E-commerce

7 Simple Ways to Transform Repeat Customers Into Brand Advocates

In ecommerce, the relationships you build with customers is everything. Without a dedicated strategy in place for things like customer success and customer loyalty, it’s nearly impossible to build a profitable, sustainable ecommerce business.
If you’re in ecommerce now, you already understand that existing customers are much more valuable than people who never purchased a product from you before. They’re more likely to buy, they’re more likely to spend, and they’re more likely to help you spread awareness about your brand.
So the question is, how do you leverage your relationships with existing customers in order to drive more sales and more profits for your business?
Here are 7 simple ways to transform repeat customers into money-making  and passionate advocates for your brand:

Tactic #1: Launch a Customer Loyalty Program

One of the easiest ways to start building customer loyalty and encourage advocacy is to launch an actual loyalty program for customers. Customer loyalty programs reward the people who buy most often from you, or who spend the most money when shopping on your ecommerce store.
Gilt's customer loyalty program

Example from Gilt 

Sephora's customer loyalty program

Example from Sephora

There are a number of tools you can use to build and launch a customer loyalty program for your ecommerce business. Here are a few worth looking into:

To make a customer loyalty program successful, you have to do a few things:
First, you need to design a program that makes your customers feel special. To do it, you can’t offer the same coupons that everyone else gets when they land on your website. You have to offer rewards and deals that your customers aren’t going to get by shopping anywhere else.
Second, you need to put some marketing resources behind your efforts. Your customers won’t know about your customer loyalty program unless you’re constantly reminding them about it. That means promoting it on your website and across your product pages, on your social media channels, and even in the transactional emails that you send to new customers.
Finally, you need to create a memorable brand or name for your customer loyalty program, much like you see in the two examples above (Sephora VIB and Gilt Insider). Doing so will help you differentiate from the other loyalty programs your competitors are trying to get your customers to join.

Tactic #2: Use Custom Pop-Ups to Reveal VIP Offers

Another great way to create brand advocates for your business is by presenting special limited offers that are only available to the customers who support your business the most. This strategy differs from the customer loyalty tactic from above because it doesn’t ask your customers to buy more in order to unlock rewards. You’re not promoting action in exchange for rewards. Instead, the strategy here is to simply present, or surprise them with special offers or exclusive deals based on how much you know they’ve purchase from your store historically.
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One of the best and easiest ways to implement this strategy is by creating and launching custom pop-ups that appear on your website and throughout your store.
With pop-up software tools like WisePops, you can display custom pop-ups on select URLs that only a specific group or segment can access (in this case, your best customers).
Want to give WisePops a try? Sign up for a risk-free 14-day trial now.

Tactic #3: Say Thank You in Delightful Ways

For some ecommerce companies, relationships end as soon as the customer successfully makes it through the shopping cart. That’s a big missed opportunity. To build an army of passionate brand advocates, you need to show your customers how much you appreciate them. After all, there are literally thousands of other businesses selling products online that they could have bought from.
In most cases, a simple thank you is all it takes—a small gesture that can make a big, lasting impression on your customers.
Here are some ways you can say thanks to your ecommerce customers:

  • Sending them a handwritten thank you card along with their products.
  • Including a special ‘thank you’ promo code in every product box you send out to customers.
  • Sending birthday emails with special redeemable gifts or launching campaigns for other fun holidays.
  • Sending them free samples of new products that you’re getting ready to launch.
  • Manually writing an email (not automated) to your best customers to personally thank them for their business and ask them what else you can do for them.
  • Creating short thank you videos mentioning specific customers and posting them on your Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter feed.
  • Throwing in additional surprise ‘freebie’ products that align with certain products that customers order from you.

a thank you card sent by Laura Ashley

Example from Hubspot and Laura Ashley

Saying thank you doesn’t require you to have a big budget or spend a lot of money giving away free stuff—all you have to do is be authentic and convince your customers that you really do care about them.

