When we think of eCommerce revenue growth, we often think of strategies and tactics to attract new customers and keep the sales register ringing. But that’s not the only thing you should focus on. Custom retention is often overlooked by merchants when it comes to increasing online profits.
What is customer retention?
In simple words, it is your ability to retain customers and encourage them to keep buying from your store. The customer retention rate is an indicator of whether your customers are satisfied with your products and services. It is different from customer acquisition or lead generation. Retaining customers is about long-term commitments and building stronger relationships.
Why is customer retention important in e-commerce?
If your retention strategies are right, the sales and eventual profits generated by this often exceed those you get from new customers. This isn’t plain talk. Various surveys conducted give a clear picture of why you need to focus on retention.
Customer retention strategies cost 5-25 times less than acquiring new customers. This is because you have already spent money on pushing new customers through the sales channel. They are familiar with your brand and products. The only task at hand now is to engage them in loyalty programs to encourage them to shop repeatedly at your stores.
Better bottom line
Some efforts to increase customer retention by even 5% can increase profits by 25-95%! This is because the customers have purchased products and are satisfied with them. Now, you need to give them reasons to purchase the product again.
Increase in revenue
61% of the businesses surveyed indicated that more than half of their revenue comes from repeat customers. Why not? Wouldn’t you prefer to purchase again from a store that you are familiar with and have had a good shopping experience with? So, it isn't surprising when you get more revenue from repeat purchases.
Higher average order value (AOV)
Another survey result shows that repeat customers spend 67% more than new ones. Again, we can say that customers feel safe trying out new products from your store as they have reached a comfort level shopping at your store.
Loyal customers are your true brand advocates. They are the ones who do not hesitate to spread the word about your brand to their friends and family. And various surveys have shown that 90% of people are more likely to buy from a brand recommended by a friend.
In spite of these facts, merchants falter in their retention strategies. They understand the industry, trends, and target markets. They have all the data in hand but don’t know what the customers need to return to the store!
If that is the case, we have some of the best customer retention strategies laid out for you. And to boost your efforts, we have a BONUS STRATEGY at the end. Read through the blog to learn the ten customer retention strategies for your e-commerce store.
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1. Offer discounts and rewards
Discounts and rewards are often deemed short-term fads and cheap promotional tactics. But no, this isn’t true. This has been around for decades. Doesn’t your local restaurant or merchant shop give you gifts for Christmas if you are their loyal customer? Doesn’t the gym you frequent give you a reduction in the subscription fee? It is because they understand the value of customer loyalty and know that these are the customers that make their business profitable over time.
Before designing a loyalty program, ask yourself these questions:
Does the loyalty program align with my business capabilities?
Will customers value the program?
Will my rewards program generate greater customer value?
The best strategy is to segment your audience based on their previous purchase history and create a tiered loyalty program that rewards customers based on their loyalty and repeat purchases. This way, you ensure you give the best value to your best customers.
You can also partner with other businesses that add value to your loyalty program. For instance, if you sell protein supplements, partner with a gym and create a loyalty program that will benefit both you and the gym. The best example of this is financial card services that partner with a range of business verticals ranging from fashion, lifestyle, and hospitality to health to keep providing discounts and rewards to customers.
One point, though, is that while creating loyalty programs, make sure that the value created through them must exceed the cost of the value delivered.
2. Integrate live chat tools
What does customer retention actually depend on? Think about it.
Our answer is- the quality of products and the quality of customer support.
Isn’t it true? Both should be equal. A good product suffers when there isn’t good customer service available. Similarly, bad customer service cannot help your business succeed, even if the product is good.
Do you know that 73% of customers find live chats to be the most comfortable means of communication for online shopping?
A live chat is an excellent alternative to phone calls and emails. It helps build trust and encourages people who are sitting on the fence to complete their purchases. Integrating a live chat tool with your store has a lot of benefits.
Live chat helps customers interact on specific topics.
They offer customers instant responses instead of having to repeat their queries multiple times on phone calls.
Live chats take customers to specific links, reducing time and effort.
Your business is open to resolving customer queries 24x7 through live chats.
Automated answers to frequent questions reduce waiting time and increase customer satisfaction.
