Another great post for our November e-commerce theme. Amy Bernstein, Marketing Communications Associate at The Grommet discusses the importance of engaging in a conversation with customers and various ways this can be done. Are you a MITX Member interested in guest blogging? E-mail taylor [at] mitx [dot] org.
Amy Bernstein is a Marketing Communications Associate with The Grommet. She spends the majority of her time working on PR, content and community building to support the loyal community. She can be reached via email at [email protected] and tweets from @abernst.
Every good marketer knows that building a strong community is key to success. There are many ways to pull people in, but it’s more difficult to keep them regularly engaged with compelling content. At The Grommet, we produce and promote plentiful, rich content to keep our consumers coming back every day. For each day’s launch, we produce a tailored video that tells the story behind the product and the maker, including where it was made and materials used. We educate our consumers on Citizen Commerce so they know that every time they make a purchase, they are truly voting with their dollars.
This dialogue should be a two-way street, however, so in addition to giving, we also ask to receive. We actively invite our community to converse with us, to give us their opinions, and to suggest new products on a daily basis. Why? Because we know that thoughtful, open conversation will only increase trust and long-term commitment.
We compel our community to share their likes, dislikes, and overall feedback through several channels.
We launch at least one new product each day, and for each launch we open up a live comment board where community members can connect directly with the founders, with each other, and with The Grommet team to ask questions or provide feedback. Some people write how much they love the product and cannot wait to receive it. Some people comment that they wish the product was made for adults when it’s (technically) a kids’ product. And some people voice their opinion over products that aren’t made in the U.S.A. (Many of our Grommets are made domestically, but it’s unfortunately not realistic for all of our makers.) The makers respond to each and every comment, making our board a unique place for such close interaction. The founder benefits from immediate feedback they can then take to modify their product or take to retailers, consumers’ benefit as they feel their voice is being heard, and The Grommet benefits from a strengthened, engaged community.
Similar to our comment board, we open each of our Grommets to review, whereby people voice opinions on the product once they’ve purchased. They can also rate the product with 1 - 5 “Grommets” instead of stars, a nice way to keep with our branding. This is yet another avenue to provide market feedback for the makers and it also helps our consumers to decide whether this is the right purchase for them, further building trust with our community. Consumers know that when they shop on The Grommet, the products have been through vetting by The Grommet itself, and then by customers who have previously made the same purchase.
As part of our commitment to Citizens’ Commerce, we believe that consumers are those who decide which products succeed and that every purchase is an act of citizenship. We have a spot on our site called our Citizens Gallery to encourage this very idea. If someone has an idea for a grommet, they can post it to the gallery and people can vote for which product they feel should make it onto The Grommet. Our curation team pores over these ideas daily and while not all get featured, some do and each is given the time and attention deserved.
Our referral network is strong and we have gained a significant number of makers from referrals as well as customers through word of mouth marketing. This is beneficial for us, but it is more significant for our makers and community to engage with each other in ways they might ordinarily not be able to do. This shows how our community gives back to us as well as each other.
If you’re looking for more ways to engage your e-commerce community beyond strong content, think about how you can ask them to join the conversation. You’ll likely receive new ideas and content you can transform to use for marketing purposes, necessary feedback for you or your partners, and a stronger community on the other side.