How to Deepen Connections with Customers During Holidays
After reading How to Increase Lifetime Value, hopefully you’ve learned a little bit about how today’s direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands are thinking about LTV. And, maybe you’ve even started planning a few new retention strategies, such as a new subscription model or highly personalized up-sells/cross-sells at checkout... so now what?
In this blog we’ll focus on going the extra mile in order to deepen connections with your customers. Our goal is to help you build an ecosystem around your brand that will delight, engage, and create long-lasting relationships.
So let's dig in, shall we?
- Identifying Highly Engaged Customers
- Multi-Channel & Omni-Channel Strategies
- The Importance of Brand Consistency
- Leveraging Loyalty Programs
- Optimizing The Post-Purchase Experience
1. Identifying Highly Engaged Customers
Learn More About Your Customers
Successful DTC brands understand the importance of creating buyer personas (or, fictional representations of your ideal customer). Consumers are complex, and in order to get a complete picture of their preferences and habits, you will have to gather and combine information from different sources to truly understand them.
To get started, try asking yourself these questions:
- What made a customer come to my storefront for the first time?
- On average how frequently do customers purchase from me?
- Do they always purchase the same products or categories of products or do they like to change things up?
- Do they interact with my brand on social media?
- Do they write reviews or refer friends?
The list could go on; there is always something new you can learn about your customers and unlimited ways to do it. From looking at your Shopify and Google Analytics dashboards to implementing quarterly surveys, deepening relationships starts with a desire to understand and learn more about your customers.
Identify Highly Engaged Customers
Your most engaged customers will visit your website frequently, open and click on your promotional emails, and/or participate in writing product reviews for your storefront. There is a lot of criteria you can use to identify highly engaged customers and set this group apart from the rest of your customer base.
Using tools like Klaviyo, you can start to segment your customers by their level of engagement to identify trends and spot opportunities for improving relationships. After segmenting and isolating your most engaged customers, can you identify one or more traits that they have in common? For instance, have you noticed that those engaged customers came to your storefront initially from social media? Are they a member of your loyalty program? Were they referred by a friend? etc.
By creating a profile of your most highly engaged customers, you can start to understand what makes them highly engaged, and then try to find more customers like them moving forward.
Klaviyo’s Segmentation Feature
Encourage (& Reward) Participation
BVA recently hosted an event called Commerce on Tap NY, which featured a merchant panel on how to increase customer lifetime value. When asked how DTC brands today can encourage customer engagement, Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO of Lively, explained that when launching their brand, Lively put a lot of emphasis on taking inputs from their social media followers and working to build a community around their brand.
By offering customers the opportunity to participate in shaping the future of your brand, you communicate that you value their opinion and are committed to aligning with their wants and needs. This strengthens the emotional connection between your brand and your customers.
Another way to encourage engagement is to ask customers to participate in your referral program. After all, they’ve already tried and tested your product, so there’s a good chance they are a fan of your brand already. Asking them to share this experience with their friends and family is a great way to encourage word of mouth referrals that may lead to an increased customer base.
Casper Referral Program
2. Multi-Channel & Omni-Channel Strategies
By now you should have a pretty good understanding of the importance of gathering data on your customers. Once you have gained enough insights on the data you've collected and have an idea of where you're heading, it's time to discuss strategy.
When it comes to creating a strategy around customer retention, multi-channel marketing and omni-channel marketing is where it's at. Companies with a well-defined omni-channel strategy achieve a 91% higher year-over-year increase in customer retention rate on average than organizations without omni-channel programs in place.
Defining the Terms
Multi-channel marketing refers to the ability to interact with potential customers on various platforms or channels. A channel might be social, email, blogs, your storefront, etc.
Omni-channel marketing refers to a multi-channel sales approach that provides customers with an integrated shopping experience. Regardless of whether a customer is shopping online or in a brick-and-mortar store, they should have the same seamless experience.
