Pop quiz: is it cheaper to get new customers, or retain the ones you already have?
Believe it or not, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to retain one you already have.
Higher customer retention rates can mean better bottom lines and less spending on advertising or marketing. But how can you keep your customers coming back for more?
There are dozens of reasons a customer may not come back to your brand after their first experience. With a few tweaks to your marketing strategy, you can improve your retention rates and create better relationships with your customers.
We’re looking at 21 ways to retain eCommerce customers so you can stop paying to attract new shoppers and start increasing the value of those already shopping with your brand. The idea is to provide your customer with an unbeatable shopping experience that encourages them to keep coming back for more.
Let’s dive in.
#1: Create a Customer Loyalty Program
How can you convince customers to keep shopping with your brand?
Simple: reward them for their loyalty.
Loyalty programs give shoppers a reason to continue working with your brand. Offer a cash-back reward or an exclusive gift when your shoppers achieve a certain rank in your loyal program. After they’ve achieved a certain level or earned a set number of points, give them something as thanks for their loyalty.
Effective loyalty programs are a great way to encourage customer retention. To learn more about loyalty and customer VIP programs, check out our guide.
#2: Implement Customer Accounts
Customer accounts should go hand-in-hand with your loyalty program. With customer accounts, your customers can save their shipping address, payment information, and even create a wishlist for products they’d like to buy in the future.
When a customer has an account with a brand, they’ll be more likely to shop with them than someone else. Don’t force your customers to create accounts when they check out, but make the benefits very clear and encourage them to sign-up in every way you can.
#3: Offer Freebies
Several weeks ago, I ordered protein powder from an online health foods vendor.
When the powder showed up at my house a few days later, it came with a small bag of candy, a free vitamin sample, and a sticker with the brand’s logo.
These were very small additions to my order, but they convinced me to shop with the same brand the next time I needed protein powder.
It won’t cost you much to offer freebies. Include something small your customers won’t expect when they open their package, and you’ll be surprised at the impact it has on your retention rates.
#4: Pay Attention to Packaging
Good packaging says a lot about a brand. No one wants to get a dirty, beaten-up box with poorly packed goods when they’ve paid good money for their order.
Bad packaging sends the wrong image to your customer. Go the extra mile and make your shipments look nice. Their recipients are sure to notice the effort, and it’ll stick in their minds when it’s time to consider your brand again.
#5: Offer Discounts and Coupons to Return Customers
Last month, I purchased something in the mail for a friend of mine. When the package arrived, it came with a $15 gift card to the brand and a coupon for free shipping.
I’d only shopped with the brand because they had the exact gift I wanted for my friend, but I’ve already gone back for a second purchase because of the $15 gift card and free shipping.
Discounts, coupons, and gift codes are an excellent way to improve your customer retention rates. When your customer needs another product you carry, they’ll be more likely to choose you than a competitor because they know they’ll get a discount on their order. Do this for all of your customers, and your retention rates will skyrocket.
#6: Give Great Customer Service
According to KISSMetrics, 71% of online shoppers have terminated their relationship with a brand because of unsatisfactory customer service.
You can sell the best products on the web, but you’ll drive customers away if your customer service isn’t on point.
Make sure your customer service team members are replying to inquiries as quickly as possible. Each customer should be treated as your most important shopper, and shouldn’t feel like a nuisance when they call for assistance.
With the right customer service team, you can greatly improve your customer retention rates and improve your overall reputation among shoppers online.
#7: Follow-up With Your Customer
There will be times when your customer won’t be happy with your brand. Your product might work well, your customer service team might handle the situation appropriately, and your customer may still be unhappy with their shopping experience.
In these special cases, your best option is to follow up personally with your customer.
Send them an email or give them a call and ask them exactly what it is about your brand or product they didn’t like. Ask them how you can make the situation right, and offer them whatever you can to improve their opinion.
There are some customer you’ll never win back, but a little effort can go a long way in winning back once-trusting shoppers.
#8: Be Smart About Content Marketing
If you aren’t using content marketing to promote your brand, you might be missing a huge part of your target audience. Content marketing lets you discuss topics relevant to your brand, which you can use to improve your customer retention rate.
Think about a customer who has just made their first purchase from your store. They follow you on social media, sign-up for your newsletter, and await their purchase.
Several days after they’ve gotten their first purchase, they see you post a new article on your blog.
In this article, you discuss your new holiday sale, a new product hitting your inventory, or ways one of your products can help the reader with a problem of their own.
Now your past customers have a re-ignited interest in your brand, and they want your new product.
You can really get creative with how you use content marketing for customer retention. Look for ways you can re-interest past shoppers, and use your content to direct them back to your store.
#9: Use Social Media Marketing
Much like content marketing, social media marketing is crucial to your retention rate.
It’s common for brands to post about their new products and sales on social media. This makes it easy for fans of the brand to share the news with their friends (directing potential new customers to your store), and it exposes your up-and-coming events and products to customers who’ve already shopped with you.
Use social media marketing as a way to keep your customers interested in your brand. By seeing your brand on their social media timeline every so often, you’ll remind them of the shopping experience they had with you, and they’ll be more inclined to pay your store another visit.
#10: Analyze Customer Shopping Habits
The more you understand your customer’s shopping habits, the better you can refine your store to appeal to their interests. By tracking a customer’s most frequently visited pages, their account activity, and their favorites, you can personalize their shopping experience and tailor it to their preferences.
