So you’ve started your dream online store and have been working hard to get your first few customers.
Everything’s going well, but you’re hoping for more sales so you can further expand.
While making sure your customer acquisition strategy is rock solid, you need to also start looking into customer retention. It’s much easier to keep your current customers than get new ones. In fact, it’s estimated that it can be 5 -10 times cheaper to keep a customer than to get a new one.
Even if your offerings are relatively low priced, your most loyal customers are very valuable due to the amount they spend with you over time.
So once you’ve started on your eCommerce journey, it’s a good idea to start retention strategies. Sending emails inviting your customers to purchase again is a great start. Then you can move on to loyalty programs and other strategies.
Starting small and growing outwards will ensure you’re on the correct path. Here are some surefire ways you can consider for targeting and retaining your valuable customer base.
Getting to know the people who talk about your business is easiest while you’re still a small, manageable outfit. But it remains valuable throughout the lifecycle of your online brand! If you come across people who love talking about your products, take note of them and reach out if you can.
These people are your advocates. They can help your online store’s online and social credibility through word of mouth. In addition to being loyal, paying customers, they can bring in even more shoppers, so taking care of them works for both retention and acquisition.
Think of it as your grassroots influencer marketing, especially while you’re lean and need to be very careful with your capital.
You can think about offering these people incentives to promote your brand even more. Providing discount codes that their friends and referrals can use to purchase from you not only helps you land that extra sale, but also helps you keep track of your best promoters and who to prioritize building a strong relationship with.
One great example that’s stayed with me is the campaign the Hawaiian Tourism Authority ran to promote the #LetHawaiiHappen hashtag back in 2015.
They tapped into some travel photographers with an Instagram following like Jordan Hershel to help push the usage of the hashtag. The campaign received almost 100,000 posts using the hashtag when they released details, and are now at almost 500,000 posts. How’s that for traction?
Remember to focus on authenticity when working with your promoters (and influencers). Build a relationship if you can. They’re also valuable allies for keeping in touch with your market base. Take care of them and they will take care of you.
Crafting effective lead magnets is a popular strategy both for acquisition and retention. A lead magnet is an offer, promotion, or other incentives that you can give potential customers in exchange for their contact information, such as their email address for your mailing list.
These lead magnets can take many forms, such as:
Whatever you do, make sure that your content is actually useful to your customers and easy to digest! Remember that this is an exchange: they are giving you means to contact them directly for something they expect will be of value to them.
An example of an effective lead magnet is the 10-day mini accounting course that we’ve set up at InvoiceBerry, which delivers small bite-size accounting information to subscribers’ email inboxes daily for 10 days.
We’ve had great success signing up people through this lead magnet, through published blog posts, pop-ups, and press release announcements.
The bottom line is: Don’t disappoint your subscribers! This is your chance to really deliver and impress them. You can be rewarded with loyal customers who believe in your brand.
While having guest checkouts enabled for your online shop is important for conversion, having your customers open an account with you is just as valuable.
Give people the option to create an account after their first purchase. You can do this right in the checkout process like what Nordstrom did:
Or even send an invitation to set up an account after they purchase, with your order confirmation or a thank you email. You can opt to use different wording for this invitation--you can invite them to save their details for faster checkouts, or tell them they can easily check their order status if they set a password on your website.
You can also add perks for when they do sign up with an account, such as discount codes or a loyalty program.
Don’t forget to use social media and email lists to create genuine relationships with your customers. Don’t just be a pushy salesperson and talk only about your products and promotions.
Take a page from popular fast-food chains like Denny’s, Wendy’s, and Taco Bell, who have interesting and fun interactions on Twitter with their followers. It’s great for brand awareness, and they are engaging and staying up to date with their market.
Online and downloadable coloring book pages probably generates zero revenue for Taco Bell, but that doesn’t stop them from connecting with their followers:
It’s also important to monitor complaints and negative feedback on social media for your brand and reach out to people in a timely manner. Unresolved public complaints can be harmful to your shop and can snowball out of control if you don’t take care of it.
Additionally, being proactive about things like this will only improve your brand’s image as people see first-hand how you deal with customer service issues.
Our lives are never static and unchanging. There is always something happening around us and around our customers. It’s important to always reevaluate your efforts if they are still working as you intended, or if you need to tweak some things.
The goal is to turn your potential customers into loyal customers. With a little care and heart, you can start reaping the rewards of good customer service and potentially produce 25% more profit through a mere 5% increase in customer retention.
Luke Fitzpatrick has been published in Forbes, Yahoo! News and Influencive. He is also a guest lecturer at the University of Sydney, lecturing in Cross-Cultural Management and the Pre-MBA Program. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.