customer retention strategies eCommerce
Conversion Rate Optimization, Customer Value Optimization, Guest Posts

13 best customer retention strategies for eCommerce stores

Are you struggling to retain customers in your online store? Well, you are not alone. Businesses are losing $1.6 trillion every year because they are losing their customers to their competitors. 

Customer retention refers to the ability of a business to avoid customer defection for a period of time. It includes all activities that a business engages in to ensure customer loyalty.

Retaining your existing customers is one of the best ways to increase your recurring revenue and average cart value. 

Stats suggest that the chances of selling to your existing customers are between 60-70% as compared to selling to a new customer because only 5-20% of new customers might buy from your store.

An ecommerce business must invest in customer acquisition and retention if it wants to succeed. A successful business is one that continuously works towards building a happy customer base.

Here are twelve best ways to retain your existing customers and improve brand loyalty.

Run customer-centric email campaigns

Email marketing has a significant impact on keeping existing customers and marketing your business simultaneously.

Customers are more likely to click and open your emails if you make the emails look personal. For example, you can mention the customer’s name when addressing them in the email. 

Always send a custom email to your customers to thank and appreciate them for shopping at your store. 

Start by creating an email list of those customers who frequently visit your online store. After coming up with an email list, focus on personalizing emails and sending them to each customer. 

Here is what you should do to make your email marketing campaign more successful:

  • Survey your customers: Prepare a questionnaire for customers visiting your online store. For instance, if you are selling wedding garments, ask the customers about their wedding plans. Are they planning for a relative wedding this holiday, or are they simply looking for their wedding garments? Implement a chatbot in your store who can ask these questions from the customers in a friendly manner. 
  • Send your emails in the typical work hours: Most people open their emails in the typical work hours between 9AM to 5PM. Morning hours have the highest click rate. Therefore, send your emails early enough to ensure it is the first thing the customer gets when they go online.
  • Keep your emails clear and mobile friendly: White space is the blank area you see on the email body. When creating the emails, leave a lot of empty space because it improves readability and comprehension. Also, keep your emails mobile-responsive because more than 80% of people will delete your emails if they don’t look good on a mobile device. 
  • Encourage Email Replies: To make the customers reply to your emails, end the email with a call to action or begin the email with a clear request. Make the email brief and straightforward so that the recipient understands your objective. Use emotional words like delighted, happy, terrible, or pleased when writing the email. Using emotional words in your email can increase the response rate by at least 10%. 
  • Segment your customers based on purchase history: Every customer is different in terms of how much they spend or how frequently they visit your store. When creating content for their emails, ensure you know how they behave when they login to your site. 
  • Celebrate special occasions: If your customers are celebrating a birthday or an anniversary, you should be the first person to congratulate them. Let them know how happy you are to be part of their milestone. A good example is from Redbox. The company has been sending its customers emails on their birthdays and giving them a one-day free DVD rental. 
email campaign special occasion redbox

Implement a customer loyalty program

Customer loyalty programs may seem like an outdated way of customer retention, but they are efficient in keeping your customers loyal to your brand. 

When you launch and implement a loyalty program, you are simply encouraging the customers to come back and buy from your online store.

Some of the most effective loyalty programs that you should try and include in your retention strategy are:

  • Offering exclusive deals to loyal customers
  • Exclusive lifetime membership
  • Discount coupons
  • Cash-back offers
  • Offering gifts to the first-time shopper 
  • Reward points. 

Include any of these strategies in your loyalty program, and before you know it, your customers will be coming back to buy again.

The benefits of loyalty programs may be more than what you can imagine. When you opt to launch a loyalty program, here are some factors that you should always consider:

  • Ensure your business’s financial status is good.
  • Come up with customer loyalty goals that you want to achieve- this will help you choose the best loyalty program to implement. For example, you can have an objective to drive more customers to your online store by offering them coupons and discounts on bulk purchases.
  • Only adopt personalized loyalty programs that make the customer appreciate your brand. 
  • Have a dedicated marketing team that can handle all your loyalty programs. Assign the marketing team a duty to come up with customer-centered loyalty programs.

Have a customer onboarding program

If you have a business, then you already have customers. All you need to do is ensure they remain loyal to your brand. The best way to achieve that is by having a transparent customer onboarding program.

A customer onboarding program is a process that helps your customers to learn more about your product or services. 

It involves supporting and guiding your existing customers to learn more about your business and, most importantly, the products and services you are offering, thereby increasing their loyalty.

Coming up with a customer onboarding program is an elaborate process. Here are some steps that you should follow:

  • Define the goals of the program clearly and ensure they fall in line with your strategic business plan. You can also assemble a team of SME experts and project managers to oversee the program and ensure it is successful.
  • Employ customer journey mapping to learn more about what you should include in the program.
  • Create a learning course or content for educating your existing customers.
  • Add interactive elements such as quizzes, puzzles, and graphics on the content.
  • Edit and test the onboarding program before implementing it.
  • Implement and launch the onboarding program.

Learn more about your loyal customers

You must know all your loyal customers and work on improving your products and services to keep them coming.

