If you were to list the top three goals for your business, they’re likely to be:
- More sales
- Sustainable growth
- Staying profitable
The one thing that can ensure all three is your customer base. Your clients are your biggest asset, so you need to ensure that you have a reliable set of loyal customers. They’re the ones who will be spending their money on your product or service – contributing to making those goals a reality.
By focusing on retaining your customers, you are investing in the long-term success of your business. This guide will explore how you can retain customers effectively, boost clientele and leave them always coming back for more.
What is customer retention?
Customer retention is a business’s ability to hold on to a customer even after a purchase, transaction, or interaction is complete. As a business you want to retain every single customer to keep them from going to your competitors and to allow your business to grow.
Your customer retention strategy will focus on all the various methods of enticing a customer to come back and increase the number of repeated sales they provide.
Why is it important for a business to retain customers?
If the same customer is coming back to you for more, that means you’re doing something right. These clients are loyal to your brand, will listen to what you have to say, and will act as advocates for your business.
Customer retention also leads to:
- 33% more spend from existing customers, and they are 50% more likely to try you again.
- A cost-effective marketing budget; it costs you much less to keep an existing customer than it would to attract a new one.
- More referrals and more new customers. Happy and satisfied customers will be the ones to spread good sentiment about your business. For free.
- More insights into your business. The more times a client interacts with you, the more data you’ll be able to collect over a longer period of time and buying cycle. You’ll soon be able to create patterns from their buying habits, identify niches within your key target audience, and gain insights into how to tailor your marketing to suit your most loyal customers.
- Getting away with small mistakes. Loyal customers might not notice when you make an error and are likely to ignore it if they trust your brand and have been your patrons for a long time. They have been through more positive interactions than negative ones, so a small lapse from you is likely to be forgiven.
Customer retention should be a fundamental part of your marketing strategy, so let’s look at a few important and productive ways to retain customers.
These nine tips will not only boost your retention numbers but will also help you formulate a well-rounded marketing plan.
1. Ask for feedback
Everyone loves to share an opinion, and if you ask your customer for one, they’re likely to provide it. Customer reviews and ratings are a brilliant way to engage with your clients in a way that puts them in the limelight. Ask them to share honest and open feedback about your product and service.
You can improve your offering only when you know how your customers feel about it. Asking a mix of open-ended and narrow questions will help you gain more valuable insight. So, ask if the customer liked your product or service, and what specific feature stood out to them. But also find out if there was anything that upset them and ask if they can suggest areas for improvement.
Address all negative reviews efficiently and quickly by first offering an apology and then providing them with a solution. Your customer will feel like you value their opinion, they will feel heard, and are likely to come back to a business that they trust to follow through with a plan.
2. Start a loyalty programme
A great way to make sure that customers come back to you is to entice them with rewards. A loyalty programme rewards their devotion to you and provides them with an incentive to patronise your brand.
Discounts, special offers, and freebies are great, but usually a one-off. However, you don’t want to take your repeat customers for granted. Many cafes and coffee shops provide a loyalty scheme based on devoted shopping habits. A customer is likely to purchase the same beverage and meal order at the same time every day – to ensure that they’re not tempted to ‘shop around’, customers can be given a loyalty card. Providing them with a free drink after nine transactions keeps both you and your customer happy and in a long-term relationship.
A referral scheme will also bring you new customers, while retaining existing ones. A happy customer gets rewarded for marketing your business, and you get guaranteed sales from more people.
3. Entice them with offers and exclusivity
People want to be treated like they’re special. An exclusive VIP club, membership to hidden product launches, and limited time offers are fantastic ways to grab a customer’s attention. These schemes play on people’s ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO), and they’re very likely to want in on the action.
Identify your highest-paying customers and find a way to retain them by offering them a unique product or service. Making them feel special, and rewarding their loyalty, will ensure that they stay patrons to your business on a continuous basis. It’s also the highest spenders and exclusive members who will talk highly about your business to others.
4. Personalise their experience
Developing a personal relationship with your customer starts by offering them a personalised shopping experience. An impressive 57% of shoppers will willingly provide you with their personal data if there’s a chance that they’ll have access to personalised offers and discounts. Shoppers will go to your competitor if you don’t provide them with the personalised experience they signed up for.
Encourage your clients to provide you with their date of birth, email address, and likes and dislikes. This will help you recognise areas of personalisation to make them feel valued and special. Always use their name when speaking to them, even on emails and SMS campaigns. Offer a birthday discount to celebrate their special day with exclusive deals on their favourite items.
