What's a business without its customers? In eCommerce, retention is vital to ensure your online store stays profitable. With it, you'll likely have more business to keep your store afloat.
Businesses must constantly strive to keep customers engaged and loyal while finding new ways to attract new ones. From loyalty programs and targeted emails to personalized experiences, there are many strategies businesses can use to retain their existing customers and grow their base.
What is Customer Retention in eCommerce?
Think of retention as a bridge. On one side is your business, and on the other is your customers. It would be best if you constructed this bridge to keep them engaged by creating a reliable connection for both parties. This connection helps ensure you get what you need from each other – whether it’s discounts or rewards for loyal customers, support in finding the right products or services, or simply providing an enjoyable online shopping experience.
Retention in eCommerce is keeping existing buyers returning to your store. It's about creating relationships with buyers, building trust, and ensuring they return for more. The result? A steady flow of revenue and a happy consumer base.
How to Measure Customer Retention
While brick-and-mortar stores can measure retention regarding repeat visits and purchases, online stores differ slightly. eCommerce businesses must take a different approach to track retention, as their customers must be physically present in the store.
Customer retention is the percentage of buyers who continue purchasing from a business in a given period. Companies need to track this metric because it shows their retention strategies' success.
One of the most popular metrics for measuring retention is Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). It looks at how much a customer spends on your products or services over their lifetime. Another key metric you should be tracking is the Customer Churn Rate, the percentage of customers who have stopped buying from your store within a given period.
The most common way to measure retention rate is by using the following formula: (Number of customers at the start of the period – Number of customers at the end of period) / Number of customers at the beginning of period x 100 = Retention Rate ()
Consider calculating customer acquisition cost (CAC) to understand your retention efforts accurately. CAC looks at the total cost of acquiring new customers and the average amount spent on each customer over their lifetime.
Why is Customer Retention Important?
Say you own a clothing store and want to retain your customers. If you don’t focus on retention, then over time, more customers will switch to other stores offering better deals or services. This can have a devastating effect on your profits and long-term growth.
Retention is robust because it shortens the journey from discovery to purchase, making it easier for customers to buy from you and stay loyal. Additionally, retention reduces the acquisition cost by reducing the time and money spent acquiring new customers.
Loyal Customers Spend More
Research has shown that loyal customers are likelier to purchase higher-priced items and recommend your store to their friends and family. According to business.com, existing customers spend 67% more on average than new ones. This loyalty also leads to more frequent purchases, which can increase your business profits.
The lifetime value of loyal customers is enormous, so remember to keep them engaged. Loyal customers spend more because they trust your brand and products – so you certainly don't want to disappoint them!
Loyal Customers Are More Likely to Refer Other Consumers
Word-of-mouth can be a powerful tool for businesses. The lifetime value of a loyal shopper is much higher than that of a one-time buyer, and businesses can also benefit from word-of-mouth referrals as customers share their positive experiences with friends and family.
This can help you acquire new customers at no extra cost. Think of it like a referral program – loyal customers are the ones who will be more likely to refer your store and share their great experiences with others.
In the customer journey, nurturing relationships with existing customers is like watering a plant. You can do this through simple gestures such as thank you emails, special discounts on their birthdays, or even handwritten notes.
Strategies to Improve Customer Retention
Well, now you know why increasing customer retention is essential. How do you think you could improve it? Here are some key strategies that can help you retain and grow your base:
Focus on High Converting Customers
Rather than acquiring more customers, could you focus on the ones already buying from you? The first step is to check the data and see which customers will most likely make repeat purchases. Once you have identified these high-value customers, tailor your marketing efforts to them by sending out personalized emails or offers to make them feel valued.
Leverage Email Marketing
Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to retain customers – ROI for email marketing is $36 for every $1 spent! But more is needed to send out generic, good-looking emails. To succeed, you must create highly targeted campaigns tailored to each customer's needs and interests.
There are many tactics you can use, but here are just a few:
- Send personalized emails based on past purchases, browsing behavior, and other data. You can use valuable tools such as this Audience Intelligence app to understand who makes up your audience, optimize your media strategy, explore consumer mindset, and identify content that matters most.
- Run campaigns to promote loyalty programs or discounts for repeat customers.
- Create automated email sequences to remind customers about their abandoned carts.
- Send out newsletters with relevant content and product updates.
Use SMS Marketing
We know what you're thinking – “SMS marketing? Isn't that for old-school businesses?” The answer is no! SMS (Short Message Service) marketing has become increasingly popular in recent years as it offers a more direct and personal way to communicate with customers.
SMS marketing is another excellent way to engage with customers, with an impressive open rate of 98%. With SMS marketing, you can send promotional messages, targeted offers, abandoned cart notifications, loyalty program updates, and personalized recommendations to your customers' phones.
You can also set up automated sequences that will send personalized messages at specific times or in response to certain triggers, such as a purchase being made. It's also an effective way to engage with customers who may need to be more active on email or social media.
Please look at how much people use their phones daily – it makes sense to use this technology to your advantage and reach out to customers who are most likely to engage with you. SimpleTexting, an all-in-one text messaging service, surveyed over 1300 business owners, consumers, and digital marketers and found that over 70% of consumers subscribe to SMS marketing in 2022 (confirming a 12% year-over-year growth in opt-in rates)
Whether two-way messaging or promotional campaigns, SMS marketing can significantly increase customer retention.
