Driving Stronger Customer Loyalty + Retention for the Holidays
As the holidays approach, visions of record-breaking numbers and skyrocketing bottom-lines may be dancing through your head. But, what is the long-term benefit of the holidays if you aren’t also thinking about customer loyalty and retention?
“It’s no secret that new customer acquisition is becoming more challenging (and expensive) due to increased competition, changes in privacy and tracking regulations, inflation, and a potential recession,” says Victoria Colson, Associate Director of Strategy at The Stable. “This means that brands need to focus on retaining existing customers and driving repeat purchases more than ever before.”
The good news? The holidays bring an influx of shoppers with often more discretionary spending than we’ll see all year. Therefore, focusing on converting them into life-long loyalists could be your holiday home run—if you play your cards right.
To encourage lasting relationships, brands need to be intentional about driving retention from the very first interaction; before the consumer even makes a purchase. However, if you focus on attracting the right shoppers who align with your brand values and mission, then step two, conversion, and step three, retention are sure to become that much easier.
The Importance of Authenticity
As wallets tighten, customers are likely to be more selective than ever this holiday season. This means that it is critical for you to stay authentic, and for your brand values and mission to be present and consistent throughout messaging, promotions, and on-site experience to ensure that you attract and convert the customers who are most likely to stick around long-term.
“Value-based messaging is a strategy where you communicate your brand’s values to customers in a way that aligns with their needs and wants,” Colson continues. “Utilizing this approach, especially during the holidays, will ensure that even if your customers are pickier about where they spend their money this year, they will be willing to spend it with you based on the resulting alignment in values, morals, and emotional connection.”
The Harvard Business Review identified 30 “elements of value” — fundamental attributes in their most essential and discrete forms. These elements fall into four categories: functional, emotional, life changing, and social impact. In general, the more elements provided and communicated, the greater the customers’ loyalty to the brand.
At the top of the pyramid, you’ll notice “Social Impact,” or helping other people or society. Whether you interpret this as environmental consciousness, sustainability, human rights, or anything in between, it is no surprise that mission and purpose-driven brands are on the rise and in high-demand. 2023 will be a crucial year for social impact, and exploring new ways that brands can use it to not only create change, but instill loyalty with their customers.
At The Stable, we’ve curated an ecosystem of partners across the Shopify Plus network that help to solve the needs of our brands across a variety of objectives. As you focus on driving retention and loyalty this holiday season, remember that social impact and sustainability are at the forefront of today’s consumers wants and needs.
When it comes to social impact and sustainability, the following companies have you covered:
- The Stable: A commerce agency that connects brands and consumers across all channels and offers full-suite of services designed to grow brands of all sizes, stages, and verticals.
- EcoCart: Gives brands the ability to not only effectively communicate their sustainability story to shoppers, but include them in it with engaging activations at key touch points across the customer experience.
- Recurate: Integrates with industry-leading fulfillment partners to take inventory back from customers, authenticate, clean, photograph, and fulfill orders, making it easy, secure, and profitable to launch branded resale.
- ShoppingGives: The turn-key cause marketing solution to accelerating brand growth through integrated social impact, creating purposeful and profitable customer relationships.
To gain even more recommendations for driving stronger customer loyalty for this upcoming holiday season, continue reading to discover insights from EcoCart, Recurate, and ShoppingGives.
Leverage Sustainability and Transparency in Your Customer Experience To Deepen Relationships
Shoppers are increasingly expecting brands to incorporate social responsibility into their very DNA, and they’re showing brands this by spending money with brands whose values are aligned with their own.
A value that seems to be quite ubiquitous amongst consumers today is sustainability. In fact, two out of every three shoppers say they will actually pay more for products that are manufactured and shipped sustainably according to a study performed by First Insight. This is a huge jump from just five years ago, and can largely be attributed to Millennials and Gen Z becoming a larger portion of the consumer pool.
Since consumers expect brands to have shared values with them and sustainability is a top issue for most of those consumers, it’s obvious that brands must work toward operating sustainably.
Brands, of course, also need to communicate their sustainability initiatives as clearly and transparently as possible to ensure shoppers feel confident in the decisions the brand has made. Here are some ways brands can communicate about their sustainable practices this holiday sales season to deepen customer relationships and foster loyalty.
1. Inform as simply and early as possible.
It’s vital to inform shoppers about your sustainable initiatives or practices as close to the first touch point as possible. Leverage a banner, pop-up, hero image or other homepage real estate to alert shoppers from the get-go that shopping with you means making a more sustainable choice.
2. Include relevant information at key moments.
By educating consumers about a product’s more eco-friendly life cycle on the product detail page or explaining to them that the carbon emissions from shipping their product to them are offset on the cart page, brands can add an extra incentive to drive that ‘add to cart’ or ‘checkout’ action that is needed in those moments.
