It’s in the nature of the salesperson to crave new customers. It’s a trait that becomes solidified during the terrifying startup phase and never quite goes away. You start from nothing, looking out upon a world of strangers with the disposable income to make your dream a reality — and only by convincing them of your value can you move towards your goals.
This can become a problem, though, and here’s why: it isn’t practical to find new customers at a pace sufficient to keep your business afloat, let alone drive its growth. Not if you pay so little attention to your existing customers that they go elsewhere. If you make a priority of earning customer loyalty, most other things will start to work out for you.
But how do you manage this? How do you improve your efforts at retention and convince more customers to stick around? In this post, we’re going to run through some useful tips for ecommerce companies trying to run effective retention campaigns, so let’s get started:
Learn from honest feedback
It’s almost impossible to keep customers happy if you don’t understand them. What they want, what frustrates them, what delights them: these things should inform the actions you take to maintain and develop your business (particularly your customer support). And understanding people requires more than just applying empathy or using buyer personas. It requires feedback.
You’ll likely get comments through support queries or social media, but they’ll typically be highly emotive and have only ephemeral significance. What you need to do is consult your customers through detailed surveys provided automatically at appropriate times after purchase. Throw in some small incentives, but nothing major: you don’t want to sway what people say.
Start selling wherever you can
Imagine this scenario: someone buys something from your store, is absolutely happy with every aspect of the buying experience, resolves to buy from you again, and promptly forgets about that resolution. You might think that implies that your brand isn’t memorable, but that isn’t necessarily the case. The internet is full of distractions and other things to buy, after all.
Due to this, there’s a good chance that simply giving people more opportunities to buy from you (and thus more chances to remember how much they like your brand) will produce positive results. Embrace the modern concept of selling everywhere — championed by leading platforms — and give people many more ways to purchase your products. One-click buying via social media, for instance, or even hybrid offline buying through POS systems.
Implement a reward scheme
Unless you have a position of industry dominance and the money and influence to retain it (Amazon-style), it’s very hard to maintain a leading value proposition as an ecommerce seller. Sooner or later, an upstart rival will come along to offer much the same things at lower prices, or outperform you in one or more other ways.
So what do you do? It isn’t advisable to lower your prices across the board, as that will damage your profit margins — but you can sweeten things for your long-term customers through a reward scheme offering things like discounts or extra items for those who’ve purchased from you on numerous occasions. You can also reward people for referring new customers: it’s a fantastic way to drive loyalty and increase your customer base.
Personalize your marketing
Marketing isn’t something you can limit to prospective customers: I noted earlier that you should try to sell as broadly as you can because existing customers can forget about you somewhat, and you should take that same route with your marketing. The big difference is that you should be offering distinct marketing materials to those customers, and making them personalized.
Some companies avoid personalization because it’s difficult to find the right balance, but you need to make it past those initial hurdles and turn it into a core part of your retention plan. This is because loyal customers expect to be treated differently. They expect to be appreciated as special contributors to the health of the company, and that means addressing them personally.
Interact with your customers
How heavily do you use social media for your company? Some prefer to avoid it (it is extremely frantic, and often messy), but its usefulness for business is undeniable. It allows you to show personality, spread marketing messages very broadly, and keep tabs on your competitors — and it’s very useful for interacting with your customers in casual ways.
This could be as simple as thanking someone for mentioning your brand in a positive light, or saying something nice about your products. Every Tweet one of your followers sends could spark an exchange that not only makes them feel better about your company but also paints you in a flattering light for anyone following along with it.
Customer retention ultimately stems from making your customers happy, which has always been the core of business. Following these suggestions will certainly help you get ahead, but don’t stop there: continue to find new ways to delight your customers and give them fresh ways to return value by supporting your brand.
Author: Rodney Laws
Rodney Laws is an ecommerce expert with over a decade of experience in building online businesses.