Building Emotional Relationships With Your Customers

Jun 29, 2018

In the recent 2018 Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends report which we wrote about here, Meeker made us aware that it’s becoming more expensive to acquire new customers through digital advertising.

Rising costs have caused organizations and retail businesses to look for more meaningful ad engagement metrics beyond pure reach, impressions, and clicks. Companies are looking at more long-term metrics like Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). 27% of respondents globally consider CLV to be an important ad spending and optimization metric.

Source: Internet Trends 2018

Focusing on Customer Lifetime Value and customer retention should be a long-term goal for any eCommerce shop. But when exactly should you make a shift towards customer retention? Shopify has the answer.

Source: Shopify

This diagram by Shopify shows more established shops with a solid customer base should also think of ways they can divert some of their efforts and budgets from customer acquisition to customer retention.

In a world where purely focusing on customer acquisition alone is not a sustainable long-term strategy, how can retailers respond to these trends?

To answer this, we want to look at the two types of relationships a customer can have with your brand.

  1. Transactional: When customers care more about price and speed of delivery than the actual shopping experience.

  2. Emotional: When customers form a deeper relationship with your brand; going beyond thinking about price and speed to care about a brand beyond the price and/or convenience.

In Shopify’s analysis of profitable, sustainable eCommerce businesses, they found webshops with more customers experiencing an ‘emotional’ relationship with them increased repeat purchases by 80% and customer retention by 58%.

Why do people with emotional relationships with your brand engage more and become long-lasting customers?

People do business with people they know, like and trust.

Why do people buy more from brands they love?

One famous example would be the buzz generated by Apple on the launch of a new iPhone or Apple products, with long snaking lines forming outsides stores and people famously queuing overnight, even flying in overnight to queue before new products are launched.

Indeed, Apple is just one of the many examples of brands that have mastered the emotional relationship as a brand to their customers. It works because 95% of our purchasing decisions take place unconsciously. But we use logic to make up reasons to justify unconscious decisions.

How then, do you get your customers on Shopify stores and elsewhere to go beyond a purely transactional relationship and form a deeper connection with your brand? You need to provide an experience for your customer that creates the desired emotion for them to engage further.

In this article, we outline 3 ways you can do this:

#1: Define a clear brand story

Storytelling isn’t just for fiction writers, novelists, and movies.

In the book Significant Objects, authors Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn found attaching stories to ordinary, thrift store items made them sell more frequently. Buyers were also willing to pay more for items with clear, emotive stories.

What can we learn from this?

As a Shopify shop, you may not have a physical storefront. But you have photos, videos, site design, and copywriting to help showcase your company’s personality and tell your brand’s story. Research from Kissmetrics shows the more honest and transparent you are in telling your brand’s story on Shopify, the more trustworthy and relatable your brand will appear to customers.

  • What is the purpose of your brand?

  • Why do you do what you do?

  • How did you get to where you are now?

These are all valuable questions you can start with to craft a relatable brand’s story, then use your Shopify site’s media and theme’s real estate to help you tell your story. If you want to craft a strong, cohesive customer experience, you need to know what story you’re planning to tell.

#2: Work on building trust with your customers

Emotion has become the top driver of a great customer experience. In a survey done with customers and retailers by InMoment, customer satisfaction ranked as the most important emotion to create a positive brand experience with 38% of consumers and 26% of businesses saying it is important.

Below are some verbatim comments from InMoment’s study from consumers on what made a customer experience positive.

“They had what I was looking for.” — Danish consumer

“I am satisfied with doing what I came to do.” — Spanish consumer

“I could actually get the advertised sale item without any pressure to upgrade.” —Canadian consumer

Ranking significantly further behind was feeling safe and reassured at 14% and feeling relaxed at 11%

You build brand loyalty by giving customers the feeling that they are important to you. How can you communicate that feeling?

  • Use language they connect with

  • Listen with empathy when your customers speak to you. Be responsive and human when they come to you with issues and make them feel like they matter

  • Lastly and perhaps most importantly, focus on delivering what you promise them.  Consumers are both happy and loyal when brands simply deliver on what consumers feel they’ve been promised

#3: Deliver personalized customer support throughout the customer journey

Other surprising findings from the InMoment study – consumers in every country ranked personalized support as their first priority.

What does that look like?

“When you reach out for help, the associate and/or the self-service channels already know who you are (name, status, loyalty, VIP, etc.) and demonstrates a strong knowledge of your recent interactions.”

The desire for personalization also extended to purchase support – defined as “The staff and/or digital applications know me and my needs, have expertise in what they are selling and make helpful recommendations on additional items and how to use the products or services.”

The lessons are simple, yet startling. Customers want brands to know:

  • Who and where they are

  • What they are experiencing throughout the buying process

  • How to offer relevant assistance at any point

“Was recommended a new product that I had not used before. As a result, it became a regular product that I now buy. If I had not received the recommendation, I would not have tried it.”  — Norwegian consumer”

Therefore, customers appreciate well-targeted offers that add value to their experience and don’t feel like another generic upsell.

In Conclusion

For established eCommerce businesses, customer acquisition efforts are becoming more expensive. Start looking at how you can work on a sustainable customer retention strategy that can boost your webshop’s Customer Lifetime Value and turn one-off customers into customers who care deeply about your brand.

Start now, and you can stand heads and shoulders above your competition.

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