1. The Useful Reminder - About 5 months ago, in a brief moment of athletic motivation and wonder, I bought a Groupon for discount passes to a local gym. I have not looked at them since. Today, Groupon reminded me about my unused passes (and general laziness) and encouraged me not to let them go to waste. Companies like Alice.com take this a step further. Clued into the shopping cycles of busy households, Alice.com is an online source for products like soap, cleaning supplies, batteries and other home essentials. The site enables you to set up alerts for products that frequently run out. Blogger Connie, a “nearly-50-year-old” mom, writes about her experience with these reminders over on her blog . Below is a view of the alert tool and sample email listing the products that Connie is about to run out of.
My only critique of the email reminder is that the products are listed as “overdue.” Be careful not to make your reminders a negative experience by adding any pressure or pinning any blame on the consumer. “Up for renewal” might be a better approach. The most important part of the useful reminder email is that it is USEFUL. Emails reminding customers to come back to the website or shop again without any behavioral or environmental trigger are no better than blanket mass emails. Email me about yet another sale when I’m not ready to buy, and you will likely be ignored. Remind me that I’m about to run out of toilet paper and give me a coupon, and I’ll be right over.
2. The Sincere Thank You - Customers have a tremendous number of options when it comes to selecting the companies with which they want to do business. According to a much-cited report by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company, acquiring a new customer can cost six to seven times more than retaining an existing customer. Showing the customer you’re glad to have them is not a new practice. More and more, however, “customer appreciation days” won’t cut it. Keep customers engaged by periodically sending them personalized emails that reflect their experiences with your brand and the channels they most often use. Thank them on days that are specific to them — a one year anniversary as a customer, a birthday — or surprise them with a targeted thank you and offer when they are least expecting it.
3. The Social Media High-Five - Sites using social tools to build community among users have one of the most effective tools available for keeping users engaged. It’s nearly impossible to ignore that “you’ve been tagged” notification. But even the most active of social media pages can’t keep up retention without the use of targeted emails. In a post earlier this summer, VC Fred Wilson explored this interconnectedness of email and social media, writing: “I’ve always thought that photo tagging was the killer feature and that photo sharing is Facebook’s primary utility. I’ve said that on more than a few occasions. But there’s another piece to this that you cannot leave out. That is the email you get that tells you that someone has tagged you and brings you back to Facebook.” As you assess your site, think of ways to integrate social features and provide email updates that will keep your audience interested and coming back.
This is a starter list. I’d love to hear about other retention strategies you have tried –either in email or through other means. Leave your ideas in comments below. The more creative the better.