 Pure's loyalty program.

    Another way to create an attention-getting referral program is to offer a bonus that’s more than just a small discount. Consumers are used to seeing referral programs that provide 10% to 25% off for each referral, but a program that gives them a free item or exclusive access to specific products will make them eager to refer someone to your store.

    8. Implement a cohesive content strategy

    Making your content strategy cohesive and consistent helps establish your identity in a crowded eCommerce marketplace. Treat content creation as a thoughtful process, and consider how each piece you create fits into your overall brand.

    Understanding your brand and precisely identifying your target market helps you maintain this kind of consistency. Figure out exactly what your customers want and need, and show them how your products provide it. Kate Quinn’s Little One of the Week blog features real children wearing the store’s products. This user-generated content is actively targeted to customers and encourages them to share their own content with the brand as well.

    Kate Quinn's 'Little One of the Week' blog featuring Zy'onna

    9. Personalize, personalize, personalize

    Personalization gives customers the impression that your brand speaks directly to their needs. Some ways to achieve a sense of personalization in your eCommerce store include:

    Personalized product recommendations

    Show items that the customer has previously viewed or complementary products to goods they’ve already purchased. The example below shows how Heirloom Traditions Paint incorporates this concept into their email marketing. By showcasing related products in an automated email flow that thanks first-time customers, the Kentucky-based paint supplier is actively targeting recently acquired customers with data from shoppers just like them, while also offering an astounding discount of 30% off:

    Heirloom Traditions Paint's product recommendations within their emails

    Personalized product recommendations can be a great way to trigger, or at least inspire, the customer’s next purchase. Heirloom Traditions Paint has seen such impressive success that they’ve made over $145,800 in revenue on just their automated email flow which sends to first-time customers. 

    There’s so much value that comes along with email marketing. It’s a channel that gets some of the highest returns on investment as far as conversions, and it can be highly automated. That means, when your system is triggering a ‘thank you’ email or an abandoned cart reminder, your brand is staying in the forefront of your customers’ minds without the time and effort of a manual process on your end.

    Generate a personalized homepage 

    Using cookies and prior data about each customer can help you create a personalized experience for anyone who visits your site more than once. Design your site to display a welcome message with the customer’s name once they’ve input their information during the checkout process or signing up for a reward program. 

     

    10. Run campaigns with email and SMS marketing.


    With so much competition out there, staying top-of-mind with your customers will take some effort. But the good news is that there are plenty of ways and channels to do so. 

    Email marketing can be incredibly valuable because customers need and expect emails from you as updates on the status of their orders, etc. You can cover your bases here with campaigns that touch customers throughout the journey; for example:

        • As a thank-you for first-time customers,

        • To win back lapsed customers, or

        • Recover abandoned carts.

    SMS marketing is a relatively new tactic that brands are using with some success. Information overload is real – and, as everyone’s email inboxes keep filling up, you may get more ROI from showing up in their text message inbox instead. With SMS marketing you can achieve:

        • Higher open rate than emails

        • Higher ROI with spend

        • Ability to target audiences on mobile devices

        • Faster delivery to the recipient after sending.

    The most important things to remember about SMS marketing are to always add value and to use personalization when possible. Value can come in the form of a unique sales offer, time-sensitive deal, information necessary to participate in a specific event, or intros to new products or services. With personalization tactics, you can make sure those value-add messages go directly to the audience members who need or want them the most.

     

    Conclusion

    The eCommerce playing field is increasingly crowded – but as online shopping increases, there are more opportunities than ever to differentiate yourself from your competitors. First, you have to understand your competitors’ approach. Then you can use that information to set yourself apart.

    We went over ten ways to differentiate your store and your business, to name a few: strong branding, a personalized sales experience, unique products, and impressive customer service. By focusing on establishing a strong brand identity first, the rest of the improvements you make to your website are much more likely to align with that vision.  

    Use these tips to develop an emotional connection with consumers and reap the rewards of more sales and increased referrals. Your long-term success depends on it.

     

    This blog was written for Marsello by the talented team at BigCommerce.

     

    Communicating about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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    Explore examples of retailers communicating with their customers, then discover the tools you need to communicate pandemic-related changes with customers.

    Communicating about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic, and with the effect this is having on retail, communication with your customers is essential! Lightspeed notes that you, as the retailer, is to adjust how you’re trading (we’ll get into this a little more down the line). But how do you let your customers know you’re making these adjustments? How do you keep your customers up-to-date while still helping them to feel comfortable and confident to shop with you safely?

