Struggling to keep customers? Is the cost of acquiring new ones eating into your margins? No doubt you’ve heard of the great benefits customer retention has for businesses. There’s a reason why so many are shifting focus towards it.
In this blog post, we look at 10 of the most powerful retention strategies that you can implement today. We’ll also look into the reasons why they work and their effect on customers. Before we get into that though, you might be wondering…
Are customer retention strategies really that important?
The Harvard Business review claims acquisition of new customers costs 5 to twenty five times more than retaining existing ones.
What’s more, 52% of existing customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and spend more money over time.
Satisfied and loyal customers are also a valuable source of referrals, helping to bring in new customers to the business. On the other hand, unhappy customers won’t hesitate to tell others to steer clear of businesses they had a negative experience with. This of course harms a business's reputation and eventually leads to lost revenue, especially when they have nothing in place to reverse such sentiments.
Ultimately, retention strategies are important because they:
Reduce customer churn and that maintains a steady revenue stream
Increase customer lifetime value
Reduce customer acquisition costs through referrals and positive reviews
Improve overall customer satisfaction and loyalty
Without further ado, let’s get stuck into 10 powerful retention strategies guaranteed to yield huge benefits for your business.
1) Seamless onboarding
Onboarding is the first experience between customers and your brand. In most areas in life, a positive first impression goes a long way. It’s the same for customer retention.
In fact, 63% of customers consider the onboarding process before they purchase! (the level of support they’re likely to receive post sale)
A smooth, enjoyable onboarding process sets a positive tone for newcomers. This doesn’t only reassure customers they’re interacting with professional brands, it also validates their choice of picking you over competitors.
Perhaps that’s why an easy onboarding process also helps you to differentiate from others! Particularly in crowded markets where businesses rely on poor acquisition tactics like unearned discounts. Seamless onboarding in those types of markets receive less attention than it deserves.
Yet 90% of customers agree most businesses need to better their onboarding game in order to keep them.
2) Fast deliveries & simple returns
Fast deliveries and easy returns are necessary to keep on delivering an experience that satisfies customers. Convenience is a huge driver of retention. Naturally, human beings want results as quickly as possible without hassle. That’s why we’ve seen a rise in grocery deliveries.
It’s the reason 66% of customers are willing to pay more for convenience.
With that in mind, offering seamless post-purchase options ensure customers have a great experience throughout their interactions with you. Even if that means they’re not fully happy with the product.
An article by Return Logic references a UPS survey that suggested 36% of customers returned products within a single quarter.
An impressive 73% of those said they’d still buy another product from those businesses who offered fast deliveries and easy returns.
In other words, you’d be retaining customers even if they weren’t initially happy with their first purchase with you.
3) Create educational content
Educational content helps businesses position themselves as experts in their field. Providing valuable information helps customers solve their problems. Presenting a great opportunity to cross-sell and up-sell your other products that resolve other specific pain points. It also encourages consistent engagement throughout the customer journey.
Building your brand authority leads to customers trusting you more. Trust is essential in retention. After all, customers must trust you in order to justify the money they continue to spend on your product or services.
Educational content – especially when free – is a way to show customers you care about their success and want to help them achieve their goals. What follows are stronger relationships with customers, better experiences, and increased satisfaction. All of which are the hallmarks of successful customer retention.
4) Optimise personalised experiences
Personalising interactions and communications on top of educational content, encourages further engagement and deepens the trust already nurtured.
Customers are calling out for more personalisation. They want to feel like businesses know them on a personal level, instead of simply feeling like another number.
According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers want more personalisation to feel more valued by the brands they use.
Tailoring the shopping experience to individual needs and preferences also boosts engagement. And with a big enough data set, personalisation delivers content that’s considered more relevant to individual customers. They find that the content is more interesting as a result and therefore more willing to engage on a longer term basis.
5) Improve customer service and support
Having good customer services and support in place generates positive word of mouth. Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend businesses to others when they feel looked after. A survey found that 33% of customers are willing to post a review following a positive customer service experience.
Investing more so that you can deliver better customer services and support, yields huge dividends as word of mouth marketing (WOMM) is an extremely cost effective acquisition strategy. The majority of marketers (64%) agree that WOMM is actually the most effective and preferred method of marketing.
An impressive 90% of those who hear good things about businesses are much likely to make a purchase.
Whether that recommendation is from people they know and trust or complete strangers seems to be of no consequence.
Clearly, there’s a case that great customer service and support each serve as a great acquisition tool. But what about retention? Well, the good news is all those customers you stand to gain are also much more likely to stick with you.
A McKinsey Study found that on average WOMM generates twice the number of sales compared to paid advertising and sees a 37% higher retention rate of customers gained this way!
6) Engage on social media
Social media has proven to be a fantastic tool for brands. It opens up direct channels of communication for their customers, fostering deeper connections and relationships, and encouraging consistent engagement. It also provides a platform for customers to give live feedback and a chance for brands to showcase rewards.
Customer engagement should always be easy and seamless. When it comes to social media, there’s very little else that achieves this so well. First of all, it gives brands a great opportunity to post engaging content, designed specifically for customer interaction. Once reactions flood in, brands respond to customer comments, and a two way paradigm of conversation ensues.
According to Bain & Company, customers spend anywhere between 20-40% more with companies who interact with them on social media. They also found it grants businesses an average increase of 33 points more on their Net Promoter Score (NPS).
This is thanks to social media’s ability to foster deeper connections with customers. Consistently engaging with customers on social media creates a more personal experience that leads to better retention and loyalty.
But that’s not all!
Social media also provides a platform for real time feedback from your customers. No brand gets it right 100% of the time. But by allowing customers to share feedback on socials, demonstrates confidence in your products, as well as your business operations to set things right.
It shows your willingness to listen to customer feedback, that their concerns will be addressed.
When people feel listened to, they feel valued and in turn, those who feel valued, stick around for longer and can grow up to 52% more valuable to your brand.
Then there’s the extra juicy cherry on top; showcasing how you reward loyalty by offering exclusive discounts and promotions for retained customers. This advertises how you treat those who stick with you, keeps your loyal customers happy, and keeps boosting engagement and deepening connections with your most valuable customers for the long term. In other words, more retention!
7) Build dedicated communities
Building a dedicated community keeps the engagement train rolling. Allowing your customers to deepen connections and relationships with each other. Your brand is positioned at the centre of all these relationships, allowing for discussion that doesn’t include any selling.
Customers instead focus on discussing your product or service and offering one another support. In doing so, they build a unique sense of community that’s orientated around your product. One that they won’t find anywhere else, which significantly increases the chance they’ll stick around.
Dedicated communities also provide a platform for feedback and support, just like social media. A closed community might give an air of exclusivity. Members may be qualified to offer suggestions in areas your business could improve. Which leads to more satisfaction, more loyalty, and thereby retention.
For customers, feeling valued as well as how much they can trust brands, is vital for retaining them.
Reports show that almost 75% of customers feel more valued when they’re members of an online community. That’s because they gain access to knowledge and expertise from customers who’ve been with the brand for a long time.
Allowing customers to solve problems and answer queries amongst themselves also frees up your resources. In addition, it gives you incredible insights into what’s working for customers and key areas of improvement.
You could even significantly boost retention by offering exclusive rewards to “expert” level customers who consistently help others. Making them feel more valued, respected and heard, all of which are powerful incentives behind successful retention.
8) Encourage reviews and testimonials
Even with an effective social media strategy in place and a popular community set up, you might find reviews and testimonials still only trickling in. To boost customer retention, you want to give reviewers and advocates an incentive for sharing their experiences with you.
How these incentives look depend on the strategies that you’ve got in place. For example, with a rewards loyalty programme, you could offer brand advocates a generous discount on their next purchase.
Over relying on referral rewards should be avoided at all costs on social media. Otherwise you risk attracting opportunists looking for a discount. Hence the importance in adopting more than one of these retention strategies. Case in point; a helpful customer in a dedicated community is much more qualified to receive referral rewards.
Reviews and testimonials also build on that all-important trust that customers should feel to successfully retain them. In addition to this, they also boost search engine rankings by providing fresh content. The social proof generated from this also positions your business as one that’s trustworthy and provides quality products or services.
Prospects are not only open to make their first purchase due to huge volumes of positive reviews and great feedback. They’re also much more likely to convert into retained customers because of high value perception.
9) Learn from customers’ complaints
Like we said earlier; no brand gets it right 100% of the time. Sometimes customers won’t like the product or service. Or there may be issues with deliveries, a particularly bad call, the reasons behind poor customer experiences are numerous.
But, you should strive to be a brand who fixes a bad experience 100% of the time. Learn from customers’ complaints and have strategies in place to reverse negative sentiments. That way, you significantly increase your chances of fixing the initial issues the customer faced.
It sounds obvious but so many businesses fail to adapt and plug holes that lead to shortcomings.
Half of all customers will leave a brand after just one negative experience. However, 80% of the other half willing to give brands a second go, will also jump ship too!
Addressing customer complaints head on and permanently fixing the initial problem prevents customer churn for the future. By encouraging feedback and reviews on social media, review pages and dedicated communities, you establish a proactive method of gathering insights of what needs improving.
This gives you the opportunity to right the wrong and prevents customers from becoming dissatisfied enough to switch to your competitors. It also builds on the trust you’ve established, spreads positive word of mouth, and strengthens your brand’s position.
10) Customer Loyalty & Reward Programmes
Reward programmes can have a significant positive impact on customer retention:
- Rewards create a sense of loyalty and emotional attachment to a brand or company, making customers less likely to switch to a competitor. Customers who are enrolled in a reward programme feel appreciated and valued, which increases their likelihood to continue doing business with the company.
- These programmes create a sense of exclusivity. This can increase customer retention by promoting a sense of community and encouraging customers to share their positive experiences with others.
- It's a great way to incentivise customers to continue using a company's products or services. For example, a customer who is close to earning a reward may be more likely to make additional purchases or use a service more frequently to achieve the reward. This increases customer engagement and can lead to higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Food subscription brand, Graze offers its customer access to a range of exclusive rewards from carefully selected partners to offer additional value just for being a subscriber!
In conclusion, customer retention strategies are essential for any business looking to achieve long-term success. By focusing on building strong relationships with existing customers and keeping them engaged, businesses can create a loyal customer base that provides ongoing revenue and advocacy.
From personalisation and communication to reward programmes and customer service & support, there are many effective strategies businesses can use to improve customer retention.
By taking the time to understand their customers' needs and preferences, and implementing the right retention strategies, businesses can thrive in today's competitive marketplace. Remember, customer retention is an ongoing process, and by continually refining and optimising retention strategies, businesses can keep their customers coming back for more.