Live chats not only allow customers to ask questions about the product, but they also serve as a medium to obtain feedback from them regarding the product or your service.
Real-time assistance offers an unmatched customer experience. As a result, a satisfied customer comes back to your store to buy products again and again.
3. Get customer feedback
Do you ever hear what your customers have to say about you? Do negative reviews easily annoy you? Do you defend yourself when customers leave a bad review?
Given the intense competition, customers want better services, and any lack of them may make them unhappy. And once a shopper experiences poor customer service from your store, it takes at least 12 positive experiences to negate that one poor impression.
So, how do you ensure that no customer is unhappy in your store? LISTEN to them.
Yes, pay attention to what they want to say. You have various channels to listen to their grievances- phone calls, emails, live chats, reviews & ratings, social media, surveys, and feedback forms.
As troubling as negative customer experiences can be, they are crucial to your online success. We can summarize the benefits in two points.
You get an honest opinion about your products and services. Use the feedback to improve the quality of services and see to it that the same mistakes aren't repeated.
Through feedback, you get the opportunity to repair the relationship. All it takes is a personal touch.
Following up with customers after things go wrong can open doors to powerful conversations. Make use of customer feedback by actually implementing it into the products and services that your business offers.
Showing customers that you listen to their input not only makes them feel appreciated but also encourages them to continue engaging with your business, creating long-term loyalty to the brand.
4. Encourage brand ambassadors
Loyal customers are those who love your products or services and keep coming back for them. However, are they brand ambassadors for your business?
There is a distinction to be made between loyal consumers and brand advocates. Yes, loyal customers help you with customer retention. But a brand ambassador offers something more. They bring in new customers for your business. They love your products and promote them to others. And if they are viewed as trustworthy and credible by others, you can expect an increase in your brand’s popularity.
So, isn’t it worth it that you need to show more love to your brand advocates? Reward those who go above and beyond when engaging with your business-those super fans who tirelessly promote your brand over social media, review products they love, or help troubleshoot when there's something wrong with a customer's purchase. Not only will these happy customers spread the word about your business, but they'll also have an easier time promoting it due to their loyalty.
5. Offer personalized services
No two customers are alike. So, a customer retention strategy that works for one set of customers may not necessarily work for another. If you really want to make your customers feel special, offer personalized services that cater to their individual needs. The first step in personalization is audience segmentation. Now, make use of data analytics and customer feedback to tailor content and send out personalized emails or notifications to each segment. Customize product recommendations based on previous purchases.
On top of that, why not establish a loyalty program to reward customers for their loyalty? Allowing customers to earn points with every purchase incentivizes them to keep coming back. Offering discounts for members or giving away free samples are great ways to increase customer engagement as well.
If you have the capacity, you can also give your customers access to service portals so they can view their account information and order history, or even track orders in real-time. The more personalized services you offer, the more likely it is that your customers will continue engaging with your business.
6. Utilize email marketing tactics
Email marketing is nothing new, but it remains one of the most effective ways to engage with customers and keep them coming back for more. Your email marketing strategy should now focus on the post-purchase stages. The end goal is to maximize the lifetime of loyal customers. Here are some tips to increase customer retention through a solid email marketing strategy.
Send personalized emails
Please don’t send letters that are boring and aren’t meant for the customers. Imagine sending an email about a discount on a baby stroller to an undergrad! Customers will simply ignore the email or block you. Segment your audience first and create a relevant message for each segment. This way, you can make sure your emails are relevant and have personalized content.
Send regular newsletters, product updates, and promotion offers. By doing so, you ensure that your brand remains relevant to their interests. Send friendly reminders about events, sales, new releases, renewals, new resources, and more. Such emails will build customer loyalty and keep them from going elsewhere.
Relationships last when you put effort into maintaining them. If you interact less with your existing customers, chances are that they will drift apart elsewhere where they get attention. So, re-engage with your customers to maintain credibility.
As we have mentioned above, reminders are one way to keep them engaged. You can also send occasional offers, such as discount coupons on collections, to compel them to visit your store and buy products. If you notice that they are repeatedly buying a product, send them an email encouraging them to go to a subscription model and highlighting the benefits for them.