     

    In this blog, we draw on examples from three retailers to help you craft your own COVID-19 communication strategy. 

     

    Be specific:

    AllBirds communicate about Covid-19 on Instagram

    Now is the time to give your customers as much information as you possibly can. AllBirds do a great job of this through their social media channels. In the following example, pulled from their Instagram account, AllBirds share their empathy, understanding, and, most importantly, critical details about their operations. 

     

    Take note of the second paragraph in which they state, “Our corporate staff are now working from home, and our stores in the US and Europe will be closed from March 15th through the 27th”. They then go the extra mile to support their staff and reassure their customers that by continuing to shop with AllBirds, they support an ethical and socially conscious brand: “All employees will get full pay and benefits during this time.

     

    Following their operation updates, AllBirds also add that as the details surrounding Coronavirus develop, so may their plans. They acknowledge the importance of communication and promise to stay connected through their ‘digital channels’.

     

    AllBirds are careful to keep their customers informed by sharing essential updates while also strengthening their customers’ confidence in AllBird’s company ethics and genuine care for the situation surrounding COVID-19. They do this by updating all of their digital channels, which includes using email marketing. Although tools like social media are a powerful way to reach your customers, it’s also easy for your update to be lost amongst the rest. Make sure you’re sharing your information across all channels, starting with email marketing campaigns

     

    Showcase your brand:

    Iko Iko emails customers about in-store changes during Corona Virus

    Lightspeed retailer, Iko Iko, is known for their eclectic and colorful branding, and they don’t let the chaos of a worldwide pandemic get in the way of their charismatic communications. Take note of the way that they reiterate that they will be taking extra measures to sanitize their brick-and-mortar store’s high-touch zones: “We are taking a few extra hygiene precautions as recommended by the Ministry of Health. The staff are regularly cleaning high contact surfaces including our eftpos machines [point-of-sale card machines] and countertops …”. By assuring their customers that hygiene is at the forefront of their business practice, Iko Iko helps their customers to feel secure in their decision to continue to shop with the store, particularly because the majority of Iko Iko’s sales are generated in-store.

     

    Iko Iko also let their customers know that the coming weeks may be difficult for them as a business, and they reiterate that customer loyalty is the key to their ongoing success. Finally, they end the email with customized links to their social media accounts, clearly giving customers access to more information from Iko Iko as it’s released.

     

    Iko Iko have done a beautiful job of informing their customers while also showcasing their store’s branding. This not only helps their customers to recognize who the email has come from, but also further entices their customers to shop. The additional graphic design is on-brand with colorful patterns and block colors, but still tasteful and respectful. 

     

    Get on top of your COVID-19 communications with campaigns that are easy to create and schedule.

     

    Think outside the box:

    Warby Parker created a landing page and floating banner to communicate about Coronavirus (Covid-19)

    Warby Parker is a household name; known for their standing as a socially conscious eCommerce and physical retailer for prescription glasses, and they’re acutely aware that the products they offer help people each and every day. They want all of their customers, new and loyal, to feel connected and considered. For this reason (among many others), they created an additional landing page on their website dedicated to COVID-19 updates.

     

    They cut right to the chase and let their customers know that they “have decided to temporarily close all of [their] stores through March 27 for the safety of [their] customers, [their] employees, and the general public.

     

    Special mention: notice that they’ve included a floating banner at the top of their website that lets all online customers know that Warby Parker’s brick-and-mortar stores will be closed from March 15 - March 27. Now that’s one way to keep your customers informed! 

     

    Nevertheless, Warby Parker are careful to highlight that they are still open for business with their online stores, accentuating this with bolded text. They offer several stand-out services, including a ‘Home Try-On Program’, which is still in operation. They also list the ways that customers can get in contact with them, should shoppers have any questions, helping customers to feel cared for and catered to. 

     

    Replicating these examples:

    So how can you take the above examples and use the key information for your own COVID-19 communications? 

     

    We’ve whipped up and broken down a quick example that you can build on. Make sure when communicating with customers that you’re careful to include all relevant details affecting your own business and be specific. For example, if your store is solely online, then you don’t need to add a paragraph about increasing the hygiene standards of your store.


    Example introduction:

    Here at [Store Name], We’re committed to the safety of our team and our community – you. 

