14 Strategies to Boost Year-Round Customer Engagement in Ecommerce

CM Commerce Team

In a brick-and-mortar store, you can create a physical experience to wow your shoppers and boost customer engagement throughout the year.

However, physical storefronts still have a significant disadvantage: They’re at the mercy of foot traffic.

Running an ecommerce store allows you to reach your customers anywhere, anytime. 

This provides a unique opportunity for you to create a shopper-centric online experience and boost customer engagement year-round.

This post will explain why it’s so critical for ecommerce stores to invest in customer loyalty and provide over a dozen strategies to improve.

Why is year-round customer engagement and loyalty so important for ecommerce?

Experts believe ecommerce will account for 22% of all retail spending worldwide by 2023—up from 14% in 2019.

While this sounds like a net positive on the surface, it also means established ecommerce brands will also face stiffer competition in the coming years. The coronavirus pandemic, for example, forced major brands like Walmart and Target to improve their ecommerce strategies to compete against Amazon. 

The experience you provide is absolutely critical for keeping customer engagement high not just during the holidays, but year-round. 

Eighty-six percent say they’re willing to spend more on a product when the brand provides a positive experience. This involves treating them like a human being, not just another sales number.

Customer engagement statistics
Source: Salesforce

How to keep customer engagement steady after the holidays

Your overall customer engagement relies on the perfect recipe of:

  • Seamless shopping and checkout experiences
  • Trustworthiness and industry authority
  • Communication and access to information
  • A humanized experience across all channels
  • Relevant and timely promotions based on behavior

Use the tips below as they relate to your brand to create the customer-centric experience your shoppers expect.

1. Plan relevant seasonal sales throughout the year.

The holidays don’t end after December 31. Look for opportunities to engage your audience year-round with seasonal holiday sales such as:

  • Mother’s/Father’s Day
  • Graduation
  • Spring cleaning
  • Fall productivity
  • Summer travel (or staycations) 
  • Niche national days throughout the year
Seasonal customer engagement throughout the year.
Source: Pinterest

Pinterest research found that, in fall, searches for pins on home remodeling, productivity, and self-improvement spike, like a second wave of New Year’s resolutions.

Fall customer engagement statistics and topics
Source: Pinterest

2. Set up a referral program to improve customer engagement.

Word of mouth is extremely valuable for ecommerce stores, especially those operating on shoestring budgets, as 92% percent of consumers are more likely to trust opinions from friends over advertising. 

Although a referral program isn’t 100% free, it’s definitely budget-friendly and effective. Freebies are always a safe bet. 

Robinhood, for example, offers a free stock for every referral. For retail, dollar value discounts tend to deliver better results than percentages. 

Referral programs for customer engagement
Source: Robinhood

3. Let shoppers save products for later with wish lists.

A simple wish list plugin encourages people to stay in touch with your brand. Plus, it boosts overall customer engagement by keeping “window shoppers” on your website. You could also set up alerts to notify them when the price drops for their favorite items.

4. Reward your most loyal customers.

VIP and other loyalty programs are easy to implement and work wonders for customer engagement.

Make sure your loyalty program offers an enticing reward, like a 20% off coupon for every $100 spent (depending on your brand).

DAVIDsTEA uses information from customers’ VIP status to send personalized greetings—perfect for building relationships.

VIP programs for customer engagement
Really Good Emails

5. Optimize your cart abandonment emails.

Seventy percent of customers will fill their cart but exit your site without checking out. It’s essential first to create a seamless checkout process. 

  • Allow easy guest checkout options.
  • Optimize mobile checkout.
  • Use autofill features for CC info and forms.
  • Provide transparency with fees and shipping costs.

Even with an optimized checkout, however, some customers will still abandon their shopping cart. Use automated emails to remind them of what they’re missing. Tools like CM Commerce can help you design abandoned cart emails with:

  • Personalized embedded products.
  • Embedded reviews and user-generated photos.
  • Coupons to seal the deal.
Boost customer engagement with abandoned cart emails
Source: CM-Commerce

6. Promote any seasonal products to increase customer engagement.

We’re not talking about the obvious stuff here. Look at your year-over-year shopping trends.

Hiking boots in March? Umbrellas in August during back-to-school? Self-care tools in June at the end of the fiscal year?

Dive deep into your analytics to see where your brand’s personal shopping trends lie: Which audience segments/demographics buy what and when? 

