Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Cultivating a customer community – the importance of loyalty in eCommerce

When looking to increase sales, companies are often focused on reaching new customers. But what about buyers who are already loyal to the brand? Brand loyalty is incredibly valuable to a business and its success and is important not to neglect it.

While there are several ways to strengthen brand loyalty, one of the best ways is by setting up a customer community.

What is a customer community and why is it useful?

A customer community is a platform or place for customers to engage with a brand and discuss products, ask questions, post reviews, and develop new ideas. Brands who have managed to build strong communities are usually extremely successful in their industry.

By creating a brand community, businesses are not only able to form a loyal customer base but also gather real feedback on their products and services, build trust and solve problems early on.

Higher profits and low costs

Creating relationships with customers can also help increase sales. For example, a company that manages to increase their customer retention rate by 5% by introducing a strong loyalty program and community could increase their profits by up to 95%.

Online customer communities are usually not as expensive to run as setting up customer service centres, and they can be easier to use. Brands can utilise social platforms to address smaller issues that customers might not necessarily want to spend time discussing over official channels.

Some companies also offer the opportunity to engage with experts and ask them questions. This allows brands to become an authority in their field and to educate consumers on their industry, services and products.

How customer communities can be used to sell and cross-sell products

A customer who asks for advice or hints that they are interested in buying a certain product will likely appreciate more information and relevant resources such as websites or videos. This could even be an opportunity to cross-sell. Better yet, customer communities can actually do some of the selling for a brand. By helping other customers find the right product and discussing the brand in a highly positive light, sales can be made without companies ever engaging directly with shoppers.

How can brands set up an online customer community?

Here are some ways to set up a community:

Blogging

Blogging is a simple way to inform shoppers about an industry and its products and possibilities. In their blog, IKEA does not only focus on selling furniture, but offers real solutions to common problems, such as living in small spaces, ideas, inspiration and tips.

Social Media

Customer communities are especially valuable on social media platforms since they can grow very quickly.

Forums

Interacting with customers on a public forum can allow brands to provide answers to questions and share their expertise.

Focus group

A focus group with just a few selected participants can be even more helpful when trying to determine how buyers see a brand, if they find a service useful etc.

 

There are many excellent examples of brands that have managed to set up successful customer communities to draw inspiration from.

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