While gaining new customers is also important for growth, ecommerce retention offers the best way to build loyalty and maintain profits, year after year. Many etailers focus their entire ecommerce marketing strategy on gaining customers without including strategies for long-term growth. To show you how much value ecommerce retention can add to your bottom line and help you find the best ways to retain customers and increase loyalty, we have put together a guide that can be used by online stores of all sizes.

Why Focus on Ecommerce Retention?

Why exactly should you be focusing on ecommerce retention? What value will customer retention have to offer? For starters, here are some of the biggest advantages of retention-based strategies for ecommerce.

It costs less than customer acquisition

One of the biggest benefits is that it costs less to retain customers than it does to acquire new customers. A huge amount of money is spent on bringing shoppers to your online store. Even the best-planned ecommerce strategy might bring potential customers to your store, but that does not mean that they will automatically become paying customers. Abandoned carts are common and there are many factors that can stand in the way of a browsing visitor converting into a customer.

Existing customers, on the other hand, typically have a higher conversion rate. Someone who has already made a previous purchase on your site is more likely to make additional purchases – especially if you have a solid customer retention plan in place. This means that you will save a great deal in the long run by targeting existing customers.

It reduces the onboarding process

In addition to saving costs, it also saves time to invest in existing customers. While your current customers already know how great your store is, brand new customers that have yet to make a purchase are not always ready to proceed to checkout and complete the purchasing process. Often, they are in the consideration stage of your marketing funnel, needing time to compare prices, read reviews and get a feel for your store.

As returning customers have already been through this process, onboarding becomes far quicker and simpler. Customers who have purchased one product will find it easier to go back to your store to purchase another product.

It drives customer loyalty

Another major advantage is that customer retention drives customer loyalty. Most shoppers have a handful of trusted stores that they choose to meet their needs. For example, they may frequent a natural health store to purchase food, skincare and home goods or a home furniture store they trust to purchase home decor. Rather than trying a brand new, unknown store, they are far more likely to go to the stores they know is able to give them what they need.

Loyal customers don’t only spend more at your store – they are also far more likely to refer your store to their friends and family. Happy customers are your biggest fans, advertising your products to those in their circle in a way that brings in new customers.

Effective Strategies to Drive Ecommerce Retention

Now that you are starting to see how much value ecommerce retention has to offer, how do you go about retaining customers in a way that maximises profit and growth? Let’s take a look at some of the most effective ecommerce retention strategies.

Consistently impress

In order to keep customers coming back, time after time, you need to be able to impress consistently. Customers will always remember positive experiences but they will also remember bad experiences. Customers are often more likely to talk about bad experiences, which makes it even more important to deliver the very best experience. A very good experience that is followed by a mediocre or bad experience can end up being far worse than consistent average experiences. When you are able to impress every time your customers shop at your store, you will have the best chance of increasing lifetime loyalty.

Some of the ways that you can deliver such a flawless experience could include free delivery on all orders (not just over a set amount), free returns on products, a click to collect option to collect purchases in-store, and personalisation that makes customers feel special.

You could also go through your orders and choose customers who are active on social media, engaging with them and thanking them for their support. Writing personalised letters to top customers is also effective – particularly in today’s automated world. This is a great way to impress new customers, too. Free samples is another way to drive value and make the right impression. Packaging can also go a long way in making the right impression. Unboxing is often one of the most fun things about ordering products online. Many shoppers love taking photos of new purchases. Eye-catching packaging that is ‘Instaworthy’ will be far more likely to be shared on social media than bland packaging that does not inspire.

Enable push notifications

The majority of purchases are made through your online store, on desktop and mobile. Desktop remains the most commonly used platform. To get more from desktop shopping, you could look at activating push notifications using Chrome. Web push notifications are a good way to share content instantly in a message of 40 to 120 characters.

Short, well-crafted push notifications can be used to encourage users to click links and view content such as sales, promotions or other offers. To get the most from your push messages, segmentation and a clear idea of your customers’ time zones is essential. Testing messages at different times and days will help you determine the best times to send messages. It is also a good idea to test frequency. Too many messages can quickly cause customers to unsubscribe, while not enough messages will negate the benefits offered through this channel. Test and measure results to work out the best approach.

Invest in ambassador programmes

Although often seen as a fancy form of referral marketing, ambassador programmes can, in fact, be extremely effective as a way to expand your reach. This strategy rewards customers for talking about your products and store. It also helps to get your content out to a bigger audience, which means that it can help your customer acquisition, at the same time.

To get started, first look at identifying the shoppers who are already loyal. Those who are talking about your store already will be far more likely to promote your products organically and authentically. You can search social media to find brand mentions.

It is also a good idea to think about how you can empower ambassadors and what sort of rewards you want to offer for referrals. You could even go one step further and think about how you can build a community and make ambassadors feel genuinely valued and empowered.

Embrace cross-channel remarketing

Finally, cross-channel remarketing is another strategy that is very effective for customer retention. Although this certainly isn’t a new strategy, it has evolved a great deal over the years. The most powerful platforms for this strategy include Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Google AdWords is an excellent way to broadcast your message to a massive audience. It can be used to target people who have abandoned your store. Messages can be tailored according to website visitor position within the sales cycle. That means you can create unique messages for those who have abandoned carts and different messages for those viewing certain products or categories.

Facebook Ads also offers a powerful platform for remarketing. The Custom Audiences feature is especially useful for retargeting customers. Facebook remarketing campaigns have a high engagement rate, making this an excellent tool for bringing customers back to your store.

Effective Ecommerce Retention

Now that you have a better idea of how ecommerce retention can help you grow your store, you can look at implementing some of these strategies. Start simply and don’t forget to continue monitoring your results to see just how much value ecommerce retention offers.

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