According to a study done by shop.org, online consumer spending is expected to increase 18 percent in 2007. As exciting as this statistic may be, research shows that the number of customers new to ecommerce is slowing. As a result, online merchants must focus more on retention rather than acquisition.
The prospect of less and less new customers is intimidating. Online consumers are participating in what is called “the social web.” Rather than communicating to customers, merchants are called to communicate with customers. By establishing this connection, merchants will ensure consumer loyalty will bring in more and more sales as time goes by.
How can you ensure you are connecting with your customers effectively? Use these simple tips:
- Maintain a relationship by regularly sending email newsletters to current customers. According to a joint study done by shop.org and Forresters Research, emails focusing on new products outperform emails focusing on products currently on sale. You can get feedback by using statistics to track the click-through rates for any email you send. Also, offer multiple newsletter options for different types of customers so that the newsletter each customer receives is more catered to individual tastes and preferences. If you are a Volusion customer, you can learn how to create a newsletter using this section of the Volusion manual.
- Offer a forum for your customers to communicate with you and with other customers. How can you really know what your customers are thinking? Just listen to what they say in forums. Your forum does not have to necessarily pertain specifically to your products either. If you sell purses and accessories, create a “fashion” forum. If you sell outdoor equipment, create a “hiking and camping” forum. This focus on a similar lifestyle rather than similar purchases should be something that engages your customers rather than serves only your need to get feedback on products.
- Want feedback for products? Just ask for it. Asking for customer reviews is another great way to generate consumer loyalty. Studies show that customers who leave reviews, even if they are negative, are more likely to buy something else from you in the future than customers who do not.
Effectively overcoming the “churn and burn” mentality could be the key to your success. Take the time to take these steps and your customers should return again and again.
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