6 Strategies to Keep Customers Coming Back For More
As a business owner, the only thing better than getting a customer to convert is getting them to convert again.
(And again…and again…)
While it’s obviously important to make that first sale to a new customer, attracting a bunch of “one-and-done” customers won’t be enough to keep your company moving in the right direction. More than likely, you’ll just end up spinning your wheels, overspending on acquisition while not reaping near enough value in return.
True success in business is all about retaining your customers:
6 Key Strategies to Increase Customer Retention and Purchase Frequency
Okay, so we know that retaining customers is good for business, and losing customers is bad for business.
But, a customer’s decision to stick around or to churn isn’t made at random. In most cases, this decision is based on the experiences the customer has had with your brand thus far.
(As we’ll get to, even involuntary churn can be avoided with swift and immediate action from your team.)
With that in mind, let’s take a look at six things you can do to stave off churn — and to keep your customers coming back for more time and time again.
Start Building Trust Immediately — and Follow Through
Earning — and maintaining — your customers’ trust is perhaps the most important thing you can do to keep them onboard.
Case in point, 82% of US consumers say they would stick with a brand they trust, even if a new and potentially better provider were to come along. What’s more, 63% say they’ll spend more on brands they trust, from their very first purchase and beyond.
There are three overarching things brands can do to build a sense of trust amongst their customer base. In each of these cases, the goal is to set the bar in terms of the customer’s expectations — then working to exceed these expectations in any way possible.
First, you need to offer high-quality products or services at what your customers consider to be fair and affordable prices. Needless to say, if your product/service doesn’t live up to the customer’s expectations — or if they cost more than they’re worth in the customer’s eyes — you probably aren’t going to keep said customer around for very long.
(On that note, it’s crucial that you enable new and existing customers alike to regularly experience quick wins and major victories as they use your product. Without these milestones marking their progress, your customers may decide to churn before they’ve even experienced the value of your products. More on this in a bit.)
You also need to make clear to your customers that you’re dedicated to their safety, satisfaction, and success — regardless of what it takes to make it happen. Among many other things, this means:
Keeping their personal information private and secure at all times
Addressing your customers’ comments and concerns as they arise
Treating your customers like people first, consumers second
Building trust amongst your target audience is also a matter of ethical business operations. Overall, more than one-third of global consumers want to know the brands they do business with:
Treat their employees fairly
Operate in a socially- and ecologically-sustainable manner
Champion causes to better the community they serve, and the world as a whole In all of these areas, consistency is key in order to maintain your audience’s trust. If your customers know with near-certainty that your brand is who it claims to be, and that they’ll always be able to rely on your team to help them succeed, they’ll have every reason to keep coming back to you whenever they’re in need.
Continue Delivering Unique, Ever-Evolving Value
To be blunt:
If you’re not constantly looking for ways to deliver more value to your customers (on an individual and audience-wide level), you stand very little chance of retaining them over the long term.
For one thing, those who were able to accomplish their initial goals may simply move on from your brand. After all, if they have no more use for your product or service — and you don’t offer them anything more — they have no reason to continue giving you their money.
Similarly, your long-time customers may experience diminishing returns from your products or services as time goes on. In such cases, once the magic of your offerings wears off, your customers may realize they no longer have a need for your brand at all.
All this being said, it’s up to your team to continuously seek out innovative ways to enhance the customer experience for your target audience, and your individual customers.
On the whole, your team needs to focus on keeping your brand relevant within your industry. This means staying up-to-date with:
Evolving overall customer expectations
Advances in ecommerce technology
Emerging channels through which to engage and sell to your customers
…and much more.
The idea here is to build a reputation for your brand as a progressive entity within your industry. If you’re always looking to the “next big thing”, your customers will always want to stick around to see what you’ll have for them in the future.
(Conversely, if your brand is seen as one that’s happy merely maintaining the status quo, you’ll run the risk of losing once-loyal customers to those who are better able to cater to their evolving expectations.)
As we said earlier, it’s also important to stay on top of your individual customer’s evolving (and/or changing) needs, as well. Rather than resting on your laurels once you’ve helped a customer accomplish their initial goals, you need to have a plan in place for taking them even further.
One key way to keep your customers coming back after they reach their goals is to deliver laser-focused upsells and cross-sells based on what you know about them.
(Note: While this tactic can be used to increase a customer’s order value as they head for a purchase, it can also be used to spur future engagement and sales, as well.)
Say, for example, you run a health & fitness retail store, where a newly-converted customer has recently purchased a small set of weights. After a period of time (during which the customer is, ideally, using your products regularly), you shoot them an offer for a) heavier weights, or b) additional weights focusing on different parts of the body.
