The apple of every retailer’s eye is a loyal customer. But is there a chance your email marketing strategy is leading customers off the path to loyalty?
Beyond the products and services you offer, your marketing communication strategy can make or break your ability to generate long-term loyalty. Your strategy is critical for understanding how to communicate with your customers across all stages of the customer lifecycle, especially as e-commerce giants like Amazon.com expand into brick-and-mortar and digital-native, direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) brands sway shoppers with their sleek branding and seamless shopping experiences.
Fortunately, you can make simple changes that have a big impact. From Yes Marketing’s report, The Retail Shopper’s Journey to Loyalty, here are a few actionable ways to ensure your email marketing program maximizes customer loyalty in 2020 and beyond.
Highlight Price and Quality
It might seem simple, but the concept is important: price and quality still play a significant role in consumers’ decisions to purchase from a retailer for the first time.
When asked about product-related features that most influence their decisions to purchase from a new retailer, price ranked highest (47 percent of consumers ranked it as their top choice), followed closely by quality (39 percent). These are also the most significant factors related to loyalty. When asked what makes them loyal to a retailer, 41 percent of consumers said quality and value lead to loyalty, while 35 percent said price is the most important factor.
Use your email marketing program to put your money where your mouth is and highlight how your products reign supreme in terms of value. Offer full refund or lifetime guarantees to ensure consumer confidence in the longevity of your products. For example, Away promotes its 100-day free trial period and allows customers to return products with no questions asked.
In the age of Amazon, emphasizing convenience is one of the most effective ways to encourage first-time purchases and generate loyalty. Simply put, shoppers won’t even try a new retailer if it’s not convenient for them to do so.
Specifically, 40 percent of customers rank free or expedited shipping as the most important convenience-related factor when it comes to shopping with a new retailer, followed by proximity to a store (24 percent), and convenience in the overall purchase process (20 percent).
If you offer free shipping, highlight it consistently in your messaging. If you can’t always offer free shipping, offer alternatives. For example, Williams-Sonoma highlights the option to buy online and pick up in-store, so customers never have to pay a shipping fee. Additionally, use customer data to highlight proximity to brick-and-mortar store locations. Provide customers with information about events in their local stores to encourage traffic to your physical locations.
Use Data to Ensure Relevant and Well-Timed Messages
Customers want relevant communications informed by their preferences, even before they’ve interacted with retailers. Relevance is the most influential marketing factor for consumers purchasing from retailers for the first time, with 33 percent indicating it as their primary choice.
Irrelevant content (or too much or too little content) can turn off both new and loyal customers. A well-timed cadence of marketing messages plays a critical role in driving repeat purchases. On average, about six out of 10 customers say they receive marketing messages across channels at the right frequency, which means there’s room to improve.
Use customer behavior data, preference behaviors and third-party acquisition data to ensure the messages you send are interesting, informative and appropriate every time. For example, lululemon athletica asks customers up front what activities they’re interested in so it can tailor messaging appropriately. While historically retailers require very little information (as much as an email address) to encourage easy signups, consumers are open to provide additional information if it improves their experience.
You can’t paint your customers with broad strokes. If you understand what shoppers want at each stage in the customer life cycle — whether it’s what they value in a product or what inspires their trust — you can communicate with them more effectively over time and ultimately drive more revenue.
Nessa Felleson is senior marketing strategist at Yes Marketing, a cross-channel marketing solution and services provider.