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Sports & Outdoor Ecommerce Guide: Best Customer Marketing Strategies for Fast-Growing Brands

Discover how sports & outdoor brands can thrive in the growing ecommerce landscape with actionable insights and strategies in this guide.

May 28, 2024 | 11 minute read

Sports & Outdoor Ecommerce Guide: Best Customer Marketing Strategies for Fast-Growing Brands

Megan Wenzl

Content Marketing Manager

The outdoor market has experienced a substantial surge in recent years, now worth $5.3 billion more than it was in 2019. This significant growth can largely be attributed to the seismic shifts brought about by the pandemic. As lockdowns kept individuals indoors, a collective yearning for the open air grew, resulting in a surge of outdoor activities.

Today, there’s a sizable opportunity for sports and outdoor brands to capitalize on this burgeoning market. Not only has the industry grown considerably over the past few years, it’s projected to keep surging into the future. In fact, the entire sports and outdoor ecommerce industry is expected to generate over $109 billion per year in the U.S. by 2027.

Marketing Strategies for Sports & Outdoor Brands

In this fast-growing environment, outdoor ecommerce brands must equip themselves with robust marketing strategies that resonate with their audience and drive tangible results. This guide is crafted with precisely this objective in mind — to empower sports and outdoor brands with actionable insights and best practices to thrive in an ever-evolving ecommerce landscape.

Let’s dive in and discover how you can seize the opportunities that lie ahead.

Build a Loyalty Program

For brands selling in the competitive sports outdoor ecommerce industry, having a loyal customer base is paramount for sustained success. Loyalty programs serve as powerful tools to incentivize repeat purchases and foster meaningful connections with your audience. By offering rewards and incentives, you not only encourage customer retention but also increase customer lifetime value (CLTV), driving long-term profitability for your brand.

Consider a sports and outdoor brand that specializes in bikes. A loyalty program enables customers to earn points with every interaction they have with the brand, whether it’s making a purchase or leaving a review. These points can then be redeemed for discounts on future purchases, exclusive access to new product launches, or even special experiences such as guided biking tours.

By implementing a loyalty program tailored to the unique needs and preferences of your audience, you not only foster a sense of belonging but also incentivize ongoing engagement with your brand. Moreover, by rewarding customers for their loyalty, you create advocates who are more likely to spread positive word-of-mouth and attract new customers to your brand.

 

 

Turn Loyal Customers into Superfans with Referrals

Once you’ve built your loyalty program, the next step is to harness the power of your loyal customers to become your brand’s most passionate advocates — Superfans. These are customers who not only love your products but are also deeply invested in your brand’s mission and values.

One of the best ways to build a community of Superfans is through referral programs. These programs offer a pathway to transform loyal customers into enthusiastic promoters, driving organic growth and amplifying brand reach in the process. Here’s how it works:

  • Encourage your loyal customers to refer their friends and family to your sports and outdoor brand.
  • In exchange for their advocacy, offer enticing incentives such as discounts, or even monetary rewards for successful referrals.
  • Drive high-quality leads at a lower cost than traditional advertising. Tapping into the existing trust and affinity that Superfans have for your brand is a great way to amplify your marketing efforts.

Imagine this: a loyal customer who has been a member of your loyalty program for years refers their hiking buddy to your outdoor brand. Not only does the new customer make a purchase, but they also become a loyal customer themselves, joining your loyalty program and engaging with your brand on a deeper level.

This virtuous cycle of loyalty and advocacy not only drives immediate sales but also fosters a community of Superfans who are instrumental in fueling your brand’s growth and success.

Ask for and Display Reviews

Collecting authentic and compelling reviews is one of the most important things you can do for your brand. Reviews serve as powerful social proof, offering potential customers insights into the quality and performance of your products, as well as the overall shopping experience. By actively soliciting high-quality reviews and showcasing them prominently on your website, you can bolster trust and credibility, and also drive conversion and retention.

