How Presto Music nurtured its first-party data to drive sales

The classical music store's strong interactive online community helped the business grow 25% year-on-year.

Presto Music is an e-commerce site for classical and jazz recordings, printed music, music books and musical instruments. Founded in 1986 as a small high-street shop, the business has since grown to become an online store accepting payment in 15 different currencies and shipping to over 200 countries worldwide.

During lockdown Presto Music saw a 25% growth in sales compared to the same period the year before. And while this is likely to be partly due to a number of behavioural factors that come from being stuck indoors, CEO Chris O’Reilly credits their first-party data and customer engagement strategy...

Sustained customer engagement

It’s taken a global pandemic and the widespread closure of physical retail stores for brands to fully appreciate how important it is to nurture their online community via creative and consistent customer engagement. E-commerce may have been around for a while, but 2020 taught us that customers who feel part of a brand’s online community are likely to stay loyal and invest more of their time and money.

Like many other e-commerce businesses, Presto Music was fortunate enough to have thrived during lockdown, having registered a 25% year-on-year growth in sales during April-September, 2020. While the sales growth can be attributed to an increase in online purchasing during the first national lockdown, it is worth noting that sustained customer engagement throughout this period also had a role to play.

Participatory experience

Setting up an online community is the equivalent of breaking down barriers and welcoming customers in and because of that, it needs to be done right. Once you open the gates to your online community, you need to give people a reason to want to stay - and what better way to retain your customers than by giving them something they want to be a part of?

For brands, having a platform where they can facilitate conversations with customers enables them to build valuable relationships, understand their customers' needs and stay ahead in the highly competitive retail market. One way Presto has invested in its online community is by generating a variety of tailored content designed to keep its users engaged. The content that’s published at routine intervals is tailored specifically to the interests of its users and includes reviews, news round-ups relating to jazz and classical music, or even interviews with prominent figures from the world of music.

Giving customers content they can engage with provides a solid foundation for building a loyal online community, because they are effectively being offered a participatory experience. By creating a social hub for safe customer interactions, e-commerce brands are able to assess consumer behaviour, extract key insights and use these to inform future strategies. It’s supposed to be a mutually beneficial relationship.

Direct engagement

You also never know what you might learn by engaging directly with your online community. Working in a relatively small niche, Presto Music not only facilitates positive interactions between itself and its customers, but it always listens to the feedback that it receives and focuses on those areas that are relevant to its audience. For example, the company recently launched its free mobile app, which enables its customers to listen to the music that they had purchased online with Presto.

The launch of the app is a direct result of the company listening to customer feedback. As a business whose e-commerce platform experienced significant growth over the past year, Presto has come to appreciate how important it is to develop a digital offering in line with our customers’ needs. As a result, launching an app that enables seamless streaming of Presto customers’ music library is yet another offering that will add significant value to the user experience, while also buying more customer loyalty in the process.

Instrumental in customer retention

Ultimately, customers are Presto’s key priority, which is why it is important to commit to having an inclusive and engaged community. Every brand can benefit from nurturing its community as this will prove instrumental in retaining customers and drive business by attracting new ones. 

As marketing influencer Neil Patel suggests, you should be authentic and not hide your ‘true selves’, communicate regularly with your customers and be clear about what your brand represents and how it differs from the competition. These techniques, among others, will help to maintain the sense of community that you have created.