Building Customer Loyalty for your Online Business
When selling your crafts in the online space, you may find it challenging to feel connected to your customers. In many ways, it is easier to deliver exceptional service in a face-to-face setting. Still, there are several methods you can use to provide a personal online shopping experience and help build a loyal customer base.
Build Your Brand
Your website should be well-branded and memorable. There is nothing worse for an online shopper to see a product online and then later not remember which business offered it. Branding your website begins with having your logo or icon prominent on each page, using your brand’s colors throughout, identifying and consistently using your brand’s typography, and using similar backgrounds and formats for catalog items. In addition, the tone of your website should be friendly and should resonate with your brand’s target audience. For example, if you sell fun earrings, your site should be upbeat and high-energy. On the other hand, if you sell engraved pet grave markers, you would establish a much more subdued tone.
Make It Easy for Customers to Purchase from You
If your website isn’t easy to navigate and place an order, ditch it! When choosing a website provider, it’s critical to ensure that it offers an intuitive interface and seamless ordering process. Otherwise, you will lose customers. When customers decide to purchase, they want to complete the transaction with little to no effort. This includes having easy payment options, including Paypal, Venmo, or Google Pay, so they can purchase quickly without having to leave their device to locate their credit card.
Before publishing your site, test the order process yourself by listing a small dollar test item in the catalog. Or, better yet, ask a friend or family member to try it for you. Follow the order process as far as you can (short of shipping yourself something) and analyze the customer’s experience. Was it easy to place items in the shopping cart and check out? Was the payment processing smooth? Did you receive immediate confirmation? Are emails friendly, clear, and concise? Address any areas as needed.
Be on Top of It!
The number one rule for both in-person and online customer service is to be responsive. Customers want timely replies to their questions and issues. I try to respond to customer inquiries within 1-2 hours of receiving them. The challenge is that online shopping is a 24/7 proposition, so it is not always possible to respond that quickly. Setting up an automatic reply through your website or email provider can help. It assures the customer that their message was received and that you will respond to them within a designated time frame. Whatever that time frame is, be sure to respond before it elapses.
Customers should receive immediate confirmation for orders and should have the option to receive order updates via text or email, whichever they prefer. Customize these messages to compliment your brand and include your logo whenever possible. The ability to provide order status emails after the initial confirmation is a huge plus! It helps your customers know that their order didn’t get lost somewhere in the Cyber universe and that a human being is working on filling their order. Customers should also receive tracking information when orders are shipped. I love shipping through UPS, as they provide the most accurate tracking updates. My customers are alerted when their package is out for delivery and even when the UPS truck is in their neighborhood. These advanced logistics help to personalize the customer’s experience and get them excited for the arrival of their purchase.
Package Items with Care (and a Personal Touch)
It doesn’t matter how fantastic your product is if it arrives damaged. Package all items with care and use professional supplies such as sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, and packing paper to help ensure their safe arrival.
Always include a business card with your website’s URL and contact information and a thank you note with your signature in the package. In addition, to encourage repeat business, you may want to consider including a coupon for a percentage off the next purchase.
Brand your products whenever possible. For example, when shipping wall hangings, I include an engraved logo on the back. When sending earrings or keychains, I print my website URL on the earring cards and packaging. Another option is to purchase custom printed branded boxes or packing tape. These touches may add to your cost but will create a memorable shopping experience.
Reach Out and Touch Someone
Stay in touch with your customers after the sale. Maintain a customer email list. Many website hosting services keep a mailing list of customers for you automatically. Send regular emails to potential and past customers, notifying them of new products and sales.
Creating a blog in addition to your e-commerce site is a great way to keep in touch with customers to share information related to your products, such as decorating ideas, fashion tips, or recipes. Share blog posts articles through social media sites as well to help attract new customers to your website.
Whether you send emails quarterly, monthly, or weekly, it’s essential to do so consistently. And, don’t forget to provide an unsubscribe option for those who no longer wish to be included.
You’re on Your Way!
By building a memorable brand, making the buying process intuitive and user-friendly, providing timely and consistent communications, and creating opportunities to connect with your customers after the sale, you will be well on your way to building a loyal customer base. Loyal customers will purchase from you again, refer friends and family, and provide positive reviews for your business.
Libby Trostle is an artisan, children’s book author, and commercial drone pilot. Visit her website at GypsyCrafter.com.