Online shoppers are spoiled for choice these days. As an eCommerce merchant, that means you need to work harder to stand out if you want to make that sale. But of course, getting a prospective customer to your eCommerce site is only the first step. Simply driving traffic isn’t enough; you also need effective ways to engage visitors if you want to meaningfully boost sales.
According to recent research, a whopping 86% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more for experiences that blow them away. This statistic shows that all shop owners need to encourage customers to engage and spend more time with their brand in attention-grabbing, unique ways. Let’s take a more detailed look at what customer engagement actually is, why it’s so important, and six creative ways to improve it for your own eCommerce brand.
What is customer engagement?
Customer engagement, or consumer engagement, refers to a customer’s relationship with a brand. It can be measured according to several benchmarks such as link clicks, pages viewed per session, conversions, and more. As a business owner, customer engagement tells you how a shopper interacts with your brand, how they feel about your products, and how likely they are to remain loyal to your brand in the long term.
Why is customer engagement important in eCommerce?
Creating strong customer engagement among your audience can only benefit your eCommerce brand. Here are three main ways:
- It can help increase customer loyalty. Customer engagement is a form of relationship-building like any other. The more time a customer spends interacting with your brand, the more they’ll come to trust you, and the more likely they are to continue to buy from you in the future. And since acquiring new customers is 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones, this benefit is an extremely valuable one.
- It can help you earn free advertising. When customers are fully engaged with your brand, they’re usually more than happy to recommend your products to their friends and family. People tend to trust the suggestions of their loved ones, so this type of word-of-mouth can be a great source of new business.
- It can help you optimize your business. As you continue to engage with your customers, you’ll be able to uncover more insights about them, allowing you to optimize and continue to improve the customer experience over the long term. As a result, you’ll retain those customers and be better positioned to acquire new ones, too.
Because of the high value of consistent customer engagement, more businesses are switching towards a customer-centric mindset. Experts predict that customer engagement will be a key brand differentiator in the coming future, even more than price. If you haven’t been focusing on boosting this metric so far, now’s the time to start.
Key strategies for engaging your eCommerce customers
Ready to build an effective customer-engagement strategy so you can start enjoying the benefits? Here are six proven ways to encourage more interactions with your online shoppers.
#1. Design an outstanding user experience
The user experience of your eCommerce website can have a major effect on customer engagement, for better or for worse. From the moment visitors first touch base with your brand, they are subconsciously evaluating everything, including your UI design, colors, imagery, and product descriptions. That’s why everything about your site needs to be clear, welcoming, and easy to navigate. And, of course, mobile commerce has been booming, so it’s crucial to make sure your site loads and functions smoothly on mobile devices too.
For apparel brands in particular, one easy way to improve the user experience on your site is to provide a sizing solution. Without one, shoppers have no guidance on how your products will fit them, and they’re likely to order the wrong size. To avoid this problem and encourage quicker purchase decisions, integrate a smart sizing tool into your website so you can automatically provide accurate fitting information for shoppers.
#2. Leverage the power of social media
As of 2020, social media sites altogether had over 3.6 billion users. But don’t let those numbers distract you from what’s really important when it comes to social networks: Driving authentic interactions and engagement is much more valuable than simply amassing a huge number of followers. Choose the social media platform(s) where your target audience spends the most time—whether that’s Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, or TikTok—and create a tailored strategy designed to engage them so you can start building meaningful relationships.
There are many impressive examples of online clothing stores using social media to build a highly engaged following. For example, outdoor apparel brand Patagonia uses Pinterest to display diverse clothing styles and products. Zara and H&M use Instagram to showcase trending outfits, and invite users to share their own outfit posts for the chance to be featured. Many brands also leverage social media as a support channel, which is another great way to engage customers and build their trust.
#3. Invite customers to give feedback
The most straightforward way to improve customer engagement is to simply ask for customer feedback. Direct customer feedback can offer eCommerce owners valuable insights on what their target audience is looking for so they can optimize their site and products accordingly. Plus, let’s not forget that the simple act of asking for feedback can help build trust with customers.
For instance, many online clothing shops send an automated email to shoppers once their order has been delivered, inviting them to rate the product quality, shipping, and overall shopping experience. Another prime time to ask for customer feedback is when a shopper requests to return a product. In order to view the return information, you can require them to answer a question or two about why they’re unhappy with the product. Shopify store owners can then use that data to optimize the on-site user experience for future customers.
#4. Offer a loyalty program
Customers have been shown to spend up to 67% more when they are part of a company’s loyalty program. In these types of programs, eCommerce shop owners can offer different incentives such as gift cards, discount coupons, cash back, or free shipping to encourage higher order volumes or repeat purchases. It’s another way to keep customers closely engaged with your brand.
If you’re running your online store using Shopify, you might consider integrating a marketing platform like Growave to help run your loyalty program. You can use it to encourage reviews and referrals, try the landing page builder to share information about your program, and more.
#5. Fine-tune your customer service strategy
It’s impossible to please all your customers all the time. Getting some complaints is part of doing business. What matters most for the long-term future of your online store is how you handle these unhappy customers. The best rule of thumb is to respond quickly, listen, show compassion, and offer an agreeable solution.
If you can engage shoppers with this type of service consistently, you can turn unhappy customers into loyal brand advocates. It can also help you avoid negative reviews. Since 86% of customers say they hesitate to purchase from a brand with poor reviews, this last one is especially important for future sales.
#6. Respond to prospects and customers quickly across channels
82% of consumers say they anticipate immediate answers when they contact a brand digitally. When a customer or prospective customer reaches out to you, it’s in your brand’s best interest to respond quickly and appropriately.
Automation is one way to make this goal more realistic. Consider email marketing software that offers triggered and automated email responses. You could also try embedding a chatbot on your website to give visitors instant replies to basic questions and queries. However you choose to do it, make sure your brand is reachable and responsive across every channel possible. It’ll show customers that you care about their satisfaction and that they’re the priority, which will build engagement and trust over time.
Highly engaged customers are your best asset
Globally, eCommerce is surging. Platforms like Shopify, WooCommerce, and BigCommerce are seeing growing numbers of new store registrations every day. Though opening an online shop is fairly easy, you’ll need more than a website to make your business thrive. Once you’ve got your shop up and running, turn your focus to improving customer engagement so you can increase trust, sales, and long-term loyalty for your eCommerce brand.
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