You’re an entrepreneur who has successfully navigated the shopper journey ecosystem to generate new customers -- only to see most of them never return. We all know the way to a great, positive ROI is to keep more customers than you lose, so what can you do to increase retention rates and actually create loyal customers?
1. Forget spray & pray.
If you’ve had success in driving new customers to your business, chances are you already know quite a bit about them, including where they came from -- referring website, social media platform, search engine, etc. -- as well as a few things about who they are and what motivated them to come to your website, app or place of business in the first place. Given that, why are you sending all your customers the same message with the same offer at the same time?
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Whether you are sending emails, mobile or social notifications, text messages or even direct mail, make sure you personalize your communications beyond including their name and address. The more you personalize your interactions with your audience based on what you’ve learned from them, the more likely they are to reward you with a second click, call or visit.
You don’t need to personalize each communication to every single person -- we call that 1:1 marketing, which really isn’t practical for most businesses. Instead, create customer groups, also known as segments, of customers based on common traits, including buying or intent behavior.
You can start simple and create a few broader segments like geography, age and sex, which can then be refined into smaller segments once you have learned more about your customers.
2. Give more to get more.
Go one step further and make sure your offer, deal or call to action is more personalized to your segment. Just offering the lowest price isn’t going to create long-term loyalty, as customers in this scenario just stick around until a better offer presents itself. Don’t pay people to be loyal to your business -- give them a reason to believe in you and what you stand for, and treat them as individuals. You’ll find that people will not only stick around longer, but are more likely to become advocates for your product or service.
If paying for loyalty by offering the lowest price isn’t a great strategy for building truly loyal customers, then what can you do? People are generally motivated by two things -- recognition or rewards. Think about what you can offer your most loyal or engaged customers beyond a price discount.
Start by understanding what your customers value most. Is it choice? Convenience? Community? Exclusivity? If you don’t know what they value, ask them in your next communication, and start making a list of things of value you can offer those who demonstrate loyalty to you.
This could be an express lane in your store for “members,” access to exclusive content online, early access to a product or service, access to subject matter experts who can provide free tips or advice on a topic, or be as simple as giving your best and most engaged customers a badge that recognizes their contribution on their online profile with your website or app. You could even hold member appreciation events or meet-ups for your top customers.
The cost of keeping your best customers engaged should far outweigh the long-term value (or LTV) they will generate for your bottom line. You also don’t have to give it all away at once either. Save the best rewards or recognition for your top two to three percent of your top users. They are probably driving the majority of your repeat business anyway and deserve it.
3. Offer content that doesn’t suck.
If you are producing content for your website, newsletter or app, make sure it’s complementary to your product or service. Be true to your brand attributes and keep your voice consistent -- whether that’s being helpful, authentic, witty or totally serious.
Just make sure your content doesn’t suck. And if you allow others to promote or sponsor your communication channels, make sure you clearly label them as such. If customers feel misled by your content and communications, you will break their trust, which will destroy their lifetime value to your business.
It matters less where you are and more about how you are. With that said, know your audience and engage them with content that supports your brand and your value proposition in the channel of their choice. That could an email, newsletter, a Snapchat story, a YouTube channel or even a weekly podcast.
It also helps to tell your new customers what to expect from you after the initial engagement. Make it easy for them to manage their interaction channels with you through a preference center of some sort. Making it hard to unsubscribe or manage preferences is not likely going to help you build loyal customers.
In summary, get to know your customers, treat them fairly and equitably while building a program that will both recognize and reward those who are most loyal. Do this, and you will be rewarded with an ongoing share of loyal customer wallets that will cost far less than acquiring new ones.