To collect and display high-quality customer reviews:

  • Encourage customers to provide detailed and descriptive feedback that highlights product attributes and their own experiences. Aim for reviews rich in content, offering valuable insights into features, functionality, and suitability for outdoor activities.
  • Incorporate customer attributes into review collections to enrich content and help potential customers relate. Encourage customers to share relevant details about themselves, such as their outdoor interests, skill level, and usage scenarios. This additional context not only enriches the review content but also helps potential buyers better identify with and relate to the experiences shared by fellow outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Display reviews prominently on product pages for easy access to first-hand feedback while browsing. Leverage Okendo’s review display features to showcase reviews in visually engaging formats, such as photo galleries or video testimonials. Additionally, highlight top-rated products and customer favorites to guide purchasing decisions and instill confidence in prospective buyers.

Create Ad Campaigns with Social Proof

Integrate reviews, user-generated content (UGC), and star ratings into your ad campaigns, harnessing the persuasive power of social proof to drive engagement, conversions, and brand loyalty.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Incorporate authentic customer reviews into your ad creatives. Let the voices of satisfied customers speak for themselves. Feature snippets of glowing reviews that highlight the unique benefits and features of your sports and outdoor products. By showcasing real experiences and opinions, you instill trust and credibility in your ads, making them more persuasive and compelling to your target audience.
  • Leverage UGC to add authenticity and credibility to your ad campaigns. Encourage customers to share photos, videos, and stories of their outdoor adventures with your products, and incorporate this UGC into your ad creatives. Whether it’s a stunning landscape shot captured with your hiking gear or a heartwarming testimonial video from a satisfied camper, user-generated content humanizes your brand and resonates with potential customers on a deeper level.
  • Incorporate star ratings directly into your ad creatives to communicate the quality and popularity of your products. Whether it’s a five-star rating overlay on a product image or a dynamic display of average ratings in ad copy, star ratings serve as visual cues that signal trust and reliability to consumers, prompting them to take action.

Consumers are more likely to engage with and trust ads that feature authentic testimonials and peer recommendations. Embrace the power of social proof to elevate the effectiveness of your marketing efforts and drive meaningful results for your sports and outdoor brand.

Gather Feedback from Surveys and Reviews to Improve Experiences and Inform Product Development

Key to staying ahead in the outdoor ecommerce landscape is continuously refining and optimizing the customer experience. Central to this is proactively gathering feedback through Reviews and Surveys.

Surveys serve as invaluable tools for gathering feedback from your customer base. This tool provides a structured framework for capturing customer sentiments and preferences. They help you uncover areas of strength and areas for improvement across every touchpoint of the customer journey, from browsing and purchasing to post-sale support.

Similarly, reviews offer a wealth of unfiltered insights into the real-world experiences of your customers. By actively encouraging customers to leave reviews and ratings, you create a customer feedback loop that not only amplifies social proof but also provides invaluable data to inform product direction.

Pay close attention to recurring themes and patterns in customer feedback, whether it’s praise for specific product features or suggestions for enhancements. This qualitative data offers unique perspectives and actionable insights that can guide important decisions and shape the future development of your product offerings.

Provide Product Recommendation Quizzes

Personalizing the shopping experience is essential in today’s competitive landscape, and one effective way to achieve this is through product recommendation quizzes. These quizzes guide shoppers through a series of tailored questions, allowing you to gain insights into their preferences, needs, and lifestyle, and ultimately provide them with personalized product recommendations that resonate with their unique requirements.

