How to keep digital customers loyal

How can marketers ensure brand loyalty in an increasingly disloyal shopping environment?

Claire Burgess, Director of Delivery at Incubeta, shares five top tips on user experience, harnessing personalised messaging and offering long term strategies.

The huge growth of ecommerce over the past few years has meant that more consumers now embrace a world of ease and convenience, and have access to a wider variety of products than they would find on the high street. In turn, having this vast digital world of retail at their fingertips has led to consumers being far more likely to leave behind brands they had been previously loyal to and, instead, seek out brands that offer more convenience or better value for money. 

This fragile loyalty is most prevalent among Gen Z consumers, who are comfortable flipping between brands that are failing to meet their demands around anything from convenience and delivery times, to diversity and sustainability. In fact, a study found that 60% of Gen Z consumers have changed their brand loyalties since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. 

So, brands are faced with an uphill struggle to keep consumers engaged in an increasingly disloyal shopping environment, but it’s not all doom and gloom, I can assure you. All it takes are some tweaks to your strategy, and you’ll be reaping the rewards of a loyal customer base, even in these tougher climates.

All about the experience

The user experience (UX) should be at the forefront of what you’re trying to achieve as a brand. Whether it’s online or in-store, the UX you’re offering consumers has to be your top priority. There is no point in investing in customer acquisition if you don’t have the foundations in place to keep those customers coming back. 

Your website should be treated in the same way as a physical retail space would be. The layout should be designed in a way that satisfies the consumer, encourages them to purchase, and leaves them wanting to come back. 

Not only should your site be optimised and the purchase journey be seamless, but you should ensure that you're giving consumers all the information they’re looking for about products, and your returns policy. It’s also worth investing in product recommendation tools to enhance the experience further by delivering an element of personalisation and relevance.

Payment accepted

The high-quality experience delivered must be carried through right to the very end of the user journey. So, the convenience offered to consumers on the payment screen is just as important as all the other elements on your platform.

Nowadays, consumers want the freedom to choose from a number of different payment options, and failing to provide all the options is likely to have consumers abandoning the items in their basket on the home stretch. 

Only having debit and credit card payment options simply isn’t enough. You should be looking to enable payments through avenues including Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, and offering ‘buy now, pay later’ through services such as Klarna or Clearpay.

Keeping up with the communications

There are now a number of different channels through which consumers can communicate with businesses. Beyond engaging with brands in bricks and mortar locations, there are websites, instant messaging apps, social media apps, Connected TV or email. 

Because all these channels exist, brands should aim to provide a united front and employ an omni-channel marketing strategy, connecting with consumers consistently and seamlessly across them. And all communications with the customer should be tailored to their needs. Remember: just one bad customer service experience could lose you a customer. 

Getting personal

To continue on the theme of personalisation, brands should be looking to personalise their messaging based on location, shopping and browsing habits at the very least. Make use of the first-party data that’s been provided to you by logged in users, and tie-in contextual data around things like time of day, the page people are currently viewing, and the weather. 

Keeping the experience personalised and relevant will go a long way toward building up loyalty, as the consumer will be able to see that your brand is working to cater directly to them. 

Rewarding loyalty

One of the tried and tested ways of keeping customers coming back in the physical space also works pretty well in the digital world: loyalty schemes. Reward programmes gamify the shopping experience, and make the customer feel their purchases are actually worth something. 

Along similar lines, you could also consider offering consumers a subscription tier, where they receive perks such as free next day delivery on orders and exclusive discounts for a monthly fee.

Both of these options have the added benefit of helping you to gain first-party data from consumers and use this to improve all the other customer-centric areas of your business.

Stay with me

Despite brands being faced with an even tougher task of maintaining consumer loyalty, there are still several things that can be done to encourage repeat custom, even in this disloyal shopping environment. 

The key is showing the consumer that you value them, and their custom. A high-quality, personalised, relevant experience will, ultimately, help you to grow a loyal customer base, and mean long-term success for your business.

By Claire Burgess

Director of Delivery