Here, the idea is that the customer wouldn’t have gotten much value out of the secondary offer if they hadn’t first experienced gains with their initial purchase. On that same token, once they did experience success with their initial purchase, they were better prepared for this subsequent offer — which your team was equally as prepared to deliver.
Would this hypothetical customer come back to your store to make additional purchases on their own volition?
But, by waiting for them to return, you’d essentially be leaving this return up to chance.
To optimize your chances of retaining your customers, you need to reach out to them to ensure they know just how much more you have to offer them.
If you’re not constantly looking for ways to deliver more value to your customers, you always run the risk of losing them to a brand that does.
Provide Personal and Personable Customer Experiences
We mentioned earlier the importance of treating your individual customers as just that: Individuals.
The fact is, if you don’t do this, your customers aren’t going to stay onboard for too long. As a report from Segment shows, more than 70% of consumers experience frustration with impersonal brand experiences.
This frustration often leads to a number of negative, churn-related outcomes.
Delivering a personalized experience to your customers, though, can lead to a huge boost in retention: The report from Segment also shows that 44% of consumers will become repeat patrons after a single personalized experience.
LimeSpot Personalizer delivers laser-focused product recommendations based on purchase and engagement history
Product Recommendation Quiz allows your team to learn more about the customer before delivering highly-tailored product recommendations
Aimtell allows you to personalize various aspects of your push notification campaigns, using tailored messaging to engage individual site visitors
You can further personalize the customer’s experience by allowing them to take a look back on their time with your brand. For example, Sony sends PlayStation gamers a wrap-up email at the end of each year, showcasing their usage stats over the last twelve months:
Again, the goal is to do whatever you can to show your customers that you see them as individual people, and are actively paying attention to their individual experiences with your brand.
More than just being personal, you also want to be personable whenever possible. A 2017 report from American Express found that engaging with a pleasant and personable brand rep is key to a positive service experience — which, in turn, can increase your ability to retain the customer.
To that end, it’s important to weave human-to-human engagements at various points along your customer’s journey with your brand. Email, live chat, and direct messaging via social media are all prime ways to make this happen.
Check out how Drift’s team takes an ultra-personable approach when engaging with customers in need:
Assuming that Eve was then able to help Adam with his actual Drift-related question, it’s safe to say her friendly, lighthearted greeting added that “extra something” to make his experience much more memorable.
Of course, as your customer base grows, it will become more difficult — even impossible — to engage with each of them on a one-to-one basis.
The next best thing, then, is to deliver simulated personable experiences to your customers as needed.
Similarly, conversational landing pages are also taking the place of the more impersonal registration forms:
Overall, retaining your customers comes down to seeing the human side of them, and showing them the human side of your brand. From there, it’s a matter of catering to their individual needs as customers — and making clear that your human team is ready to jump in whenever necessary.
Speaking of that…
Deliver Proactive and Responsive Customer Support
Your ability to support your customers at all stages of their lifecycle can often be what keeps this lifecycle alive in the first place.
And, well…this just makes sense:
If you’re not able to help a customer when they’re most in need of support, they’re going to look for a team that is. In fact, 50% of consumers say they will switch brands after just one poor service experience — with that number jumping to 80% after a second subpar engagement.
The best course of action, by today’s standards, is to focus on delivering proactive support to your customers. This not only allows your customer to quickly find the solution they need on their own, but also saves your support staff time and energy that can be focused on more pressing issues.
A customer-facing knowledge base is key to providing self-service options to your customers. Here, you can deliver in-depth information revolving around frequently asked questions, oft-encountered issues, and anything else your customers will need to know as they use your products.
A comprehensive onboarding process is also necessary to ensure your new customers quickly become acclimated with your product or service, and are able to get up and running with minimal friction.
Finally, your robust content library can supplement the support provided through these means, as well. In addition to using this material for marketing purposes, you should also ensure your content allows current users to supercharge their efforts moving forward.
Of course, there will be times where your customer service and support staff will need to step in to provide hands-on assistance. In these cases, it’s crucial that they’re able to do so with ease.
Overall, this means activating your support teams on the channels your customers are most likely to use when in need of help. At the very least, your customers should be able to open support instances via these channels — and should only be moved to a different channel when absolutely necessary.
For example, if your team operates on Instagram, you might focus on delivering quick solutions to those with minor issues directly on the platform. For problems that can’t be solved as quickly, a seamless transition to the appropriate channel is necessary in order to keep the customer engaged and satisfied.
To ensure your support staff is actually able to provide top-notch assistance to your customers, they need to have open access to your collective organizational knowledge. Here’s where an internal knowledge base comes into play.
