Fostering loyal customers can boost your bottom line without spending more on acquisition. Indeed, according to Bain & Co., increasing customer retention by just 5% can boost profits by up to 95%!
The question is, how do you keep your current customers happy to keep them retained, turning one-time customers into repeat buyers?
In this article, we’ll outline five of the most effective retention methods to apply to your ecommerce business this year.
Consumers always remember an exceptionally positive experience. They also never forget a bad one.
There are some obvious things you can do to deliver a great customer experience:
Take your customer experience a step further by adding personalization. Make your customers feel special and not like a cog in your sales wheel.
Go through your list of weekly orders and select a customer who is active on Twitter. Even better, use a tool like Mention or Hootsuite to find customers who are actively talking about you. Then, engage with them and get involved with the conversation. Give them a reason to feel connected with your brand.
Write a personalized letter to your customers. This comes across authentically, especially in a world where everything appears automated. It’s an effective way to show appreciation, and can make a strong first impression to new customers.
Even better, send them some free swag. Do this regularly to random customers. Send them in separate packages after their original order, so it stands out as an act of appreciation in itself.
Some brands are beginning to treat their customers as stakeholders. When things go wrong, send your customers an email to explain what happened. Avoid automation and explain to them what happened, how you’re going to fix it and what you’re going to do to make it up to them.
Finally, the packaging you wrap your products in can make a huge difference. In many cases, unboxing experiences have the potential to go viral. People love taking pictures of their new purchases and sharing it with friends. There are even entire YouTube channels dedicated to them:
A unique and pleasant unboxing experience provides a great opportunity to differentiate your brand. It adds extra value to your customer (and your business) in the form of a memorable and shareable experience.
Birchbox and Dollar Shave Club are two great examples of this in action. They both go beyond expectations, adding little extras that lift the value they deliver. They’re also great at eliciting emotions:
Here are some ways you can upgrade the impact your packaging makes:
A memorable experience can take your customer experience to the next level. Get a competitive edge by using your packaging as a way of adding value, entertaining your customers and communicating your brand message.
Your customers interact with your ecommerce brand through three primary channels:
Although 31% of consumers use social media when browsing for products, the majority of purchases are still made on your website – both through desktop and mobile.
Email marketing still works. But you can keep top-of-mind by using web and push notifications.
Using Chrome, you can send web push notifications to share content and retain customers. These work differently from mobile push notifications as they work on desktop devices. The additional bonus is that it makes retention via mobile channels much more affordable, as it removes the cost of creating a dedicated mobile app. To get started, you must first ask your visitors for permission. When a user lands on your website, they’re presented with the following opt-in box:
Once they hit the “allow” button, you can send them push notifications via your website. The anatomy of a desktop push notification are as follows:
You have a limited amount of characters to work with. So make sure your message is clear and gets straight to the point. Avoid making your subscribers think. A clear message will always have a better click-through-rate.
The number of characters you have to work with varies, but typically you have 40 to 120 to work with. Therefore, you need to be short and sweet with your messaging.
Image courtesy of The Verge
Push notifications require users to be active in order to act on them. Therefore, segmentation and an understanding of your subscribers’ time zone is important. Test different messages depending on time of day.
Frequencyis another factor to take into account. Your audience will become frustrated and unsubscribe if you bombard them with messages. It’s a nascent channel, meaning data on the best time to message them is still unknown. You’ll need to test and measure results to find the best cadence for you.
The most important metric to track is, of course, click-through rate. If you’re sending messages and few are clicking, it means you need to get optimize your message or get the timing right.
Finally, ensure you understand how they’re contributing to conversions. Web push notifications are great for getting attention. But you must also measure their contribution to sales.
What’s better than a loyal customer?
A customer that raves about you to their friends and fans.
Ambassador programs aren’t a glorified referral marketing tactic. It’s a method that rewards customers for helping to spread the word about your business and the products you sell, but also empowers them to spread that message and create far-reaching content.
Lululemon have one of the best ambassador programs in the retail space. They showcase and empower their advocates to spread the word. They are rewarded with free product and swag for their efforts based on their interests.
Start by identifying customers who are already talking about you. Look to social media to find posts that include your brand name. Use tools like Mention and BuzzSumo to receive daily alerts on this.
When building a program, think about what you can do to empower your ambassadors. Create a referral model where they’re rewarded for attracting new customers.
Lululemon takes this one step further and brings all of their ambassadors to their annual summit. Not only does this foster a community, but also encourages these ambassadors to create user generated content.
The key is to make them feel valued. Do this by empowering them and sending them gifts tailored to their interests. Personalization is key.
For seasoned marketers, remarketing isn’t a new strategy. However, it is becoming more sophisticated and complex.
For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on two of the most popular: Google and Facebook Ads.
Remarketing through Google AdWords and the Display Network gets your message to your audience across the web. If a website uses Google’s Ad platform, your message can get there.
Example of a WordStream remarketing ad
It’s a powerful way to get your message to those who abandoned your pages. And you can tailor the messaging depending on where in the sales cycle they sit. Serve one message for cart abandonments and another for those who view specific product pages.
Here are some best practices when using Google Remarketing:
Then there’s Facebook. With the Facebook Ads platform, you can use the Custom Audiences feature to retarget your audience on Facebook. There are three different options when using this feature:
Each year, Facebook users click on over 22 billion ads a year. Furthermore, Facebook remarketing get 3 times more engagement than regular Facebook ads.
Convinced? Here are some best practices to consider when running a Facebook remarketing campaign:
As of March 2017, Facebook has 1.86 million monthly visitors. Combine this with Google’s far reaching display network, and you have an effective platform to stay top-of-mind with your audience.
Subscription businesses are becoming increasingly popular. They take the already convenient nature of ecommerce and takes away the hassle of shopping itself.
These subscriptions come in monthly packages that box together products around an interest or niche. These boxes are currently the most popular form of ecommerce subscription, with “subscribe and save” deals steadily taking off.
According to Hitwise Retail 500, visits to subscription box websites grew from 722,000 in 2013 to 21.4 million in 2016. Love it or hate it, this model is popular among consumers.
There are several benefits to utilizing a subscription model in your business, including:
This model can work for any number of niches. Take Dollar Shave Club, for example. They’re well known for their viral launch video, affordable razors and free incentives.
Trunk Club provides men with fashion advice and delivers a selection of clothing to them based on their tastes. They try it on, keep what they like and send back what they don’t.
They differentiate themselves by going beyond ecommerce and offering practical style advice to their customers. Customers would have to go to their physical offices to get their service until they pivoted to a subscription model.
BarkBox provides dog lovers with care packages for their pups. This includes toys, as well as delicious and healthy treats. Their satisfaction guarantee means customer can return anything they don’t like.
If you’re looking to simplify your offering, or create a recurring revenue stream, then consider a subscription model.
Customer retention becomes harder the more options that open up. The key is to make sure you’re the obvious choice for your customers over anyone else.
What are you currently doing to foster customer loyalty?
Ajit Singh is the Digital Marketing Manager at WebEngage, the Marketing Cloud for consumer businesses.
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