Here’s some tips for maximizing the potential of your product recommendation quizzes:

  • Integrate them throughout your marketing strategy: Particularly in paid advertising campaigns. Linking your quiz directly in your ads enhances engagement and also signals to shoppers that you are committed to understanding their individual needs and preferences.
  • Ask the right questions: Craft your quiz with thoughtful and relevant questions that delve into shoppers’ preferences, needs, and lifestyles. By asking the right questions, you can gather valuable insights that enable you to provide personalized recommendations tailored to each individual.
  • Add visuals to quizzes: Incorporate visuals such as images or videos into your quizzes to enhance engagement and captivate the attention of shoppers. Visual elements not only make the quiz more appealing but also help to illustrate product options and showcase their features effectively.
  • Show relevant recommendations: Based on the responses provided in the quiz, ensure that the recommendations presented to shoppers are highly relevant and aligned with their preferences. Tailor the recommendations to match their needs and offer a diverse range of options to cater to different tastes and requirements.
  • Make it easy to purchase: Streamline the purchasing process by providing direct links to recommended products and the option to add to cart within the quiz results. Ensure that shoppers can easily transition from the quiz to the product pages to complete their purchase minimizing friction and maximizing conversion rates.

 

Success Stories: Sports and Outdoors Brands Using Customer Marketing

ICEMULE Uses Okendo Quizzes to Reduce Returns & Boost Revenue

ICEMULE is a leading outdoor brand specializing in portable and versatile coolers designed for outdoor adventures. Their products are renowned for their durability, insulation, and convenience, making them a favorite among outdoor enthusiasts.

“Find Your ICEMULE” Quiz and Quiz Landing Page

ICEMULE Coolers implemented a “Find Your ICEMULE” quiz, a personalized tool designed to match customers with the perfect cooler for their needs and preferences.

The quiz landing page provided an engaging and interactive experience, guiding shoppers through a series of questions to identify their ideal cooler based on factors such as usage scenario, capacity requirements, and preferred features.

Duffy Flynn, Customer Experience and Operations at ICEMULE, provides this advice to brands: “To make sure that a quiz works properly, it’s important to think about it from the view of your consumer and figure out how you can help that person find the product. Once you do that, the Okendo platform makes setting up a quiz very easy to do.”

Results

Reduced Returns by 60%:
By guiding customers to the most suitable cooler for their needs through the quiz, ICEMULE Coolers significantly reduced returns, leading to improved operational efficiency and cost savings.

5% Increase in Total Revenue:
The implementation of the quiz not only optimized the shopping experience for customers but also contributed to a notable increase in total revenue for ICEMULE Coolers.

 

 

Reid Cycles Uses Okendo Referrals to Send Referral Requests to Customers Who Leave a Positive Review

Reid Cycles is a prominent bicycle retailer known for offering high-quality bikes at affordable prices, catering to cyclists of all skill levels and preferences. With a focus on providing exceptional value and customer service, Reid Cycles has established itself as a trusted name in the cycling community.

Referral Program and Reviews

Reid Cycles recognized the importance of consolidating their tech stack to streamline operations and enhance the customer experience.

In partnership with Okendo, Reid Cycles implemented a referral program to incentivize word-of-mouth marketing and reward both existing customers and their referred friends or family members.

David Hannay, GM/Marketing Director of Reid Cycles says, “We chose Okendo Referrals because of our positive experience with Reviews. Customers like the interface, and we’ve had much higher review response rates than Trustpilot or other tools we’ve used. We have found it really helps to consolidate our tech stack into the smallest number of providers possible to get the job done, so we’re happy to consider any tools released by Okendo.”

The referral program offers a $20 incentive to both the customer and the referred friend or family member when the latter spends $100 or more, creating a win-win scenario for all parties involved.

Results

The implementation of the referral program provided Reid Cycles with a powerful tool to harness the influence of satisfied customers and drive new customer acquisition through word-of-mouth referrals.

By consolidating their tech stack and choosing Okendo Referrals, Reid Cycles optimized their operations and maximized the efficiency of their marketing efforts.

 

Conclusion

Throughout this guide, we’ve explored the best strategies and practices for fast-growing brands in the sports and outdoor ecommerce market. Each strategy we’ve outlined is designed to empower your brand to thrive in a competitive market.

As you accelerate your journey to success, remember that the key lies in understanding your customers’ needs, preferences, and aspirations. At Okendo, we’ve built an all-in-one platform to make it easier for you to achieve exactly this, so you can build more productive and profitable relationships with your customers.

To learn more about Okendo, book a demo or visit our platform page.

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