If there’s one thing you know about running a successful business it’s that you need customers in order to exist. While at times you might focus on acquiring a bunch of new customers (say if you are a brand new business or during the busy holiday season), a majority of your energy should really be focused on customer retention.
Customer retention is all about reducing your customer churn rate. Instead of shopping with you once or twice, the goal is to secure a customer for life. Every time they shop for a product that your brand offers, they turn to you instead of shopping elsewhere. It’s not just a sign that you’ve got a great business, it also results in increased revenue.
The numbers are impressive. Research shows that increasing your customer retention by just 5% can result in a profit increase of at least 25% and by as much as 95%! Return customers tend to have a higher average order value, and they also contribute to stats such as purchase frequency and repeat purchase rate.
How do you actually increase customer retention? There is a lot you can and should be doing to shift your attention from customer acquisition to customer retention. Here’s 5 powerful customer retention strategies to get started with.
Let’s get a little bit more specific. You want to improve your user experience- but where should you focus your attention? Here’s a list of common issues that may be contributing to a negative UX:
Mobile optimization: People are looking at your website from a mobile device, there is just no denying that. In fact, you can check your Google Analytics to see an exact percentage. No matter what that number is- you want to make sure those customers are having just as great of an experience as your desktop customers are having.
Search: Make sure you’ve got a great search function at your site. People don’t want to take the time scouring your website to find what they want. Make it easy for them by having a search bar.
Single Sign On: Also known as SSO, this is a great way to improve your UX. In fact, it is something we recently did here at Aimtell to help improve our own UX. This allows a user to easily sign up for your website using an account they have already created- such as their Google account, or a social media account like Facebook or Twitter. This makes it much quicker and safer for users to become a user at your site and gives them one less password they need to keep track of.
Guest Check Out: Make it just as easy for guests who do not have an account with you to make a purchase. Don’t require them to create an account, even if you have SSO as an option! Always provide a guest check out option, as it will help reduce your amount of abandoned carts and result in a positive user experience.
Customer Service: Having a solid customer service strategy in place will majorly improve your user experience, and therefore help improve your customer retention. It is inevitable that your potential customers will have questions- make it easy for them to get answers! In addition to having an FAQ page at your website, have a variety of customer service options available as well. We particularly love live chat- and so do most customers.
Provide Order Updates: Once a user has placed an order, make sure you keep them updated on its status. One of the best ways to either make a customer really happy or really mad is by how you handle this part of the sale. No one likes feeling like their order is missing. Provide tracking info once their order has shipped and keep users updated via text message, email, or web push notification. The better this experience is, the more likely they will want to shop with you again in the future.
Social Selling: Your user experience extends off of your website as well. Consider making it easier for users to shop with you by utilizing social selling. This makes it easy for a user to discover and purchase your products as they see them places such as your Facebook page, Instagram feed, or even your Instagram Story. Don’t just advertise your products on social media- make it easy for your users to know what those products are, and give them a quick way to add them to their cart to purchase them!
2. Follow Up Post-Sale
While optimizing your site and social media for a great user experience is a great place to start, where you need to go next is your post-sale strategy. This is where things really begin! You’ve got the customer- now you just need to keep them. A great way to nurture that relationship is by following up with them post-sale. You can do this in a variety of ways.
Sending a thank you email is a great way to engage your customers and keep them happy. In fact, a great post-sale follow up campaign can help you in several ways. This is a great opportunity to request feedback. Make sure you send this email once a user has had your product for a few days. Not only can you use this feedback to help potentially improve your product or brand experience, you can use it at your website to help provide social proof.
Thanking a customer and asking for feedback also helps prove to your customers that you actually care that they are satisfied with their purchase and want to hear how their experience was. This is a great way to impress your customers and help encourage them to shop with you again.
Consider expanding your follow up email into a follow up series that will help keep customers engaged with your brand. After a thank you message, schedule other campaigns that share relevant content related to the purchase. This could be a blog post discussing the item, a tutorial video showing how to use it, or related items a customer might be interested in purchasing next. Make sure every campaign does not focus on making a sale, however. Instead, provide a steady stream of highly relevant and useful content and mix in related items.
3. Run Short-Term Sales
A tried-and-true method, you can’t deny the power of a good sale. Oftentimes a great sale can be just the trigger a customer needs to come and shop with you again. Price may not be the only factor determining if a customer will make a purchase, but it is an important one.
In particular, running short term sales are a great way to help improve customer retention. These sales tend to be more effective in general because they create a real sense of urgency. Take the example above- it is a unique take on the common flash sale model. Instead of having a set sale for a short amount of time, a user instead has to claim a discount that is only available to a limited amount of people. This is a great way to get people interested and willing to shop with you again. Nobody wants to miss out on a great deal- sometimes it is just that simple!
4. Create a Subscription/Membership Program
The last few years have seen a huge increase in various ecommerce subscription or membership programs. This is a great way to improve customer retention- as long as you do it right. Don’t confuse these with rewards programs, which is another great strategy that we have discussed in the past. These programs, instead, represent a relatively new way for brands to improve customer retention by offering paid programs that provide their users with a lot of value.
As you can imagine, the key here is that you need to provide a lot of value. Because a customer will have to pay money to enroll, you will have a harder time convincing them to join. However, if you provide a great product or service, it is one of the best ways to lock in customers and have them shopping with you on a regular basis.
Part of your service might include sending customers items each month, but it doesn’t have to. While subscription service brands like Birchbox or Blue Apron are incredibly successful, it is not the only model to consider.
Instead, you can also provide users with other unique benefits that they have to pay for in order to get. The above example provides some great ideas. Once a user becomes a member of The Fringe, they get access to things like free shipping, a permanent 20% discount on all products, early access to new products, and a $10 credit each month.
You need to make sure your membership or subscription provides enough value that a customer is willing to pay for it. As we mentioned earlier, loyalty and rewards programs are also popular, and those are typically free to join. Your membership program needs to offer unique, tangible value that a customer would be happy to pay for.
Starting a membership program may not be the easiest thing, but it is can seriously help improve your customer retention. These programs essentially ‘force’ a customer to shop with you regularly- but by providing such great value, it doesn’t feel forced at all. Instead, your customers will be happy to make use of their benefits and shop with you on a regular basis.
5. Retarget Previous Customers
Don’t let your previous customers slip through the cracks. Instead, retarget them! These customers have already proven their interest in your brand and are more likely to shop with you compared to brand new customers. A great retargeting campaign will bring back old customers and turn them into active, repeat customers.
Web push is a great way to retarget old customers, as you can directly engage your audience on both desktop and mobile devices. Take the example notification above- it is a great campaign to send to any previous customer that shopped for sports items at your website. By segmenting your audience you can make sure they are receiving relevant campaigns that are based on their actions at your website. Combine that with other personalization such as using their first name and you’ve got a recipe for success. In fact, research shows that this level of relevancy and personalization has been proven to convince 44% of customers to make another purchase.
Retargeting doesn’t just stop at one campaign. Make sure you develop a solid content strategy that will continue to regularly engage your subscribers in order to keep your brand at the front of their mind and them excited to shop with you on a regular basis.
Focusing more time and energy on your customer retention efforts is one of the smartest decisions you’ll make in 2019. By engaging your current customers by providing them with a great user experience, offering excellent sales and membership options, retargeting old customers, and more, you are sure to increase your number of repeat customers and, therefore, your revenue.
From a customer perspective, which customer retention strategies seem most valuable to you? What would entice you to become a loyal customer? Let us know by sending us a message!
Looking to get started with web push notifications? Get started for free with Aimtell, or learn more about web push by reading our Beginner’s Guide.