Repeat customers are critical to the success of an entrepreneur’s business, but the best way to authentically connect with customers is often shrouded in mystery. How can business owners be sure they aren’t ending up in their customer’s spam folder? What’s the best way to encourage customers to tell their friends? Which links have the highest click and re-visit rates?
If entrepreneurs want to engage with customers successfully, they need to take advantage of the part of the post-checkout experience most important to customers: the shipping process. From tracking pages and shipping labels to product packaging and inserts, there are multiple touchpoints in the shipping process ideal for engaging with customers, fostering brand loyalty, and driving additional business.
Here are three strategies for small business owners to make the most of these shipping touchpoints.
Brand the Physical Package.
While most of the newest marketing strategies today are digital, there’s something to be said about getting your brand physically in front of your customers. In fact, 61% of consumers said that branded aesthetics get them more excited about receiving a package, according to Dotcom Distribution.
And not only do unique, branded packages delight current customers, they can also lead to new ones. Half of online shoppers (50%) said the use of branded or gift-like packaging for online orders makes them more likely to recommend the product to friends.
Online retailers can also get creative with shipping labels and packing slips by adding more than just an address and postage. Consider showcasing new products, including loyalty coupons, sharing related recipes, incorporating care instructions, and more. Building up that otherwise empty space can lead to a better experience for the customer as well as more sales for your store.
Small business owners should also consider adding their company’s “signature” to the actual package, whether that means adding a fun quote to the inside of the box, adding their brand’s accent color to the wrapping paper, or maybe not even using a traditional “box” at all. Think about your customer base and the level of protection your products need in the shipping process when brainstorming ways you can make your packaging stand out.
Leverage “Transactional” Emails.
While some online retailers put a lot of thought into their newsletters or bulk deal emails, that same level of care doesn’t always go into transactional emails that are triggered by customers’ buying behavior (i.e., order confirmation, shipment confirmation, tracking link, etc.).
These emails are often wasted opportunities, especially when you look at the open and engagement rate of these types of messages. Research from Experian shows that customers open transactional emails repeatedly, with 114.3% of consumers opening order confirmation emails and 107.4% opening shipping confirmation emails.
Business owners should be adding more personalized information to these high-engagement emails that goes beyond simply stating that the store has received the order or that the tracking link is available. Using these emails to cross-sell items, personalize discounts and offers, link to the online store, and more can all lead to more sales opportunities.
And by placing a subscribe button in all transactional emails, brands can build up their database of email addresses for those regular newsletters and weekly deal messages that online retailers have traditionally used as well.
Customize the Tracking Page.
With the over 125 million tracking requests made daily for USPS, FedEx, and UPS, turning a generic tracking page into a branded tracking page can make a huge positive impression. Many large brands leave the tracking page up to the shipping courier instead of creating their own, leaving room for smaller businesses to really shine in this area.
Tracking pages attract a lot of attention, with the average user visiting the tracking page 3.5 times. Each time a customer visits that page is an opportunity for the consumer to connect to your brand in some way.
When creating your own branded tracking page, consider adding your logo, company colors, links to your company’s social media pages, your return policy, your customer service line and email address, etc. All of these additions allow the customer to further interact with your brand, as well as giving them helpful information right at their fingertips instead of having to navigate your entire website.
Taking full advantage of all of the touchpoints in the shipping process can strengthen your customers’ tie to your brand, create new sales, further streamline their customer service experience, and open doors for further customer interaction.
Robert Gilbreath is Chief Marketing Officer of ShipStation