5 Best Ways To Retain Your Customers Online

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Many e-commerce businesses spend the majority of their time focusing on how to find new customers. While user acquisition demands attention, retaining customers is equally (if not more) important for your bottom line. Before we go into how to combat attrition, let’s look at some interesting stats around the value of a new customer vs. an existing one and the implications for your business.

Colloquially, many ecommerce entrepreneurs call gaining a customer, “closing a deal.” Instead, we should be thinking of it as opening a relationship. When a consumer finds your site (more on that subject here), think of it as just the beginning. Now the challenge of retaining that customer should become your primary focus. Below are some ways to build customer loyalty that will lead to more revenue for your store.

Reduce Pain Points and Friction Online

From the moment the user enters your site until the moment he/she completes a purchase should be a seamless experience. It is worthwhile spending time on the user flow especially during check out where we see a high percentage of shopping cart abandonment. Studies show that over 67% of consumers leave the site before purchasing. Consider these users low hanging fruit – they are engaged with your site already, now you just have to get them to buy! The number one reason for abandonment is “unexpected costs” so be sure you are transparent about fees before your customer is asked to enter in her credit card cost.

One way to create an exceptionally easy check out is account creation. Amazon is the king of easy check out by saving one’s information (including credit card info) so the consumer can purchase an item in literally one click. While you may not be able to mimic that experience, use it as a guide on how to encourage a user to create an account to allow for an automated check out experience next time they come to your store.

Seamless Delivery

Consumers expect packages to be shipped fast and cheap (thanks to Amazon again for offering the most impressive shipping model yet.)

If you are an online store holding inventory, utilize shipping optimization tools to ensure you are pulling in the most competitive rates for your customers. Otherwise, commit to one carrier so that you can build a relationship and reap the rewards of being a loyal customer. You may not be offering the best rates at first, but over time most carriers will offer tiered pricing for their best customers.

If you are a dropshipper, you are relying on your supplier to send the products directly to your customer. This can be stressful as the brand may not share your standards of customer service. Focus on keeping your customer happy by informing them on all progress of the delivery.

Take a look at some common mistakes to avoid here.

Exceptional Support

This seems like an obvious one but surprisingly a lot of consumers report a lack of customer service as the main reason for leaving an online site. In fact, 71% of consumers have ended their relationships with a company due to poor customer service. Some easy ways to improve customer service is to make it easy for your users to find answers to questions on your site (a dedicated page for FAQs) and offering multiple ways to contact you (phone, email, chat box). For more details, take a look at E-consultancy’s suggestions. Keep in mind that supporting your customers often results in constructive feedback. If you are on the phone with a customer, think of it as an opportunity for gaining insight on how to improve your site.

Reward Loyal Customers

Loyalty programs are a great way to re-engage your best customers. Take a look at your back end and run a report on who has spent the most over the course of their lifetime on your store. Shopify has an easy way to look at your customers by dollar value and total number of orders. Reward these customers with a discount on their next purchase or after they spend a set dollar amount. Remember that stat above that returning customers are likely to spend 31% more than new customers so don’t be afraid to offer a nice juicy deal for your EIPs (Extremely Important People).

Unexpected Gifts

A personal and unexpected gift for your customer can go a long way. Get this- a study  published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology revealed that waiters/ waitresses who refilled the mints at a diners tables received up to 23% more in tips (without changing their service). The power of a personal act (that costs nothing) can be enormous. Try writing a handwritten note to your first time customers or sending a birthday card. While this sounds time consuming, your customer will feel special and you will be rewarded.

Powerful Email Marketing

Email is still one of the most powerful customer retention tools out there. Consider this, 200 million emails are sent out every second of the day. Clearly companies still consider email as a top priority. Maybe it’s because 91% of customers say they want to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. So don’t be afraid to add to your users inbox. They want to hear from you about relevant deals and new products. Remember that content is key so be sure to hone in on what your customers want to know and try to offer a variety of subjects to keep them engaged. Here is a great guide to e-commerce newsletters for more info.

In conclusion, find time to focus on retaining your current customers. 44% of companies have a greater focus on customer aquisition vs 18% that focus on retention. The fact is, a repeat customer is going to provide more value for your business in the long run as profitability tends to increase over the life of a retained customer.
What are some tactics you employ to keep customers coming back? Help start a conversation by commenting below.

4 comments
  1. Great article! I work hard to retain my customers by enclosing personal hand written notes, sending emails and at Christmas I sent the top 10 customers a special gift card to thank them and encourage them to spend – and half of them did. Be keen to hear other people’s experience!

    1. Hi Sadie!

      Thank you! Great ideas. That is amazing that you had a 50% response rate from your Christmas card. Thanks for sharing!

  2. A gamut of tips to implement! For the abandoned shopping cart, at Broadway Sun Ben, we have a series of abandoned shopping cart emails to remind the customer that their cart is still waiting for them. It’s helped to bring back customers who have left the site. With these emails, we try to build trust with the consumer by reminding them of our long history as a wholesaler.

    1. Hey Jennifer,
      That is a great way to re-engage customers who were close to checking out. I get those from Amazon and it’s very effective. Thanks for sharing!

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