At its heart, marketing of any form has always been about connecting with the customer. Once a rapport is established, companies can use that relationship and trust to steer the customer toward a sale.
So after years of fine-tuning and perfecting their marketing efforts, why is it still so hard for companies to measure a relationship in a concrete way?
It’s easy to look at relationships as one-and-done propositions and focus solely on immediate, short-term impact. But this mind-set essentially ignores the compound value that these relationships provide. A single happy customer could refer another person on your behalf or make a widely viewed social post, all with the intent of raising your brand awareness.
But how exactly can that expansion be measured? My company recently did a study of our customers’ participation and engagement levels, and the numbers we found painted a fantastic picture. For example, we saw a 40 percent share rate from our brand ambassadors, with each share netting an average of 11.5 visits to our site. With only $3.62 of revenue per site visit, 10,000 ambassadors could rack up $166,520 in revenue if they each shared just a single time. The more those ambassadors continue to share, the higher those numbers will go.
So how can other e-commerce marketers unearth those numbers for their own relationship-building efforts? Try a few of these steps for yourself:
1. Clean out potential friction for affiliates.
As of 2016, affiliate marketing has netted 16 percent of all e-commerce sales, a number that is consistently on the rise. And while this proves that affiliate marketing is gaining more mainstream acceptance, that doesn’t mean it should be treated as a set-it-and-forget-it arrangement.
Campaigns must be easy to use on the front end in order to produce success metrics that are clear, repeatable and measurable on the back end. Ideally, you want to establish a referral program that makes it as simple as possible for ambassadors and affiliates to discuss or promote your brand, no matter what channel they use to interact with consumers.
2. Emphasize delightful, high-value points of connection.
To grow your network of enthusiastic brand ambassadors, identify those moments in your marketing copy where customers should be really excited about your product or service. Capitalize on those moments by providing an opportunity for customers to share with others through a specialized referral link.
This personalization tactic has been helping e-commerce retailers, with overall customer satisfaction posting record or near-record highs in recent years. While brick-and-mortar retailers struggle to retain loyal customers, e-commerce retailers can leverage this customer-centric connection to encourage sharing at the most valuable times and expand their reach.
3. Simplify the customization process.
When a referral program is first implemented, your developers will likely need to be heavily involved to keep everything running smoothly. However, once the program is in effect, it should be easy for marketers to make any necessary adjustments themselves without slowing down the process with complicated alterations to the technology.
For instance, look at Shopify. The company’s website includes staff accounts that allow employees with sufficient clearance to make adjustments and access their customers’ private information. This versatility makes pivoting easier and allows companies to make real-time adjustments to their campaigns when the occasion arises.
Building relationships in e-commerce may seem like a complicated, confusing process, but it doesn’t have to be. By simplifying and streamlining wherever possible, you can craft a program that’s specifically designed for ongoing — and measurable — success.
Jeff Epstein is the CEO and founder of Ambassador, a trusted referral software company that empowers brands to increase customers, referrals and revenue by leveraging and scaling the power of word-of-mouth.
Related story: The Compelling Case for Affiliate Marketing
Jeff Epstein is the CEO and founder of Ambassador, a trusted referral software company that empowers brands to increase customers, referrals and revenue by leveraging and scaling the power of word-of-mouth. Epstein is a lifelong entrepreneur with a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology, and a degree in business from Michigan State University.