Retailers should take time to build emotional connections with customers because it helps maintain customer loyalty, which then turns into additional revenue, says Steve Deckert, the co-founder of Smile.io. And he should know: Smile.io helps businesses create emotional customer connections through loyalty, rewards, VIP, and referral programs. Marketers not creating those relationships should think about the brands they personally use and the emotional connections they have with those brands. “And then ask yourself if you’re creating those experiences for your customers,” Deckert said. “And if not, chances are you’re investing in transactional relationships and you’re not further developing those relationships into emotional relationships.” On this episode of The Commerce Marketer Podcast, Deckert outlines ways to make the purchase experience more of a conversation than a transaction, build brand community through experiences, create a modern-day rewards program, and exhibit customer service that builds emotional connections with customers. When retailers take the time to build emotional connections, consumers have 3x higher lifetime value, 2x higher annual spend, and 1.5x longer brand tenure. But most businesses don’t have these programs in place, limiting their customer interactions to price, convenience, and selection. “We’re seeing a lot of retailers overinvest in building transactional relationships and not going the distance and investing in emotional relationships with their customers,” said Deckert. Brands, especially online retailers, can build emotional connections by first creating moments around the boxes their products are shipped in. “They can elevate the customer unboxing experience, which is usually the height of that customer’s excitement,” Deckert said. “Let’s elevate their experience by including some other things, maybe a handwritten note from someone who packed their order.” Deckert outlined other ways brands can build emotional customer connections: Associate with causes. Personalize well-timed lifecycle messages like tips on caring for a product. Identify top customers and notify them first of upcoming sales. Use social media to engage customers, not just broadcast information, to show they’re valued and being welcomed into the brand’s community. While these efforts build emotional customer connections, most brands are not putting resources into them because they can be difficult to quantify, unlike transactional actions like email sends and coupon codes, Deckert said. “It’s difficult to measure the effectiveness of doing a surprise and delight campaign to our best customers,” he said. “It’s a difficult thing to do, but just like any digital marketing channel, or any strategy for that matter, the things that’ll win the next five years are not the status quo right now.”