Analyzing your customer’s shopping habits helps you can an idea of what your shoppers expect from your store. You can learn which products most people want to buy, and which product combinations are popular.
Use the information you find out about your customer to give them a personalized shopping experience, and they’ll be more likely to come back to your brand in the future.
#11: Write Them a Thank You Note
Have you ever received a delivery with a hand-written thank you note attached?
I have. And it really blew my mind.
Depending on your order volume, writing thank you notes for each customer shouldn’t take much time. Taking a few extra minutes to add this extra touch to each of your orders will really impress your buyers, and can definitely improve your customer retention rate.
#12: Make Your Personality Seen
How do you want your customers to see your brand?
Make a list of things you’d like your brand to be known for, and use your ideas to create a personality for your brand.
Once you’ve outlined your ideal brand personality, make it seen. Your logo, website design, and content should all reflect your brand’s personality.
Having an obvious brand image makes it easier for customers to connect with you. The better they understand your brand’s personality, the better their connection with you. When customers have a strong connection with a brand, they’ll be more likely to shop from them again in the future.
#13: Offer Free Returns
Nobody wants to pay to return an item they don’t want.
In fact, many online shoppers won’t commit to a purchase unless the retailer offers free, no-risk returns.
How you craft your return policy is up to you, and will depend on your products, but you should always offer free returns. When a customer can easily return a product to you, they’ll be more likely to shop from you again in the future.
#14: Send Birthday Coupon Offers
When someone signs up for your customer loyalty program, ask them for their birthday.
Each year, on every customer’s birthday, send them an email with a discount offer or gift code. Even if the recipient hasn’t shopped with you in months, they’ll be reminded of your brand and feel more inclined to shop with you again.
#15: Implement a “Refer a Friend” Program
Refer-a-friend programs are growing increasingly popular online, and for good reason. They’re an excellent way to attract new customers and retain old ones for a relatively low cost.
When someone makes a purchase from your store, prompt them with a referral code. Tell the customer to give their code to their friends, and when their friends make a purchase, the customer will receive some kind of discount on their next order.
These programs are a great way to build loyalty and make long-term customers out of first-time shoppers.
#16: Make Account Access Easy
Realistically, few people are going to log into your store as often as they log into social media or email. A lot of your shoppers will forget their passwords to their accounts, and they’ll have to perform a password reset.
A lot of customers will abandon a sale if they have to take a lot of time resetting their password. To them, it’s just as easy to find the product elsewhere and create a new account there.
Minimize account frustration by making account recovery easy. It shouldn’t take anyone more than a few seconds to get access to their account, even when they can’t remember their credentials.
#17: Offer Repeat Purchases
Some customers will need to buy the same products from you on multiple occasions. This is particularly true if you sell consumables.
Depending on your market, offering repeat purchases can be a great way to improve customer retention. I know I’ll often choose Pizza Hut over other pizza places in my area because they save my favorite orders on my account. I never have to spend more than few seconds anytime I want to place an order.
This kind of convenience is paramount to customer retention. Make it easy for customers to come back to you.
#18: Consider Subscription Services
In addition to repeat purchases, subscription services are also a great way to improve customer retention.
Subscription services were often designated for digital products, but they’ve recently made their way into physical markets as well.
If you sell consumables, consider offering them with a monthly subscription. Offer a small discount to customer who order certain products with your subscription service. They’ll continue to choose your brand month after month, while you provide them with value and convenience.
#19: Offer Fast Delivery
No one wants to wait longer than a few days for a package. And with services like Same-Day Amazon Prime, small eCommerce businesses really need to step up their delivery speeds.
Offer the fastest delivery options you can, at the most affordable prices. If your customer gets their product quickly without breaking the bank on shipping, they’ll be far more inclined to choose you over a competitor for their next purchase.
#20: Send Product Shipment Updates
Every order you dispatch should come with a tracking number for your customer. But take it one step further than tracking to really wow your shoppers.
Ask your customer if they want text or email updates about their order as it's packed and shipped. When your customer can essentially watch their order from start to finish, they’ll feel more at ease about their purchase and feel more comfortable shopping from you again.
#21: Encourage Social Engagement
A couple of month’s ago, I spent some time in Florida. I walked into a small spice and tea shop located right off the beach, and they asked me to like them on Facebook. After they saw I liked their page, they gave me a free bag of Chai tea – a bag worth $8!
Now I follow them on social media, and I thoroughly enjoyed that bag of tea.
Even without a physical store, you can use discounts and offers to encourage social engagement:
Send an email to your newsletter list, offering customers a discount if they follow you on social media.
Run a raffle or giveaway that encourages shoppers to follow you and share your posts.
Offer exclusive coupons on social media shoppers won’t find anywhere else on the web.
According to Bain & Co, increasing your customer retention rates by a mere 5% can increase your profits by 25% to 95%. You’re also nearly 70% more likely to sell to an existing customer than to a new prospect, according to Marketing Metrics.
Despite these statistics, the eConsultancy Cross-Channel Marketing Report shows that more eCommerce store owners are focused on acquiring new customers than retaining those they already have.
Your eCommerce customer retention strategy is important. The higher your average customer retention rate, the better your bottom line will be. By following our 21 tips to retain your Shopify eCommerce Customers, you can build a loyal customer base for your brand and improve your profits significantly.