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Building a customer retention strategy is vital to the life of any business. Retention strategies fluctuate based on what brands sell, their size, and their typical customer profile. What works for a company selling camping gear might not work for an electronics company. It’s far from a “one size fits all” formula, so we’ve rounded up rock solid strategies from industry leaders to get the wheels turning on your own customer retention strategy.
Hubspot offers a wealth of knowledge in this article alone, so it can be easy to get lost in the sauce and not know where to start. To help, we’ve narrowed it down to a few of our favorite customer retention strategies they offer:
It might sound simple, but Hubspot Research found that 96% of survey respondents would continue to buy from a company if they apologized and rectified the situation after they made a mistake. No one’s going to get it right 100% of the time, and a little humility goes a long way when you miss the mark.
Shoppers buy from you because you have something to offer, and it doesn’t have to just be your product or service. Education can take on many forms–whether it’s your customer service team educating with shoppers through troubleshooting or hosting a blog in your area of expertise, offering knowledge beyond the baseline of what’s expected can do wonders for your customer retention strategy.
An invitation into community is an invitation to be part of something beyond the purchase. It’s an invitation to bond with those who share a common interest. A concrete example of building community into a customer retention strategy is the coffee giant, Starbucks. One scroll in the app and you’ll see collaborative Spotify playlists, opportunities to get involved with nonprofits, and of course, a map ripe with the nearest Starbucks locations so you can choose where to grab a drink with friends. Another simple yet effective way they build community is through featuring user-generated content on their Instagram.
Being in the business of customer support, the gurus over at Zendesk know a thing or two about customer retention. They offer specifics on how customer support can be the foundation of your customer retention strategy. Consider the following when it comes to customer support:
In the age of instant gratification, customers are expectant of fast turnaround times for all parts of their transaction. By setting service level agreements with your customer support team, they understand the expectation of delivering a timely response and solution to customers. By simply showing up and quickly addressing customer concerns, you’re establishing dependability as a pillar of your customer retention strategy.
Do you know what customers are saying about your product? What about what they’re saying about your returns policy? Your support wait times? By providing a channel for feedback to be collected (whether directly from the customer or creating a streamlined process for customer service agents to submit feedback), you can make swift changes to the problems that matter most to your customer base.
Your customer support team is on the frontlines as the face of your brand–don’t take them for granted. As important as it is to gather customer feedback, it can be arguably more important to gather feedback from your customer service team, as they are the eyes and ears into the customer’s experience. Consider opportunities for continued education for your employees such as leadership development courses or visibility into other departments of the company so they can broaden their understanding of how the business operates. The more invested they feel, the more ownership they’ll take in the customer retention journey.
Recharge, subscription service leaders, emphasize anticipating and acting on your customer’s needs proactively is the key to customer retention. A few ways they’ve elaborated on this concept:
What better way to retain customers than to reward them for their loyalty? Whether it’s a point-based or tiered loyalty program, incentivizing customers to shop with you more will give them reason to return. The more achievements a shopper unlocks, the greater sense of belonging they’ll feel, which results in a higher lifetime value (LTV) per customer for you. Another option in the way of rewards is offering exclusive discounts or items when a customer refers family and friends to shop with you, too. If they’re creating their own community around your brand, they’ll experience a greater sense of buy-in.
While upselling also increases LTV, it can strengthen customer retention. If done correctly, customers will focus on the added value the product or service brings to them, not the added value reflected in their cart. Upselling speaks to the core of customer retention that Recharge highlights: anticipate your customers’ needs before they do. Consider these apps in the Shopify store to start upselling on your site.
Subscription-based businesses face a unique set of challenges when it comes to customer retention because customers are expecting value on a recurring basis. A large draw to subscriptions is convenience: a customer completes a one-time signup to receive a continued product or service. The output of effort on the customer’s end is low, so keep it that way when it comes to subscription management. Having a customer-facing portal allows people to manage and update their subscription services without having to contact your team. Unnecessary interactions can frustrate and distract the subscriber from why they signed up in the first place.
Omnisend is no stranger to supporting high-growth ecommerce businesses. Here are some gems they shared when it comes to customer retention:
Show you’re thinking about customers even when they aren't actively purchasing. Surprises like birthday freebies, sharing their social media posts, and emailing them a discount “just because,” solidify a bond with your brand. It’s pretty easy to offer customers the world when they’re purchasing from you, so it’s pretty special to show you care when they aren’t actively shopping.
It may not be glamorous, but it’s a tried and true method for a reason. In fact, research shows email is the most popular way to retain customers. Whether it’s a product recommendation or a “Did you forget something?” email, you’ll be on the forefront of the shopper’s mind (and inbox). Many email marketing platforms offer sophisticated templates and prebuilt email series that reduce the amount of time and energy involved in the process, so it can be a low lift that makes a significant difference in customer retention.
Again, not the most groundbreaking of strategies, but if it ain't broke, don’t fix it. Sixty-four percent of shoppers are looking for brands to engage with them. Comment on shoppers’ posts that feature your product. Reshare their reviews in your story. Reply to questions, comments and concerns they share within your posts. There isn’t much point to establishing a social media presence if you don’t connect with your followers, so create posts that generate engagement, then engage!
Your biggest advantage in building a customer retention strategy is putting yourself in their shoes–no one understands your customers better than you. Lead with excitement, flexibility, humility, and empathy and be rewarded with customers for life. Keep this in mind when considering what to implement, and don’t forget that you have already provided a product or service that they resonate with–just keep going!