3. Lead with transparency and include details.
Consumers don’t expect brands to be perfect from the start. What’s important is that the brand is focusing on how sustainable they are and is taking action to become moreso. By being honest and transparent about the state of sustainability within your operations, you’re showing that you’re doing this for the right reasons and you’re welcoming shoppers into a more intimate view of your brand. This transparency naturally fosters loyalty, just like it does in regular people-to-people relationships.
No matter what or where your sustainability initiatives are currently, using these communication strategies to discuss them in your customer experience is the best way to leverage them to build relationships and foster loyalty this holiday season. If you haven’t gotten started with sustainability at all, there’s still time to implement things today before the big rush.
If you’re interested in learning more about sustainability in ecommerce, head over to EcoCart and check out one of our ebooks to learn more.
Your Loyalty Program is Incomplete Without Resale
What if we told you there was a way to improve loyalty, motivate repeat purchases, and increase customer lifetime value – without having to sell or produce any new products?
The solution is brand-led resale, and it has proven to be the ultimate loyalty strategy. This revenue generating program enables brands to engage customers post-purchase, build a community, and keep pre-owned products in circulation.
Your customers are no strangers to resale and secondhand shopping, especially now, as consumers are increasingly mindful of the environmental impact of their purchases. Forbes reported that the resale market is projected to reach $77 billion in the next 5 years (almost double what it is today) and 74% of people shop recommerce.
Numerous brands have already embraced resale into their loyalty strategy. Sustainability leader Mara Hoffman’s pre-loved marketplace allows shoppers to purchase curated pre-worn items directly from the brand’s website or list items directly from their purchase history for resale in exchange for store credit. More recently, Michael Kors launched their Pre-Loved marketplace that enables KORSVIPs to sell pre-owned bags on the Michael Kors website, and allows brand enthusiasts to shop iconic bags at a more attainable price point.
It’s no surprise that in our latest resale report, 75% of recommerce participants said they would be more loyal to brands with recommerce options.
The magic of brand-led resale is that with each transaction the brand wins twice: 47% of resale buyers will return within a month to shop with the brand again, and 70% of sellers spend their earned store credit within 30 days (at a 2.5x upsend!) All the while, enabling recommerce gives brands an opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to what their customers care about.
Recurate helps 50+ customers across North America, Europe and Australia achieve these benefits. We help brands quickly and easily launch fully integrated resale channels within their own ecommerce sites, and our internal experts help brands achieve long-term success.
Want to learn more about how brand-led resale programs build loyalty and attract new customers? Download Recurate’s Resale Report: Circular Fashion is Now and learn more about brands leveraging recommerce.
Leading With Your Brand Values Creates More Purposeful and Profitable Customer Relationships
In the era of purpose-driven commerce, socially conscious consumers are looking beyond the price tag and are making purchase decisions based on shared values. They’re willing to spend more if they know that some of the proceeds will benefit charity, and they’re even more likely to become loyal to a company who gives back.
But where do you start?
Enabling a giving strategy for your business during your busiest season of the year seems daunting, but starting with your brand values is an easy place to start. Your best customers are those who share your same values and by targeting these consumers through authentic value-alignment, you can build a community of loyal customers who will continue to choose your brand over others.
In leveraging your brand values, you can explore opportunities to create impactful partnerships with nonprofit organizations that are aligned with your values. If for example you are a women-owned business, supporting an organization that exists to empower women, like the Malala Fund, may be a good fit. Or if you are a CPG brand, supporting an organization that is fighting against hunger, like Feeding America, may make sense for you.
Once you’ve identified a cause or nonprofit organization that you want to support, you can begin planning your campaign. Here are some questions to consider:
- How long will this campaign run for?
- How are we going to support this organization?
- Charitable donations, volunteer hours, and advocacy are all great tactics!
- How can our customers get involved in this campaign?
To drive customer loyalty, you’ll want to ensure that your customers are not only aware of your giving campaign, but that there are opportunities for them to get involved as well. Being able to involve your customers in your giving strategy is a great way to create more memorable and engaging moments with them.
Afterall, brand loyalty isn’t built from offering the lowest prices or the best deals— it’s built from creating an emotional and engaging connection that resonates with your customers.
A powerful way to involve your customers in your giving strategy is to enable donations on purchases. With this tactic, any visitors to your website will be able to see how your brand is giving back up front. This has the power to create a more memorable shopping experience and can help motivate customers to convert, spend more, and come back again and again.
To learn more about how your business can build stronger customer loyalty this holiday season through authentic value-alignment, access the 2022 Holiday Guide for Giving and Brand Growth and get a complete guide to setting a holiday giving strategy.
With increased competition around the holiday season, having a strategy or an offering that helps your business stand out is crucial.
Whether you’re looking to drive charitable donations, enable more sustainable business practices, or leverage a resale strategy, sustainability and social impact are proven methods for creating customer loyalty and driving retention this holiday season.
This article was written by Chelsey Debalsi, Sr. Director of Marketing at The Stable, Part of Accenture Song; Jake Chatt, Head of Marketing at EcoCart; Miranda Palter, Partnerships Manager at Recurate; and Samantha De Hoyos, Digital Marketing Specialist at ShoppingGives.