Setting up a great ecommerce store and website is the first step in opening an ecommerce business. However, in order for any business to succeed, it needs to have a big and loyal community of customers and supporters.
Companies that have managed to establish such community enjoy benefits such as more word of mouth promotion, more trust, repeated orders, better customer data and higher conversion rates.
Building a community around your new business can be one of the cheapest ways to create momentum for your product.
This article will examine ways in which new ecommerce businesses can build a community around their online stores.
Know Your Niche
Who are your customers? Take time and get to know them. You can do this by figuring out who is already talking about your product, competitor or industry, and where they are doing it.
You can use that to follow people, start a conversation and engage with them. This will give you the foundation you need to eventually grow your community.
One important thing to remember when approaching your customers is for you not to see them as just numbers.
They are all potential advocates of your brand and there is no better commercial than a happy and satisfied customer.
Have a Personality
Companies are like people and what you are trying to do is establish a good old human-to-human connection with your customers.
Think about it, would you want to engage with or be friends with someone you find boring?
Experts advise not worrying about being good or bad, right or wrong but to be yourself and have a strong personality, which does sound a bit frightening, especially at the beginning of your business.
To portray that human vibe, you will need to be open a bit about the personal lives of both you and your employees. Meet Felicia from Moz.com.
Her profile page contains a picture of her beloved dog wearing a watch and glasses. And this is just a part of it. You also learn that she has phenomenal blog-smic powers and has been trying to catch ’em all since 2001.
Being a content specialist at one of the biggest marketing companies there is, no wonder she knows good content.
Another just as frightening thing to do is to be honest. If you make a bad decision, let your customers know. If one of your products is getting bad reviews, let your customers see them.
Leverage Social Media
Is there a B2C business that can afford not to be present on social media networks nowadays?
Using social media channels is a great way to increase awareness about your business, drive traffic to your site and generate dialogue with potential customers.
The first step in leveraging social media is to clearly define your social media goals and strategies.
Think about the number of new followers you would like to attract and the percentages by which you would like to increase web traffic and product sales.
What are you going to talk about on your social media platforms? Where will your content come from? And how often will you post?
The content you will be producing needs to be in accordance with your brand – a unique personality of your company you will be communicating across all of your promotional channels.
Building awareness about your business is a constant and consistent effort.
Educate your customers on what they will be able to find online and convince them it will be worth their while to check out your new ecommerce site by highlighting some of the potential benefits which might include a wider product selection or lower prices.
And since visuals are an important part of any social media account, make sure to post great photos of your products as well.
Using a combination of words and images like Dove is doing on their Twitter account, is a classic and bulletproof way of increasing chances that you will grab the attention of your readers and customers. Avoid promotional tone and stick to humor instead. Make sure to share interesting articles, photos and videos.
Making your site social media friendly will also help you build a community on your social networks and around your store.
Simple things like making it easy for people to share something you post, asking them to follow you on Twitter and like you on Facebook, and suggesting opportunities for them to tweet or share with their friends, will go a long way in increasing your community on social media networks.
Listen to Data and Experiment
Familiarize yourself with various analytics tools to see what is working and what is not, how much time people are spending on your site, where exactly they are coming from, and which items and pages are the most popular. Measure everything and make necessary changes.
There is a saying – if you are going to fail, fail quickly. A small community can be a blessing. You can try new things with little fear of failure.
During the initial stages of your business, when you are just starting to figure out your company’s personality, tone of voice or website design, you will probably need to try new things so see what appeals to your customers the best.
Note which of your efforts get the best response and don’t be afraid to include your customers in the whole process by asking for their feedback.
Everyone likes to know that his/her opinion matters and they will probably like you for it. So, don’t be afraid to experiment because at this starting point of your business there is not much to lose anyway, but there is a whole lot to gain.
Constantly Find New Ways to Engage with Your Customers
There are so many great and interesting ways to engage with your customers, and other companies are constantly coming up with new ways to do this as well.
I will list some of them to give you an idea how you can further connect with your audience:
• Show real human pictures
• Reward your customers for engaging
• Give them a nice profile page
• Run contests at regular intervals
• Hire people from your target audience
• Look for creative ways to collect customer data
• Use the customer data to offer personalized shopping experience
• Connect with relevant bloggers in your niche
Here is an example how asos.com, women’s fashion online store, uses discounts to engage with a new base of young female buyers who will eventually become loyal members of their community and repeated customers.
Discounts and rewards are one of the easiest and most used ways to engage the community.
Opening a new online business is stressful. You are sitting behind your computer screen waiting for those orders, or for someone to share your post or comment on Twitter or Facebook.
Rest assured that this is normal. It takes time to build a community and for people to learn just how awesome your product or service is.
Unless you are the owner of DollarShaveClub.com, it will take time so be patient, confident and persistent. It will pass.
Keep building your community one person at a time using the ways we’ve covered in this article, and it will eventually begin to grow on its own.