You know the facts: It's five times cheaper to retain an existing customer than acquire a new one. You don't have to spend time cultivating a new relationship when you already have one in place. Like relationships, it's easier to maintain a friendship with a best friend than to start one from scratch. The same goes for retaining customers.
Customer retention is important for every business, but it's especially significant for ecommerce organizations. After all, with an online business, you lack the opportunity to connect with customers in person. This inability to build face-to-face relationships can cause customer churn.
But don't worry; there are still many ways to continue winning leads and improving customer retention. If your business wants to retain more customers, use these tips to ensure customer loyalty.
8 Ways to Improve Online Customer Retention for Ecommerce
1. Adopt email marketing.
Email is the best way to connect with ecommerce customers. As soon as a new customer makes a purchase, they should be greeted with a welcoming message. Use this opportunity to thank them for their purchase and offer options for upselling and cross-selling.
Additionally, it's easy for customers to drift away if they haven't made a recent purchase. Keep these customers engaged by sending them recurring emails. You could send a "We miss you!" email with a discount code to encourage them to purchase again. Or, email them around holidays and birthdays to provide personalized offers. Check out this example from a GoDaddy purchase, below.
2. Delight customers.
Going the extra mile for customers is what makes your brand stick in their minds. This goes beyond a one-time effort. Consistent, regular acts of delight show customers your company does this as more than just a ploy to gain sales.
For instance, you may add in free samples with an order, go above and beyond with your customer service, or include free trials. Doing something that surprises and delights customers will make them want to remain loyal to your business and refer their friends. One example we can see of this is the beer company, Carlsberg, who decided to delight its customers by installing a billboard that dispensed free beer.
Since your store is online, it makes sense to engage with customers on sites where they're spending the most time. These are typically social media sites, especially if your target demographic is Millennials and/or Generation Z.
Having a powerful social media presence can be the difference between a customer staying and churning. It gives you a platform to connect with your customers in real-time. You can monitor your social media through mentions, hashtags, and direct posts. Respond to any questions and concerns, and make customers who share positive things about your brand feel recognized and cherished.
4. Offer a rewards program.
Rewards programs give customers a reason to continue to purchase with ecommerce brands. After all, racking up stars, points, or dollars -- or whatever system you decide to use -- gives customers a rush. Just three more purchases and they'll have enough points to get a free product with their order.
Rewards programs also make customers feel like they're part of an online community. It's hard for customers to make genuine relationships with other users when they can't meet in person. Comparing rewards points and levels can give them something to bond over. Customers can share success stories and tips on how to optimize their point-earning.
One brand that has an excellent rewards program is Sephora. Sephora lets its user choose how they want to spend their rewards points. Customers can spend points on individual Sephora products, or they can buy discounts or coupons. This way, Sephora users can get exactly what they want from the rewards program.
Ecommerce brands have access to customer purchasing history through their online database. Use this to your advantage by personalizing customer experiences based on their purchasing history. Amazon does this by recommending offers based on products you've viewed and ordered, like in the example below.
This can also extend to customer communication. If you have an email newsletter, you can personalize it by sharing relevant content -- such as blog posts -- based on their past purchases. You can even send out a survey asking customers how to better personalize their experience. This level of dedication to making every customer feel like they matter will surely increase customer retention.
6. Maintain a consistent, signature brand look.
As an ecommerce brand, you may not have a brick-and-mortar location. You must rely on other forms of branding, such as color schemes, fonts, and general formats of your website.
Take a page out of Glossier's book, a skincare and makeup brand. The brand is known for mailing out products in pink, bubble-wrap pouches with strips of branded stickers. Although a mostly online brand, these items have become a part of Glossier's signature look, making it recognizable by most individuals in its target demographic. Create a signature look that will make customers want to remain loyal to your brand -- because they're buying into the "vibe" of your brand.
Customers want to be satisfied, but they also crave ease. They want their online shopping experience to be as easy as possible. After all, that's why they're choosing to shop online rather than in-store.
Make their experience as simple as possible by offering more delivery and return options. For the patient consumer, there's standard shipping. For the procrastinating, stressed-out shopper, there's one-day shipping. For the "Oops, I impulse-bought way too much stuff and have regrets" customer, there are free returns. Have an option for every type of person to ensure a stress-free experience for all.
For example, eBay offers its user multiple options for shipping. You can use its flat-fee shipping, which is the standard model, or, you can choose calculated shipping, which calculates a fair rate to ship your package. eBay even offers a pickup option where the buyer or seller can come and pickup the item.
Last but not least, the best way to retain customers is by getting them to create an account. Once they've created an account, they've become hooked. They've committed to receiving emails, rewards, and more. They've gotten into a mutually-beneficial relationship with your brand, which is exactly the kind of relationship you want to build.
However, it's important that you give customers a reason to want an account. After all, it's easy to pay as a guest, where the first purchase is likely to be the last. Make the process of signing up as easy possible by requiring a name, email, and password. Offer lots of perks for registered users, such as early access to new products, special discounts, and rewards. Once they're registered, they're likely to stay with your business for a much longer time.
That's why at HubSpot, we have you create an account for any product that you'd like to use. Not only does this help our customer retention, but it also makes it easier for our users to access and integrate our other customer service, marketing, and sales tools.