Running a business means finding new customers and convincing them to buy from you repeatedly. But creating a loyal customer base is not a simple task. The following techniques will make it easier.
eCommerce is a crowded part of online business with huge competition, so creating ads can be an expensive proposition that doesn’t guarantee you’ll make many new customers. Acquiring new customers is important, but you also need to retain your current ones. They are familiar with your online store, products, and services so it’s easier for them to stay with your brand.
How do you keep customers?
The first thing you need to do is to attract visitors to your website and convert them into customers. Sounds easy, right? However, there is a process that includes nurturing, engaging and retaining customers to make your business grow. As an ecommerce business owner, you should definitely analyze how many of your visitors become actual customers – it’s all about working on your marketing funnel and moving users from the awareness stage into brand advocacy. In this article, I will focus on the retention stage and will show you how to increase customer loyalty and therefore repeated sales. Ready?
Since existing customers are more likely to buy from you, focusing on customer retention could be more affordable than acquiring new ones. It, of course, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to get new customers, but many online businesses (especially smaller ones) focus on chasing new clients because they believe it’s the only way to grow their revenue.
What can you do to keep your current customer’s closer?
1. Provide guest checkout
You have probably seen that providing a guest checkout is better for your conversion rate, but how can you track customer’s account if they don’t have one? The answer is to give them the option to create an account after their first purchase. To convince them, connect the request e.g. with a discount code.
The checkout process also matters. The simpler it is for customers, the more chances they’ll quickly come back to buy something on your website. When customers buy items for the first time, they need to fill in the required form fields such as email address or credit card details. But you can offer them a one-click payment for every future purchase (e.g. Amazon allows that) – simply use the payment gateway with “remember me” option.
“Remember me” option at SecurionPay payment gateway’s checkout
You can also optimize the “thank you” page that customers see after purchasing an item on your website. On the page, you can place an incentive to sign up for a newsletter or to connect with your brand on social media.
2. Offer loyalty programs
The magic formula is to make your customers feel special and it works in every kind of business. Consider implementing a loyalty program, which is used by many brands for re-engaging the best customers. The scenario is always the same: customers get a reward in return for activity, so it motivates them to buy more on your website. The 2016 Bond Loyalty Report shows that 66% of consumers change the amount they spend to maximize points. The more they spend, the more points they earn, it’s as easy as that.
Muscle & Strength Rewards Program
There is a wide range of online automated apps that make it easy for you to set up a loyalty program. But you can do more. Surprise and delight your best customers by sending them a small gift, offer an outstanding package, or prepare a special and personalized offer. Everyone loves surprises and receiving something for free. You can use this tactic to show your customers how much you care about them. Impressed customers will share it on their social media profiles so your small gesture can make a huge impact.
3. Try cross sales
Keep in mind that an existing customer will often wait for sales before making their next purchase at your online store. Instead of always offering discounted products, you can use cross-sells. Cross-selling involves inviting customers to buy related items. For example, when someone buys pants, you can show them an offer with associated items such as a belt, shirt, or jacket.
One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is by giving your customers a bonus (e.g. a discount code) that their friends can use. After the friend uses the discount, the existing customer will also get the bonus.
4. Send emails
This is a smart method to encourage customers to buy from you again. Reaching out by email grows the chances of turning one-time sales into repeated sales. Email is still one of the most converting channels, especially for ecommerce. Customers should be made aware of new arrivals, sale items, and you can also send them coupon codes which are only available to newsletter subscribers. When you offer a promotion to current customers, it shows them that they are special to you. It’s a simple way to increase loyalty and your credibility. If they see your content regularly, customers might be reminded of items they need that can be found at your online store.
Keep customers informed about the status of their order. User experience is also very important. Send customers an email or text message every time an order’s status changes (e.g. when the payment is processed, a product is sent etc.). Moreover, track customer’s behavior and make suggestions (e.g. a discount for the next purchase). For example, if your customer bought an oven, they might return for a cookie sheet, cookbooks or other related products.
Remember to send a targeted follow-up email after a customer’s first purchase. The best time to re-engage them is when they are just getting to know your brand. Keep customers interested in your company and show that you care about them.
Don’t forget about visitors that abandon their shopping carts. Send them an email to recover potential lost sales. Don’t wait too long either. The right time to send that follow-up is within an hour of visitors abandoning the cart.
5. Use content marketing and social media
Customer retention should also be connected with content marketing. When you create good quality content that educates your audience, you increase customer loyalty. Create buyer personas to provide personalized content and make your customers feel like you speak directly to each of them. Don’t try to treat all customers the same, they need to feel special.
Zappos is one of the best examples of e-commerce companies using social media
Social media is another channel you should use to build relationships with your customers. People are more likely to follow your brand on social channels for a reason, so it’s up to you to decide how you’ll use it to grow your loyal customer base. Present your products or services, notify followers about promotions, special offers or discounts. Don’t be a pushy salesperson. You want to focus on building the relationship, not just about selling.
Monitor customer’s activity on social media and when you see negative comments try to resolve customer’s problems.
6. Track customer’s behavior
You can analyze customer’s buying habits to see how often they buy goods at your online store. If they make a purchase once a month, send them a promotional email every two weeks to make them willing to buy more.
You can also check customer’s activity, such as favorites, most frequented pages, etc. to better personalize products. On their next visit, they could see what they probably wanted to buy. Offering a personal experience for each shopper encourages them to stay on your website longer and come back in the future.
It’s also a good idea to find out what items are the most popular on your website and what page has the highest clicks. You can make sure these items are more visible on your website.
7. Provide outstanding customer support
Valuable customer support with fast responses is essential. It’s a good idea to install a live chat on your website to answer customer’s questions in real-time. You also want to make it possible to contact you by email or phone. There are many people who would rather write you an email than give you a call. Offering multiple ways to contact you makes it easier for customers to find the answers they seek. A happy and satisfied customer is more likely to return.
Customers often end their relationship with a brand due to poor customer service. So it’s important to provide the best customer service possible, especially when they don’t have the greatest experience with your products.
8. Consider a subscription business model
The subscription business model is another way to maintain customers. Online buyers are lazy consumers and they often look for the most convenient and quickest way to buy products. If you sell products that people could buy regularly (e.g. cosmetics, coffee, or flowers), think about offering subscriptions.
Subscriptions help you retain customers and make it easy to predict your revenue. It’s a win-win scenario for both you and your customers. It’s easy to set up recurring payments on your website, especially when you choose the proper payment gateway for your ecommerce website.
9. Show you care
Listen to your customers, answer their needs, and exceed their expectations. Stand out from the competition by sending handwritten thank you notes, offering same-day delivery or giving away samples of your products. It will cost you money (as well as time and effort), but it is the best way to increase your conversion and drive sales.
To keep your customers, give them the best shopping experience. Do your best to ship the product on time and without any damage. If it’s possible, consider free shipping – it’s a customer magnet.
You are probably wondering if offering discounts, special offers and more to keep a customer is profitable. 70% of companies claim it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire one.
The more times a customer purchases from you, the stronger your relationship becomes. This also includes the quality of your products and services. If the first purchasing process was positive for customers and they like your product’s quality, they are more willing to buy from you again.
Maintaining happy and loyal customers increases the customer lifetime value, which means more for your business than separate purchases made by one-time customers. The number of customers is important, but focusing on customer retention can bring you better results.
Do any of the mentioned methods work for you? Or maybe you know another proven tactic that works? Share your thoughts in the comments section.