Utilize Social Media Marketing
And now we come to the big one – social media marketing. Social media is one of the most potent tools for retention and growth, as it allows you to reach a much wider audience than traditional methods such as email or direct mail.
These platforms allow you to interact with customers directly, build relationships and trust, create brand loyalty, and generate leads. You can use social media to run competitions or giveaways, display reviews and feedback, respond to queries quickly, and showcase your products.
Also, take advantage of social media advertising – it's a great way to target specific audiences and increase brand awareness. It also lets you retarget customers who have interacted with your store, giving them an extra nudge toward purchasing.
For example, Instagram allows you to create shoppable posts, allowing customers to click on a product they like and purchase. It’s one of the most effective ways to transform followers and leads into customers. As you can tag products in all sorts of ads – feed posts, Stories, Live broadcasts, Reels, and Guides, this wide variety of formats would be perfect for an eCommerce store.
Set up a Loyalty Program
There’s a sure reason why 90% of companies have a loyalty program. A loyalty program is a great way to reward customers for making repeat purchases and encourage them to stick with your brand. You can set up a rewards program that offers discounts, exclusive access, or free products when customers reach certain milestones in their purchasing journey.
Just like with any relationship, customers want to know and feel that they’re being valued and appreciated for their loyalty – making them more likely to stay with your store in the long run.
In 2022, U.S. consumers belonged to 16.6 loyalty programs on average, but when using them – they used less than half. Your brand's loyalty program should be easy to understand and use, so customers can easily keep track of their points or rewards. Don’t forget to ensure that the incentives you offer are valuable enough for them to stay loyal.
Offer Referral Programs
While we talked about word-of-mouth earlier, referral programs take things further by incentivizing customers to share their experiences.
Referral programs are a great way to get existing customers to help you promote your store and bring in more new ones. You can offer rewards for referrals, like discounts, free products, or cash-back. And even better – make the referral process more accessible by setting up a link that can be shared. It’s one of the more valuable tactics to track referrals and ensure that customers are rewarded accordingly.
A referral program may look like this: offer customers a 10% discount for every friend they refer who makes a purchase. Not only are you rewarding the customer, but you are also benefiting your business by acquiring more customers seamlessly.
How to Monitor Customer Retention Rate
After understanding the importance of increasing customer retention and learning some tactics, you can use, tracking your efforts is essential. One way is to monitor the customer retention rate (CRR) to track how well you engage and retain customers.
CRR is a metric that measures the percentage of customers who continue to purchase from your store over time. It’s measured by looking at the number of customers who bought in a certain period and then measuring how many of those customers made another purchase in the next period.
Of course, there are a couple of other good ways to monitor how well your business is doing, including:
Use a Customer Dashboard
A dashboard is like your own personal database. It’s a hub to understand better who your customers are, what they’re buying, and how often they make purchases.
This data can be used to create more targeted campaigns, give personalized recommendations, and tailor content specifically for your customers. The dashboard also lets you track shopper behavior over time to see which strategies are working and which ones need improvement.
The Traffic Insights for Amazon tool is an excellent example of what a shopper dashboard can look like. It gives insights into customers’ purchase decisions, shopping behavior, and more, allowing you to make better-informed decisions regarding marketing strategies.
Ask Customers for Feedback
Feedback, feedback, feedback! If you want to know how you’re doing concerning retention, the best way is to ask your customers directly. Asking for feedback allows them to share their experience and can provide invaluable insights into what works and what doesn’t.
You can send out surveys or use tools like Zonka Feedback, Qualaroo, or Survey Monkey to get customers' feedback on various topics such as product satisfaction, service experiences, website navigation, and more.
Customer satisfaction is the cornerstone of retention, so ensure you do everything possible to make your customers happy.
Personalize Your Offerings to Improve Engagement
Customers are likelier to remember and be loyal to stores that provide personalized experiences and products. Personalization can be based on product preferences, demographics, interests, etc. But, overall, the purpose is to understand your customers so you can create a personalized experience that they will appreciate and remember.
Across the funnel, personalization can be used to create more engaging customer experiences. For example, you could send personalized emails with special offers or discounts based on a customer’s past purchases. Or use targeted ads to promote products that customers have already shown an interest in.
Intelligent recommendations are also an effective way for customers to return and shop more. Platforms like Amazon use advanced algorithms to suggest products similar to what the customer has already purchased, which makes it easier for them to find items they’re interested in.
And lastly, behavioral triggers are a great way to stay top-of-mind with customers and get them to return and make more purchases. They can also be used to target non-purchasers, enticing them with special offers or discounts that are tailored just for them.
Retention strategies are essential for any eCommerce business. They can help to keep existing customers engaged, build loyalty, and even attract new buyers.
Behavioral triggers and intelligent recommendations are also effective ways of getting customers to return and shop more often. These strategies boost engagement and increase sales by making it easier for customers to find the products they’re looking for.
Ultimately, retention is critical for any eCommerce business and should be a priority in developing marketing strategies. By understanding who your customers are and personalizing their experience, you can create more engaging experiences that will drive repeat purchases.
Want to ensure customers who are interested in your product convert? Amazon retargeting is a great way to do just that. Learn about the different strategies for SA and ADSP you can use, and get tips on how to make it work for your ecommerce business!