Omnichannel vs multichannel illustration
By striving to connect with your customers across multiple channels, all while providing a seamless and consistent customer experience, you’ll strengthen relationships with your customers and increase brand equity. But it’s going to require a long-term commitment to ensure success.
In the words of Heather Kaminetsky, Chief Brand Officer at M. Gemi, it's all about “playing the long game”. During Commerce on Tap NY, Kaminetsky explained that brands often forget the importance of human touchpoints throughout the customer experience. She said, “I think that the brands that really care for their customers, those brands will be the brands that survive and do well in the future.”
3. The Importance of Brand Consistency
If you want your brand to have a long life, consistency across channels and experiences is paramount.
“You have to have a relentless discipline around a cohesive message, which starts with how your customers discover the brand to the experience they get in the mail,” Michelle Cordeiro Grant, Founder & CEO of Lively during Commerce on Tap NY.
By creating consistency across every touchpoint and re-creating positive experiences, your business is more likely to become top of mind (your customer will start to think of you first every time they have a specific need or problem that your brand can solve), you become more dependable, and you build greater brand equity.
Brand archetypes can help create an emotional connection with customers. By making the conscious choice of selecting an archetype (or two) that will represent your brand, you eliminate a lot of guessing around how you should present your brand (tone of voice, visual design, etc.) but also where your brand should interact with customers.
When a brand successfully embodies an archetype, users will notice. Without realizing it, they will pick up on visual and written cues that will help them more quickly understand your brand’s story and motives. This understanding leads to trust, and trust leads to conversion and loyalty.
One example of a DTC brand that fits the “Caregiver” archetype is the company allbirds. As a Caregiver, the brand communicates consistently and across every touchpoint the following elements of the brand archetype:
- Motto: Love your neighbor as yourself.
- Driving desire: to protect and care for others
- Goal: to help others
- Greatest fear: selfishness and ingratitude
- Strategy: doing things for others
- Weakness: martyrdom, being exploited
- Talent: compassion, generosity
allbirds - Our Story
So how do you find your brand archetype? It all depends on your customers and their personality. If you want to appeal to a specific target audience your brand needs to be relatable. For example, if you discover that your customer likes to belong and fit in, then maybe your brand should be the “Everyman” archetype.
If this still feels confusing, try taking Brand Chemistry's Brand Archetype Quiz. Maybe after these nine questions, you’ll understand more about who your brand really is.
4. Leveraging Loyalty Programs
Loyalty programs are perhaps the most common way to retain customers. A well-designed and thoughtful loyalty program can make your customers feel appreciated by reinforcing an emotional connection while at the same time, surprising, rewarding, and delighting them.
The key to a great loyalty program is understanding what types of rewards will resonate best with your customers. What will really entice them to keep coming back for more in order to reach that next points threshold or level up?
As step one in making these determinations, take a look at Yotpo’s loyalty program generator. Based on your industry, goals, and metrics like monthly visitors, average order value (AOV), and annual revenue, this free tool will help you get off on the right path to choosing which behaviors you want to reward and how you should think about rewarding them.
Once you’ve determined the basics of your loyalty program, start thinking about how you’re going to market it. Make sure that customers will clearly see the value in signing up and also understand the benefits they’ll get by being a member.
**Pro Tip! Don’t forget that by enticing sign-ups, you get a whole new opportunity to collect detailed customer information through your enrollment form. This data can be used to create more accurate customer profiles that will make allow for smarter segmentation and marketing campaigns moving forward.
Example of Great Loyalty Programs
She referred to their program as a “modern-day incarnation of a loyalty program,” and explained that it’s focused more on customer engagement as opposed to simply on transactions. The rewards Draper James offers are aimed at making customers feel exclusive, and they reward actions like following the brand’s social channels, leaving a review, attending an event, or even by completing a survey. The points accumulated allow members to redeem more than just discounts; for example, they can get early access to sales, free shipping on all orders, curated gift guides, and exclusive product access.
