We can’t believe we have reached Part 3 of our Black Friday holiday series already. In Part 1, we talked about how to optimise your mobile website, and in Part 2, how to check the performance of your website is up to scratch. In this post, we want to talk to you about how to develop customer loyalty among your holiday season online shoppers.

You know when relatives come to stay over the holiday season, and you can’t wait for New Years to roll round so you can kick them out? Well, it’s the opposite with visitors to your eCommerce site. You want them to stay, bring their friends and family and make themselves at home.

One of the wonderful things about Black Friday is that it can introduce you to a whole new audience as well as help you to retain existing customers.

1. Referral marketing

It can be a difficult task for online merchants to build customer loyalty from behind a website. However, taking part in Black Friday sales gives you the chance to harness goodwill and turn bargain-hunters into long-term fans of your brand; if you do it right.

If you haven’t given serious thought to running a referral marketing campaign before, consider this, research from Accenture shows that members of a loyalty program typically spend 12–18 percent more than regular customers.

How does it work?

Target existing shoppers with referral marketing; develop exclusive offers for your most valuable customers and give them something exclusive if they share an offer with their friends around Black Friday. For instance, offer percentage-based or Pound/Euro specific discounts if they successfully refer a friend.

Farfetched Customer Loyalty

Wondering when to do this? Harvard Business Review report that the right time to win with this type of marketing campaign is the time between when a customer clicks “buy” and when their product arrives. This is the time when customers are most excited about their purchase making it the perfect time to ask them to refer!

Referral marketing presents a valuable opportunity to target new customers and allows you to strengthen your bond with existing customers.

2. Coupon codes

Once typically considered American, coupons have increasingly grown in popularity with Irish and UK audiences. Consumers are now actively searching for coupon codes online and securing one can mean the difference between completing and abandoning a purchase.

How does it work?

There are so many clever ways to increase conversion and recoup losses from abandoned carts with coupons:

Abandoned cart coupons

Shopping cart abandonment is a major issue for retailers but abandonment emails can be a powerful way to tempt indecisive customers back. Many retailers will send an email a day or two after a shopping cart has been abandoned, and offer a percentage discount as an incentive to complete an order.

Offers for liking, following and sharing on social

One of the hardest parts of running a new online store is getting the word out about your brand. Giving your customers an incentive to pass on your details with their social circles can be an effective way to get the word around for a relatively low cost.

First-Time Shopper Offer

Give those first-time shoppers something to smile about with a one-time, first time only percentage or value discount.

4. Card Storage for 1-click payments

The easier it is to buy something, the more likely we are to buy it, right? Ever heard a song on the radio and just instantly downloaded it using iTunes? Would you have made the purchase if you had to log in to your account, dig out your wallet, find your card, enter your card details and then click ‘Pay now’? Probably, unlikely.

The idea of having one-click payments is to make online shopping as quick and easy as possible. Payments in just one click of a button.

How does it work?

During the first purchase, a customer will enter a card number, name and expiration date as well as CVV2 number. The customer can then opt to store these details for future purchases. Card details are securely tokenised (making them useless to attackers) and customers can have multiple card tokens stored under one account.

Hosted Recurring Payment Checkout

With merchants who use Realex Payments Hosted Payment Page, customers are given the option to save their card details for future purchases. All the customer will need to do is tick the relevant box. Merchants will never see the full card details, meaning no additional PCI concerns.

So, the next time a customer opts to buy in your online store, they can select a stored card by viewing the last 4 digits of the credit card or choose to pay with another card.

There’s no limit to the number of cards that can be stored and customers can also manage their card details by editing the expiration date or deleting the card.And that’s it…secure payments with just one click!

3. Guest checkout – create account after checkout

It makes sense to get customers to create an account with your store. It allows you access to their email address meaning you can re-target them in the future with personalised email marketing campaigns. However, forcing users to register their details before allowing them to checkout is a barrier that can significantly lower your conversion rate.

On the other hand, a guest checkout also presents problems; orders can be difficult to review, modify or track, reordering items is more difficult, and building customer satisfaction and loyalty becomes increasingly difficult.

With guest checkouts, email addresses can only be used for shipping notifications and not for marketing. This makes it incredibly difficult to send customers information on upcoming offers, and product news or to illicit valuable customer feedback.

You need to strike a balance between alienating prospective customers and losing out on potential returning customers.

How does it work?

Online merchants shouldn’t have to choose between a complete guest checkout experience or a customer account. Instead, when enabling guest checkout, give customers the option to register for an account immediately after checkout. By doing this, their contact information and billing details are already stored, meaning customers will simply have to create a password.

Another option is to allow customers to register during the checkout process; presenting optional fields for the user to enter a password. This option puts the customer in control and allows them to decide whether it is worthwhile to register or not.

There’s a lot of debate around whether the holiday season presents online retailers with realistic opportunities to foster customer loyalty and boost returning customers. However, as we’ve demonstrated above, giving your customers an incentive to return is the smart way to get the most out of Black Friday weekend.

Focusing on holiday traffic alone won’t build long-term customer loyalty. And, it can have a detrimental effect on your business, where potential customers hold off buying from you, knowing they’ll pick up a last minute bargain.

Instead, look at the holidays as part of a wider strategy and what the long-term value of a customer is. Oh, and it goes without saying, that if you want loyal customers who return again and again, you need to wow them with your customer service.

Great discounts and good value won’t matter if they’ve received a sub-standard customer service experience. Lastly, don’t be afraid to shout about your great customer reviews- put them where your customers can see them!

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