Retailers know how important it is to drive customer engagement — a business's success depends on customer retention, growth and ultimately sales. As an entrepreneur and the owner of retail jewelry brand Blossom Box Jewelry, I understand first-hand how important — and often difficult — it is to develop sales and marketing plans and strategies that will resonate with a target audience and provide a competitive advantage over other brands. With markets becoming increasingly saturated, it's crucial to create key differentiators for a business to remain successful.
Throughout the year, I track customer e-commerce trends and online purchasing habits to identify ways to reach my customer base more effectively. That's the key to turning site browsers into paying customers: reaching shoppers the way they want to be reached, adapting business strategies to fit their needs, learning from their behaviors, and ultimately forming meaningful connections.
During my time as a business owner, I've uncovered (and continue uncovering on a recurring basis) tips and new tactics for driving engagement.
Use data insights to reach customers effectively
Leveraging customer data can help retail business owners track engagement, in turn identifying trends and purchasing preferences to help inform business strategy development. Building strategy around consumer trends, while remaining flexible enough to pivot as the landscape evolves, can significantly increase engagement. For example, by analyzing customer data, I've learned that consumers are increasingly purchasing via mobile versus desktop devices. With this in mind, I worked with my partner company to ensure my website had an easy-to-navigate, clean mobile interface—and I've seen an uptick in sales ever since.
Through data analysis I also learned that Blossom Box Jewelry customers respond well to organic, user-generated content such as unboxings and user videos. User-generated content helps customers feel like they're part of something bigger than themselves, as they see other customers enjoying the product and sharing their feedback and experiences. Awareness of this trend has led me to provide more opportunities for users to generate and post their content, for example by including hashtags and calls to action on product packaging. This interaction and these connections have also helped my brand become a community.
Build a community
Creating connections and generating user engagement can also help a brand become a community rather than just a company. Not only is this a way to increase customer engagement, but it's also key to standing out from businesses with similar product offerings. Smaller retailers should capitalize on their size to make direct connections and separate their company from big-box retailers. One specific tactic I've found particularly effective is sending thank-you notes or videos after a customer completes a purchase. Sending a personalized thank-you note is a great way to ensure customers feel acknowledged and appreciated and encourages future interaction.
Learn from customers
Sourcing feedback from customers and adjusting sales and marketing strategies and/or tactics accordingly also helps customers feel listened to and valued. Learning from customers can pave the wave to building meaningful connections—enabling consumers to play a role in how a brand conducts business and helping them feel like their feedback can make a direct impact. To learn from consumers on an ongoing basis, consider implementing a quarterly survey to identify customer preferences.
Conducting a survey can make a significant difference if relevant key learnings from survey results are incorporated into business practices. Find out from customers:
• What they like/dislike about the website and user experience.
• If the product purchasing journey is seamless.
• If they would buy from the company again and why or why not.
From there, businesses should use the insights gained directly from customers to upgrade a website, improve purchasing processes, and more.
Amplify and enhance web presence
Another way to build a loyal customer base is through constant, 1:1 interaction. Adding features like chatbots to a website creates an always-on business persona and provides customers with constant access to a brand. Leveraging services from my partner company, I implemented a chatbot to meet this customer preference and I've noticed a significant increase in engagement since adding the feature to my site.
Bearing this in mind, I recommend working with a trusted partner company to help with similar website enhancements and maintenance. I have worked with Yahoo Small Business for years to help grow my e-commerce platform and increase ROI. I've noticed that minor modifications—such as posting clearer images, leveraging images that tell a brand story, and removing whitespace — have made a huge difference in converting sales on my website.
Capitalizing on customer trends this spring
Moving into the new season, businesses should use data insights to reveal customer trends that drive more engagement. By increasing customer engagement, businesses can build a community with consumers and future customers. To maintain and deepen this connection with customers, provide opportunities for them to share feedback and use this feedback to adjust business practices. Enhancing web presence and making adjustments that improve the customer experience is also key to driving engagement. Implementing these tips and best practices this spring can help grow a business this season and throughout the year.