The retail industry is very dynamic and must always be in tune with consumer demands and external forces that dictate market conditions. We are seeing this very clearly with the ever-increasing growth of online shopping as businesses continue to look for new ways of safely connecting with consumers and building strong relationships with them.
All of the restrictions implemented to curb the ongoing pandemic have changed consumer expectations and the way people shop, which has forced a lot of businesses to place more value on customer relationships. Customers today are looking for improvements in a company’s digital, fulfillment, and marketing practices that are more in line with the modern-day reality. In addition to keeping their data clean, we have five additional recommendations on how businesses can stay engaged with their customers during these tumultuous times.
- An Intuitive Website Captures Customers
Since customers are not going to brick-and-mortar store locations as much as they used to because of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and other restrictions, companies have been forced to bring their product offerings to customers where they are online. This has led to significant e-commerce growth with sales increasing by 25% in the U.S. in just the first three weeks of March 2020 and non-store retail growing 20.5% in April.
However, even though e-commerce may be growing, customers still need to deal with some of the hardships of living under quarantines, which has led to many shopping cart abandonments and other disruptions in the user journey. One of the possible obstacles preventing a user from completing a purchase could be a long, convoluted checkout process or having to reenter the shipping information multiple times.
This is why companies need a creative and user-friendly web experience. Customers will engage with your brand, but only if you make it easy for them to do so. Therefore, streamline the checkout process by eliminating unnecessary form fields, providing clear CTAs, and introducing type-ahead verification into your checkout to guide your users through all of the checkout stages to significantly reduce shopping cart abandonments.
- Loyalty Programs Generate Loyal Followers
Loyalty programs should be a part of your marketing strategy because they incentivize people to continue shopping with rewards such as gift cards, member-only promotion codes, cashback, and other perks. It also helps you provide customized user experiences since each shopper will be rewarded for their individual purchases, which will allow you to reward your most valuable customers. Since roughly 20% of your customers contribute 80% of your revenue, consider giving preferential treatment to your most valuable customers to foster lifetime loyalty.
There are many ways of engaging with all of the people in your loyalty program such as direct mail or SMS push notifications. The goal should be stand out from the competition who are vying for the attention of the same consumers. This process involves ensuring that customer contact information is valid and up-to-date.
This is why it’s so important to have data verification tools that will allow you to verify phone numbers, emails, and street addresses. Simply add one or more of these fields to your dataset and it’s ready for verification. Through this type of validation, retailers can improve the accuracy of all avenues of customer data and use this single view of the customer to further customize loyalty program offerings.
- Social Media Strengthens Brand Image
The social distancing and capacity restrictions have led to many people feeling lonely and isolated, which is why all of the relationships created on social apps are becoming increasingly important. People can connect with each other through tools like Zoom and TikTok to stay current on what’s going on in everybody’s lives.
Since social media has so much power to connect people all over the world, it should come as no surprise that it’s also one of the best means of connecting with customers. Twitter usage is up, with 164 million people on average having visited in the past quarter. It’s also interesting to look at some of the generational shifts of social media usage. Every generation, including 30% of millennials, 29% of Gen X, and 15% of Boomers, has increased their usage, making social the best medium to share branded content and invite user-generated content (UGC) from customers.
In 2021, marketers planned to increase their social media spend more than any other channel, including growing options like online video and podcasts, according to the 2021 Nielsen Annual Marketing Report.
- Proactive Communication Gets the Message Across
Since customers are bombarded with all kinds of information from pretty much every direction, companies nowadays need to over-communicate to provide information, stability, and security to their customers. However, they should not use a one-size-fits-all approach and send out general information. Instead, you should segment and personalize your messaging while making sure to empathize with the customers.
Keep in mind, that your customers are receiving emails and messages from any company that has their contact information. Therefore, you need to stand out from the crowd and personalization is definitely the way to go. Tell your customers how you can help them resolve a pain point or send them some educational materials about some interesting tips that are specific to your specific industry that will help them stay engaged.
Regardless of the communication channels you wish to use, be sure to convey the value your business can offer and your desire to support the community as well.
- Gratitude to Your Community Expands Support
The way your company positions itself on the various social, political, and environmental issues will determine the way customers perceive your brand. Nowadays, customers expect businesses to take a position on certain issues affecting the public, advocate for the public, and give back to society. According to Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer, 68% of customers refuse to buy from companies with poor ethics. Remember, the customer-business relationship is a two-way street. Customers make purchases from businesses and, in return, the companies need to give something back; 76% of them think companies are responsible for giving back to the communities where they do business.
Therefore, it’s a great idea to share your gratitude with the public and go above and beyond your duties by supporting various charities. Consider partnering with another organization to deliver food and goods to people in need. By showing customers the human side of your business, you not only evoke loyalty from existing customers but also attract new customers who share the same beliefs.
No matter how you choose to give back, be sure to highlight what your company has learned from the pandemic and inspire confidence that you will be there for your customers over the long term.
When it comes to managing your data to cultivate your customer relationships, ensure that your data hygiene is in top shape. You can easily identify and eliminate duplicates from your Salesforce data by simply using DataGroomr on the AppExchange. Try DataGroomr for yourself today with our free 14-day trial. Or schedule a demo.