Boasting some great benefits for customers like convenience and flexibility, online shopping has become the most efficient way to shop for most consumers out there.
As you start preparing for the busiest time of year, it's important to keep in mind that acquiring and keeping valued customers is not a set-it-and-forget-it kind of deal. You have to create and maintain trust throughout the buyer journey, and long after they’ve purchased.
The good news?
Building and maintaining trust is easier than you think if you follow these valuable tips...
1. Have a great return policy (and make sure it’s clearly communicated)
While online shopping has become the only way to shop in 2020, there’s often – still – some hesitation when clicking the checkout button. The ability to hold or try on items like in a brick-and-mortar store is lost with online purchases, as is the ability to sense whether a store is well-run and trustworthy.
Ease your shoppers’ hesitations by clearly communicating your great returns policy, especially during the holiday season.
Over half of online shoppers check a company’s return policy before committing to buying. But, that’s not all; a whopping 92% of consumers will buy again from a company if the return process was easy.
The result? Your customers are more likely to convert if they feel comfortable with returning products if they need to.
A great rule of thumb is to have a page in your support or FAQ centre dedicated to explaining your returns policy.
We recommend including the link to the returns page right on your navigation bar, or where it’s easiest to find, based on your site layout.
Just make sure the message is clear and the small print doesn’t change the overall policy, but rather adds to it. It should be clear and concise so your customers feel much more secure about their purchase.
Not sure where to start? Shopify has a great returns policy template that you can use as your starting point, allowing you to add in details unique to your store to make sure you’re covering all the bases.
2. Leverage customer reviews
There’s no better social proof than hearing other customers say they enjoyed their purchase.
When your customers are spreading the word about their purchases, it not only makes your company look good, but it also attracts new customers as well, who rely on reviews to feel comfortable purchasing from your brand.
Did it come on time? Was it great quality? Exactly as pictured?
Today, 89% of global consumers check online reviews as part of their online buying journey, and 49% of global consumers consider positive reviews one of their top 3 purchase influences.
So, before you place reviews in your ‘nice-to-have’ column, notice how much purchasing power they have over your potential customers, especially during the peak shopping season. If almost every single visitor to your store wanted to look at reviews before purchasing, wouldn’t they be better placed in the ‘must-have’ column?
Reviews live on your site, but will show up on other channels such as social media and search engines as well. The more reviews you have on Google, the greater visibility your business will have.
If you have those coveted 4 or 5-star reviews, don’t be afraid to show them off!
Why not highlight them on your homepage, product pages, social feeds or advertisement (online or offline)?
We spoke to Lewis Murray, Digital Marketing Executive at Protect Line, to better understand how they leverage reviews:
"As a life insurance broker, the holiday season is often a challenge; the customer mindset is focused on purchasing presents for loved ones where they see the benefit in the short term. Life insurance is a product we hope people won't need to use, but it's a long-term gift. Being able to protect a family from financial hardship is often overlooked, so we use the power of our Trustpilot reviews to engage our customers to remind them of what the true meaning of the holidays is all about. We keep our finger on the pulse when it comes to our Trustpilot reviews - the insights we can gain on a daily basis can help us gauge how the market is feeling and adapt our strategies accordingly. We use a variety of tools to get our reviews out there; the Image Generator is very effective for creating high-engagement social media posts which we use in combination with video content. This holiday season will be our most challenging yet, so to have Trustpilot and the tools available through the service to help drive our business forward is very beneficial!"
"2020 was a year of challenges but also of great successes for us," says Lewis.
"The challenges of creating an entire work-from-home solution hit early on as the pandemic hit and lockdown came into effect. We prepared for a hard year, however, we were pleasantly surprised that our customers realised the importance of life insurance through the daily struggles and news they were being faced with every day, which meant our business has performed well beyond expectations. Trustpilot review analysis showed that our customers were engaged and really pleased with how our staff communicated and helped them get their life insurance setup. The reviews highlighted that working from home made our workforce happier, more productive, and provide a higher level of customer service. We used reviews to identify members of staff who maybe struggled with working from home and provided options for them to come back to the office safely and to assist with their own wellbeing during this difficult year. We'll continue to monitor our Trustpilot reviews into 2021 to help both our customers and workforce get the outcome that is right for them. Our advice for 2021 is to use tools like Trustpilot to identify areas your customers believe you could improve, and to celebrate the successes of the positives, too!"
If you’re leveraging reviews as user-generated content, just like Protect Line are, you’re creating a diverse picture of your company.
3. Get social
A great way to capture, and keep, the attention of your customers is to maintain a great social media presence.
One of the best things about social media is that it’s an easy way to foster relationships with your customers through consistent communication and great content.
71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family.
Shoppers may share how much they loved a product, or if there were any issues. It’s impossible for every single customer to love a product so if there are negative comments, it’s your responses that will make or break customers’ opinions of your business.
Interacting with your audience can be time-consuming, but it’s definitely worth it. We live in the age of quick communication, and consumers are increasingly using social media as an avenue of communication with businesses. Timely and genuine responses bridge the gap between customers and businesses, and showcase the human element of your company, which people can relate to.
Why not create a unique hashtag for your customers to share on social and watch all the great user-generated content roll in? Featuring customers on your feed not only allows them to engage with your brand, but also helps build trust with potential customers. Plus, it will help fill your feed with content that you don’t have to create. Bonus!
There’s something about seeing real-life people (and not models hired by the company) with products, that raises that trust level.
If a company has an active social presence filled with relatable customers showing off products, chances are consumers will engage more, and even convert faster.
4. Keep shoppers engaged
I’m sure you’ve heard this before - it costs five to twenty five times more to acquire a new customer, than to keep an existing one.
The best way to keep your customers engaged is to maintain consistent communication.
If customers are researching or purchasing your products - they want to hear from you! Emailing customers at key moments in their journey will help them to stay engaged with your brand.
Don't be afraid to tease customers with what’s coming up in the next couple of weeks. This creates anticipation and excitement for what’s to come, and works exceptionally well during the holiday season.
Never be afraid to re-engage! If customers have abandoned their cart, why not send them a discount code to help them make their final purchase decision?
Email is a great channel to communicate and engage with your customers throughout the buying journey, don't underestimate it!
5. Keep it consistent
If you’re consistently delivering quality products and experiences to your clients, they’re going to continue to be a loyal customer and purchase from you time and time again.
If you included a handwritten note in your boxes when you first started, continue offering that same personal touch even when you’re a multi-million dollar company.
This is especially true for your products. If you deliver quality products, customers are going to notice if the integrity changes should you choose to try a cheaper route. Cutting corners can be tempting, but it’s often the little above and beyond things you do as a company that thrills your customers.
The same goes for your message, marketing materials, and brand guidelines. Yes, these things can change with time if you undergo a brand update, but if you’re a quirky company with a certain language and style, keep that the same across all facets of your business.
Your customers are the key driving force behind your business, and they can influence the purchasing decisions of others.
The key to earning their trust and keep them coming back for more is not a single action you take; it’s all the individual steps mentioned above that really drive home what kind of company you are, and will continue to be in the future.
If you'd like to find out more about what consumers expect from your brand during the holiday season, and how you can prepare for it, read our newest report below: