Last updated on January 11, 2024

Image Credit: Roy Rachamim
Moran Khoubian
Director of Global Partner Marketing
September 12th, 2019 | 7 minutes read

Learn how to retain your customers with the top customer retention strategies from eCommerce industry experts.

Table Of Contents

Returning shoppers are critical to any store’s success.

Not only does a third of the overall money spent online come from returning customers, but they spend nearly 3 times more than one-time shoppers as well. Plus, it’s much cheaper to bring back an existing customer than to acquire a new one.

benefits of customer retention

To stay relevant and keep your best customers happy, it’s super important to continuously optimize and update your customer retention strategies. Everything from customer marketing with campaigns based on shopper feedback to improving your omnichannel strategy can help you boost customer retention and increase trust and loyalty.

Since there’s so much noise out there about customer retention strategies, we went straight to the top agencies and tech companies in the eCommerce ecosystem and asked them to share their most effective tips.

Here are the top 10 customer retention strategies, according to the industry experts:

1) Create peaks in the customer experience

A few unique, low-cost initiatives can go a long way to delighting your customers and building loyalty. Think of the last time you received a welcome surprise, it is probably easier to recall than its unwelcome counterpart.  Find milestones in the customer relationship and find ways to reward customers that they won’t expect. For example, imagine a customer orders their third pair of shoes. A week later, they receive a pair of socks that match with a handwritten note thanking them for their business.  These type of unexpected displays of appreciation could go a long way (especially in the social sharing world) to improve customer experience and offsetting the cost of the item many times over.

customer retention strategies, gorilla group
Randy Kohl, Director of Content and Digital Strategy at Gorilla Group.


2) Continuously test email strategies

In addition to using the data you already have on your customers  — like what they have purchased or browsed —  to tailor the content and product recommendations in your email marketing campaigns, be sure to also constantly test incentives and other factors to see what is most effective. For example, find out which subject lines elicit the most opens and what cadence of email increases customer engagement for your audience.


customer retention strategies, listrak

Heather Gruber, Digital Strategist at Listrak.


3) Tailor your loyalty program to your business goals

Customer loyalty  and retention are not one-size-fits-all. The best loyalty programs incentivize the actions that matter most to your brand. For example, if you’re looking to boost lifetime value, you’ll want to base VIP tiers on spending behavior, like the total amount a customer spends or the number of times they purchase. But if you want to incentivize brand engagement, you should focus on actions like social shares, writing reviews, or referring friends.

Josh Enzer, General Manager & Co-founder at Swell, a Yotpo Company.

4) Be where your customers are

Consumer behavior has undoubtedly evolved. It’s the consumer who now dictates to brands where, when, and how they want to engage. Therefore, it’s incumbent upon retailers to provide a consistent and seamless experience on all channels, particularly when something goes wrong and customers need help. Research from Zendesk suggests that 87% of customers think brands need to put more effort into providing a seamless customer service experience.

customer retention strategies, zendesk

Abhiroop Basu, Senior Product Marketing Manager at Zendesk.


5) Be passionate and engaged

Truly care about your clients! For us, as an agency, that doesn’t mean smiling at your meetings and sending them little gifts (though you should do that too!), but actually doing your due diligence to constantly learn about new technologies or options that might benefit them. Be responsive to their needs and proactive in bringing ideas to the table — gathering and engaging with your customer feedback is the key to customer retention for any business.

customer retention strategies, born group

Paula Gadsby, Senior Account Director at Born Group.


6) Offer time-limited promotions

Top eCommerce brands often present banners highlighting a time-limited promotion — visitors must complete the purchase within a preset amount of time, determined by the audience segment they belong to. In addition, you can automatically add the promotional gift card to the visitor’s cart and highlight the promotion during the checkout process.

The benefit is twofold: the time-sensitive promotion boosts conversion rate and the gift card brings customers back to the website to make another purchase.

customer retention strategies, dynamic yield

Mike Mallazzo, Senior Manager of Brand, Content and Communications and Dynamic Yield.

7) Be transparent and honest with your customers

As an agency, we don’t hold anything back from our clients and work hard to establish a relationship built on transparency. Unlike some agencies, we work out of our client’s ad accounts so they’re always able to look into the work being done and will always own the data. We also find it important to have healthy, unambiguous conversations about ideas and strategies brought to the table. For eCommerce brands this translates to being open and upfront about everything from payment and return policies to any causes you support through your sales.

customer retention strategies, hawke media

Kate Aurell ​, VP of Operations​ at Hawke Media.


8) Don’t over-promise

Align expectations with your customers regularly. Keep in mind that they only know what you tell them. Over-promising and under-delivering is an easy way to lose credibility. Improving customer trust goes a long way towards getting shoppers to love your brand — so keep everything from product descriptions to promotional offers as accurate as possible.

customer retention strategies, searchspring

David Ogborn, Head of Customer Success at SearchSpring.


9) Create a customer community around your brand

People don’t actually connect with your brand, they connect with the other people that connect to your brand.  Give those people a voice on your website to remind your guests they aren’t buying a “product” they are buying their way into a community of like minded people, or people they want to be more like.

customer retention strategies, BVAccel

Mariel Bacci, Director of Account Strategy at BVAccel.


10) Incentivize social shares

Clients are often high-potential returning buyers who just need a sense of urgency, or a point of connection to your brand to come back for another round. Social sharing competitions that feature customer photos and offer great prizes are the perfect way to establish that connection in a time-sensitive way. But not all incentives are equal. Some serve as pure retention tools, while others can entice brand ambassadors to do some word-of-mouth marketing. The latter, which saves on marketing expense down the road, allows you to justify a more significant reward for your most loyal customers when they share your brand and products on social. This increases customer engagement, while bringing you high quality traffic that you would work hard to reach otherwise.

customer retention strategies

Itai Bengal, Enterprise Client Success Manager at Yotpo.


Top takeaways to increase customer loyalty and retention

In many ways, improving retention and increasing sales comes down to creating and maintaining a bulletproof customer experience that focuses on customer communities and the social proof shared within them. Here’s a quick recap of the top 10 customer retention strategies:

  1. Create peaks in customer experience
  2. Continually test email strategies
  3. Create a VIP program for your customers
  4. Be where your customers are
  5. Be passionate and engaged
  6. Offer time-limited promotions
  7. Be transparent and honest with your customers
  8. Don’t over-promise
  9. Create a customer community around your brand
  10. Incentivize social shares

For more of the latest tips on customer retention, visit our Customer Loyalty Playbook or check out our webinar with Shopify Plus.