You want to establish how your loyal customers behave whenever they visit your online store.

How much do they spend? How often do they come to the shop? Find answers to these questions before you launch any marketing and loyalty program to maintain your existing customers. 

Most marketers use the RFM model to know more about their customers.

What is the RFM Model?

An RFM model is an analysis tool that a business can use to establish consumer behavior. It uses three main quantitative measures to determine how customers behave when they access the products and services from a company. 

rfm model

RFM metrics include:

  • Monetary value: How much does the customer spend when they shop? The monetary value of a customer is how much he or she is willing and able to pay when purchasing items.
  • Frequency: How many times does the customer buy from the company? Some customers will only buy once and never come back while others will be frequent shoppers in a particular online store.
  • Recency: When was the last time the customer bought items from the company?  A customer that bought items from a company a week ago is more likely to shop again than one who bought items last year or month.

In the RFM model, a customer is ranked based on the three quantitative factors highlighted above. You rate the customer on a scale of 1-5 for each category. The most valuable or essential customer is one with the highest score on each category.

To keep all your customer data safe, you must opt for business cloud storage services that are HIPAA compliant. 

Educate your customers about your product

Not every customer, especially the first time buyers, knows more about your products. If you are offering a new product in the market, your primary role is educating the customers about the product

Create content on your site that explains how the product is used and the benefits of buying the products. In case you are offering electronics like smartphones, you can explain some features about the products to make the customers make the right decisions when buying. 

Once your customers know more about the products you are offering, they will be more willing to buy and remain loyal to the brand.

Here are some more tips that you can apply to educate your customers about your product.

  • Explain the product details in a simple manner: When explaining more about the product, you should use a simple language that customers can understand.  Be more comprehensive in your details. The more precise you are, the more the customers will learn about the product or services you are offering.
  • Choose a unique approach for each market segment: You have different customers visiting your online store. Therefore, you should come up with unique strategies for educating each segment. For example, some of your existing customers may be comfortable reading a brochure with all details about your products and services. On the other hand, some may have issues with reading, and a video tutorial may seem helpful. 
  • Create a blog: With a blog on your website, you have a platform to explain everything about the products and services you are offering customers. Ensure you are more specific when teaching about the products. Also, when you create content about the product, try to share it with other bloggers to publish the content on their sites.
  • Hold online webinars: Host online webinars to educate customers about the products and services you are offering. During the webinars, you can give your customers time to ask questions and respond to them. Today, most people are using the internet. Therefore, you can be confident in reaching your target customers. Online webinars give you a chance to interact with your customers and get some feedback about the products you are offering.

Leverage the power of gamification

Gamification is the inclusion of game playing in digital marketing strategies. Some examples of gamification techniques in marketing include randomized giveaways and spin-to-win promotions. 

It is a lesser-used technique that you should not mind practicing. When using gamification in marketing your products, engage the customers, and make them act in such a way that they deserve the reward you will give them. 

Gamification has a reward principle that ensures every customer participating gets a reward for their achievement.

SkullSplitter is a typical example of a company using gamification to increase customer loyalty. The company has come up with a reward program that seeks to give customer points for interacting with their brand on social media, reviewing their products, and buying.

SkullSplitter gamification customer loyalty

Stay in touch with your customers and appreciate their relationship with your brand

If you look forward to having more loyal customers, you must follow the art of building customer relationships

For instance, if you have a frequent customer to your online store who is no longer buying, you should make an effort to check on them. 

Send them an email informing them of the new deals or offers that you have for them.

Do not take it for granted that your customers will keep buying your brand. Use your social media presence to keep in touch with your customers.

Reply to most of the comments and questions that customers may have about your products and services. Always stay positive and open with your customers to improve their interaction with your brand.

Here are some tips that you can use to stay in touch with your customers:

  • Send your customers personalized emails. Use the emails to remind existing customers of the new developments in your business. For example, if you are launching a new product or you are giving special offers.
  • Write newsletters about your products and services and share them with your customers regularly.
  • Invite your customers to attend a workshop or seminar that you are holding.
  • Talk with your customers on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.

Optimize your website for user experience

Yes, it is essential to help your customers fall in love with your online store. 

What does that mean? It means you should make your online store user-friendly, or let me be specific; your site should be easy to navigate.

One of the ways to achieve this is by hosting your online store with the best ecommerce platforms like Shopify and WooCommerce

The best ecommerce platforms will provide you with all the necessary in-built plugins you need to maintain and keep your customers.

Moreover, you must take the help of an expert UX and UI designers to design the navigational elements of your website. An UX designer is skilled to make your website function the way it should while an UI designer designs the look of your digital products. Both UX and UI designers are helpful in creating user-friendly websites that have a great user interface and user experience.

Ensure your website is always optimized to improve customer experiences. Here is what you should do to improve user experience on your site:

  • Make the website easy to navigate and use exit pop-ups to reduce cart abandonment rate.
  • Have a simple check out process and optimize your site for better conversion rates.
  • Reduce the steps that a customer has to follow before completing their transactions. For instance, fill-out forms should have less than five steps.
  • Your site should be highly responsive and must take less than five seconds to load. 
  • Because most people will be accessing your website using their phones, you should ensure it is mobile-friendly.
  • Feature quality and dynamic content on your site to reduce bounce rate and increase leads.

