If you add up all the potential profit a customer can provide to your company throughout your relationship, you’ll arrive at customer lifetime value (CLV). Considered by many as one of the most important metrics in determining future business success, getting a better understanding of CLV can help e-commerce businesses direct resources toward acquiring and keeping their most valuable customers.
But that doesn’t mean cutting prices or pushing your greatest features. Connecting with high-value customers is about something else altogether.
“It’s all about competing with experience,” said Wanda Cadigan, Vice President of Commerce Sales for San Francisco-based Sitecore. “The more unique, relevant, and value-added the digital experience, the more you’ll differentiate yourself from competitors. And that will help you drive results.”
If you’re still practicing traditional commerce based on price and features alone, or delivering content based on what your gut tells you your customers need, it’s time to evolve. Here are four ways you can deliver unforgettable experiences and keep your customer lifetime value climbing.
1. Redefine the Customer Journey
The customer experience doesn’t start when people visit your e-commerce site. It begins with the very first interaction a consumer has with your brand and includes everything that follows. So, if you want to move them along the path, you’ll need to deliver positive experiences wherever they are in the journey — from evaluation and purchase to fulfillment and support. And if you get it right, consumers will reward you with their loyalty — buying from you again, referring to their friends, and continuing the cycle.
Research by the Temkin Group shows that 87% of consumers who rated the customer experience as “very good” were very likely to purchase more from a company, while 79% were very likely to recommend that company to a friend.
“The customer journey isn’t just about the transaction,” said Cadigan. “You need to deliver that end-to-end journey experience in the way your customers expect.”
2. Unite Your Content and Data
Understanding what drives consumers to take the next step in the customer journey can help you provide the experiences that turn them into lifelong customers. But when your customer data is trapped in silos and scattered across different systems, it’s hard to get a complete picture of who those buyers are.
Pull your disconnected profiles and interactions together to get a better understanding of consumer behaviors, interests, needs, and preferences across every channel and every device. That way, you can predict the kinds of experiences they want to receive, and then deliver them at exactly the right moment.
On the content side, bringing everything together in one system can help keep brand messaging consistent and experiences positive. Here’s an example: With an online presence in 83 markets and 23 languages, the team at Thule — a sport and outdoor goods retailer — was all too familiar with siloed data and content. Each market ran their own site, which resulted in inconsistent brand messaging.
Once they incorporated content and commerce into one platform, they were able to personalize content for each market and saw growth in average order value, number of transactions per year, and number of items in each cart. All of which contribute to higher customer lifetime value.
3. Personalize at Every Step
Most marketers say the key to building lifelong customer relationships is personalization. According to a study by Evergage, 98% of marketers report that personalization strengthens customer relationships. In addition, 88% say their top reason for using personalization is to deliver a better customer experience.
“Showing buyers content, pricing, and promotion based on their own interests — regardless of which channel they choose — makes the experience more relevant, facilitates engagement and increases conversions,” said Cadigan.
Delivering personalized experiences in e-commerce means going beyond making product recommendations based on past purchases. Instead, focus on behaviors, preferences, and context to provide more attractive up-sell and cross-sell opportunities, as well as tackle cart-abandonment challenges.
On average, almost 70% of online shopping carts are abandoned, notes the Baymard Institute. Increase your chances of recovering an order by using customer profile data to personalize and time your automated abandoned cart outreach efforts.
4. Be Everywhere Your Customers Are
While many customers still purchase in physical stores, the reality is that consumers buy wherever it’s convenient. This could mean using their smartphone to buy a pair of running shorts while on their lunch break or ordering a new bottle of detergent by calling out to their voice assistant from the living room.
Because consumers have so many options to buy, you need to be sure you don’t miss the opportunity to reach them no matter which channel they’re on. For example, customers who buy landscaping equipment from Toro can download a mobile app that communicates with their lawnmower, letting them know they need a new part or an oil change while allowing them to order with just one click.
To support these new buying experiences, you need to be sure your content management system is extensible. In other words, it can handle any channel that comes along. At a minimum, your CMS should have headless capabilities, which separate the creation of content from the presentation, allowing you to deliver experiences to any touchpoint. But ultimately, your content and e-commerce systems should be integrated so you can be sure you’re delivering the content that motivates consumers to take the next step in their buying journey.
Make Each Experience Better Than the Last
Moving the needle on customer lifetime value can only happen if you understand what motivates people to buy, and then provide the content and experiences that help them along the journey.
“Digital commerce is one way that brands can have bi-directional engagement with consumers,” concluded Cadigan. “They either buy or don’t buy. That’s the ultimate feedback in terms of whether they feel the experience you deliver earned their loyalty.”
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