7. Set up automated emails to boost customer engagement.

Automated emails based on triggered events boost customer engagement because they’re highly relevant. 

Did you know a simple transactional email delivers 8 times higher open rates than other types of campaigns?

Always make sure to optimize your transactional emails with upsells and cross-sells for related products.  

Additionally, you should set up an automated series based on triggered events with campaigns like:

  • Introductory emails to welcome your new customers
  • Curated blogs and newsletters
  • Tutorials and DIY tips
  • Social media promotions

8. Showcase reviews and user-generated content to boost customer engagement.

Reviews matter a whole lot for customer engagement.

Ninety-one percent of customers read reviews before buying something, and 84% trust them as much as a personal recommendation.

Tools like CM Commerce can help you develop an effective strategy for acquiring, managing, and promoting the perfect review at the most opportune time.

A library of user-generated content comes in handy. You can embed reviews and photos directly into your abandoned cart or personalized recommendation emails to build trust.

Likewise, you can set up automatic feedback requests to build a comprehensive stash of reviews and photos. Make sure to include a discount code to reward customers for their time after filling out feedback forms.

Use reviews and feedback to boost customer engagement.
Source: CM-Commerce

9. Send personalized discounts and coupons to increase customer engagement.

As the saying goes, 80% of your sales come from just 20% of customers. Treat the ones you’ve got right and they’ll keep coming back. 

It’s smart to include a personalized discount code or coupon based on a shopper’s buying behavior after every purchase they make. Consider making the discount amount relevant to the amount they spend with your company.

You can include the discount inside your transactional emails or as stand-alone thank you campaigns after purchase. It’s also a nice touch to include a business card with a discount code inside your packaging.

Personalized discounts for customer engagement
Source: World Market

10. Send personalized product email campaigns.

Customers expect and appreciate personalized messages because they want to feel valued as individuals. Use your analytics to track what shoppers buy and view on your site. Tools like CM Commerce can help you set up triggered email campaigns with specially curated products just for your customers. 

Pick a time to follow up and design your email, and automation will take care of the rest.

Zenni personalized this email based on eyeglasses the customer has tried on or purchased in the past: 

 Curated product recommendations for customer engagement.
Source: Zenni

11. Create tutorial videos and infographics to improve customer engagement.

As an ecommerce store, video explainers, tutorials, and infographics are an essential part of customer service. They boost engagement by showing—not just telling—shoppers that you genuinely care about the value they get from your product. 

You can create little explainers even for simple products to show customers how to care for items and help them last longer. 

Look at this simple infographic Away sends customers:

Tutorials to boost customer engagement.
Really Good Emails

12. Meet and exceed changing expectations. 

Customer expectations have changed since the pandemic hit. Strive to exceed (or, at the very least, meet) current expectations, such as:

  • Free shipping
  • Curbside pickup (for physical storefronts)
  • Free and simple returns
  • Money-back guarantees 
  • Fast and transparent shipping

13. Highlight the good you bring to the world.

As of 2018, 63% of American shoppers said they expect brands to play a leading role in social change. Half of consumers worldwide said they consider themselves “belief-driven buyers” who’ll reward or punish a brand based on their personal values.

Make your values apparent to shoppers. Let them know what charitable causes are closest to your heart and how you give back to the world.

14. Make it easy to address problems.

Seventy percent of consumers say they’re willing to spend more money when a brand offers exceptional customer service. Keep your lines of communication open at all touchpoints through tools like:

  • Live chat (if you have the resources to staff it)
  • Chatbots to answer FAQs
  • Dedicated email
  • WhatsApp or Telegram
  • Facebook messenger 

Wrap up

It takes constant attention and work to optimize your ecommerce experience. Shoppers aren’t static; their expectations change all the time. To keep customer engagement levels high beyond the holidays, remember to:

  • Create personalized and automated email marketing campaigns based on behavior.
  • Promote seasonal sales and products.
  • Focus on cross-selling and upselling.
  • Be a helper with free shipping, easy returns, and charity work.
  • Set up loyalty and referral programs.
  • Showcase your reviews and user-generated content while responding to feedback.
  • Provide plenty of communication channels.
  • Develop an abandoned cart email strategy.

Looking for more engagement tactics? Read our blog post on 9 Ecommerce Marketing Strategies to Grow Your Store Through a Targeted Audience.