Ecommerce memberships can tend to get boring and repetitive for customers after a point. Unless, you strongly convey to the customer the value your store’s membership has to offer.
It’s just like how items purchased on a recurring basis can tend to seem humdrum. Customers won’t buy your product again and again, unless they see value in the continued use of your brand/ product. Ecommerce memberships are no different.
Customers often sign up for memberships with different brands in different industries/ product categories. For example, clothing brands (Fabletics VIP membership), grocery (Safeway Membership), Fitness (Peloton) , entertainment (Prime Video), etc.
Firstly, it can get difficult for customers to keep a track of each and every membership they’re a part of. Secondly, when added together at the end of the month, expenses to membership fees can seem expensive. Thirdly, customers could easily miss renewing their membership plans, as it’s difficult to keep up with so many of them.
There are lots of such challenges in memberships. And so, to keep your customers interested in your membership and to retain them, you need to keep them engaged.
And that’s what we’ll learn in this Appstle Memberships Lesson.
Here’s what we’re going to cover:
- Keep your Shopify store updated with products in demand
- Regularly update membership perks
- Frequently communicate with customers
- Create a member community
- Create members-only activities
- Gamify your ecommerce membership program
- Consistently follow up with members
- Enable perks-sharing for members
Ways to keep your Shopify membership model updated, relevant and engaging for your customers:-
Keep your store updated with products in demand
Brands keep developing new products to address customer needs. As new products or upgraded versions of old products provide new value to consumers, your customers would expect to buy the new products from your store.
And if they don’t find them in your store, they might stop making purchases from you. On the contrary, when you update your inventory with new products, there will always be something for customers to shop and redeem membership perks. This is also a way to increase repeat sales.
Products that are new and offer more value, would help your business grow. Or else, you would lose your strength in the market against competitors.
However, how often you can update your products, depends mainly on what type of products you are selling and how often customers transact in your store.
For example, if you sell electronic appliances, your customers might shop from you every few years. Whereas, if you sell clothes, your customers might come to your store a few times a year.
Thus, this engagement strategy will change a bit depending on your product category, too. Here are a few tips to follow:
- Keep an eye out for new inventions in your industry.
- Keep a track of products offerings of your competitors.
- Try to be the first to introduce new products.
- Make it easy for your customers to try the new products in your store.
Frequently change membership perks
Newness is one of the most common strategies in retail. Today’s consumers are demanding. Moreover, it’s easy for them to compare your membership program with other brands’.
In this scenario, what could you do to ensure they stay engaged in your membership? Apart from having the right price, one key factor is updating the perks.
Now, discounted rates, first-access to sale, free shipping, etc. are common perks that most brands offer. Not that that makes them uninteresting, but adding new perks can attract customers’ attention and keep them engaged.
What are the unique perks that you offer to your customers?
Here are some ideas of new perks and tweaks you could add to your membership.
- Organize members-only special events.
- Exclusive content – for example, a special newsletter only for members.
- Member participation in surveys and user testing – these are activities that make members a part of decision making processes.
- Make discounts exciting – present them in a way that members can offset the cost of the membership. Illustrate how regular redemption can save members more than what they pay for the membership.
- Surprise rewards, points, and gifts. Simple, inexpensive gifts with personalized messages can go a long way.
Communicate with members proactively across all channels
Here’s a harsh truth – your membership customers are most probably members with other brands, too. More than 50% of e-commerce consumers worldwide subscribe to memberships and subscriptions programs.
That’s quite a high number of consumers to ignore.
If you don’t bother to communicate with your customers, they might forget about your membership. Or worst, your competitors who are spot-on with their communication strategies, might grab their attention before you do.
To keep customers engaged, you’ll have to constantly communicate with them about your memberships.
Here are different types of communications you could incorporate:
- Communicate over social media – send personalized messages, run campaigns, share posts, stories, etc.
- Run email campaigns to remind them of the perks and how they could use them.
- Communicate over SMS and WhatsApp to share notifications and updates about perks.
- Send real-time notifications on different channels as soon as they earn new perks or use some perks.
- Share social proof of how other members have benefited from your perks.
- Send them regular updates via newsletters.
You can also run targeted marketing campaigns, to achieve this objective
Create a community for your members
Most brands offer discounts, free shipping, and first-access to their members. But ever thought about perks that actually draw customers in, (as in, customer acquisition)?
Communities are psychological triggers. When people feel like they are a part of a community of like-minded people, they feel more satisfied and happy.
This feeling makes customers feel closer to the brand and thus, makes it easy for them to stick around and continue buying from your brand.
Communities can be created in many ways:
- As a private group on social media or any other online platform – requiring login, or as invite-only.