Emails have traditionally been associated with customer acquisition. But you can effectively use them for your customer retention strategies and improve relationships.
7. Make it easy to purchase
Nobody likes friction. Buying from your store should be no exception. That's why it's so important to make it easy for customers to purchase from your e-commerce store. Whether you're running a shop on Shopify, Magento, BigCommerce, or something else, the user experience should be top-notch. The fewer steps a user has to take to complete their purchase, the better.
Beyond that, there are some more factors to consider when it comes to your store’s user experience.
Never feel like your website is good enough. Keep testing it for all features and actions to better understand what your customers want.
Don’t stop teaching your customers about the features of your website. Don’t limit it to first-time users. If you see that your customers have not yet noticed a new feature, use tooltips or popups to guide and educate them about it.
Use easy and secure login methods so that the customer doesn’t need to fill in the password each time.
Create a pleasurable reward experience so that visitors are compelled to keep coming back. For example, a points or badge system will encourage customers to keep obtaining them.
Gamification is another popular trend to encourage customers and give them a reason to visit your store again.
Another way is to create a custom user persona and use it all over the store.
Ultimately, making it simple and straightforward for customers to purchase products from your store is key to retaining them.
8. Cross-sell products
Everyone wants to increase their sales, and what better way to do it than to cross-promote products and services? Cross-selling related products or services is a fantastic customer engagement strategy because it gives customers an additional opportunity to make a purchase. For this, you have to identify products to accompany an initial purchase. These products have to add value to the original product.
For example, if a customer has purchased a laptop or added it to the cart, you can cross-sell computer accessories like a laptop bag, keyboard, or mouse.
This strategy helps the customer finish their purchases, as well as increase the overall value of their order. Also, given that customers are already interested in the main product, they are more likely to invest in complementary ones too.
Cross-promotion also allows you to market different types of products and drive up sales. For example, if you have different categories of items ranging from clothing to furniture and home decor, you can create product bundles with discounted prices to promote both categories at once.
How does cross-selling help with customer retention? It addresses the future needs of the customer when purchasing a product. For example, a customer may need a laptop bag when they buy a laptop. And by offering discounts on product bundles, you give them a chance to buy products from your store without having to go anywhere else.
But make sure that you are not misusing the cross-selling feature by suggesting or bundling products just to increase your revenue. Customers will return to your store only when you add value to their purchases.
9. Have transparent policies
You may have hundreds of products listed on your store, but what is their use when you don’t have a clear shipping, returns, or refund policy? If you really don’t want to work on customer retention, you can take the liberty to refuse a refund or make product returns nearly impossible. But if you want customers to trust your service and make repeat purchases, be honest with them at every step of their shopping journey.
The key to customer retention is customer loyalty. One of the strongest ways to create a loyal customer base is through transparency. And if you are wondering how to be transparent with customers, we have it for you.
Pricing- don’t play with it. Nothing makes the customer unhappy more than showing a lower price on the product page and increasing it when they checkout. Make all the inclusions and exclusions clear before they check out.
The shipping policy is one aspect that needs your attention. If you cannot offer free shipping, make the estimated charges known on the product detail page.
Transparency also includes customer communications. Whether you have good news, “Your order has been shipped ahead of schedule!”, or bad news, “We are sorry, we are out of stock at the moment”, transparent communication is the key.
Try to make the return process pain-free and reasonable.
Be honest about customer data collection. Be upfront about what data you gather and for what purpose. Give them the option to opt out if they are uncomfortable with it.
Publish company values in the store. Your work quality, corporate responsibility, vision, mission, and values may seem nothing to you, but for some customers, they count.
The essence of any transparent relationship is communication. Encourage customer feedback at every point of their journey.
Don’t neglect your customers after they have paid and received the order. Instead, follow them and get feedback on their shopping experience. Customers will trust you with future purchases if they know they can rely on you to treat them honestly after the transaction.
Customer transparency makes your brand highly trustworthy, and this is the right step forward to maximize customer retention.
10. Omni-channel marketing
Today’s consumer has an average of six touchpoints to interact with a brand. The customer journey can start and end at any point.
