In a world where Amazon controls nearly half of all ecommerce spending, you need more than just a solid product to stand out. A couple of years ago I would have said a rewards program is all you need to get a leg up on your competition, but that’s no longer the case. The truth is most businesses have already implemented some sort of retention strategy, which means you need to go one step further.
In order to truly stand out you need to integrate your rewards program into other areas of your site, treating your customers to an immersive and emotional brand experience. Here are the three areas you need to focus on to truly differentiate yourself (and your rewards program!) from your competitors.
Build emotional connections with value-add marketing
Value-add marketing is an excellent way for ecommerce businesses to build emotional relationships with their customers. By moving past simply trying to sell your product, value-add marketing focuses on creating content that is both helpful and informative. Through things like webinars, blog posts, and tutorials, you demonstrate to your customers that you’re committed to helping them improve their experience outside the context of making a sale. This establishes a sense of trust that acts as the foundation for a long-lasting loyal relationship to your brand.
Value-add marketing also allows you to assert yourself as a leading expert in your industry. Backing up your expertise with free resources translates to your customers feeling like you truly care about them. When your customers feel you care it creates a powerful emotional bond that acts as a switching barrier, insulating you from your customers leaving for your competition.
A company that does an excellent job of this is Muscle & Strength, who supplement their fitness industry products with content that enriches their customers’ entire lifestyle. From video tutorials to blog posts, they create content that’s aimed at their target audience, serving a dual purpose as an excellent source of information for their customers as well as a great way to deepen their connections with customers outside the checkout process.
By sharing exciting new content on a regular basis, they further establish their expertise as health and fitness leaders while also delivering more than their customers expect.
How to apply rewards to value-add marketing
You can easily take your content creation and value-add marketing strategy to the next level with your rewards program. Whether it’s rewarding a customer for sharing a blog post, or giving points for customers who follow your Instagram account, there’s many ways to appreciate the customers who interact with your content.
A great example of a company doing this is Run Gum, who gives rewards points to customers who show up to their webinars. Now in addition to getting valuable information, their customers are getting rewarded. It’s a win-win!
Offering incentives for completing these actions transforms your customer experience from being focused on purchases to a wider range of engagement, promoting a community mindset your customers will love.
Deliver exceptional customer service
91% of customers who have had a bad customer experience won’t do business with your brand again. What’s even more alarming is the fact that an upset customer will tell an average of 16 friends about their poor customer experience! Clearly it’s important to delight your customers every time you interact with them, and customer service has the greatest impact.
Providing excellent customer service humanizes your brand and builds the emotional foundation needed to sustain a long term relationship with your customers. It’s these emotional experiences that really set you apart from your competition.
How you provide this exceptional service is different for every business. It could mean offering free returns to customers who aren’t totally in love with your product or having 24/7 support on your website ready to answer any customer questions. All that matters is that your customers feel cared for! If customers feel that you offer a more personal, caring purchase experience than your competitors, they’ll return to shop with your brand time and time again.
How to combine customer service with rewards
To make sure that your business is offering truly exceptional customer service and products, why not ask your customers for feedback? A quick survey or email asking shoppers about their experience is a great way to receive direct feedback, and offering an incentive like points is a great way to make sure every interaction ends positively.
Using one of Smile’s many email and review apps, it couldn’t be easier! Frostbeard Studio invites customers to share their product reviews in post-purchase emails like the one above and lets customers know they can earn rewards for it in their rewards panel.
Rewarding customers with points for reviews is a simple yet effective way of elevating your customer service. By gathering reviews on your products, you enrich the quality of your product information for new customers. New shoppers can now see the honest opinions of past customers, making their purchase decision less stressful. These reviews also help you understand how you can improve your business, giving you the feedback you need to continuously delight your customers.
Create a beautiful experience
An easy way to make customers feel like they’re getting a superior customer experience is by making sure it’s beautiful. Everything from the product photos you choose to how your store is designed will play into how excited customers get about your products. As a result, you need to make sure you’re showing off your brand in an appealing way.
When you take the time to craft and deliver a beautiful experience, your customers will start to associate feelings of luxury and professionalism with your brand. These feelings translate to a more enjoyable, satisfying purchase experience and allow you to stand out from competitors that focus solely on low prices and aggressive acquisition marketing.
A company that does an exceptional job of creating a beautiful experience is e.l.f. Cosmetics. No matter where you are on their website, you’re treated to the same elegant yet fun feel with rich metallic colors and bold contrast. These small details have a powerful impact on the immersive quality of their entire customer experience, connecting the beauty of their store to the quality of their products.
Extending your beautiful experience with rewards
e.l.f. Cosmetics’ beautiful brand experience doesn’t stop with their product pages — it also extends to their rewards program! With a beautiful explainer page, e.l.f. Is able to seamlessly integrate rewards into their larger online experience. This lets their customers know that their rewards program is a main focus of their business and not just an afterthought.
This seamless brand experience continues in e.l.f.’s rewards panel. They’ve customized it impressively with brand colors and images, treating customers to a beautiful experience that perfectly matches the rest of their website and explainer page. This attention to detail and consistency is what really elevates e.l.f.’s program to the next level.
By making it clear that rewarding their customers is a core value of their brand community, they make it possible for their overall experience to stand head and shoulders above their competition.
Standing out starts with building a relationship
When you focus on establishing emotional relationships with every customer you differentiate yourself from competitors who are focused on trying to retain one-time shoppers. By building a rewards program that extends to all areas of your business, you can create a brand experience that your competitors simply can’t match. These exceptional experiences are what will ensure your customers are loyal to you for years to come, making your brand experience the one everyone else measures theirs against.