“Not all customers are created equal. In fact, the top 1% of ecommerce customers are worth up to 18 times more than average customers.” – Shopify
Anyone who runs an eCommerce business has likely experienced this,
You have that small handful of customers who rave about you publicly, that buy all your new products, that engage on your social posts. But it’s just a few, it’s not the majority. They are the 1%ers.
But then we see some companies like Zappos, Bonobos or MeUndies that are dominating eCommerce with an army of vocal fans. These companies have changed industries and yet at the end of the day they are just selling shoes, pants and underwear. So how did they get people so excited?
The secret is that these brands are selling a transactional product but they are not treating it like they are just selling a commodity. Instead, they are selling an experience. Experiences get people talking about it with their friends. Experiences get people sharing. Experiences get people coming back for more.
Go Above and Beyond
A few years back I was consulting with an eCommerce store that sold beauty products. They had been pouring money into facebook and google ads and struggling to see positive ROI. They had the same top heavy problem that many eCommerce brands have, with a few really high spending customers but without strong repeat traffic from the majority.
I advised them to start adding amazon gift cards for $20 or $50 to new customers and include recommendations about related products with a personal note, “Thank you so much for buying this skin cream! My sister uses this and also loves this [insert other product]. Here is a gift card so you can try it out”. The key is the other product doesn’t even have to be yours! But when you order an item for $30 and get a $20 or $50 giftcard…. You are blown away! Customers almost immediately became raving fans. Her sales went through the roof. People were sharing stories like crazy, thanking her and things took off. It seemed crazy at first, but the ROI made up for it, big time.
So as you are looking at ways to invest to grow your brand, don’t forget the low hanging fruit: Your current customers. In eCommerce the name of the game is CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value). You want to create as many loyal, repeat customers as possible and you want to make the experience of working with your brand so incredible, people keep wanting to come back for more.
It doesn’t have to be a gift card. It could be a small branded extra, a t-shirt or an accessory. The point is you took the purchase of a product and you turned it into a personal experience.
Get Personal in the Inbox
The average customer today has thousands of unread emails clogging up their promotions and spam folders. eCommerce brands inundate their email lists with offers, newsletters and pitches, often with very little to no customization (Using a merge field for their first name isn’t cutting it!). If they don’t hear back, their automations just re-send more emails until the desperate customers unsubscribe to get away from the avalanche.
But it doesn’t have to be like that.
New technologies like personal video emails are allowing eCommerce brands to build real and authentic connections with customers. And the best part is when you send a personal video email it’s 1:1, so you never hit promotions folders that bog up your bulk sending. Use video as a way to personally thank customers, educate buyers on new product lines or respond to inquiries. Make buying from your company be about something. And with personal video customers get to see a real human being behind the curtains. It takes away the impersonal side of eCommerce.
Check out this example of a personal video thanking a new customer and showing them the product they are about to receive from Munkstore: https://www.bonjoro.com/g/TOp2ct56xji
Think about all the ways you could get personal. It could be personal engagements on social media. It could be a personal letter slipped in with their purchase. There are lots of ways to get personal. Start with one tomorrow.
Take the High Road
We have all had it happen….
A customer reaches out and says their package was stolen but USPS says it was delivered.
A customer says their product was damaged.
A customer asks for a refund even though you explicitly state on your website you don’t do refunds!
A customer smears you on social media despite you responding back to every one of their emails!
I get it. It’s frustrating when customers are out of line and it’s frustrating to feel like you are “wasting” money or being tricked. But the reality is, for 99% of the businesses, unless you have a super high ticket item, you just take it on the chin and move forward.
Give the customer the refund. Resend them the product. Don’t engage on social media, or if you have to, always stay positive. I once had an eCommerce customer who wrote on one of my social ads, “This looks like complete shit!”. I could have gotten into it with him, argued or called him names. Instead I said, “I am sorry it doesn’t seem like a good fit for you Calum. Do you want a hand with some recommendations that might be more up your alley?”. He was blown away and apologized and tons of people rallied to my defense in the comments. It ended up working out.
Another eCommerce company, Magic the Gathering, blew me away with their ability to take a negative experience and turn it into a positive one. I received a box of trading cards from them but about 25% of the product had ink damage. I let them know and here is what they said,
“We are so sorry this happened, please keep all the undamaged product, no need to ship anything back, we are shipping you a brand new box, and there is some extras along with it”
Wow. Not only did they make the process easy for me (not having to ship it back) but they realized that they needed to make up for the experience, not just the damaged product. And by taking the high roads, not asking me for tons of pictures and proof (although I was happy to provide it), they made the process easy. Then receiving extra product AND getting to keep the 75% undamaged product, made me a life-long fan.
Where are we headed
There is a tremendous opportunity right now for eCommerce brands. Some companies will capitalize in the short-term on this boom in 2020 and then will be back to “business as usual” in 2021 with the same problems once the pandemic is over. Others will realize that the world is changing. Consumers today demand transparency, personalization and easy processes. The brands who do this receive public praise, shares and adulation. Those who fail to adapt, will always struggle with organic growth and once the paid ad budget runs out, they will be in trouble. The best thing you can do for your business is to make your customers your marketers. That happens through creating a remarkable experience.