3 ways to engage customers and sell more things online

You’ve built a slick site. It’s a great start, but to succeed in eCommerce, you need loyal customers. Find out how to build relationships and sell more online.

Key points

  • Selling online takes more than building a killer online store.
  • Building relationships with your customers helps inspire brand loyalty.
  • Influencers, pop-up stores and a solid social strategy all help uplevel your online sales.

Engaged customers make for loyal customers

Selling products online takes more than a great online presence. Sure, your store and your products might be amazing, but to take it to the next level, you’ll need to find other ways to engage with your customers. 

These days, customer engagement takes many shapes, from social media chit-chat to face-to-face interactions. It could be a follow-up email post-purchase to check in on a customer’s satisfaction with their new product or a text message reminding them about an upcoming appointment. Whatever shape it takes, it’s all about strengthening customer relationships – and it requires a lot more than just responding to comments on your Facebook page (although that’s a good start!). 

Here, we look at three powerful ways to engage your customers, which in turn helps you build a larger, loyal customer base and ultimately sell more of your products online.

1. From online start-up to physical pop-up

Pop-up stores can be a great way to meet new customers and build relationships with existing ones. For one Melbourne sportswear start-up, it has proven a key strategy on the path to becoming one of Australia’s leading Athleisure brands.

Elite Eleven, founded in 2014 by friends Benn Martiniello and Lisandro Paz, is a brand that excels at putting customers first. Originally conceived as a wholesaler to soccer and footy clubs, the company has since shifted to an eCommerce platform, selling t-shirts, tracksuits, and women’s workout wear. Beloved by influencers and timed to capitalise on the pandemic-fueled trend for athleisure, the brand’s sales doubled between 2020 and 2021.

“Business since 2020 has changed quite a lot. We’re focused primarily on customer experience, like offering fast and easy shipping methods,” Lisandro says.

To further elevate the customer experience, Elite Eleven has expanded from online to physical retail. Pop-up shops in Melbourne shopping centres proved a huge hit with customers – not to mention a great way for the company to test the waters before committing to a long-term lease. The brand’s first bricks and mortar store opened in November 2021. 

Elite Eleven’s Vanessa Syrou believes the combination of digital and physical shopping is the future for clothing brands. “We truly believe that the future for the retail space is to offer an omni-channel experience, where you can shop on your laptop, phone or in-store, and it feels like one seamless shopping experience. You can purchase something in-store and return it online and vice versa.”

2. Using your influence(r) to sell online

Think your business is too small to work with influencers? No way. Micro and nano-influencers can be a great way to trial influencer marketing to build brand trust, and an affordable alternative to traditional marketing.

Though the more followers an influencer has, the more you can expect to spend. A key benefit of using influencers is getting your product in front of your target demographic in a (mostly) organic way, and their testimonials could be the thing to turn their followers into your new customers. 

There can be pitfalls. Most social media users can sniff out a sponsored post masquerading as a product review – to maintain trust in your brand, make sure you and your influencers are always transparent about your intent, and disclose any sponsored posts. Keep in mind that recent changes to the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code makes it unlawful for influencers to be paid (or even gifted) to promote some cosmetic and health products.

3. Uplevel your social strategy

You’ve no doubt got a social media presence. But are you using it to its full potential? Social media is all about engagement – and, for brands, it’s more give than take. Focus on quality over quantity, mix up your posts with a blend of images, text and video content, and don’t forget the 80-20 rule: 80% of your content should be useful, interesting or helpful, while only 20% should be promoting your brand or products.

To build relationships and brand loyalty on social media, share posts from followers and tag them on your social channels. User-generated content is the modern day word-of-mouth, and builds authenticity. Elite Eleven does this well, inspiring a raft of fitness bloggers and influencers to like and share their posts, sometimes without spending a cent.

With new social channels always emerging, you can’t hope to be on all the platforms all the time. Choose your channels carefully after researching your existing customer base and checking out the social spread from other like-minded brands. And, to help lessen the load, consider using a third-party social media dashboard to help manage all your channels, posts and responses in one place, such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social

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