For instance, a potential customer hears about your brand on Instagram. They visit your website to browse through the products. They visit a physical store to see and try the product. They then download the app, as there is an app-exclusive discount, and complete their purchase here. As a merchant, it becomes imperative for you to provide a seamless experience across them all.
An omnichannel marketing strategy is to unify marketing across channels and nudge customers at each point to lead them to a common goal.
In this way, you are giving them the information they need at the right time and in the right place. To achieve this, you need to collect customer information across all channels, analyze the data, segment the customers into groups, and personalize the content to make the campaign more relevant and effective.
Be ready to engage users, no matter where they are. Offer them opportunities to convert at every stage on any channel.
Bonus Tip- Create an app for your store
Not many businesses opt to have a mobile app for their online store. The reasons are many. The costs and time involved in making one, technical skill requirements, and a lack of knowledge on how and why a mobile app can be helpful to grow profits are some of them.
But businesses are missing out on a golden opportunity here. Due to their ability to make online purchasing more simple for users, mobile applications are rapidly being used by e-commerce companies. By leveraging the power of mobile apps, you can create an immersive and personalized shopping experience through push notifications, product recommendations, app-exclusive discounts, an easy checkout process, and others.
If the above-mentioned problems are restricting you from having an app, the no-code app builder Swipecart is your answer. You need zero coding skills to create an app for your store, and you can do this in minutes at a fraction of the cost. It uses a simple visual interface. You have to drag and drop reusable blocks into position inside the app layout. Swipecart doesn’t just limit its features to app design. It offers plenty of features in marketing to acquire and retain customers.
We have discussed ten points for customer retention. Swipecart has all those features and much more to help you create the best customer retention strategy.
Discounts and rewards
Swipecart has software add-ons called plugins to add extra features to your app. The Discount Codes, Custom Pricing, and Reward Points plugins help you create a solid loyalty program to maximize your customer retention efforts.
Integrate your app on Swipecart with tools like Tawk.to, Zendesk Chat, Gorgias Live Chat, or Tidio Chat to offer instant responses to customer queries and improve customer satisfaction.
Use integration tools such as Loox, Rivyo Product Reviews & QA to get customer reviews. Also, the App Review plugin is the simplest way on Swipecart to collect customers’ shopping experiences.
The premium Studio Mode feature on Swipecart allows you to invite brand advocates to the app and encourage them to showcase your products from their perspective.
Swipecart has an audience segmentation feature to create customer segments. You can then use this to create personalized messages for push notifications. Its product recommendation feature also helps you give personalized suggestions to customers on the app.
Swipecart has integration tools like Klaviyo to help you with customer retention strategies through emails. You can send them subscription reminders, discount coupons, or sale notifications and encourage them to visit your app again and again.
Interactive app engagement
The Swipe Mode feature in Swipecart offers your customers an immersive shopping experience. Also, the Render View (360) allows you to display a 360-degree product image display, helping customers make informed decisions. This improves your credibility and builds loyalty.
Frequently Bought Together is an integration tool available on Swipecart to help you create product bundles. The other tools like Booster: Discounted Upsells and Bold Upsell - True Upsells! also help you with post-purchase upsells and cross-sells to increase customers’ average order value.
Plugins on Swipecart such as Additional Info, Product Meta Fields, Product Customization Form, and Food Nutrition Facts give you ample opportunities to put out information to customers and be transparent about the product information and prices.
Swipecart has incredible integration tools like Marsello, Vitals, and Klaviyo to help you set up an omnichannel marketing strategy through push notifications, emails, and SMS.
With a mobile app, you can achieve much more than you expected from your customer retention strategies. All you need is to create an app for your store on the no-code app builder Swipecart and get started.
As businesses continue to shape the online marketplace, it's important to remember that engaging with customers is the key to long-term success. These 10 strategies (plus a not-to-miss bonus tip) are excellent starting points to grow your customer base and create an experience that customers love.
From understanding how to incentivize customers to taking advantage of customer feedback, there are plenty of tactics businesses can use to create loyalty and retain customers. Create an app for your store, focus on developing a personalized customer experience, and you'll be on your way to increasing both customer retention and revenue.