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Loyalty is a tricky thing to inspire in the internet age. With brick-and-mortar stores, it’s a huge undertaking for customers to find another shop that matches their needs. But today, in the world of online shopping, one click is all it takes to deliver your potential customer straight into the arms of a competitor. Not to mention that the human element, which forges personal connections between customers and shopkeepers, is much more difficult to establish in an online environment.
To create customer loyalty in an eCommerce setting, you need to give people a reason to come back to your store. In-person stores do this by giving their regular customers a sense of familiarity, but you can’t really do that with an online store. Another option is to give them something unique that no other website has. That something is probably not what you’re thinking… I’m not talking about your products. I’m talking about providing your visitors with valuable information that they won’t find on the slew of other eCommerce sites.
The eCommerce marketing funnel is a visualization of turning casual visitors to your website into paying customers. It starts with generating visits to your website by providing content that people find interesting, content that they might stumble across during their daily internet browsing. This includes social media posts, news articles, funny videos, and blog posts. Loyalty at this top level of the funnel is quite minimal.
The next step is providing valuable content. The first level is good for a momentary distraction, but this second level is about answering a question or solving a problem. It can include factual reports, tutorials in video or text format, or general newsletters. Loyalty at this stage is increased, since you’re providing a tangible service with quantifiable results.
The third step is what I like to call ‘Free Samples’. These are small pieces of content that you could charge for, especially if you bundled them together. But instead, you are handing them out piece by piece in order to generate interest in your actual paid merchandise or service. Tailoring this step to an eCommerce store can often be a little tricky. Just remember that the objective is to generate interest in your products. So, for example, you could post a video or article on how you go about producing your products (showcasing the time, care, and quality that goes into it), or you could give out a discount code or bundle promotion. Loyalty here is almost at its peak, since your visitors are getting a look at the level of quality service you offer.
Hopefully, by this stage in the funnel, your site visitors have transitioned into paying customers. If they have, the last step is to keep them coming back for more. This is achieved by keeping up the same level of value you’ve provided them with throughout their customer journey. This can be by sharing news about your store, offering them discount codes, and giving them additional valuable articles about the niche surrounding your products. Loyalty by now is the highest it can be, since your paying customers are continuing to enjoy the level of service they’ve come to expect from you.
The first step is to start a blog.
Blogging is right there at the top of the funnel, so you know it’s integral. Blogs provide a place for you to post all of your interesting, customer-drawing content, as well as a place for potential customers to chat, comment on your content, and give feedback.
Blogs also act as free advertising. Depending on how good your SEO is, and how diversified your content is, search engines can find your blog and show it to people just making random Google searches. For instance, your post about baking with cake molds could show up in someone’s search for “how do I make a cake shaped like a castle”.
There are a bunch of free and paid blogging platforms available for eCommerce site owners. If you’re using Big Commerce, Wix, or WordPress, you already have a built-in option to include a basic blog on your website. Shopify, which is probably the most common eCommerce platform, also has a basic default blogging option. But all of these blogging platforms lack a few important features, like embedding products directly into your posts. I recommend adding DropInBlog to your eCommerce website. It includes the ability to showcase your products directly from your blog posts and many other useful features, such as an SEO analyzer to help you get the best Google ranking you can from your posts.
So you have your blog, but what are you supposed to write about?
Good news, you already have a focal point for your blog. Your shop!
All you have to do is look at your lineup of products and come up with some articles about them. Compare your products to leading alternatives, put together some gift ideas for birthdays or major holidays coming up… whatever you want.
The only thing is that every article must provide use to your customers. B2B articles (business-to-business) about market trends or how your visitor numbers are looking won’t really work here, unless of course, your customers are businesses. If you’re having trouble thinking up ideas, or if writing isn’t really your strong suit, consider hiring a freelancer.
Always remember that the purpose of a blog is to attract visitors and keep them coming back, not to sell your products. In fact, hard sales often push potential customers away by being too pushy. Repeat visitors will have your store in their heads already, so when they do want to buy something, your store will be the first they consider.
I know you already market your shop, but people see store ads and immediately think you’re trying to sell them something. Which you are, but you don’t want them to know that.
Marketing a blog is different. You’re not pitching a sale, you’re letting the masses know that your content is something they might want to read. They don’t have to give you anything but their time, and in return, you’ll provide them with valuable content that can entertain them, answer their questions, and solve their problems.
If your articles have been written right, then your posts are already Search-Engine Optimized (SEO). This means that it’s super easy for a search engine to find your posts by searching whatever keyword you specified.
That’s the organic leads done, but what about inorganic? Sharing, or even advertising, your posts on social media is a great way to get them in front of more eyes. Your existing followers will be notified when you have a new post, and if half of those followers share that post…
Well, you get the idea.
Now you have a blog, it’s full of content, and you’re letting people know it’s there. Instead of just coming to your website with the express purpose of buying something, visitors can stumble upon your website through any old search and find tutorials, opinion pieces, comparative essays, and informative rants.
You’re no longer just a seller of goods. Now, you’re also an information broker.
Remember the funnel model, blog like you’ve never blogged before, and watch the effects this new method has on your customer loyalty.