Build a brand on social media

At least 90% of businesses in the U.S are using social media to market their products and services. 

With millions of potential customers spending their leisure time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you want to ensure you have a robust online presence so that your existing customers interact with your brand.

Establish a stronger social media presence so that you can engage with your customers when they spend their leisure on such platforms. 

Start by using hashtags, mentions, and direct comments to monitor your customers.

Also, ensure you have a social media management team that responds to all questions and comments that customers post on social platforms.

For a larger business, you should ensure that your senior staff and, if possible, your CEO or MD is always active on social media. This will help customers to build trust in your business.

With online engagement on social media, you learn what people like or dislike about your business. 

You can learn something from Nike. The company has been using its Twitter account to address all customer issues. They respond to all online inquiries from customers on Twitter and use Instagram to inspire and motivate their customers.

This has made Nike them one of the most vibrant companies on social media.

Nike social media brand

Above screenshot shows Nike encouraging customers to go for their dreams on Twitter. The company uses inspirational quotes to keep in touch with customers and interact on social media.

Provide more return and delivery options

In this century, everyone is looking for the fastest way of solving their problems. The only reason people visit your online shop is that they want the products or services they are buying delivered to their doorstep. 

That means you should make the shopping experience very easy for the customers. Offer more timely deliveries and exclusive return options for customers. 

For instance, you can give a one-day shipping option for customers who want their merchandise shipped on time. 

Amazon has been providing its customers with different delivery options to improve customer retention. Customers have an option to visit the company and pick their items. 

Amazon has been providing its customers with different delivery options to improve customer retention. Customers have an opportunity to visit the company and pick their items. 

Here are some delivery options by Amazon that you can practice in your business:

  • Same-day delivery: for all orders that customers make before noon, Amazon ensures they reach their doorsteps before 9.00 pm.
  • One-or-two hour delivery: the customers get their order delivered to them in less than two hours.
  • One-day delivery: the company ensures the customer receives their orders before 9.00 pm on the day of placing that order.
  • Prime Pantry: it is meant for those ordering non-perishable products. The company delivers products to customers within four days.
  • Locker delivery: this is for that customer who wants Amazon to deliver their package to any location apart from home as a way of avoiding theft.

Also, for those who feel like they have bought more than they need, your free returns option can help.

Offer excellent customer support

If you want to retain customers, you must give them the support they need.

Once the customer trusts your customer desk, they will always want to come back and buy from your shop.

Many upcoming businesses have lost their customers because of poor customer care services. 

Most customers will stop buying from a business if the customer care team mistreats them on the first encounter.

Not many customers will tolerate incompetent customer care. Therefore, you want to make your customer care desk reachable and interactive. 

Note that most customers will judge the quality of your brand based on how fast you respond to them. 

Determine your company’s multichannel customer support strategy and set up a support team to help your customers.

Here are some tips to improve your customer support:

  • Ensure you have a customer care team that communicates clearly to your customers when they inquire for clarification.
  • Always practice active listening. Pay attention to what the customer is saying so that you answer their questions correctly. 
  • Empathize with the customer so that they can communicate their issues freely with you. 
  • Use respectful and positive language when addressing your customers. When the customer is angry with you, ensure you remain positive and calm.

Invest in conversion rate optimization (CRO)

A Conversion Rate is the ratio of total users visiting your site to conversion. That is the total number of people that visit your online store and take some action like filling out a form, putting some items in the carts, or even leaving a comment for your services.

Conversion rate helps you determine the efficiency of your website in delivering customer-centric services.

Many tools, such as Omniconvert, are useful for optimizing and mapping the customer journey.  

Omniconvert customer journey

With Omniconvert, you can easily monitor what customers do whenever they visit your online store and focus more on optimizing a site to make it more user-friendly for. The tool provides you with insight data that you will need to automate your site. It offers website surveys, A/B testing, and website personalization.

With Omniconvert, you can easily navigate through your visitors’ minds and optimize your online store to boost their experience.

Form a customer advisory board

A customer advisory board is a group of customers who come together to advise business or company executives. The board offers guidance to the business on corporate strategies and helps the business to come up with solutions that it may be facing.

The objectives of setting a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) are:

  • To gather more information about the market.
  • To have customers who can act as your brand ambassadors.
  • To come up with a clear marketing message for the target market segment.
  • To approve new product ideas and come up with a clear product roadmap.

By creating a customer advisory board in your company, you are giving your customers a chance to be part of your business. The customers will help you understand better how the products and services you are offering benefit to the final consumer. This way, you can improve your brand to make it unique and more preferable to customers.

The bottom line

You should always be ready to try new things as long as they help retain your existing customers. Remember, the only way to get more clients is by making your current customers happy.

To get sustained results in customer retention strategies, you should focus more on finding new ways to improve all aspects of your business.

The ten tips I have shared with you on this article should help you retain your customers and take your online business to the next level.

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