eCommerce and digital store owners often spend time and effort in an attempt to drive new customers to convert on their site. The logic behind this approach is based on a belief that growth occurs only when new leads hand over their money or personal information. Yet, this philosophy is fundamentally flawed since your existing customer base is likely the greatest source of revenue. In fact, the prospect of an existing customer making a second purchase is
#1. Set up a stellar customer support system
Providing your existing customer base with an after-sales service that exceeds their expectations is essential. Features such as free shipping, clear return policies, and real-time support will delight your customers and increase their craving to return to your store. In fact, studies have shown that quality of customer service is a key motivator among customers to return and shop from a particular store.
For example, consider the effect of allowing a customer to reach out to your brand through channels such as social media or a real-time chat feature. When something goes wrong, your customers will not have to wait for long before they are able to get a hold of someone to help resolve their issue. This reduces level of discontent, adds a personal touch, and more importantly, it subconsciously communicates your interest in a customer’s satisfaction level rather than just their money.
#2. Invest in a loyalty program
Human nature dictates that people are driven to action by their need for a sense of belonging. In fact, this is an underlying principle highlighted in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and a loyalty program can help your customers meet this need for belonging and exclusivity. Loyalty programs function by providing faithful customers with incentives such as special discounts to shop at your store resulting in a trickle-down or ‘domino’ effect which leads to increased purchasing in the long run. In fact, it becomes significantly harder for a customer to switch to your competitor if they have something to lose out on by abandoning your store. For example, losing access to cash back offers, discount coupons, free merchandise, or a lifetime membership is simply too hard to walk away from due to people’s risk-averse nature.
Studies have shown an overwhelming preference for loyalty programs among consumers. Almost 83% of customers are more likely to stay and make repeat purchases from a eCommerce store which provides them with some type of perk through a loyalty program. Keep in mind that your loyalty program doesn’t have to be solely based on providing monetary savings but can also involve exclusivity-based perks. For example, VIP-style incentives such as early access to an upcoming sale before all other customers is a great way to retain customers to your store.
#3. Personalize the shopping experience
What makes a physical brick-and-mortar store so great is their ability to deliver a personal experience to each customer. Unfortunately, without sales associates on hand to meet and greet customers browsing your online store, personalization is notably harder to achieve. Fortunately, personalization can be closely mimicked to delight customers to the same level as the physical shopping experience. Before any personalization occurs, it is paramount to have a complete understanding of each customer’s purchasing pattern, behavior, and desire. Make use of an analytic software to collect and analyze data points such as their purchase history and products viewed. Armed with this data, display these (and similar) products much more noticeably to capture a visitor’s attention while they browse your store.
Personalization shouldn’t stop directly on your online store but should continue across all communication channels with your customer. For example, email marketing is extremely popular among marketers to drive customers back their store for repeat purchases. However, instead of sending the same cookie cutter message to each and every customer, personalize the message based on order history, location, and other such preferences. This will increase click through rates back to your store which drives sales.
#4. Surprise your customers
Last but not least, an element of surprise should round off your retention strategy. For example, sending a small unexpected gift at random to reward a loyal customer is a great way to show your appreciation, remind customers about your store, and entice them to return and continue shopping with you. In fact, such kindness from your end taps into the law of reciprocity which states that when you do good by your customer, you activate a deep-rooted psychological urge within them to return the favor (buy more from your store).
However, it’s not always necessary to spend to surprise customers. An alternative to sending gifts is including a unique message with each order or delivery of a product. For example, a handwritten thank you note with billing is surprisingly effective in getting customers to feel good about your brand and store and ensure their return.
In today’s ultra-competitive eCommerce market, it’s become significantly harder to acquire a new customer. In such an environment, retention of your existing customer base should be your top priority and handled with special care as it represents the engine for growth. Despite the plethora of options available to customer for online shopping, winning customer loyalty and driving retention is possible with customer insights and implementation of the tactics discussed above.