Ecommerce entrepreneurs everywhere dream of achieving brand loyalty — having a business that people come back to time and time again. Brand loyalty is about more than your customers needing what you have to offer; it’s about them consciously wanting to give you their business.

The image of a café regular coming in at 7:30 A.M. on the dot for her daily vanilla latte might be the first thing that comes to mind. As she walks in the door, the barista is already pouring her order into a mug and greets her by her first name — two things she won’t get if she goes to any other coffee shop. That café has her business locked down and they know it.

You might be wondering, “How can I do that if my customers are all online?” Though it can be more difficult to achieve, that kind of brand loyalty — where the customer feels recognized, valued and understood — isn’t limited to the brick and mortar business model. It just takes a different approach.

Here are five ways to build brand loyalty in ecommerce businesses from Ontraport Creative Director Laura Casanova:

1. Personalize Your Messaging

Whether it’s in person at your local café or scrolling through your email inbox, people like to feel recognized. According to Business 2 Community, “75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, recommends options based on past purchases, or knows their purchase history.”

This is where having your follow up tied to a CRM tool plays a crucial role. With a system like Ontraport, you can add merge fields to personalize your customer’s name, birthday or special interest automatically. It’s easy and makes a world of difference to your customer.

“Personalized emails make customers feel like they’re special, and everyone wants to feel that way,” said Ontraport Creative Director Laura Casanova, who specializes in building brands and making them iconic.

Looking to take your personalization a step further? Try using PURLs, or “personalized URLs” to direct customers to landing pages that are unique to them. Learn how in this Usecase.

2. Pick a Style and Make it Your Own

Perhaps the most important part of creating an iconic brand is having a consistent photographic style of your own: something your customers can look at and know it’s your brand even without seeing your business name.

One of Laura’s favorite examples of this is @Alfred Coffee Shop’s Instagram, where each photo contains a blush pink element. She says, “Everyone’s a photographer, but it takes a certain photograph to achieve inspiration these days. You can buy them anywhere, put on a filter and it’s instantly cool. It’s a saturated market and hard to break through without a photographic style.”

The key here is to distance yourself from using cheesy and generic stock photos (think 90s clipart and people enthusiastically posing for the camera) and move toward photography that’s more tailored to your brand. For example, if you run an online swimwear company, you might commit to only selecting photos if they include a beachy element and fall within a specific color scheme. According to a study by University of Loyola Maryland, “Color increases brand recognition by up to 80%.” This would make your brand immediately identifiable everywhere, including on your website, social media, ads and emails.

Furthermore, Strategy Marketing & Technology Solutions says, “If your branding is consistent and easy to recognize, it can help people feel more at ease purchasing your products or services.”

3. Be Inspiring on Social Media

Social media is your opportunity to build the sense of community that customers crave but wouldn’t typically get online. The secrets to building inspiring and inviting social media platforms are plentiful, but there are a few key tactics and strategies to remember:

  • Create a Facebook community page where brand-centric conversations are few and, instead, members feel comfortable discussing their interests with other members.
  • Appeal to positive emotions like “amusement, inspiration and illumination” when writing social copy, SmartBoy Enterprises says.
  • Curate your photos across all platforms (especially Instagram) for a clean, inspiring and beautiful overall look.

One of the most essential but difficult parts of operating inspiring social media platforms goes back to what @Alfred Coffee Shop does so well — telling a color story. Laura says, “It’s like organic retargeting where you want to go back and look at what they have next. They present things in a new way as something you never thought of.”

As customers begin to develop a taste for your brand on social media, you’ll see more and more people visiting your platforms just to get that sense of inspiration and community.

4. Create an Exceptional Customer Experience

Customer experience can and will make or break your business, so focusing on creating an exceptional one is mutually beneficial for your business and customers. Aim to recreate the feeling of in-person interactions by providing customers with a unique experience.

Laura firmly believes that finding and showcasing what makes you different from the competition is what will separate your business from the pack. As Steve Jobs once said, “You can’t look at the competition and say you’re going to do it better. You have to look at the competition and say you’re going to do it differently.”

Start by finding at least one thing nobody else in your industry is doing, and make it part of your brand’s identity.   

5. Hit up Your Superfans for Feedback and Referrals

Even after you’ve established a loyal following for your brand, your work isn’t finished. Maintaining your brand loyalty requires staying on your toes and constantly making an effort to grow your following.

To do so, reach for the low-hanging fruit and contact your existing fans to ask for feedback and referrals. Think about it: When you love something, you want others to feel the same way. It’s just the way people work. If your customers love your brand, they’ll be happy to talk about it — it just might take some prodding from you first.

Chances are, once you work on your brand’s personalization, unique style, social platforms, and customer experience you’ll have plenty of superfans to reach out to.

About Lindsay Kent
Lindsay is a graduate of California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and holds a degree in Journalism with a concentration in Public Relations and minors in Spanish and Integrated Marketing Communications. After working with several small businesses, Lindsay moved to sunny Santa Barbara to become Ontraport’s Content Manager.