Loyal customers are incredibly valuable for eCommerce stores. So when you acquire new ones, it’s important to deliver a great experience and nurture the relationship so they come back time and time again. Become an expert at this and the lifetime value of each new customer you find will grow exponentially — and so will your store.
Here are ten customer retention strategies you can start working on immediately in your eCommerce business.
1. Provide outstanding customer service
This is first on the list for a reason. A lot of companies struggle to provide good service, so if you succeed, you’ll definitely stand out. Your customers will appreciate it. They’ll feel well-served, valued, and relieved that you made their lives easier instead of harder. And they’ll come back for more.
That’s what great service does. And it does it by excelling at the small things.
Here are a few basic customer service tips that can set you apart.
- Be reachable — by phone, email, online chat, etc. — employ multiple methods that work for you
- Respond to questions and problems — don’t aggravate customers by ignoring them
- Be knowledgeable — there’s nothing more frustrating than talking to a ‘customer service representative’ who doesn’t know their own products and services
- Don’t make a website that’s frustrating to use — deliver a pleasing user experience
Customers who have bad experiences will probably go somewhere else, but when you go out of your way to support their needs and delight them, they’ll not only return but help spread the word to others.
2. Follow up with customers
After someone buys from your eCommerce store, don’t forget about them.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Send email confirmations about their purchase. Send updates about the status of their shipment. Ask for feedback about your service and the products they bought. Send FAQ emails. Offer to help. Make sure they have the information they need.
If a customer asks you a question, answer it. And then follow up to be sure your answer solved their problem.
You can automate quite a bit of this using email marketing automation tools such as AutomateWoo, created especially for WooCommerce stores.
Ask almost anyone, and they could tell you stories of how they bought something, asked a question, and never got a reply. Even the biggest companies in the world fail at this.
When you succeed at it, your customers will notice.
3. Reward loyal customers with discounts
You can reward first-time customers with thank-you discounts and other special offers. And you can reward your long-time loyal customers with even bigger surprises.
Get creative here.
And if you use discounts smartly, [link to upcoming coupons post] it doesn’t have to cost you much money. One simple trick is to use flat dollar discounts instead of percentages.
For example, suppose you’ve created a segment of customers who have made five or more purchases from your eCommerce store, and you want to reward them. Instead of saying something like “save 30% when you spend over $100,” say “save $30 when you spend over $100.”
That way, however far over $100 they go, you’re still only discounting by $30. The more they spend, the more profit you make above that threshold.
This type of discount increases average order size without costing as much profit, and your customers will still appreciate you for it.
4. Send segmented emails based on previous purchases
This is one form of personalized marketing. It shows your customers that you pay attention to them.
Identify and segment contacts who seem to gravitate towards specific categories of products. Based on the category, you can probably determine other things that may be true about them. If they always purchase from your “kids” categories, they probably have a child in their lives and will appreciate content and offers that relate to kids. Start communicating with each of these segments about relevant products, common problems and how to solve them (even if it doesn’t involve one of your products), tips, how-to content, and more.
MailPoet is a great tool for this because you can sort contacts based on purchase history — just like in the example above.
Customer retention involves more than just sales and discounts.
By segmenting your communication based on product categories, you can get more specific and thus be more relevant to each customer. This is an outstanding customer retention strategy when you start using it consistently.
5. Give referral prizes
By incentivizing referrals, you tap into your network of already-satisfied customers to expand your reach. And personal referrals often work better than advertising because people trust those they know.
Referrals are like a five star review on rocket power. It boosts your credibility and spreads the word for you.
You can run referral contests with a few big prizes for winners, or reward people directly based on each new customer they bring to you.
However you approach it, the key here is to make it easy for customers to refer people to you. How do you do this?
Simplicity for your customers and automation for you is the key to running a successful program. This is where the right extension can again work wonders.
AutomateWoo’s Refer a Friend add-on is a great option because your advocates can share discounts with their friends and family via email or social media. When someone uses the unique code, the referral is attributed to the right person automatically. There’s no heavy lifting for the person referring, their friend, or you.
And you can use the add-on to promote your referral offer on the checkout page or in follow-up emails.
6. Ask for reviews and testimonials
When someone takes the time to write out why they like a particular brand or product, that does something to their feelings about the company behind it.
By writing reviews and testimonials for your eCommerce products, your customers will deepen the bond between them and your business.
Send out occasional emails asking them to give public feedback. And to make it easy, include links to the major review sites that are appropriate for your niche.
But reviews do more than just increase customer loyalty — they can help you win new customers, too. It’s worth spending extra time to attract reviews for your store. Learn how to use email to get more eCommerce reviews.
7. Give special bonuses, perks, and gifts
For extra-loyal customers, and especially those who spend a lot of money, you can cement their bond with your company with surprise bonuses and gifts. For example, if you sell beauty products, you could throw in a sample of your top-selling lotion. Or if you offer house-cleaning services, you could include a fresh-smelling candle in the home of your top clients.
Just send them these things with no other expectations. The surprise will utterly delight them, and you can pretty much guarantee they will even more happily continue doing business with you.
8. Add a subscription service option
Nothing beats recurring revenue. And in terms of customer retention, subscriptions keep shoppers connected to you better than anything else. It bonds them to you. You become part of their life.
With some creativity, just about any business can come up with a subscription option.
Here are just a few examples of products you could turn into subscriptions:
- Themed snack boxes
- Coffee (because no one wants to run out of that!)
- Lawn care services
- Software licenses
- Online magazines
Usually, this requires you to come up with some added services and benefits that only come with a subscription, things that serve the customer, make their lives easier, and solve problems.
In other words, you can blend your customer service strategy into your subscription, and thus increase retention.
9. Communicate consistently
Here is another opportunity to excel against your competition with just simple, consistent action.
Give customers the opportunity to subscribe to your newsletter. And you shouldn’t hesitate to provide an incentive for them to do so — every subscriber is incredibly valuable to your business.
Then, send out weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly emails. Send an occasional postcard or letter. Send quarterly print catalogs if that fits your business. Yes, print. Because of digital fatigue, people are looking at print media with renewed interest these days.
Some of this communication can pitch products and offers. But a lot of your customer communication and marketing is meant to just stay on their minds. You can send all sorts of helpful content like how-to guides, product insights, solutions to problems that your customers have, answers to common questions, and much more.
The point is, when you stay on top of their minds, who will they think of first the next time they need something you offer? Your business.
10. Say thank you!
And we finish with the simplest and most obvious customer retention strategy of all — saying “thank you.”
You really can’t thank a customer too much. Put it on your order confirmation page after checkout. Say it in your automated emails. Put a note inside your package. For higher-priced products, a phone call might even be appropriate.
Your customer service team should also be trained to tell each customer that they appreciate them for doing business with you.
Look for more places to say thank you and show gratitude to your customers, at every step of the sales cycle.
Do what works for you
Put even a few of these ten customer retention strategies to use in your eCommerce business, and, over time you’ll keep more customers, increase revenue, get more reviews and referrals, and scale your business.