     

    With the rapidly changing developments of Coronavirus (COVID-19), we believe it’s important that you’re kept up to date, and you feel confident that your health and safety is a priority. As we learn how to contain and manage the spread of COVID-19, we are doing everything in our power to ensure the safety of our customers, employees and extended community. 

     

    You should only include key information that is relevant to your customers. Have you increased your hygiene practices for your brick-and-mortar stores? Are your online stores up and running, but seeing delays in shipping? Whatever you have decided is best for your business, make sure you describe this clearly without going into too much detail. And make sure that any information you add to your communications is accurate. Some examples could include the following.

     

    If your eCommerce store is seeing delays in shipping, you could include something like the following paragraph :

     

    Our online store is operating as usual, although we are expecting delays in shipping. We are working to guarantee the safety of our employees while also fulling your orders as quickly as we can. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us here: 

     

    Hygiene practice adjustments for brick-and-mortar stores (ensure these practices are in place before you notify customers):

     

    We understand the need for extra precautions and have additional sanitization practices in place, with a particular focus on high-touch zones like door handles and card machines. We will ensure that can maintain the highest possible standard of hygiene by keeping hand hygiene stations stocked throughout our store(s).

     

    Finally, let your customers know that any of this information could change at any time as the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic develop. This could include a paragraph similar to the following:

     

    As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop and change, our strategies and practices may too. 

     

    This is an opportunity to add your social media icons and direct customers to follow you if you plan on also updating customers there. And make sure to let your customers know how they can stay up-to-date with your store practices. 

     

    Finally, sign off in a way that includes your store name and add some reassurance – a little positivity can go a long way too! Don’t be afraid to follow Iko iko’s suit and fit your brand into the messaging.

    We appreciate your ongoing support and understanding in these uncertain times. 

     

    Stay safe and healthy,

    [Store Name]. Or [Your name], from [Store Name].

    Adjust how you’re trading

    We touched on this a little in the intro so let's break it down. With many people practicing social-distancing or even self-quarantining, some brick-and-mortar stores may find a reduction in foot-traffic – some countries are even requiring stores to close. Look at this as an opportunity to develop your business and cater to more online customers. If you’re in-store only and you have to shut up shop for a while, now is the perfect time to work on getting an omnichannel operation set up and starting an online store, or giving a little more love to your online store if it already exists. Set up automated email campaigns while you’re at it, and actively retain online customers without any additional manual work.

     

    It’s reported that eCommerce could account for 40% of all retail purchases in the UK as a direct result of COVID-19. Just think about how huge that is on a world-wide scale and get excited to embark on a new frontier of online shopping. Omnichannel stores are not only a strong retention marketing channel, they’re a fantastic way to keep the local economy going without having to be physically present in-store – even some supermarkets offer online shopping! If it’s within your margins, why not offer customers free shipping, even if it’s just locally? This will encourage customers to shop with you. Adding incentives for customers to share your store with their friends (think: discount codes for proven referrals) will help you to acquire new customers. 

     

    Adaptability and resilience is the key; many retailers are revamping their in-store hygiene practices, implementing social-distancing strategies to protect their employees and customers, and putting countless other changes in place to protect their customers and their businesses. Just don’t forget, transparency is your friend. If you’re expecting delays in shipping, add this to your email campaigns and digital channels. If it’s taking a little longer than usual for your new stock to arrive, using tools that allow customers to ‘wishlist’ or save items could be a nice touch too.  

     

    Final words:

    Now is the time to take note of Warby Parker’s example again – do you want to compile this information on a landing page? Perhaps you could instead direct customers to follow you on social media if an additional landing page isn’t quite your speed; or, perhaps now is a great time to try adding SMS campaigns to your toolkit

     

    However you chose to do it, the bottom line is that communicating clearly with your customers is essential. Whether it’s affecting your shipping times, forcing the temporary closure of your brick-and-mortar stores, or just creating added stress, it doesn’t hurt to let your customers know how you’ve been affected and remind them that they are what keeps you trading.

     

    If you’re looking to email your customers to communicate about COVID-19, you can get started with Marsello’s campaigns feature for free. Email marketing is the perfect way to communicate with your customers and set expectations, so when you’re back to trading at full-capacity again, don’t forget to shout it from the rooftops throughout all your communication channels, starting with a one-off email campaign. 

