When marketing your eCommerce website, attracting new customers to your landing pages is always a triumph. Studies show that most companies are more focused on gaining new customers than retaining current ones. And yet, that secondary goal of hanging on to existing customers is a huge aspect of any successful eCommerce business.

In fact, The Harvard Business Review suggests that increasing customer retention by 5% can generate a 25%-95% increase in profit. What’s more, research from econsultancy.com reports that customer retention is actually less expensive than new customer acquisition.

These numbers suggest that customer retention not only prevents lost revenue over time but results in exponential increases in profit. That said, marketers should plan to balance their efforts at promoting your brand to new leads by keeping past buyers engaged in the future.

How to keep customers coming back

If customer retention feels like a constant struggle, you’re not alone. Attracting new business and retaining current customers are two different battles, and while both have their challenges and payoffs, it can be difficult to know where to start in terms of keeping your past customers coming back.

Naturally, you should start from your foundations of promoting a great product, offering the best price, and delivering top-notch customer service. These are your fundamental offerings, and your customer retention strategies can flourish with the addition of personalized rewards, customized messaging and special loyalty offers for returning customers.

Interested in taking your repeat business to the next level? Here are five customer retention strategies to help your business flourish:

1. Personalize your communication strategy

Think about your best customer service experiences. Were they broad and generic, or did they have a distinctly personal feel? Chances are, the more personalized the communications, the better you felt as a customer.

Amazon has mastered this concept, making the most of their user data to personalize the experience for target audiences. Likewise, you can aim to learn as much as possible about your customers and their buying history in order to present relevant products.

When you gather data and adjust the content, you are effectively fine-tuning your messaging and product recommendations for your customers, thus making it easier for them to connect to your brand. The result? Conversions go up.

2. Take your customer service to new heights

No matter what you’re selling, customer service is integral to the buying experience. When you can set your business apart by offering exceptional service, you improve your chances of retaining those first-timers.

So, what can you do to improve service? Zappos follows the model of under-promising and over-delivering. For instance, Zappos suggests a delivery window of five days on all orders. Yet, they strive for overnight shipping whenever possible. Customers notice the quick turnaround and appreciate the above-and-beyond service.

How about when things go wrong? Many companies find that starting the conversation online can vastly improve results. Try providing customer service over email, chat or even social channels like Twitter. Give your buyers more ways to get in touch when things go wrong, and follow-up accordingly. Not only does this help customers avoid waiting on hold to speak to someone on the phone, but it can help add a personal touch. Plus, anything you can do in real time (like on Twitter or online chat) can make a big difference in quelling discontent.

3. Segment your email marketing communications

Email marketing is a great way to ensure that you are staying in touch with customers after that initial order. When you do it right, customers will appreciate the reminders about your products and services and remember your company next time they need to place an order.

So, what is email marketing segmentation? That’s when you vary the messaging for different groups of customers depending on their past behaviors. For example, your message to a one-time customer should be different than your message to someone who just placed their tenth order. These types of distinctions can help personalize your communications and better incentivize customers to come back.

4. Reward your customers with loyalty programs

We’ve all seen loyalty programs before. “Buy 9, get your 10th free” punch cards at the coffee shop. “Get 10% off your next purchase” from a department store. Special memberships for customers once they sign up for ongoing emails. This same concept can be applied to your eCommerce customer retention strategy for promising results in the online space.

After all, customers feel good when you offer rewards—especially when they go beyond expectations. Here are some examples of how you can reward your loyal customers:

  1. Offer a purchase credit or discount when customers refer a friend who signs up or makes a purchase.
  2. Send a no-strings-attached gift (“$5 off your next purchase,” for example) to customers who have made three or more purchases from your site.
  3. Extend special rewards to your social media followers. Exclusive sales or special limited-time offers promoted only to your fans or followers encourages people to stay connected on your brand’s social channels.

5. Play the gamification game

If you’re targeting an audience of millennials, gamification—that is, using elements of game-playing in non-game contexts—is a no-brainer. However, gaming methodologies can also make sense when going after broader customer segments. After all, the inherent rewards of scoring points, having fun, and completing a goal know no age boundaries. What’s more, they can work in your favor when it comes to holding on to existing customers.

Keep customers coming back by encouraging them to earn badges, points, or status symbols based on things like a number of product reviews submitted or completion of an online profile. You can integrate this strategy within a loyalty program by incorporating points, discounts, or promotions based on a customer’s accomplishments. The key is to keep customers engaged and to make the game as accessible as possible.

Improve customer retention

Maintaining customer loyalty has many facets, and at the heart of it all is knowing your customers’ buying behaviors. A good testing service will understand the importance of collecting and analyzing data to decipher customer behaviors, making suggestions for how to improve your website going forward.

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