How to Build Customer Loyalty From Scratch
Posted Oct 7, 2016 by Jesse Ness, Ecwid Team

How to Build Customer Loyalty From Scratch

Building customer loyalty and retaining customers is extremely important, as now, more than ever, there are so many different options for consumers on the market today. They can always find a cheaper, faster option — so you need to focus on building loyalty to retain the customer base you’ve worked so hard to build up.

But some e-сommerce retailers are still scratching their heads when it comes to customer loyalty. They’re asking themselves, “How can I make my loyal customers feel like a truly special segment of customers and keep them coming back?”

In this post, we’re going to look at some best practices you can build customer loyalty to keep your customers consistently coming back for more.

Let’s get started.

How to turn one-time buyers into loyal customers

Let’s say you’ve just started your online business — the question you may ask is how can I get my first loyal customers if I haven’t got any yet?

By offering a reliable, enjoyable, and smooth shopping experience, consumers are more likely to remember your business. Check out our tips to help build loyalty and generate repeat business from your customers.

Add value

In a competitive and digitally connected marketplace customers have many options from which to choose. Offer your customers something extra for doing business with you, and you’ll stand out from the pack. Freebies, exclusive member discounts, above-and-beyond customer service are all memorable perks for repeat business.

Stay connected

Follow through is key to maintaining customer loyalty. Follow up with emails and thank them after an order is made, reach out through social media and respond to comments and concerns immediately. When customers know that you value their input and satisfaction, they’ll keep you in mind for their next purchase.

Make business easy

By ensuring a smooth shopping experience, customers will remember your business as an easy and convenient place to return. Make sure that your online store is fast, reliable and easy-to-use for customers. When the checkout process for your business is smooth, including payment and shipping options, your customer retention will remain high.

Keep track of customer history

Maintain a thorough database of customers’ previous orders, preferences, and favorite products, to make it easy to follow up, offer relevant products and services specific to them, and offer a limited time coupon code. Customers will appreciate that you’ve taken the extra time and care to learn about the products they enjoy and need, and will be much more inclined to return for more.

By following up with your consumers consistently, offering incentives for repeat purchases, and paying attention to previous orders, they’ll have plenty of great reasons to love coming back to your store.

How to maintain and encourage customer loyalty

When you’ve hooked your first loyal customers, you’ll want them to stay with you forever. Here are some things that can help you make their feelings to you even more intense.

Create a separate email segment

By creating a segment within your email list for your top spending customers, you can make your most loyal customers feel extra special–and reward them for making repeat purchases from you.

How to do it:

Creating a email segment is often just as simple as going into your email service provider (whether you use a service like MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, etc.) and defining the segment conditions.

The conditions for your loyal customer segment might be:

  • A spend level (like $250 spent in the past 6 months), or
  • A purchase frequency (like 5 orders in the last 5 weeks)

You can also often import a static segment, which means you import a list of email addresses from your CRM or e-commerce platform, and build a loyal customer list that way.

From here, you can leveraging this list to send your loyal customers:

  • Early access email deals
  • Sneak peeks at new products
  • First dibs on limited product releases
  • Special thank yous and behind-the-scenes content

Take this email for example:


Notice how the sale deal is aimed only at the most loyal customer segment? It reminds them that they’re getting an insider-only deal — and that there are perks to being a loyal customer (and on this particular email list.)

The bottom line: An email segment aimed solely at your most loyal customers helps you stay in touch with one of your most important demographics and helps you reward them with perks they deserve.

Personalize the experience

Speaking of email — did you know that you can leverage automated email to create even more personalized experiences for your loyal customers? It’s true — and they’ll love you for it.

Here’s how it works:

By integrating your e-commerce store with your email service provider, you can send triggered emails that are extremely personalized and relevant to your loyal customers’ shopping and buying habits.

For example: Sephora sends out a triggered email to top spending customers with personalized suggestions based on past purchases. This makes it easy for the customer to discover new products that are extremely relevant to their tastes–and it feels like they’ve had someone hand-pick suggestions just for them. Nice!


The bottom line: Use email to personalize experiences for your loyal customers by sending triggered emails that don’t tie up your time.

Read also: How to Send Trigger Emails That Keep Customers Coming Back

Throw in some extras

It’s also a good idea to build loyalty by throwing in some unexpected extras, upgrades, or “freebies” with their orders.