Tactic #4: Share Customer Stories

If the people visiting your website are buying products online instead of in physical stores, it’s probably safe to assume that they are also fairly active on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. In ecommerce, you can use this assumption to your advantage in order to build customer loyalty and brand advocacy for your business.
How? By featuring and telling customer stories.
Social media users love sharing memories, moments, and stories about themselves with their followers. They feed off of comments, likes, and other vanity metrics that fuel sites like Facebook and Twitter.
To feed their egos and get direct access to their network of family, friends, and coworkers (all potential customers for you), try featuring more photos and videos of, and text updates about, your customers.
Here’s how to put this tip into action:
Step 1: When you send your products to customers, include a flyer or messaging that asks them to email you photos of themselves using your products. You could also ask them to share photos on their own social media accounts and tag your business instead. Some ecommerce stores also encourage customers to use a hashtag when sharing product photos on Twitter or Instagram.
Step 2: Collect photos and feature them prominently on your pages. Consider featuring a new customer every Friday and share their story with your other followers.
Step 3: Interact and engage with customers when they see and comment on your posts. Work to continue developing authentic relationships with them through the interaction.
Tom sharing a customer story on Instagram

Example from Tom’s Instagram

When you share stories in this way, you help your customers understand that they are an important part of your business. When they feel more invested in your success, they feel more willing to continue supporting you over time.

Tactic #5: Launch a Customer Referral Program

You can also build a team of brand advocates by launching a customer referral program for your business. The strategy behind customer referral programs is pretty simple: motivate your best customers to tell their friends about your brand and products by offering them rewards and special coupons in exchange for referrals (new customers).
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Example from FriendBuy and Huckberry

There are a lot of tools that you can use to build and launch a customer referral program for your ecommerce business. Here are a few worth checking out:

Just like in tactic #1, you have to work to make this program successful. It’s not enough to launch it, mention it once on Facebook and in one place on your website and let it sit. You have to constantly be working to let your customers know that the program exists, and you have to make sure the reward is a good enough incentive to motivate your customers to participate.
To get the word out, spread the news occasionally in social media updates, in email campaigns, as part of the package that customers get when they order products, and within your product pages. To find out what kind of rewards would be most attractive to customers, ask them! Email your top customers and get an idea of what they would want in exchange for referring friends. Alternatively, you can A/B test different types of rewards and find out which is more successful over time.

Tactic #6: Get to Know Your Best Customers Better

When you’re selling to customers that you never actually meet face-to-face, you don’t get to know them as well or as easily as you might if you were selling to them from an actual brick-and-mortar store. There are a lot of creative ways to build customer loyalty and increase the number of brand advocates that you have at your disposal, but at the end of the day, the best thing to do is simply take the time to proactively get to know your best customers.
You should have a good understanding of what motivates them, what their problems are, why they sought out your products in the first place, and what ultimately made them buy from you and not the other guy. Seeking out this type of information from your top customers helps you achieve two things that can help make your business better:

  1. It can help you build better, more authentic relationships with your customers.
  2. It can help you understand what you need to do in order to better connect with and sell to other people.

To gather feedback from customers, consider using a tool like SurveyMonkey, Typeform, or 1-1 emails from your own email address.
Again, the idea here is simple: when you invest in your customers, they invest in you.

Tactic #7: Make Sharing Easy After Purchase

The final tactic you can use to get more brand advocates for your business is relatively simple: make it incredibly easy for customers to spread the news about your products within seconds after they purchase from you. This is typically when they are most excited and invested in your products, so it’s a great time to ask them to share the news with their family and friends on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. Most ecommerce platforms will have built-in tools that you can use to add social buttons to order confirmation pages.
You can also add social sharing links and messaging to your order confirmation emails. This is another great place to try to encourage social sharing because these types of transactional emails typically have very high open rates.
A referral email sent by Warby Parker

Example from Rejoiner and Warby Parker

 Adding social share buttons to pages and emails that you know your customers will look at is an easy and fairly unobtrusive way to get them to give shining recommendations and testimonials about your products to their personal networks.

Over to You

What other tactics do you use to transform customers into brand advocates? I’d love to hear your ideas. Tell me in the comments section below.

Rob Wormley Rob is a Content Marketing & Product Marketing Consultant.

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