Creating loyal customers

Getting customers is step one, but keeping these customers really is a totally different ball game. You may annoy people with too many newsletters, or spend too little time on social media engaging to them. There’s more than one reason your once so good customer might abandon your ship to go shop elsewhere.

Engagement, and creating loyal customers, is a part of eCommerce optimization that is easily overlooked or even forgotten. And it really shouldn’t be. It’s a lot harder to convince people to buy your products for the first time than it is to welcome them back for a second purchase.

In this post, we’ll go over the question “how to get people who have already bought something from you to buy something again?” In other words, how do you create loyal customers?

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Keep in touch

The first thing you have to do to make sure people will keep buying your products, even after they’ve already bought one (or a few) is to let them know you’re still alive. The best way to do this is simply to actively engage with past customers. Most online shops will have a lot going on at any time, so all they have to do is to show what they’re doing. A very easy way to do this is by maintaining a blog. Launching a new product? Let your audience know in a blog post. Did you change any product features? Let your customers know! Tell them about anything you’re currently busy with.

The best thing is, these posts will also allow you to become more active on other platforms than your website as well. You can share your news on social media. And you can also feature that blog post in your weekly newsletter. So in one easy go, not just your website, but also your social media and your newsletter have become more active.

By being so active, you’ll be in the forefront of people’s mind! It’s why we keep sharing news and knowledge on an almost daily basis, via our blog and platforms like Facebook and our newsletter. This will generate traffic and sales from the audience you love most: your loyal customers.

The one example that immediately comes to mind is the release of our first eBook back in 2014. We launched a new product and promoted that via our default promotional channels:

  • Our SEO blog;
  • Twitter;
  • Facebook;
  • and our newsletter

Sales for the eBook skyrocketed the first days after release. People that knew us from our plugins and consultancy, wanted to know what else we could do for them. They knew we were good for insightful information.

There might be an extra effect here, we realized later. As we give loads of that knowledge, as well as our Yoast SEO for WordPress plugin, away for free. We’ve had quite the number of people telling they were glad to be able to purchase the eBook, to support the development of the plugin. Thank you for that.

Similar things happen after a software release by the way. We see spikes in traffic and sales after a release. The plugin directory is in this case, not per se deliberately, another channel for us to keep in touch. Our 3.3 release of June is a nice example of that:

Release spike

Have great support

Customer experience is probably one of the main reasons (next to your product, obviously) that your customers keep buying from you. Support is an important aspect of that customer experience. If you want people to keep coming back, make sure you give them the support they deserve. Happy customers are loyal customers. Loyalty translates into more revenue for your business, with 7 out of 10 Americans willing to spend about 13% more, if they believe your customer service is top notch (American Express press release, 2011). Of course, for Dutch people this is probably about half that, but that’s because we’re cheap.

If you search the internet, you’ll find a variety of opinions on how to create the best customer service possible. In our opinion, a couple of things matter for sure:

  • Relate to the customer’s problem and guide him towards a solution. Keep him in the loop and be honest about your findings.
  • The goal should be to answer any ticket within 24 hours or less. At Yoast, our support system (HelpScout) shows that almost half of our support is actually answered by a member of our global support team within the hour.
  • Have a clear refund policy. If you’re not able to solve the issue with your customer to your own satisfaction, and this kills the user experience of the customer, a refund might ‘solve’ the issue. It’s better to lose that customer (but maintain a happy relationship) than to maintain an angry customer.
  • One extra thing we are working on is a clear overview of all the licenses a customer has for the customer. We all know how frustrating it can be to find that one license or license key in your archived email messages. As mentioned, we are working on that and really feel this will improve both the support and the customer experience.

Perks of being a customer

A third way to create (more) loyal customers is reciprocity. First of all, let me explain what reciprocity actually is. Simply put, reciprocity means you repay kind actions with kind actions (obviously the word ‘kind’ can be replaced by a less positive word). It’s a construct from the social psychology that actually plays a big role in all of our daily lives.

By using reciprocity, you’ll make your loyal customers feel special. And apart from that, they actually do get something out of it. They’ll feel valued for being your customer. At Yoast, we’ve been doing this by for instance giving our newsletter subscribers or Facebook followers specials deals or discounts.

You can do this even more targeted if you have a online shop where people have to create accounts. You can specifically target the people that have bought multiple items in the past 2 weeks, for instance. Or you can target especially those people that haven’t bought an item in a while, trying to get them active within your company again. My first response was to go for the second one, but that would have been a mistake, as mentioned at the beginning of this post. Loyal customers are just way more important, and way more lucrative. In fact, this 2013 article mentions 80% of your future profit will come from just 20% of your customers. After reading this post, I’m sure you can see where these numbers are coming from.

Start valuing your loyal customers!

The point we’re trying to make in this article is that you shouldn’t just focus on how to get your next new visitors and customers. You should also think about how you can make your current customers more loyal. How you can make sure they love your products even more. Just by doing that, you’ll probably even see they’ll generate a lot of new traffic and customers all by themselves.

Now doesn’t that sound awesome?

Read more: ‘The basics of email marketing’ »