Who Do You Bookmark? Building Loyalty on the Web

Spend just a few minutes surfing the Web, and you’ll discover something you’ve never seen – so what is it that brings people back to their favorite sites again and again for reading news or entertainment, keeping up with friends’ updates and, of course, purchasing products?

The idea of brand loyalty is not a new one. It has been around for ages, but it’s recently getting a new tweak for the Internet age. More and more people are shopping online, for everything from jewelry to insurance. If you’re a business owner on the Web, you might be wondering how to drive continuous traffic to your own site when the number of competitors buckles your knees – we aren’t talking small-town Main Street but the global network of commerce. You need a few tricks up your sleeve in a case like this.

Offer Something Besides Your Product.

You’re proud of your business and your product. But enticing repeat customers to visit your site and stay excited about what you have to offer might take a little something extra. Consider keeping your customers informed, engaged and interested with additional content on your website and on social media.

Whether you link to pertinent news about your industry or post entertaining anecdotes, it’s likely that your customers will visit you repeatedly – even if they aren’t buying anything – if you offer something other than the desire to take their buck. Stumped about what your site could include? Here are a few ideas.

  • Videos of how to use the product you offer or innovative new uses for the product.
  • Links and teasers to interesting articles from around the Web.
  • Amusing, original blog posts and social media updates.

Make it Exclusive.

Everyone likes to feel special, your customers included. You can help them feel special when they visit your site by offering deals that are just for the customers who sign up as members. It’s also a great way to stay in touch with your customers. Different ways to do this might include the following:

  • Offer a special discount each time someone new signs up. You could also offer a discount when people recommend a friend.
  • Notify members before holidays or ends of seasons and urge them to shop at a discount for the occasion.
  • Use gimmicks such as “Visit this site 10 times and get 10 percent off any item.” They’re cheesy, but customers love it.

Don’t Be Out of Touch.

When customers walk into a physical storefront and can’t find what they are looking for, they’ll usually ask for assistance. And if they can’t find that assistance, they’ll get annoyed quickly. The same principle applies to the Web. Make sure your customers can easily find that help at all times, day or night.

Basic contact information such as phone numbers and email addresses are just the beginning. Many businesses provide other ways to offer customer service, such as a video chat or instant messaging. Decide what contact methods are most efficient for your company and implement them. Also, let your customers know that help is available for them when they need it.

Heed Advice – and Ask For It.

Your customers will feel a lot better about doing business with you if you listen to them carefully when they are trying to tell you something.

Ask for Opinions.

Customer surveys are one of the best ways to find out how you’re doing. And your customers will appreciate the opportunity to tell you – and tell fellow shoppers – what their experience was like. Make sure visitors know you are looking for their input.

Acknowledge both positive and negative feedback.

It’s easy to feel great – and respond – when a customer praises something about your business. But when a customer isn’t happy about something or makes a suggestion, it’s equally important to follow up. Make sure you don’t ignore negative feedback about your product, the site or customer service. Taking tips from your customers can help grow your online community. Word of mouth is the best advertising, after all!

Be Gracious.

Perhaps the most important and simplest way to build a relationship with customers and encourage loyalty is simply by being gracious. This could mean a variety of things, from sending a thank you email to customers, to sharing the fruits of your business for the greater good and donating to a cause. Note that it’s important not to be showy with your acts of goodwill and gratitude. A little humility goes a long way.

Building customer loyalty for your website is a bit different from building loyalty for a physical storefront. But with a strong Web presence and a willingness to show customers how greatly you appreciate them, your online business will prosper.

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