Why? Because it works: According to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research, if an item is included as a bonus “extra” when buying a luxury product, consumers deem the “freebie” as a higher quality product–and they’re willing to pay more for the luxury item on its own.

This works for lower-end products, too. Consumers are thrilled to get unexpected extras with their orders (because…umm…it’s free!)

E-commerce retailer Smooth Sailing sometimes includes extras with their orders–and their customers love them for it. Take a look at this customer reaction shared on Twitter:

Smooth Sailing

The bottom line: Low-cost extras go a long way at making your customers feel special — and they can boost overall value perception of your products, too.

Create a free shipping for a year threshold

Did you know that unexpected shipping costs are the #1 reason for cart abandonment? It’s true. 28% of customers don’t check out because they feel the shipping costs are too high. Yikes.

Cart abandonement

With that data in mind, it’s clear that offering free shipping for a year would be a major perk for your customers, right? Right.

You can incentivize your most loyal shoppers by rewarding those who meet a specific spending threshold (say $500 per calendar year, for example) with free shipping for the rest of the year.

Free shipping

That’s a major benefit to your customers who are already making frequent purchases from your store — and a great way to thank them for their loyalty.

Note: Keep in mind that you’ll need a good back-end system to keep track of which customers have hit the spending threshold and how many months are left with the incentive.

Read also: How to Improve Shipping Processes for Your E-commerce Business

Spotlight your loyal customers

Your top-spending customers are likely the ones driving the bulk of your business, so why not spotlight them?

If they’re willing, you can highlight them in your newsletter, on social media, and on your website. In sharing their stories and photos, you’re also leveraging their testimonials and taking advantage of excellent social proof that validates your products and brand to other customers at the same time.

And guess what? Sometimes, your loyal customers might not even be humans. Take this example from Tukabear Treats. In this Instagram photo, they spotlighted an interesting Instagram customer (or, beneficiary, rather?) with more than 2,000 followers.
Tuka bear

The bottom line: Spotlighting your customers lets them know you appreciate your business and helps you showcase happy, loyal customers at the same time. Win-win.

Remember special occasions

You can build customer loyalty by remembering special occasions and making your customers feel extra-special on days that are unique to them (like their birthdays or anniversaries of using your product or service.)

Highlighting these special occasions and incentivising them is a simple and easy way to not only make them feel like you really know them, but to also drive sales.

By collecting user data on the front end (like having them enter their birthday) you can then tap into this information at a later date and create an extremely personalized experience that drives loyalty, as seen in this example:

hey babe

The bottom line: Remembering customer-centric special occasions feels personal, special, and can build loyalty in a unique way.

Write handwritten thank-you notes

Don’t forget the power of the handwritten thank you note.

These are so rare these days that when a customer receives one, it truly feels special–and reminds the customer you care. And guess what? These don’t cost you anything extra…except a minute or two of your time.

handwritten notes

Tips for writing thank you notes:

  • Boost your efficiency by printing personalized, handwritten cards with the Thankster integration. You’ll save time and your customers will still feel like they’re getting a handwritten note from you!
    Include the recipient’s first name to add some personalization.
  • Thank them for purchasing the specific product they’ve selected rather than just writing a general catch-all thank you message.

The bottom line: Invest some time into showing your customers you care with handwritten thank you notes, and they’ll remember you for it.

Your next steps

When you know how to build customer loyalty, you reap the benefits of rewarding your most loyal customers and brand cheerleaders, who in turn, bring you more business.

So what can you do right now to get started? Here’s a quick recap:

  • Create a special email segment
  • Personalize the experience
  • Include product upgrades and extras
  • Create an annual free shipping threshold as an incentive
  • Spotlight your customers
  • Remember special occasions
  • Write thank you notes

If you can do these things, in no time at all, you’ll have customers who are not only spending more than ever before at your online store, but they’ll be evangelizing for you to their friends and families–and sending new business your way, too.

Read also: How to Turn Your Customers Into Brand Evangelists

About the author
Jesse is the Marketing Manager at Ecwid and has been in e-commerce and internet marketing since 2006. He has experience with PPC, SEO, conversion optimization and loves to work with entrepreneurs to make their dreams a reality.
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