Retaining customers is the ultimate goal for any business. Whether online or offline, ensuring that customers are satisfied is critical for long-term success.
Improving customer retention may sound simple. In reality, however, the eCommerce world is full of competition.
Hundreds of thousands of similar companies are targeting the same customers that you’ve worked so hard to earn.
To stay relevant and keep your faithful customers happy, you have to know how to optimize your customer retention tactics.
If you already have a strong customer retention strategy, there are plenty of tiny tweaks to significantly improve customer retention.
Sometimes however, starting from scratch or trying out new tactics can be the best way to get optimal results.
Here is a detailed guide for the 10 best customer retention techniques to keep your shoppers coming back time and time again.
Before you consider implementing any new ideas for improving customer retention, it’s a good idea to dive into your data (see “An Introduction to Analytics for eCommerce Websites”) and see which cohorts of customers are being retained and try and learn from it.
Let’s look at an example.
Let’s say that you find that customers who spend more than $50 in their first purchase get retained at a much higher rate than customers who purchase less than $50 in their first purchase.
This insight would tell you that if you can increase the size of the first order of customers, you will retain them at a higher rate. You could provide a coupon for first time shoppers or improve your upsell offerings.
The “more than $50 in the first purchase” is an example of a cohort but don’t stop there: spend time diving into many different cohorts because every business is different and you never know what you may find.
Kissmetrics and Mixpanel are web analytics tools which give you maximum flexibility in regards to the events that you want to track. Both are great services which you can use to run these types of analyses.
By learning from who is currently being retained, you can develop improved customer retention strategies that allow you to work smarter, not harder.
Most online businesses today have a number of channels for communicating with customers. Email, Twitter, Facebook and plain old telephone are the most common but the number of channels are growing all the time.
One of the easiest things that you can do to improve your customer retention is adopt a policy in your company that no customer engagement is ignored, and a response is sent in as short a time frame as your resources allow.
If you don’t have a community manager who is actively monitoring social media, make sure the responsibility falls under whoever is responsible for Marketing and PR in your company.
Leverage these tools to increase your customer engagement rates and reach a larger number of fans and existing customers.
Remember the mantra: no engagement left behind.
In this episode of Moz’s brilliant Whiteboard Friday video series, Rand Fishkin points out that we are biased towards the products and services in which we are exposed to.
When it comes to making a choice between different services or products, we usually go with the products and services which we have heard about from friends or stumbled across while browsing on the web.
Content advertising is a massive topic on its own, but I want to leave you with 3 actionable items that will help you put out higher quality content to improve your customer retention techniques today.
The customer marketing landscape isn’t like it once was.
Simply producing content is no longer enough to cut through all the noise and bring in positive ROI. Adopt the mindset that every piece of content you produce needs to be a homerun.
The best way to do this is produce content which you, yourself would read and share with your friends. This is the best test.
List and how-to posts drive more shares and engagement than thought-leader posts, and if you are an expert in your niche, producing longer-form pieces with tons of action items shouldn’t be too difficult.
It doesn’t matter how good your content is if no one sees it.
Use Noah Kagan’s approach to finding marketing channels and spend the time to learn how to leverage the numerous free and paid marketing channels out there.
Spend time on Twitter, Google+ and other communities relevant to your niche to find commonly discussed topics that you can write about. Use the Skyscraper technique to propel your entire content marketing efforts to new heights.
You’ve probably heard you should be doing things that don’t scale.
One of the many unscalable things you can do to really create an impact with your customers is to get on a call with them.
Not only will you generate useful feedback that you can use to improve your business, but you will also stand out to customers by showing that you really care about their needs. These are powerful tools that very few companies are implementing.
In order to do this in an organized way, try sending emails out to a bunch of your customers and include a link to a calendar-synced booking page. Such a page can be set up easily with a service like ScheduleOnce.
The main reason I’m a fan of ScheduleOnce is that it provides the customer with all the available slots for the call, all in their timezones so there are no confusions.
People like to feel special and be part of exclusive clubs.
Invite-only services, fraternities and job titles are all part of this psychological game we play with ourselves, and it is something you should consider leveraging in your business.
Setting up an exclusive VIP club takes time and money but will help differentiate you from your competition and if done well, will bring you positive returns. To set up your exclusive VIP club, follow these steps:
1. Reach out to a few high performing customers and add them to the program to get it off the ground. Make sure you inform the customers via email and provide them with some kind of giveaway, coupon or something of significant value. You want to welcome them to the exclusive club and educate them on the future benefits of being in the program.
2. Start adding other customers which have shown potential, but aren’t quite among the highest performers just yet.
3. Advertise the club on its own page. The idea is to market it to everyone but only select customers get the benefits of being in the club.
4. Don’t wear yourself thin and invite too many people to the club. The idea is to keep it small, but highly engaged.
5. Track customers in the program and see how their buying habits change as a result of the program( See cohort analysis 101 (http://cohortanalysis.com/) for some help on doing this effectively).
6. Once the club is at a nice size you can start sending them customized, personal emails with product updates, company news, special promotions, and other things your top tier customers would like to know.
Seth Godin is one of the most well known, influential marketers of his generation. He has written a variety of best-selling books, including Purple Cow.
The focal point of Purple Cow is that in order to be remarkable in today’s world with all its distractions, you need to stand out.