Draper James Loyalty Program
Instead of the traditional point system, Starbucks revolutionized loyalty programs by creating the “My Starbucks Rewards”.
According to this article by Shopify, Starbucks’ loyalty program works as follows:
In order to earn loyalty points at Starbucks (or stars, in their case), customers must order or pay through the Starbucks mobile app. Centralizing customer transactions this way creates a goldmine of data on customer preferences and behavior. Go-to drink orders, customer lifetime value, frequently visited locations, seasonal favorites… by shepherding customers toward the app, Starbucks can gather information on all of these habits and more, empowering them to offer more relevant perks and communication to customers.
Starbucks Reward App
5. Optimizing The Post-Purchase Experience
Brands work hard to delight customers at every stage of the customer journey, from the moment a person discovers their brand to the moment they open their purchase in the mail. It’s no secret that a lot of effort (and money) is put towards retention.
But what about the post-purchase experience? How do you make sure your customers are truly happy with their purchase and are enticed to come back?
The Importance of Customer Service
Even if customers like the products you sell, it's not always enough to make them come back. According to a study from NewVoiceMedia, 51% of customers will never do business with a company after just one bad experience.
So what are the steps you can take to elevate the risk of bad experiences post-purchase?
One thing that works really well is to collaborate with your Customer Service Team to develop a kind of FAQ. From that, you can learn what your customers care about, and then you can act on it - whether it’s through creative or a slip of information in the package that they receive.
Another way to demonstrate you are willing to go the extra mile for your customer is to have an assigned customer service representative. Not all brands will be able to provide this level of commitment, but considering U.S. consumers are willing to spend 17% more to do business with companies that deliver excellent service, it might be worth it.
By having a dedicated person to talk to and take care of them, your customers will feel cared for, confident, and, most likely, eager to continue their relationship with your brand.
There is nothing more frustrating than having to go out of your way to return a purchase or realize that you are not getting your money back after reading the fine print. Customers will be much more forgiving AND will feel more confident about their purchase with a clear return policy.
Zalewski also recommends, “Don't link out to the return policy; instead provide some basic information along with every product.” Proudly display the excellent post-purchase service your customers can expect directly on the product page.
Return Promotions from Rothy's, UNTUCKit, Outdoor Voices, Chubbies, allbirds
The holiday season is almost upon us, and with it, the shopping rush and frantic wrapping that is sure to follow. What better way to both help your customers and provide a magical experience than offering a gift wrapping option post-purchase? This simple trick will help your customers save time and money; a great perk that will incentive them to keep shopping with you in holiday seasons to come.
And, now that you know the consumer is shopping for a gift, you can segment these gift shoppers and add an extra touch for the person who will be on the receiving end of your product. The Holidays will be filled with people buyings products and gifts for someone else. You need to find a way to connect with the person who is getting the gift, so try putting something in the package that will entice them to engage with the brand past the one time purchase of the gift.
A personalized thank-you note is always a great touch, and telling them about your brand's personality and providing information about what the gift they just received is even better!
Frank Body is a bold brand that likes to send (bold) little product information flyers with each purchase, highlighting the product benefits (“why you're gonna love it”) and some simple instructions. Pro-tip: they have all their social media channels nicely displayed on the flyer.
An easy and inexpensive final tip to show your customers you care is a simple email. Plan for an email to go out to your customers a few days after their purchase to make sure everything was to their satisfaction. This is a great time to reiterate and be transparent about your awesome return policy.
For an extra layer of personalization, thank all of your first-time customers for trusting your brand. Or, if it’s their 10th purchase, thank them for the loyalty and support. Segment your customers so that you can send an appropriate message that will truly resonate with the stage of their relationship with your brand. It will make them feel special and taken care of!
We’re hopeful that some of the ideas we’ve shared in this article will help you maximize revenue this holiday season in ways that benefit you and your brand for years to come. The most wonderful time of the year is coming FAST, and it’s time to get ready. Happy holidays, and happy planning!