In business, people tend to focus on numbers and hard facts. Success is usually equated with a large customer base rather than a loyal one. But many entrepreneurs often forget that while it is good to have a large customer base, it is equally important to nurture your regulars.
The fact of the matter is that businesses spend five times more on average in acquiring a new customer versus retaining an existing one. This means that maintaining an existing relationship can be more cost-effective because all you need to do is engage with them.
Additionally, happy customers also often go the extra mile to put in a good word about your business, recommending your services to other people.
So what are the factors that lead to good retention? Let's look at five tried-and-tested strategies marketers can use to get people to return to their website for repeat orders and engagement opportunities.
1 - Build a Smooth Onboarding Program
A significant challenge for e-commerce retailers is to engage their customers and get them to make a purchase. This includes ensuring that buyers don't abandon their carts right at checkout, which is a major problem online businesses face. Last year, a whopping 88.05% of all shopping cart orders were not converted into a final purchase.
There can be several reasons for cart abandonment, and most of them have to do with the customer ultimately not feeling fully comfortable buying the product. This is why having a strong onboarding process is a wise idea.
A smooth customer onboarding ensures your customers have a great experience with your company from the beginning. Throughout the onboarding process, customers can see that you’re delivering what you promised. This builds trust and shows them your value. When customers are happy from the get-go, they’re more likely to be recurring customers, and refer you to their friends and colleagues.
The onboarding process of any company teaches new customers about the workings of their products and services. This way, customers are not forced to learn through trial and error, and may feel more comfortable buying something they’re relatively unfamiliar with.
For example, your onboarding email can include sending online tutorials for a product they just bought. Onboarding ensures that customers don’t bounce and that you know enough about them to keep them coming back for future products or services.
2 - Set up a Quick and Efficient Customer Service System
Even more important than offering an onboarding process for certain products is making sure that you offer excellent customer service. Not only should it be very easy for your customers to reach out to your support team, you should make it company policy that all customer inquiries are properly responded to either in real time or within twenty four hours.
The good news is that setting up a strong and helpful customer service system does not need to be as difficult as you may have thought. The best solution is to invest in a cloud-based help desk service that is prominently featured on your site and is also fully integrated with you or your support team’s email so you receive inquiries instantly. This way, you or your team can respond to customer queries quickly and reassure customers that their indicated issues will be resolved.
3 - Focus on Personalization
Customers are more likely to respond to your brand's messages and connect with you when they feel like the content directly speaks to them. Ensure that your marketing messages and emails do not sound too salesy and are specific for individual needs.
One way to do that is to segment your buyers and create separate email campaigns for each segment. Customer segmentation can allow brands to make more targeted content that results in more conversions than a generic email campaign.
Another way of personalizing your customer experience is to offer several optional questions when they sign up for their sign-up form. Buyers expect brands to deliver relevant and valuable content exclusive to them based on their needs and preferences. Give them what they want, and they'll keep coming back for more.
4 - Reward Loyal Customers
Once you have interested your customer, your challenge is now going to be to engage with them. The best way to do that is to offer loyalty memberships, discount vouchers, or exclusive coupons. Patrons love to receive offers with an air of exclusivity and they feel valued.
Here are a few ways you can reward customers for being loyal:
- Offer VIP discounts
- Invite them to an exclusive event or launch of a new product
- Send them a free trial of your new product or service
- Feature a customer of the month or week on your website - recognizing them is the best way to reward their efforts in helping your business grow
Simple gestures like these can go a long way in strengthening the rapport between your brand and your loyal customers.
5 - Consistently Seek Out Customer Feedback
The only way you can stay ahead of the competition is to make sure that your customers feel valued.
As mentioned previously, always make sure to respond to customer queries and take regular feedback from them. If they are facing any issues, don't let them suffer in silence. Always have a person ready to talk to buyers and answer their questions in real-time. Remind them periodically that they did the right thing buying from you.
You can also use online surveys to gain insights into challenges they might be facing. Your customers won't mind giving you this information, and they may even divulge their opinions about your competitors, so there's no harm in asking.
Continuously seeking feedback from customers and implementing some of their suggestions is ultimately one of the most important tips for running an online store. Recognize that your job as a marketer and a business owner doesn't just end with the sale. Instead, it's only just beginning with the sale.
Customer retention is critical to business growth. The more you retain, the higher your profits will be. Finding new buyers can indeed be great for your business, but the cost of losing out on an existing customer is too high.
As a final piece of advice, always stay true to any promises you make to your customers during the follow-up process. This the ultimate sign of professionalism and a great way to keep them coming back for more.
About the Author: Nahla Davies is from Brooklyn, New York. Since 2015, she has worked with enterprise clients around the world developing RegTech protocols and best practices. She shares her insights at nahlawrites.com. Follow Nahla on LinkedIn.