Wooing first-time customers is a lot like to going on a first date. You’re not sure if you’ll like each other and you never really know if they’re going to pay for dinner or simply sneak out to the bathroom and never come back.
Of course, the world would be much simpler if you could predict what people wanted before you ever met them. Dating would certainly be easier, and getting first-time customers to become loyal shoppers would be, too.
The good news is that customers, unlike the dating scene is somewhat predictable. This is due to the fact that your business – or the reason that they’re visiting you in the first place – is fairly clear. Your website should tell people exactly who you are and what they’re going to get when they first meet you.
The only real variable in the relationship is the customer. You don’t always know what level of interaction they expect from you, how they will connect with you, or whether or not they understand your product or even want it.
Understanding these aspects is the key to converting visitors into long-time customers. You have to meet their needs before, during and after you meet them.
Here are a few things your customers will almost certainly be looking for when coming to your site for the first time.
The most obvious reason someone comes to your site is that they want something from you and that something is a specific product. But generally speaking, you’re going to be dealing with two types of customers:
- Those that know what product they want (and that’s why they came to you)
- Those that don’t know what they want but are browsing your site anyway
The easiest way to cater to both groups is to have your product listings front and center, and that not only includes the space on your website, but also your advertisements and other marketing.
As we mentioned before, the single consistency in your relationship with your customers is you. The more up-front you can be about what you offer, the more likely a customer will respond with either a solid “yes” or “no.”
If you can make your products visible, easily searchable, and tied to every bit of your online presence, you’ll bring customers into your space because they’ll see something they want and they know exactly where to get it. And once they’re hooked, they can discover all the other amazing things you have to offer and they’ll stick around.
2. Brand Story
Speaking of “all the other amazing things you have to offer”, you will need to offer something of value beyond just your products if you expect customers to stay for the long haul.
This value can be added with a powerful brand story that gives backgrounds to your products, why you exist, and what you plan to do with your company.
Research shows that the human brain responds to the descriptive power of stories in deep ways, meaning that they’re more likely to connect with your business (buy from you again) when they feel an emotional connection.
You need to introduce customers to the people who created the business, to the people who work there, and even to other customers who love what you do. You need to give them a reason to come back other than “we sell stuff.”
3. Sense of Purpose
Along those same lines, customers tend to buy from companies that exist for more reasons than just taking their money.
There’s a reason fair trade and socially conscious brands are making a huge splash in the world of e-commerce.
Millennials, in particular, are more apt to buy from companies with positive reputations in this department. Spencer Hall notes that younger generations of shoppers have grown up in a time of economic turmoil, and as a result, they want their money to make an impact.
Studies show that 61% of Millennials are worried about the state of the world and feel personally responsible to make a difference. You can tap into this desire (and also do some good in the world) by focusing your attention on issues that affect your customers beyond just what they buy.
As customers develop a closer relationship with your brand, they’ll also want more opportunities to connect with you, to share your products, promote your brand, or even just to ask questions or respond to your campaigns.
The most obvious solutions for a business looking to woo customers is to make your presence on social media highly accessible by posting frequently, responding to those posts, answering questions and generally displaying your brand’s personality.
But this also means preemptively interacting with customers by keeping them up-to-date on new product launches, changes to your organization, ways they can get involved (if you’re doing socially conscious things) and even about current sales or discounts you offer for first-time customers.
The more you can do to reach out to customers and say, “We’re listening” the more connected they’ll feel to you, and in turn, the more they’ll come back to hear what you have to say.
And just because you’re a commerce business doesn’t mean you don’t have things to say. Customers tend to follow thought leaders (influencers that introduce new ideas and shape perceptions about industry issues) and they do so because those leaders give them information that makes their lives better.
Not all of your products are going to revolutionize someone’s life, especially if you sell things that someone can buy at a local store (say, clothing or food), so you need to add something to the customer experience that they can’t get elsewhere. One of the best ways to do this is through education.
If you did sell clothing or food, for example, you could educate customers on the best ways to prepare meals, health tips for making and preparing food, how to dress for a casual work event, or how to pair stripes with plaids without looking like a fool.
There are plenty of topics related to your products that people simply don’t know about, and if they can view your business as a learning resource beyond just a place to buy things on the Internet, they’re more likely to come back and buy from you again.
While your ultimate goal is to sell products, the way you position your whole business in relationship with your customers will be the deciding factor between whether or not they “swipe right” on your business again.
After all, people don’t want to date a two-dimensional version of the Monopoly guy, and they certainly don’t want to buy from a company that’s only out to make a quick buck. They want a fully developed company they can fall in love with.
You can be that company by presenting more of yourself to your customers than just products (though you should definitely present your products to them, too).
Start by developing a strong brand story that shares more of who you are, educate them on how to use your products to improve their lives, and give them interaction that makes them feel important.
Do that, and you’ll have them buying you more than just dinner.