    5 Ways to Reduce Abandoned Shopping Carts

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    Experiencing abandoned shopping carts in your eCommerce store? Learn the basics of bringing customers back to your store to complete their purchases.

    payment carts and a 'sale' market product placed on a laptop

     

    Experiencing abandoned shopping carts in your eCommerce store? You’re not alone. According to Baymard Institute, 67.45% of eCommerce shopping carts are abandoned before the customer completes the sale. This means your eCommerce sales numbers may only be one-third of what they could potentially be.

    The good news is, there are proven ways to turn this around and save a good portion of those sales that slip through the cracks at checkout. It’s definitely worth spending a bit of time to discover why your customers aren’t always completing their purchases. If you’re having problems with abandoned shopping carts, before worrying about driving more traffic to your store, your checkout conversion is the first thing you should address. After all, what’s the point in driving traffic to your store, if customers will just slip out when it comes to your checkout process.

     

    Why do your customers abandon carts?

    First, find out where the majority of customers are abandoning their carts, and why. These are the most common reasons, found by the Baymard Institute. Could any of them be applicable to your store?

     

    Graph showing reasons for customer's abandoning their carts during checkout


    What you can do

    Once you figure out the major reasons customers are abandoning your checkout, focus on plugging these leaks first.

    1. Cut unexpected costs where you can

    Sometimes adding costs to orders is out of necessity, like taxes, shipping, and fees. Ask yourself, are your added costs fair? Are they expected? And, are they explained? If you can’t cut added costs, make sure it’s clear what these added fees are paying for. Consider offering free shipping on orders over a certain amount. As Invesp reported, “93% of online buyers are encouraged to buy more products if free shipping options are available whereas 58% of consumers add more items to cart to qualify for free shipping.”

     

    2. Allow guests to purchase

    Some shoppers just want to make a quick purchase. They don’t have the time to create an account. Allow shoppers to check out as guests.

     

    3. Optimize your checkout process

    One in four shoppers abandons their shopping carts due to a “too long/complicated checkout process”. Optimize your checkout process by cutting down the number of steps or required fields. Consider testing to see if single-page or multi-page checkouts work for you. Some studies have shown single pages to be more effective and some retailers see better results from multi-page. It’s a good idea to see what works for you. If you’re going to use multi-page checkout, including a progress bar to show the customer how they are progressing can help nudge them through. One upside of opting for multi-page, is you capture the customer's email early on the first page, allowing you to follow up later with an abandoned cart email if they do abandon it.

     

    Beach Therapy's online cart during customer checkout

     

    4. Build trust

    From website errors, not enough information on returns and guarantees, to unusual payment methods, shopper trust can be lost pretty quickly when it comes to them feeling in the mood to hand over their credit card details.

    • Make sure your eCommerce site is with a trusted provider, like Shopify, Lightspeed or BigCommerce to help ensure it’s not likely to error or crash.

    • Offer different payment methods and use trusted payment gateways, like PayPal.

    • Use security logos. In a test published by Get Elastic, an online retailer found that by placing a security badge on their site, sales increased 4-6%. Yet other studies show a decrease when using these logos. So it’s important to test the placement and style.

    • Display total price upfront, before the customer is required to enter their payment details.

    • Offer guarantees and refunds. By having a clear and practical guarantee and refund policy, you’re adding peace of mind to the shopper’s experience.

    Of course, even with all these improvements, some shoppers will still abandon. Not to worry, here’s where abandoned cart recovery emails come in.

     

    5. Recovering abandoned carts

    When shoppers start the checkout process and add their email address, but stop before completing the sale, they aren’t a lost sale yet. You can still win them back with an automated abandoned cart email app.

    Using Marsello, you can design a series of two great-looking follow-up emails that automatically pull in the products that were in the customer’s cart, reminding them of what they left behind. Once you’ve customized the design, you can set the times you want the emails to automatically send.

    Tips for a successful email:

    • Include product images of the item/s they selected.

    • Include a strong call-to-action button that takes them back to their cart to complete their purchase.

    • Make it your own with your branding and messaging, but keep it short.

    • Send the first email out within 24 hours, and the second within a few days.

    • Try adding a discount coupon code on the second email to entice them to complete their purchase.

    Walker's Beard & Shave abandoned cart email

     

    Final words

    With just a few simple processes in place, you can be well on your way to solving the issue of abandoned carts during the shopping process. Our final tips are to make sure you're incorporating compelling subjetc lines, captivating your customers visually, and making using of AI and personalization!!

    Want to learn more about automated campaigns?

     

    Learn more about Automations

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