The relationship you have with customers plays an integral part in your ecommerce marketing efforts. From human-centred marketing to various other strategies designed to put the customer first, it’s all about improving the customer journey. One thing that can have a major impact on how deeply you connect to your current and future customers is customer intimacy.
In essence, customer intimacy is a step above customer-centric approaches. It puts a big focus not only on personalisation and targeting but also on the prioritisation of your customers’ needs. It takes loyalty to a new level by being proactive and understanding your customers on a deeper level. Needless to say, there is a fine line between building intimacy and making customers feel uncomfortable. The goal of this approach is to build a strong sense of loyalty, resulting in advocacy, trust and reputation. There are a few ways that you can use intimacy within your ecommerce marketing strategy.
Creating Intimacy in Your Ecommerce Marketing Strategies
To increase customer intimacy across your ecommerce marketing campaigns, here are a few things to keep top of mind.
Empathy means seeing your customer as a real person, with real concerns and real needs to meet. All too often, it’s easy to start seeing customers as numbers or targets instead of people. When you stop recognising the fact that you are selling to people, there is a risk of losing empathy. The first step in customer intimacy is to plan ecommerce marketing campaigns that are rooted in empathy. This means identifying the problems your customers face, the challenges they may face and anything else that affects the way that they shop online. Once you start recognising the fact that customers have their own stories and problems, you will be able to produce campaigns designed to meet these needs. For example, you could create specific segments for common challenges faced by your customers. If you have a health food store, you might have some customers who are concerned about IBS and other disorders. These customers avoid gluten and might be looking for gluten-free products. You could create campaigns targeted at these customers. You could also go one step further and provide helpful tips and resources for these customers. Gluten-free meal ideas, gluten alternatives or any other content that adds real value.
If your store does not already have customer-centric policies in place, now is the time to get some implemented. Trust and customer intimacy go hand in hand. Customers will not trust you until they know that you genuinely have their best interests at heart. Policies that are geared towards you as a store rather than your customers will not build trusts. This could mean making changes that might seem to put your online store at a disadvantage. For instance, policies on returns and exchanges could include no-obligation returns within a shorter time frame than 14 to 30 days. Policies on shipping could include no delivery fee, regardless of order size. You could include very strict policies on customer support that prevents long call centre queues, ineffective chatbots or USSD or other contact measures that make it harder for customers to get help quickly. You could have policies on order issues or any other problems that customers experience. You could have policies that fast-track complaints.
Meaningful virtual events
Ecommerce marketing is a multi-channel approach that incorporates many channels. One channel that is growing rapidly is live video events and video conferencing. Hosting virtual events that are meaningful, fun and rewarding to your customers is a great way to build intimacy. Facebook watch parties are a great example. As events are held in real-time, audience participation is high. Interactive events give customers the chance to feel noticed. Some ideas for virtual events include competitions based on loyalty campaigns, featured product reviews, customer of the month highlights to recognise high-value shoppers, new product announcements, just-for-fun events such as quiz nights, coffee break chats or anything else that creates a sense of community and engagement. Hype can be built for these events across social media, email, SMS and numerous other channels. Regular events give customers to look forward to and encourage word of mouth marketing. When the events add real meaning and value, rather than simply promoting products, you will greatly increase relationships.
Social media listening
While we’re on the topic of social media, you must listen to your customers online. This means actively participating in conversations. It means reading and responding to comments, not with automated or copy-and-pasted replies but real replies from real people. It also means tracking brand mentions on other pages and groups where possible. You want to know what customers are saying about your store. Being unaware of possible issues is a big risk that you don’t want to take. As we have seen time and time again, it takes very little for small complaints to blow up and become major social media disasters. Listening means paying attention. It also means being proactive. Small things such as mentions or comments on positive posts about your store have a big impact. Likewise, being in tune with your brand’s voice, style and target audience can also have an impact. Tone-deaf marketing is never going to increase intimacy. Finding the right tone for the conversation you are having will have far better results, on the other hand.
Customer journey mapping
The customer journey is easily the thing that ties into all areas of ecommerce marketing. The journey begins from the second a new customer arrives on your online store – via lead generation funnel, social media post or any other channel. The initial stage is all about making an instant impression. You want the customer to have the best possible experience throughout the shopping process. You want the customer to make that sale without any problems, have an excellent after-sales experience and end up very happy with their purchase. You want that customer to come back again, too. The following stages are about bringing customers back. Customer retention is far more effective for long-term growth than customer acquisition. For customer intimacy, it is your repeat customers that you want to reach. The most critical stage of the journey is creating brand advocates. These are your super customers. They come back again and again. They tell their friends and family and sing your praises online. Every stage of the journey is important. Mapping the journey of each customer is the best way to identify potential issues and opportunities. You may notice that the customer shops a few times, never to return. You may notice that super customers suddenly stop shopping as often. Understanding each stage and mapping the journey as a whole will help you create ecommerce marketing campaigns that reach customers at the right time, in the right way.
Customer Intimacy in Ecommerce Marketing
The ecommerce space is highly competitive. Customers today have come to expect personalised offers and exceptional service. The bar is set much higher than it was even a few years ago. Now, your store has to go beyond the basics. Creating a sense of intimacy is an effective way to go over and beyond. Building authentic bonds with your customer that is based on their needs rather than yours is key. With the right ecommerce marketing strategies and a constant focus on your customer, building that bond does not have to be a challenge.