Oct 17, 2023

13 Customer Retention Strategies that Actually Work

Matt Szwerc

Matt Szwerc

13 Customer Retention Strategies that Actually Work

The eCommerce arena is increasingly competitive, and the cost of clicks and conversions is rising rapidly. Customer retention is 6 to 7 times less expensive than acquisition, but it can be difficult to re-engage customers and turn them into loyal, repeat buyers.

How do you keep your current customers happy and make sure they return? And how do you turn one-time customers into repeat buyers? It all begins with a cohesive retention marketing strategy.

1. Create a subscription model.

Consumers want to simplify their lives. Implementing a subscription model for your ecommerce store removes the friction of having a consumer repeatedly visit the webstore to purchase the same product. If you don’t offer this feature, not only are you giving your customer an opportunity to buy the product from someone else, but you’re also lowering customer satisfaction, increasing churn, and jeopardizing your customer-retention rate.

2. Provide outstanding customer service.

The three pillars of a successful online brand are based on providing a simple shopping experience, enabling a multi-touchpoint fulfillment process, and delivering excellent customer service. Most brands tend to invest heavily in the shopping and fulfillment experience but fail to properly communicate with the customer when things go wrong.

When a brand invests in great customer service and resolving issues, customers will want to continue buying from the merchant, regardless of any issues. When customer support teams are empowered to go the extra mile to satisfy buyers, companies drive the word of mouth and social proof that generate both first-time and repeat purchases.

3. Implement a pay-over-time solution.

Consumers are increasingly tightening their budgets, so it can make sense in some cases to give them the option to spread payments over a period of time. The addition of an installment-based payment option can reduce cart-abandonment rates and increase conversions. An added benefit of the pay-over-time method is increased average order value (AOV), as customers are more likely to buy additional items at checkout.

4. Re-target your best customers with a unique discount.

The 80/20 rule (Pareto principle) can be used to improve sales, knowing that 80% of sales come from 20% of customers. You can easily identify loyal customers who fall into the top 20% on your sales reports. Sending these customers personalized offers reinforces your brand value and strengthens customer relationships by letting them know they are appreciated.

5. Increase page-load speeds.

Customers don’t want to wait for a website page to download “heavy” images and extensive libraries. Research has shown that merchants can boost sales up to 7% by increasing page speed by milliseconds. According to Portent, an eCommerce page that loads in 1 second has a 2.5x higher conversion rate than a page that loads in 5 seconds.

6. Provide better fulfillment notifications.

Customers don’t want to have to call customer service to find out where their order is (WIMO: where is my order), and those who do call tend to bottleneck your customer service teams. By implementing a service that provides a dynamic logistics notification feature, coupled with a simple design, you can deliver a superior customer experience that doesn’t leave your customers guessing when their order will arrive. This has the added benefit of freeing up your customer service teams for higher value work that increases customer loyalty.

7. Create a mystery box program.

Customers expect to pay less for products online, and some brands – especially D2C brands and those that manufacture their own products – have healthy margins that allow them to sell products with high discounts. A Mystery Box program lets you easily sell your products with significant discounts while still staying profitable.

8. Understand key metrics on your reporting data.

A deep understanding of products that receive high traffic but aren’t selling — and products that are getting little traffic yet are selling well — is invaluable to assessing product performance. Leveraging analytics, you can troubleshoot product conversion issues by either reducing the cost of non-selling products or improving the details of the products to show its value, while at the same time surfacing best-selling products on landing pages. A regular review of KPIs also surfaces potential issues before they impact crucial metrics like revenue.

9. Leverage accurate personalization on the shopping journey.

Large eCommerce websites tend to struggle with this concept. When brands create landing pages geared toward either a male or female persona without context, they’re missing a large consumer segment. Some examples include hardware stores that tend to merchandize their landing pages to a “contractor” persona and forget that weekend warriors and designers also visit their website. Personalization solves this issue by properly understanding the visitor and presenting relevant messages and imagery.

10. Have real humans available through live chat.

Chat features have been around for many years, and lately they are being driven by artificial intelligence (AI). While these bots are becoming quite impressive, they’re still not able to handle all the situations a well-trained customer support agent can. Let the chatbot answer the repetitive and simple questions, but have a real person available for escalations and opportunities to really wow high value customers.

11. Create custom communications based on customer segments.

Segmenting your customers gives you the ability to activate parts of your customer base with custom messaging and promotions that create revenue. A deep understanding of how your customers differ and how they are alike can help you better target these demographics with messaging that resonates with their interests and preferred channels.

12. Add B2B shopping capabilities.

Some retailers who also target B2B customers have larger orders the standard eCommerce flow isn’t equipped to handle. If the webstore forces the user to shop on the website as a general customer, it can be both frustrating and time-consuming and create doubt as to whether the company can meet their needs. Implementing a custom B2B shopping flow that allows the user to easily browse inventory levels and add items to the “requisition list” can increase B2B sales.

13. Simplify the shopper’s journey.

Research shows that customers are more likely to buy if you simplify their path to purchase. Getting rid of “multi-page” checkouts, allowing customers to add items to their cart from the Category Landing Page (CLP) and implementing a “quick-purchase” feature can reduce the required steps and increase conversions. Remembering customer information removes one more step in the process for returning customers and can increase lifetime value by encouraging repeat purchases.

Bottom Line

Your end goal should be to create loyal customers that return to your store again and again. Focus on building relationships that deliver increased lifetime value. Putting this type of customer experience first will allow you to grow your business by selling more to your existing customer base (the 20%), rather than trying to pump up the volume with the other 80%.

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