Every small business owner knows building relationships is the best way to cultivate repeat customers. But how are you supposed to develop relationships with new customers when your only interaction is a short ecommerce sales cycle? Our advice will help you draw first-time customers to your online store and convince them to return to your small business again and again.
Getting Customers In the Virtual Door
Before you can cultivate repeat customers, you need to attract first-time shoppers. If you have an online store that’s not getting much traffic, ask yourself if your site has these essential features:
A great user experience: An ecommerce store must be both pleasant to look at and easy to navigate. Unless you’re an experienced web and graphic designer, a website builder with ecommerce support is the best way to build a mobile-friendly ecommerce site free of problems that drive customers away.
Compelling, consistent branding: Your brand isn’t just your name and logo. It’s also the colors you use, your typography, and your tone of voice. Keep these elements consistent across your ecommerce site to build a strong online brand.
Reviews and ratings: Along with detailed product descriptions, product reviews generate customer trust. A first-time shopper is more likely to make a purchase if they see that other customers are happy with the product and service.
Fast and easy checkout: Nearly 70% of shoppers abandon their cart before making a purchase due to inconvenient checkout processes. Lose fewer customers by allowing for guest checkout, flexible payment options, and fast and free shipping. Ensure your checkout process is secure, and let customers know by displaying security badges like VeriSign.
Retaining Customers for the Long Term
A shopper’s first purchase gives you an “in.” Now, what will you do with it?
Email marketing: If you collect email addresses (and you should!), email marketing is an easy choice. Email marketing is a casual, low-cost way to build trust in your brand and entice customers to shop. Email marketing can be used for advertising, storytelling, and informing, but the best email marketing campaigns combine a variety of content types.
Making an ask: When you want to get more creative, try asking for help. It’s well-known that asking for favors builds interpersonal relationships, and that same tactic can be applied in ecommerce. Small favors like completing a survey, leaving a review, or tagging a friend in a social media post are a great place to start, but don’t be afraid of bigger asks. Crowdfunding is a surprisingly effective way to get customers emotionally invested in your small business, especially when you offer incentives for their support. And especially for small businesses, it’s also a viable form of small business funding.
Establishing authority: You also need to focus on building authority in your niche. This is especially important if you’re in an industry with a lot of competition. Establishing authority encourages buyers to trust you over other brands, which means they’ll not only buy again, they’ll tell their friends about your business. Content is the go-to strategy for building authority. Post informative, relevant content on your site, and share guest posts on other websites your customers visit. Another innovate strategy is expert reviews— instead of you telling customers why your products are worth buying, get a trusted industry name to do it!
The biggest mistake ecommerce first-timers make is assuming that a great product is enough for a successful store. But just like brick-and-mortar businesses, ecommerce isn’t just about what you sell, but how you sell it. By putting customer needs first and building relationships every step of the way, you can turn e-commerce into a major asset for your small business.
Guest Post: About the Author
Lucy Reed considers herself an entrepreneur since she was a kid, from the lemonade stand she opened in her parent’s driveway at age 10 to the dog walking business she started while in college. She created the site GigMine.co to help like-minded business people take advantage of the growing sharing economy.