This article was published on March 31, 2016

Top e-commerce influencers on customer evangelism

Top e-commerce influencers on customer evangelism
Aimee Millwood

Customers aren’t just shoppers anymore. Their value is so much more than just a sale.

Customers are becoming powerful brand advocates for brands, and as their involvement grows, so does the number of ways they can contribute.

Whether customer content marketing, participatory commerce, social conversations, or crowdsourced product ideas, innovative brands are finding ways to engage with and create conversations with customers.

We asked top industry experts why they think customer contribution is crucial for the future of e-commerce. Here’s what they had to say:


“As this happens, the power of the customer base in the company will continue to grow. It will fundamentally change the math behind customer acquisition costs.

Although the concept of “viral growth” has been around for a while, it’s been an untenable beast that few have been able to measure or control with precision. As the role of the customer movement in business growth increases, that will make those measurements even more important.

The rise of the “customer centric company” (that is, a company where acquiring and retaining a customer is the unit of economic value that the business is solving for rather than individual transactions) will naturally align itself well with customer contributions to power growth.”

– Sam Mallikarjunan, head of e-commerce marketing at HubSpot, follow him @Mallikarjunan


“It’s the type of difference maker that can pull new customers to all forms of online products, and pull loyal customers off of marketplaces and onto higher-margin e-ommerce sites.”

– Sam Spetalnick, e-commerce advisor at BigCommerce, follow him @IAmSamATX


We consider this to be a form of data driven thinking. When you crowdsource products you basically get to see what products sell well before investing the capital to produce them.”

– Jake Kassan, co-founder of MVMT Watches


“Customers appreciate when you’re genuinely listening to their feedback and suggestions – and them feeling involved is integral to long-term engagement. Right now, our Create page is at 3,065 comments and people just write things all they want on here.

We just came out with these black charms and they’re a huge success.  And some girl commented on our Instagram, they’re like, “Oh, my god, I suggested that idea.  So glad it happened.” It’s cool that a fan wrote that and it came to life.”

– Griffin Thall, co-founder of Pura Vida


“I think it’s become crucial to businesses period, but especially e-commerce because online businesses aren’t afforded the opportunity to develop a relationship with their customer base the same way you are able to at a brick and mortar business.”

– Michael Perry, founder of KitCRM, follow him @MichaelPerry


“We’re seeing brands still at the experimental stage in regards to how they incorporate customer contribution into their business model.

For some brands, their business model is completely dependent on customer participation.  There are furniture companies for example that only make the pieces for which their community votes for.

There are other companies that incorporate customer input as an element of their model.  We’re seeing this with what Dominoes pizza is doing with their Pizza Mogul concept allowing their community to submit and build their own pizza and then the most popular user generated pizzas are being made available for others to order.”

– Daniel Townshed, founding partner of the Plum Tree Group, an award-winning agency recognized by Inc. 5000 for its work


“It definitely makes the entire e-commerce ecosystem more innovative, personal and competitive which is great.”

– Andrew Youderian, founder of e-commerce Fuel, follow him @youderian

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