Attracting customers to your store – whether online or offline, and getting them to transact with you is the primary goal of nearly every business.
While millions of dollars’ worth of advertising, research and software are deployed to get customers to your store by companies around the world, there is less interest in making sure the customers who do buy from you once come back again and turn into repeat customers.
The problem is so bad that a fairly recent study shows that about 63% of marketers said the focus of their marketing is customer acquisition, not retention.
Why Are Repeat Customers Important?
It is a commonly known fact that retaining existing customers is far cheaper than attracting new ones. But how much cheaper?
According to a study by the Boston Consulting Group, the cost of marketing to existing / repeat customers is about $7 whereas the cost of acquiring brand new customers averages at around $34.
How Do You Track Customer Retention?
Customer retention can be calculated at the most fundamental level as the
(Total Customers at end of the period – New Customers acquired in the period) / (Original number of Customers at the beginning of the period) x 100
In our case, the period of time can be any duration based on your sales cycle.
Some of the key metrics you should track online to test your website’s retention rates are:
- Number of returning visitors
- Percentage of returning visitors to total visitors
- Frequency and recency of visits of returning visitors
- Number of page views for returning visitors
- Conversion rates of returning visitors
- Retention rate
There are various ways in which you can create a deep sense of brand loyalty in your customers and keep them coming back for more.
Creating a database of your regular customers and keeping in touch with them regularly on email is one of the most effective methods to build customer retention. Keep customers up to date of the latest happenings at your end and entice them to come over to your site/store, check out the latest merchandise, and share information that they find valuable.
Another way of building a loyal customer base is by engaging with them on social media. 3 out of 4 Americans who are active online use social media. They also spend about 37 minutes of each day on social networking sites. It makes great sense to reach out to your users via a platform that your target audience spends huge amounts of time on, and one that is (largely) free to use for businesses.
How Your Website Can Help
1. Perfect Your Core Business, Build Great UX
To ensure customers keep returning to your site, the most fundamental thing that you need is a quality product/service. There’s simply no getting around this if you are in the business for the long haul.
Another great asset to retain customers is a user friendly website. Keep your UX neat, clean, clutter free and easy to use and see how they keep coming back for more. Vibrant communication that speaks the language of the user, customer service that puts the user above all else and an interface that makes life easier for the user are some of the things that go towards a great user experience. Work on them to build stickiness.
2. Keep ‘em Coming Back by Maintaining Top of Mind Recall
Build your website into your central online hub and drive traffic to it consistently. Smartly-applied content marketing, SEO, PPC and email campaigns combine to keep your brand on top of your audiences’ minds. Use traditional advertising like TV, radio, print, outdoors, or even event marketing, based on your customer’s media habits, their geographical locations and the size of your budgets.
The basic idea is to use whatever means possible to stay relevant and stay memorable in users’ minds.
3. Lower Entry Barriers on Your Site
A common grouse from many users is the need to create separate accounts and passwords to sign into websites that they want to access.
Unless your business’s core job is to help manage private data and communication, hence necessitating a separate login, try and avoid this rigmarole altogether. Make it easier for your customer to gain access to your site and by extension, make it easier for them to return for a repeat purchase.
Go the social login route, that allow customers to sign in to your site using their existing social media accounts. This eliminates the need to register with your site separately, fill out yet another long drawn form and most importantly, saves the customer from having to remember yet another unnecessary password. Social login tools like LoginRadius, offer you the option of allowing users to register with your using over 30 different social networks around the world.
4. Understand Your Customer
To craft communication and promotional offers that are relevant to your customers, you need to know them inside out. Your website is a treasure trove of customer data that can be used to target them better.
From page scroll data to click maps to geographic information; Big Data can be a huge asset if used right. Mine as much customer data as you can from click data on site, past transaction data, surveys sent out to customers, their feedback / responses to customer care issues etc.
Another way of understanding your customers and their motivations, likes, dislikes, favorite activities and more is through social media. Integrate a social login and profile mining solution with your site which will also incorporate social engagement analytics, with metrics such as number of times content is being shared, referral traffic and social reach, which give you a steady stream of critical data about your customers’ online behavior and interaction tendencies.
This information can then be used to engage better with them and craft communication on your site, social media or other platforms, eventually getting them to transact more often with you.
5. Offer Recurring Value
Build your site into a hub of information, engagement and value for your users. Create and maintain a blog about topics that are relevant to your business. Offer content, discounts, goodies and information, discounts through your blog that customers will prize and will not find anywhere else but your site.
If maintaining a popular blog seems like too much work, at least have important add-ons like ‘How to’ guides, tips and tricks on using your product/service better, industry information and latest updates on a section of your website that can be updated on a regular basis. Outdoor clothing maker REI is doing a great job of this:
6. Build A Community
The value that you offer through your website will inspire customers to keep coming back to check it out on a regular basis. Engage these returning customers by encouraging them to interact with you and your brand on your site.
Invite comments from visitors on your blog, encourage readers to interact with one another to create a vibrant community of like-minded individuals on your website. One of the oldest and most popular sites doing this well is TripAdvisor.com. They have forums dedicated to just about every place and traveling activity:
Request customers to leave behind feedback about their experience with your brand which can be used to promote your site and its services and also creates a platform where users can voice their opinions, likes and dislikes about your brand.
7. Make Them Feel Special, Shine The Spotlight On Them
Many leading brands have loyalty programs that reward customers for multiple purchases made on their site. These loyalty programs are typically administered through the corporate website and encourage users to come back repeatedly to check on the latest offers, incentives or rewards.
Make your customers feel special by shining the spotlight on them. Have a section on your site for ‘customer of the week’ or ‘fan of the month’ with their name and picture on it for all to see. Invite inputs from customers in the form of blog posts, articles or tips & tricks. Reward the best entries with a special value offer apart from giving them their fifteen minutes of fame.
It May Not Be Easy, But It’s Definitely Doable!
Having a loyal customer base is a dream come true for any marketer. But no dream comes without its share of plain old hard work. It can be tempting to take the easy route out and throw money at users to convert them into customers. However, in doing this you will be failing the marketer inside you who yearns to see a brand that stays in people’s minds long after every jazzy ad has faded away. The way to this state of marketing nirvana is to roll up your sleeves and work towards retaining the customers you have, and nurture them into “cash cows” on whom your business can depend on for years to come.
(Lead image source: Daniel Foster)