- Separate communities for customers belonging to different membership levels/ plans.
- One single private community of all your membership customers.
- Public community which is easily searchable.
- A hybrid community that has elements of both private and public.
However, for real engagement to take place within your community, customers would require to feel comfortable. Only then would they be able to interact with other customers, ask questions, share opinions, and truly engage.
Example: the online cosmetics brand, Sephora’s community
Create members-only events and discounts
When customers receive something exclusive, it makes them feel special. Create a members-only program that gives customers added benefits in addition to the regular perks.
For example, special events and discounts. But for this, you might have to get into much deeper personalization.
Let’s look at how a women’s clothing brand in China built a sophisticated membership system to drive offline and online interactions.
The brand was struggling to integrate offline and online channels into its membership system. Despite having a large number of offline members, its online membership performance was comparatively weak.
So this is what the brand did – divided the members into four groups:
1. Those who had completed both online and offline membership registration.
2. Those who had interacted with the brand online but only had offline membership.
3. Those who had made purchases online but only had offline membership.
4. Those who had an offline membership but never interacted online.
Next, the brand adopted different marketing tactics to target each group. It created personalized offerings for each group in private and public domains; Integrated customer data from different sources to maximize personalization.
After doing this, the brand saw 10x growth in their online memberships, and 30% increase in online sales.
Key takeaway from the above case study: You have different types of members. And you need to approach them differently. Hence, unless you go deeper into personalization, your membership program might not cut it.
Gamify the membership experience
Gamification is the use of game mechanics within your membership program. It works on the principle of engaging and motivating customers by introducing game-like mechanics to influence their actions.
Here’s one way to do it:
- Offer perks based on the duration that members have been associated with your membership program. For example, if a customer has been a member for 6 months, they get some perks. Those who’ve been members for a year get more perks. That way members would want to retain their memberships for longer periods. They would see how the value of the membership increases as time goes by – just like investments, where time is the real difference-maker.
- Offer perks and points when they cross a threshold of the total amount of purchases made on your site. For example, when members reach a total purchase value of $5000, they get promoted to the next level/ tier of your membership program. You could create many tiers so that members are motivated to keep rising higher in the program and avail more benefits. This is one way to increase repeat sales, too.
Consistently follow up with your members
One of the simplest ways to keep your members engaged, is to keep in touch with them. The better you stay in touch with your customers, the more engaged they’d be, and the more you’ll get to know them.
Here are the different ways in which you can keep in touch with your members:
- Follow up after they make a purchase, to ask for feedback
- Send them an update when they earn perks from you
- Keep them informed about new perks added to your membership plan
- Notify them about anything new that’s coming up in your store
- Ask for their feedback about the membership program
- Send thank you notes
- Conduct surveys to make them a part of your decision-making process
Following up with members, often has many benefits:
- It can help you uncover new trends and customer needs, which you can introduce in your store as well as your membership program
- Improves customer loyalty and leads to higher purchases
- It’s more cost-effective to retain members than to find new members (customer retention > customer acquisition)
Enable perks-sharing for members
Just like how clubs offer sharing benefits to family members, member-sharing perks when extended to customers’ family members, can help increase engagement.
For example, Amazon Household allows members to share perks, such as shipping benefits, with family members. Another example, somewhat similar, is how Apple allows customers to share features such as iCloud, Apple Music, TV+ with their friends and family.
When you enable members to share perks with their family and friends, the value of your program already increases in the customers’ minds. “If I don’t use the perks, at least my family members could use them.’ That way, their money isn’t wasted.
There’s one more thing member-sharing does: this way, your customers, by default, happen to introduce your membership benefits to others (their close family and friends). This may help to increase your ecommerce memberships in the long run.
Here’s how perks-sharing increases engagement.
When you let other customers’ family members utilize the perks and benefits, the chances of them being used increase. Even if your customer doesn’t use it, their family would. This would not only help you increase your reach, but also the longevity of the membership.
Moreover, when people receive recommendations from close family members and friends, they tend to trust the brand more. This means, your chances of increasing loyal customers, grows, too.
Members are the lifeline of membership plans. And to keep them happy and engaged with your membership programs, you’d have to consistently put in effort. Engagement also helps increase ecommerce memberships. And if you want to scale your business, it is important to sign-up new members.
Monitor the performance of your membership plan. Optimize aspects that need attention. Address member response to your membership program.
For this, you will have to keep measuring the performance of your membership plans. We’ll cover all about membership performance and metrics in the next lesson.
You’d need a Shopify app for memberships to help you with every aspect of your ecommerce membership programs. Appstle builds end-to-end membership solutions that help businesses increase customer loyalty and profitably scale business.
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