The shift to ecommerce has made shopping and interacting with brands easier than ever for today’s consumers. But with that shift to digital comes more of a disconnect between the humans involved in brands and their customer base.
We’ve lost the in-person communication and interaction element of shopping – the human connection.
In brick-and-mortar stores, maintaining human interaction is simple and straightforward. You cater to your customers when they’re physically in your store, helping them feel connected to the brand and increasing the likelihood they’ll return.
Ecommerce needs to be the same. While it may be more challenging to build relationships with your customers online, it could be the edge you need in an increasingly competitive market.
One of the best ways to connect with customers is through social media. In fact, customers look for brands they support on social media because of the direct connection they can have with them.
If your social media is one-sided, you’re missing out on an opportunity to nurture these relationships. Engage with your audience on social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Whether you have a few hours a week or time to interact every day, it’s important to create a consistent schedule and stick to it. Respond to comments, answer questions, and generally interact with your customers. If you spend one day talking to everyone, then disappear for a week, your customers will be left wondering what happened.
Cosmetics brand Temptu uses Pixlee TurnTo to monitor brand-related user-generated content (UGC) shared on social media by fans and engage with their posts regularly.
Analytics can help with your schedule. Major platforms have analytics that will show you the times that generate the highest engagement levels, and you can build your schedule around this. Make sure you monitor your posts and page for likes, comments, and reactions to stay abreast of the conversation around your brand.
If you’re an owner or sole entrepreneur, making time for social media can be difficult with all your other responsibilities. If you have the budget, it may be best to hire a social media specialist or manager. Check out some of the top social media tools that can help you scale this initiative.
2. Post-Purchase Nurturing
Many businesses stop interacting with customers after the purchase. This stage is an essential part of customer loyalty and retention, however. You have an opportunity to earn the customer’s appreciation and help them with post-purchase questions or concerns. And, if you can create a positive experience after the purchase is complete, you’re more likely to get word-of-mouth referrals.
When a customer purchases a new or unique product, follow up with them to make sure they’re happy with their purchase and thank them for giving you business. Customers like to feel acknowledged and appreciated. This is also an opportunity to attend to dissatisfied customers and make the situation right before it ends up in a negative review online.
Take post-purchase nurturing to the next level by featuring Social UGC gallery of customer looks, and invite customers to leave a review directly within your followup emails. Tilly’s powers a Ratings & Review widget alongside a UGC gallery via Pixlee TurnTo.
3. Human-Based Customer Support
Customer service needs to be exceptional in a competitive market. This is how you build relationships with customers and show them that you value their business.
Live chat services are an easy way to allow customers to get in touch with support and speak to a real person. Live chat also has minimal wait times and is more convenient for customers to use than a phone call or chatbots, which may not be able to address their specific problems.
With live chat, a picture of the representative and their name can go a long way toward humanizing the experience and showing them that there is a real person on the other side of the keyboard.
If you do use chatbots, make sure your pre-written responses are conversational and natural to humanize your brand and keep the correspondence friendly. Consider FAQs or common problems customers may have, and use that to inform your scripts. Also, make sure that customers have an easy solution to speak to a real person.
You can also help customers with self-service options like an FAQ page, knowledge bases, and customer forums. Be sure to have someone monitoring the customer forums to step in if there’s a problem that they can solve.
4. Influencer Marketing
People inherently trust other people more than they trust brands, so working with ambassadors or social media influencers can be a great way to humanize your ecommerce brand. Whether on your website, reshared on your brand’s social channels, or in-email, influencer-powered content has the potential to attract new community members and drive revenue.
Influencers are often experts in their niche, building engaged communities of followers on the social platforms of their choice. Explore how you can discover and manage influencer content with an influencer marketing platform, and create a strategy that aligns with both your brand’s and the influencer’s goals.
Levain Bakery combines Pixlee TurnTo-powered UGC with influencer posts on its Instagram feed, often featuring this content on-site and in emails.
Personalize the subject line and the name to start. You should also use any information you’ve gathered about your customer to personalize your emails with birthday messages, suggested products, subscription renewal reminders, and other specific information.
Automation can be an excellent tool to help you save time with your email campaigns, but don’t rely on it for every interaction. If you have time to write some manual emails, your customers are likely to notice and appreciate the effort. If you’re featuring UGC in your emails, consider using a platform like Pixlee TurnTo that allows you to customize the types of content you send to different consumers.
6. Customer Loyalty Programs
Customer loyalty programs are immensely effective for nurturing customer loyalty and showing customers that they’re valued. A customer loyalty program is an approach to marketing that recognizes and rewards customers who purchase or engage with a brand on a recurring basis.
They may be rewards with points, perks, or discounts, and customers get upgrades to higher levels based on how much they buy. These benefits and incentives can help a customer become more regular, and it may even lead to them becoming an avid brand promoter.
The benefits and perks you provide depend on the nature of your business. Consider options like free merchandise, rewards, coupons, or insider perks like early access to products. This strategy doesn’t have to be expensive – this small gesture means a lot to the customer, but it’s not a huge dent in the budget. It also generates multiples in return.
One important element of the customer loyalty program is rewarding milestones. Offer incentives for birthdays or the anniversary of a purchase, such as a free gift or a percentage discount on the next purchase. This combines the incentive and the personalization that’s so powerful with customers.
Through customer loyalty programs, you have the opportunity to discover your most passionate customers and turn them into advocates for your brand. You can even utilize them as brand ambassadors, using their own social media channels to promote your brand and products.
Storytelling is ingrained in human culture and our experiences. Throughout history, storytelling has been used to share experiences, impart lessons, pass on traditions and customs, and entertain the masses.
It’s also important for humanizing your brand. Many businesses don’t understand the power of a compelling story, but it’s essential to building connections with your customers and keeping them interested in what you have to say.
Start with your About Us page. This is an opportunity to show customers the people behind your business. Discuss the reason you started your business, why you care about certain causes, and what you’re doing to support them.
You should also talk about your team. Use pictures and short bios to introduce customers to the team and show that you not only value your customers, but the people who make your business possible. This doesn’t have to be limited to people’s qualifications and their role at your company – don’t be afraid to get personal and discuss the causes that drive your employees and their passions.
With Pixlee TurnTo, Puma created a shoppable gallery of staff picks, tagging products to team members’ photos to humanize the online shopping experience.
Storytelling should extend beyond just your website, however. Use elements of storytelling in your content and marketing messaging to make an impact. Videos, product demos, employee highlights, and behind-the-scenes content can go a long way to showing your customers who you are as a brand.
For example, sharing details about an upcoming event or company project or writing an opinion piece that showcases the nuances of your industry are good stories to share with your customers. These don’t immediately scream “sales” and simply show your passion, allowing customers to become more invested in your business.
Bring the Human Element into Your Business
The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changed business and customer behaviors. With that, people have realized how important it is to maintain a connection with other human beings, whether friends, family, or brands. To succeed, brands need to showcase their human side in the digital space and drive an emotional connection with personalization, storytelling, live support, and limited use of technology.
Kyle Johnston is a Founding Partner and President of award winning brand, creative agency & content creation studio, Gigasavvy. After spending the last 20+ years in Southern California, Kyle recently moved his family to Boise, ID where he continues to lead the agency through their next phase of growth
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