It’s the classic Pareto principle of business: 80% of the profit you make will come from 20% of your customers. And as important sustainable customer acquisition is, there is denying the benefits of retaining existing customers, especially when it comes to making the most of your current resources.
Your existing customers understand your business. They know the value you bring to the table. Unlike prospects and leads, they’ll probably take less convincing before purchasing new products or services, or extending contracts and keeping retainers.
And with all industries adjusting to the new normal, it’s about time businesses really focus on keeping their existing customers happy. After all, if you continue to deliver stellar products and results, your customer doesn’t just become a customer for life—they may even become champions of your brand, leading to more customers down the line.
Customer Retention Strategies to Implement
Start with Your Employees
Remember the sage advice Richard Branson dropped for all business owners out there? “Take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your customers.”
Your staff will likely be the people maintaining good customer relations, whether it’s facing them at meetings or helping them with support requests and concerns. Because of this, keep your employees happy and engaged at work so that they always put their best foot forward when they’re helping or assisting your existing customers.
Of course, in the new normal, it may be a challenge to keep employees working from home engaged. We’re no longer able to provide some of the same employee morale-boosting activities we used to, like team lunches or coffee breaks.
But there’s still a lot you can do even remotely. For example, committing to sending a regular company-wide employee newsletter might help. Share specific milestones of particular employees, celebrate wins of teams and departments, and overall make them feel valued and seen—even if you only get to see each other virtually.
Try scheduling virtual team bonding activities through online talent shows and quiz nights. Even sending regular check-in messages and online forms that ask employees how you might support them better can go a long way.
Stand Up for a Cause
In a survey by PwC, they found that over 60% of consumer survey respondents valued social responsibility and would purchase or boycott brands based on the brand’s stand on a social issue.
In light of many social justice issues that have become especially visible in the age of social media, consumers can easily spot if brands truly care about the causes they care about—or if brands are only doing it for show.
Needless to say, if your company is going to stand up for a cause, it needs to genuinely stand by it. Do your due research about social causes that matter to your customers and decide whether or not your business wants to stand for them as well.
It’s not about standing up for every single cause out there either. It’s about choosing the most important causes that align with your brand values and figuring out how best to contribute to them, especially beyond simply charity.
Launch a Customer Loyalty Program
Let’s not discount the power of a good customer loyalty program. Even and especially in the new normal, brands need to keep customers coming back—so why not give them a reason to with tangible rewards?
For any kind of customer loyalty program to work, there should be compelling incentives. For instance, would customers value cashbacks and rebates if they successfully refer a new buyer to you?
Here’s another reason referral marketing as a customer loyalty program works so well. You get to keep your existing customers loyal and engaged with your brand, but you also leverage their trust and love for your business enough to get other people who trust them to buy from you too.
Another type of customer loyalty program is a rewards system for repeat purchases. Can they receive an amazing freebie if they’ve hit a certain threshold, e.g. hit this number of points or made x worth of purchases in a year?
Think out of the box or use tried-and-tested customer loyalty program mechanics. Either way, make sure your incentive is irresistible that loyal customers can’t help but take part.
Starbucks has their entire rewards system available online. (Image source)
Optimize Your Website User Experience
The new normal means customers are interacting with your business almost completely through online channels. Many customers will be used to transacting with brands online, even when most offline operations have resumed in a post-COVID world.
Because of this new habit customers are likely to have, a suite of robust tools that elevate your site’s user experience is one of the most important investments you’ll make this year.
Here are a few tips for optimizing your website experience:
Enable guest checkout in your online store
Put all important sections of your site in your menu
Make customer service or support forms easy to see and use
Ensure your website loading speeds are optimal (ideally less than 5 seconds)
Add multiple payment options
Consider adding live chat
Review your website analytics that might show you users’ behavior across your site. If you see people dropping off at a certain step or bouncing on a particular page, diagnose the problem and see how you might improve the experience.
Are there too many users abandoning their carts? Make an effort to evaluate if your checkout process is too long or complex. If not, perhaps you can offer a limited time promo just before they leave the page completely.
Improving your website experience will of course take some time. But if you stay proactive, evaluate your analytics, and use tools like heatmaps, these can really help you make more informed data-driven decisions about what to improve next.
Educate First, Sell Second
Customers don’t always want to be sold to, especially now. Priorities are different, and even your most loyal customers might not purchase your products as frequently as before.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t stay visible to your audience at this time and establish a deeper connection with them. Make sure you consistently post content, but keep your promotional messages at a minimum.
Instead, create educational content more than salesy ones. Depending on your niche, there can be a myriad of ways to educate customers about things in your industry.
One popular method is providing comprehensive reviews about alternative products in the market then comparing them with your own. An example of a high-value review that helps both new and existing customers alike is this post about a VPN for Kodi—it gives all pertinent information a user might need to make a well-informed buying decision based on the most popular options in the market.
Also consider educational content like free videos, workshops, or webinars. Take a beauty brand for instance. They might host a free 1-hour live workshop via Instagram Live that shows their target audience how to achieve everyday natural makeup looks when working from home. This is a great way to teach customers new skills or give them ideas, but also a subtle way to show their beauty products in action.
Personalize Your Product Recommendations
Whenever possible, add personalized content to users’ shopping experience. While gathering data was cited as the biggest challenge marketers face when trying to provide personalized experiences to consumers, especially in retail, there are simple ways to implement this process on your site.
Take a page out of Amazon’s book for instance. They always show product recommendations underneath each listing. Amazon has the tools and resources to provide the most customized recommendations—such as products usually bought together by other customers—but there’s a simple way too.
Think about which products in your store often go great together. For example, refills of or accessories to a particular item are great to display as recommendations when users are on that main product page. Or show similar products in a specific category (for example: men’s shoes, or backpacks for kids) so customers see more options.
This lightbox pops up after a user adds an item to their cart, but the pop-up makes some personalized recommendations based on the item recently added. (Image source)
Another way to suggest personalized recommendations is based on previous transactions and your users’ history with your brand. Say three months ago, a customer bought a consumable product like personal care items from your store. After a period of time, send them a follow-up email that suggests repurchasing the same item so they don’t run out.
Touchpoints like this can go a long way at not only boosting customer retention but also improving user experience with your business.
Double-Down on Your Customer Support
Finally, if you really want to up your customer retention, giving them more and better customer service is never a bad thing.
You want customers to feel that transacting with your brand is a pleasure, even if they might have encountered a negative experience, e.g. getting the wrong order or having a defective product. After all, there’s nothing more frustrating than not getting the support you need after a mistake or error; this just piles on to the negative experience which can be bad for business.
Make it the aim of your customer support team to have every customer interact with your brand positively, whether it’s answering customer queries or dealing with returns and refunds.
Don’t be shy to also have customer support representatives interact with logged-in users via messenger pop-ups or chat boxes. Sometimes a customer may have inquiries or concerns—beat them to the punch by asking how you might help. This saves them the need to navigate to your contact pages and goes a long way to improve your customers’ perception of your brand.
You might not be able to keep every single customer happy, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still try.
Customer retention is the key to surviving through the new normal and reaching the top in a post-COVID world. When options are constrained with such limited channels and touchpoints these days, that doesn’t mean you can’t still level up your customers’ experience with your brand.
Use the tips you learned above to boost customer retention and keep customers happy for life. For tools that will help you implement these tips, check out the suite of plugins of Powr.io that can help you streamline your customer experience and conversion processes with ease.
Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.