The easiest way for you as a business owner to stand out is by going the extra mile as often as you can. In fact, it should become a mantra within your business that every employee adopts and works towards.
Going the extra mile is more of a mentality than a list of duties to check off a list, but below are some ideas to help you get the ball rolling:
1. Write a letter to thank each of your customers for making their first purchase.
2. Follow your customers on social media (Twitter is the best for this) and engage in their conversations. Your aim should be to provide help in anyway you can (see Great Customer Service Through Twitter-Stalking).
3. Record every feedback, complaint and social media communication and use this information for engagement opportunities. An example of this would be if a customer provided great feedback on a product and you took that feedback and used it to improve the product. After the change is implemented you could reach out to the customer and thank them and show them that their feedback was used to improve a part of the business.
4. If you see cases where customers are referring their friends or mentioning you on social media, go out of your way to thank them. Be personal and thank them each in a unique way.
5. Leverage your VIP/loyalty program and thank customers who have impressed you either from a sales or word-of-mouth marketing perspective.
6. If you are traveling in a city where you have a lot of customers, invite a few of them out for lunch or for drinks.
7. Follow up with all complaints, even if they are resolved quickly. Showing that you care and want to make sure everything is taken care of is going that extra mile.
There are some amazing email and marketing services out there which allow you to use information you know on your customers to target them with personal and optimized marketing campaigns.
I highly recommend you check out their service if you consider email an important channel for communicating with your customers. Below is a list of some of the cool things you can do with Vero or similar services.
1. Send a specific newsletter to all your customers who haven’t made a purchase in the last 30 days.
2. Send an email to a customer who abandons their shopping cart.
3. Send an email recommending similar products 5 minutes after someone buys a specific product.
4. Send different newsletters to users in different countries in their own language.
5. Provide coupons and special discounts in your emails to users who are part of your VIP club.
6. Send a drip campaign of useful content and/or instructions on how to maximize the enjoyment a customer can get from your product or service.
There are many different components of the customer experience from when they land on your site for the first time to when they first experience your product or service. Each of these impact how much customers want to come back and interact with you again.
Below is a comprehensive list of all the different components of your customer experience. You should take one area at a time and spend time on improving it. This should be an ongoing process which never ends.
There is always work you can do to foster a positive customer experience:
There is a plethora of resources out there to help you with each of these areas, but to get started I highly recommend you check out Hack Design for all your UI and design needs.
Storytelling has always been a great way to market because people can relate to it. A story isn’t a sales pitch, but rather people telling relatable stories.
Testimonials and case studies will make it easy for you to tell your story in a way which can be easily absorbed by existing and potential customers. I recommend setting up a dedicated testimonials and case studies sections on your site.
Case studies are also great content pieces for your blog. I also recommend not calling this section case studies but rather “customer stories” or a softer, less B2B phrase.
Yotpo specializes in helping business owners generate tons of user generated content in the form of reviews and testimonials. To find out more how Yotpo’s Mail After Purchase and site review emails automate content generation check out this guide.
Once you have your reviews you can leverage them to do many different things from increasing traffic and sales to turning them into fully fledged case studies. Below is a list of some of the things you can do with your reviews:
1. Push them to social media to drive traffic back to your site – Yotpo’s social push feature makes this easy and it can even be automated.
2. Show your reviews on their corresponding product pages or across your entire site in a floating widget – Yotpo’s on-site widgets have you covered.
3. When a customer writes a meaty review, reach out to them personally and ask the customer if they would be willing to answer a few questions for you over email so you could feature their story with your product on their blog.
4. Analyze your reviews on a monthly basis and record trends that you find. This will help you identify pain points in your business and certain insights which can make a massive difference to your business.
Nothing can replace actually meeting your customers face-to-face.
As a business owner, you will be able to strengthen bonds and get useful feedback that would otherwise be lost.
Pinterest is one of the most well known social networks in the world today, and boasts a massive active user base of over 40 million.
As impressive as Pinterest is today, they started out like everyone else, with a small, dedicated fan base that they had to grow, one individual at a time.
One of the most useful tactics Pinterest used were meetups. Meetups were set up at local boutiques where fans of the service would gather and have conversations about the different creative projects they were working on.
Whatever your niche, your Pinterest marketing strategy should consider setting up a local meetup where both fans of your brand can come together and engage with each other.
Below are some tips on how to turn your meetup into a super fun, rewarding experience for everyone involved:
1. Invite experts in your niche to participate and give short presentations to the participants.
2. Use a service like Meetup.com for all the registration and invitation based infrastructure.
3. Provide snacks and drinks.
4. Don’t oversell your service at the events. The fact that you are hosting is enough to get your name out, and if you are providing constant value the event will do wonders for your branding anyway.
5. Make the event a recurring experience so that people can know when the next one will happen, and it can even turn into a routine for your most loyal customers.
6. Try and find a venue that will host it every time so people don’t have to find out how to get to the new location each time.
7. Make sure all the sound and other logistics are organized way ahead of time.
The ten techniques I covered are only some of the many different things you can do to improve your customer retention.
If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed from all this information, I recommend picking just one from the list and spend a week working on it.
This will give you momentum and allow you to start building a retention plan with these tips being the base of your plan.
Schedule a demo with one of our marketing consultants to learn how Yotpo generates reviews and turns them into sales.
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