Customer loyalty is tough to achieve in the online world: shopping around and exploring alternatives to what you’re offering can take just seconds. In this month’s article we look at five ways to build a strong online connection with your customer – after all, there is no simpler business than repeat business!

1. Personalise your message

People like to be recognised or made to feel special, and your customers are no exception. As they scroll through hundreds of emails, your business has a split second to capture their attention by addressing their needs, or your email will simply go in the bin and they won’t visit your website. Create a personalised workflow that allows you to celebrate their birthday and off er other personalised messages based on their data: track their behaviour, such as where they clicked and what pages they visited. This can be achieved using customer relationship management (CRM) software. There are many packages out there for you to research, and most offer free trials.

2. Align yourself with your customer and their values

Researchers Freeman, Spenner and Bird reported that 64% of people in their study stated shared values as the primary reason for them having a relationship with a particular brand – people are attracted to businesses who share the same values and beliefs as them. Build your website, your brand and your strategy around your customers. It’s about creating a marriage, not a short-term relationship.

3. Reward loyalty

Loyalty schemes are an effective, proactive way to ensure customers keep coming back to your website for more. They don’t need to shop around when you are offering them special savings. Customers are more likely to pick a website with loyalty schemes than those without, so encourage repeat orders by building offers around ‘topping up’, offer incentives such as free delivery, and create specific discount codes. They’ll all help improve your online retention rate.

4. A simple thank you goes a long way

The simplest but often most overlooked page on your website is the ‘thank you for placing an order or enquiring’ page. A quality, heart-felt thank you goes a long way to increasing loyalty. Show genuine gratitude and appreciation to customers when they place an order with you. You would thank them if they popped in store, so make sure your website does the same. Customers appreciate being appreciated.

5. Build a social rapport

Building a connection does not stop once the customer has placed an order or enquired about a product. Part of your online strategy should see you build up a social media connection with your customers and create a rapport: engage with customers as you would with a friend. Share your latest news, products, special discount codes, anything – providing the personalised touch with a following is a way of combining all the previous four points. This will continue to grow your following, your infl uence and your social status, and encourage both existing and new orders.

Andrew Langridge is from eTrader, one of the industry’s leading suppliers of websites to garment decorators across the UK.