Personalisation can also be done across your social media channels and marketing platforms. Speak to your audience in the language they use and understand. You might want to keep slang and casual talk for the younger generation on TikTok and Instagram. Older customers and families will happily read longer content on Facebook, while LinkedIn users are looking for formal updates.
Tailor and personalise your messaging accordingly and your customer will know where to go when searching for you.
5. Stay in touch
To ensure customer retention, you need to be memorable. You want your business to be at the forefront of the customer’s mind when required, and this means you need to keep in touch, stay relevant, and be unforgettable.
Whether a person has completed a transaction or not, you need to be there for them. Thank each customer for their business and ask them when they’ll come back next. If you see someone just browsing, follow up and ask them what you can do to help them make a decision.
Create a detailed communications calendar to help you stay in touch with your client base at regular intervals. This can include a mix of phone calls, SMS campaigns, email newsletters, live events, and even hand-written notes. Organise them so you have a good balance of communications across pre-sales and post-sales journeys, with sufficient touchpoints along the buying process too.
Remember to stay in touch without appearing too needy or spam-like, or you run the risk of getting blocked.
6. Offer exceptional customer experience (CX)
Your customer’s experience can make or break their relationship with you. This influences everything they feel, think, and say about your brand, and will affect how often they come back to, if at all.
A good customer experience starts with anticipating your customer’s needs and wants and providing it to them before they ask. Identify any pain points and enhance their experience. A happier customer experience will set you apart from your competitors, and clients will remember the positive feelings more than the actual product or service you provide.
Happy and satisfied customers will spend more, come back to you more often and will leave you glowing reviews for everyone else to see. Invest in training all your customer service staff so that they interact with customers professionally and patiently. Provide a range of communication options, with consistent service and solutions to any problem.
7. Publish interesting and share-worthy content
Content of high quality and high value will entice users to engage with it and share it with their network. Customers should be able to turn to you first for news, updates, and guidance not just about your products but your industry as a whole. Therefore, you need to position your business as a figure of authority and knowledge.
Leverage a variety of content techniques like videos, blog posts, how-to guides, podcasts, infographics, and case studies. Excellent content in different forms will keep your audience engaged continuously.
Ensure that everything you publish is authentic, alluring, and educational. Customers want to feel like they are gaining new knowledge or sharing something worthwhile when they engage with a brand. Simplify technical jargon into bite-sized information so customers know that you care about their experience as a whole.
8. Diversify your offering
One of the best ways to keep your clients and customers returning to you for more is to offer them more options. Whether you offer a huge range of products or services or specialise in just one, as a business you should be able to diversify your offering at all times.
Even if you offer one product, think of different features, upgrades, or even colour options that can entice the customer to back for more. For example, if your business sells rucksacks and nothing else you can offer a range to cover men’s, women’s, children’s, travel, back-to-school, work, and even smaller-sized. Market these in a way that entices the customer to shop more and complete the full collection from only you.
9. Build a strong internal culture
Customers are more likely to support and stay loyal to businesses that share the same values that they do. Today’s customer is starting to get more socially conscious in the way they spend and who they support, especially publicly.
If your business undertakes CSR initiatives, supports a social cause, or donates a percentage of your profit to a charity, then make this information public. Likeminded customers will find you and support you for the long run.
Hold employee training and events that promote the same culture. Publicising your company’s values, ethics, and beliefs to connect with customers at a personal level is a growing area as more and more people steer towards brands showing a commitment to the environment and social issues. If you have built a business based on veganism, then look for customers who will support your journey from the start. They are likely to stick with you the whole way.
Next steps: Implementing customer retention strategies that work
It’s clear that it can cost you a lot more to acquire new customers than to work on keeping existing ones. Customer retention is a cost-effective investment that brings sustainable growth to all aspects of your business.
The tips in this guide are not going to provide you with immediate results. It takes patience, hard work and dedication to get customers to not only like you, but to stay loyal to you. Implement multiple strategies at once and throughout the life cycle of your customer. Pay attention to which ones work so you can focus on them for the long term.
It is only by making customer retention a KPI for your business that you will gain valuable insight. The right customer retention strategies recognise the needs of your customer, provide them with happiness and satisfaction, and encourage them to trust in your brand for lifelong loyalty and patronage.
Want to take your customer retention plan to the next level? Our experts are here to help you figure out what’s best for your business.