In both cases, the key is to enable your customers and your team to productively solve any problem that comes their way. In making this happen, you allow your customers to continue on their journey to success — and all but ensure they continue to rely on your brand along the way.
Use Behaviorally-Triggered Messaging to Spur Engagement
Earlier, we discussed the value of delivering highly-tailored offers and other messages to your individual customers to promote engagement and retention.
On top of that, it’s essential that you deliver these offers at just the right time to pique the customer’s interest and get them to take action.
This is where behaviorally-triggered messaging comes in.
As the name suggests, the idea behind this strategy is to identify customer behaviors that signal an intention or desire to take action. From there, you can automate the delivery of an appropriate offer or message — making the customer’s next steps a no-brainer.
Behavioral triggers can be used during individual engagements, and can also be injected into your customer’s overall experience with your brand.
When used during or soon after individual engagements, the goal is to prompt the user to either complete the task at hand — or to take even further steps without hesitation.
As we talked about earlier, the highly-personalized nature of triggered outreach is huge for customer retention purposes.
According to data collected by WebFX, behaviorally-triggered emails see 70.5% higher open rates than blast or unspecifically-timed messages. Brands that use triggered messaging also see an average 53% higher conversion rates, and earn 34% more revenue than their competition.
Reaching your customers at the most critical moments of their journey with your brand is key to getting them to engage even further. Whether this means getting hesitant customers back on track toward conversion, or getting your satisfied customers to do more business with your company, automated messaging technology is the key to getting it right.
Show Appreciation to Your Loyal Customers
Back in 2008, John Gattorna, a professor at Macquarie Graduate School of Management, reported that nearly 70% of customers defect from brands simply because they don’t feel appreciated.
While this stat is more focused on individual engagements, we certainly can apply it to your brand’s overall to your customers, as well.
If it’s not crystal clear to your customers that you truly value their business, they’re most likely going to turn away from your brand.
It’s not enough to just “be appreciative”, either.
Rather, you have to intentionally go above and beyond to ensure the message isn’t lost on your customers.
(Hint: This involves delivering above-and-beyond value to your loyal followers without expecting anything in return.)
There are, of course, many ways to do so.
First and foremost, your team needs to have an active interest in the customer’s ability to accomplish their goals. In addition to providing the goods and services we’ve already mentioned, this also means reaching out after they’ve made a purchase to ensure their satisfaction.
Celebrating your customers’ successes is also vital, as it shows you’re truly interested in their growth, not just your business’. Featuring case studies, success stories, and user-generated content on your website and social media channels can keep your customers motivated, and lead them to engage even further with your brand in turn.
Loyalty and referral programs allow you to deliver extrinsic rewards to customers who frequently engage with your brand and/or recommend your products to others. Here, the approach isn’t so much “Do x to get y in return”; it’s “Hey, thanks for being a loyal customer. Here’s a little something extra for ya”.
In that same vein, creating VIP-only promotions, events, and experiences can allow you to express your appreciation to your best customers in unique and engaging ways. For example, Chick-fil-A’s Cow Appreciation Day celebrates customers decked out in cow-themed clothing by giving them a free entree.
As silly as it is, Chick-fil-A’s promotional holiday earned nearly two million participants in 2019. Let us repeat that: In a single day, Chick-fil-A got 1,950,000 people to go into public dressed as cows in exchange for some free chicken.
Of course, from the loyal Chick-fil-A customer’s perspective, it’s a small price to pay for a delicious dinner free of charge. And, for those who may not have stopped into their local restaurant in a while, it’s even more of an incentive to hop back on the bandwagon.
In any case, showing appreciation to your customers — from your VIPs on down — will only serve to strengthen the bond between them and your brand. Without this critical piece of the puzzle, your once-loyal customers may not even think twice about defecting to a brand that makes clear just how much they value them.
All in all, keeping your customers coming back for more is a matter of consistently delivering more of what they need, want, and expect from your brand — and then some.
Ideally, consistency on your part will lead to habitual engagement on the part of your customers. Again, if your audience knows with near-certainty that they’ll get what they need from your team, they’ll have every reason to come to you when they’re in need.
You don’t want to leave their return up to chance.
Even the most habitual customers will eventually fade away without proactive engagement from your team. To continue strengthening the ties that bind your customers to your brand, you need to always be ready to reach out with that “certain something” that will engage them more.
The more you know about your site visitors, the more focused your messaging can become.
By delivering the exact message and offer a given customer needs at a specific point in time, you make their continued return less of a “possibility”, and more of a sure thing.
Josh Brown is a former engineer-turned-marketer with a passion for writing. When Josh isn’t building & analyzing marketing campaigns, he spends his time writing on topics that (hopefully) help businesses with improving the experience of their customers.
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