If you are involved in an eCommerce venture, you know customer acquisition is only half the battle. Once you have won someone’s business, you must have a strategy in place to keep it.

Brand Keys reports that it costs 9 to 11 times more money to win a new customer than to keep an existing one, and increasing loyalty by 3% can add up to an overall 10% cost reduction.

Brands like Amazon, Walmart and Best Buy know the importance of loyalty and have set great customer retention examples. They were ranked the top three companies for customer loyalty in the online retail category of Brand Keys’ 2019 Customer Loyalty Engagement Index.

The CEOs of these companies know their impressive customer retention numbers did not happen by mere chance. They have put strategic processes in place to ensure their customers stay customers.

A data compilation put together by Access Development reveals that 77% of brands could disappear and no one would care. Additionally, one-third of people ages 23-38 quickly drop brands that do not live up to their expectations.

While these statistics may sound grim, there are things you can do to increase your chances for eCommerce longevity. Which side of the success coin you fall on will depend on your ability to implement successful customer retention strategies.

Here are five strategies that will help keep your customers coming back for more.

loyalty card

1. Start a loyalty program

A loyalty report issued by Bond in 2019 gave important insights on loyalty programs. If you have ever thought you did not need one, it may be time to revisit the idea. For companies that struggle with figuring out how to build customer loyalty, this tactic could help turn things around. Here is what the numbers show.

  • 73% of consumers are more likely to recommend brands with good loyalty programs, and 78 percent are more likely to continue doing business with companies who get it right in this department.
  • 66% of consumers modify their brand spend to maximize loyalty benefits.
  • 65% of Gen Z and Millennials are highly influenced by loyalty programs.

While loyalty programs are leveraged by 68% of women and 59% of men, according to YouGov, Bond’s report shows that many people do not take advantage of the loyalty programs they are part of. While the average person has around 15 loyalty program memberships, they are only active in 6-7 of them.

Based on the data, we know that loyalty programs are powerful customer loyalty tools. However, the program must be well-thought-out and useful to members, or their accounts will lie dormant.

3 loyalty program examples

In regards to loyalty programs, there are many different models to follow. One of the most popular is the points program that incentivizes customers to spend more to get more. At Starbucks, a customer receives two stars (points) for every dollar they spend. As the points accumulate, they can use them to make future purchases.

A paid program allows customers to become VIP members by paying a monthly fee. This unlocks discounts and exclusive services. Massage Envy takes this approach. When customers pay a monthly amount, they get to redeem a massage or other qualifying service at a discount. They also receive special member prices for additional products and services.

Some businesses, such as TOMs shoes, have value-based loyalty programs. It is similar to a points program, only it donates the accumulated points (money) to causes you both support. In the case of TOMs, a pair of shoes is donated to an underprivileged child for every pair it sales.

Once you nail down your game plan, it is time to implement it into your store structure. If you run your eCommerce store on Magento, the Amasty extension (available in the Magento Marketplace) is a feature-rich plugin that allows you to incorporate rewards into your platform. Other eCommerce platforms have their own solutions as well.

Salesforce logo on mobile device

2. Adopt Salesforce as your CRM

Customer Relationship Management systems simplify processes for those in the eCommerce industry. The Salesforce CRM, in particular, has client retention strategies built in. Salesforce is continually advancing its artificial intelligence software, something Irish-based Ulster Bank credits for its customer retention success.

What can Salesforce do to help turn someone into a repeat customer? One of the most notable ways is by centralizing data and creating useful insights. You can track customer interactions and use that knowledge to market to them individually. The system also generates 360-degree profiles that show key metrics on each customer at a glance.

Because Salesforce keeps you informed on customer behavior, you can strike when the iron is hot. If they show interest in one of your products, you can seize the opportunity to email them a coupon code.

Data shows that a little personalization can go a long way when it comes to positive brand interactions. With Salesforce, you can customize communication by addressing customers by name in emails. Research conducted by Red Point Global says more than half of customers expect personalization as a standard when receiving special offers.

The customer service apps available within Salesforce can also help enhance the customer experience. When a person’s contact with your team is positive, they will be more likely to become a repeat spender.

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3. Keep in touch with your customers

While online retailers walk a fine line when it comes to determining how much communication is too much or not enough, a research report by Loyalty 360 shows that 95% of customers expect some proactive communication from the companies they shop with.

According to HelloWorld, a Merkle company, offering discounts and special offers is essential when you reach out to your customer base. Here’s why:

  • 77% of consumers crave free products
  • 75% expect discounts and offers
  • 66% want free samples and 57% want free services
  • 41% welcome opportunities to win something, and 32% like surprises from brands

Getting serious about email campaigns is a productive strategy for your business to focus on. SendGrid, Constant Contact and Active Campaign are platforms designed specifically for sending emails to customers. With these tools, you can select an appealing template, add buttons, set up automated email triggers and track analytics (like open rates and how many people unsubscribed).

Collecting phone numbers from customers and sending occasional text messages also reminds them that you are open for business. If a person starts their day with a text from their favorite coffee shop offering them 20% off their purchase, they will feel more inclined to stop by. Do some research on text messaging software and app solutions to see which one might fit in well with your company.

While staying in touch with customers is important, be careful not to go overboard with your efforts. The frequency of emails is often dependent upon the person, so creating different lists can be helpful. Salesforce can also help with this because it has a ranking system that helps sift through your customer behaviors and determine how often to contact them.

satisfied customer graphic

4. Build a quality team

Your customer service team is at the front line of consumer contact. That is why it is essential to hire people you trust to be helpful and courteous with every interaction.

Good customer service is not only a best practice all businesses should prioritize, it plays a major role in increasing customer loyalty. The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reports almost 60% of consumers are more satisfied with in-store customer service than when they shop online. This makes customer service initiatives even more important for eCommerce retailers.

Here are a few more insightful customer service statistics from ICSC, as reported by Access Development:

  • 65% of consumers said quality customer service is a factor when deciding where to make their purchases
  • 67% of consumers said good customer service encourages them to stay longer and/or spend more money
  • 57% of people would pay more for an item or service if they know they will receive good customer service
  • 73% of consumers said receiving good customer service from a retailer increases the likelihood they will spend more money than they had planned

Loyalty 360’s research says fast response, knowledgeable service agents and quick resolution to issues are the three most important elements for quality customer service. Saying thank you at the end of every communication opportunity is also a must.

Additionally, fostering a positive atmosphere where your employees are happy and feel appreciated is one of the best things you can do to ensure they will treat your customers they way you expect. You may also consider offering training opportunities to staff that teach quality customer service strategies that give them strategies for how to keep customers happy.

subscribe computer screen

5. Adopt a subscription-based business model

There are many reasons why subscription-based businesses enjoy a higher return on investment. If you are grappling with how to retain customers, launching a subscription service may be the way to go.

Subscriptions are convenient for customers because they do not have to place a recurring order. They also provide business owners with more predictable revenue streams, and you may decide to offer one low price for bundling items or services.

Subscription boxes have proved lucrative for many eCommerce businesses as well. According to YouGov's research, you should be strategic about the demographic you market to for boxes as consumers in the 18-34 age group are more likely to believe the boxes simplify their budgets. They also find the ability to try new products they otherwise would not have appealing.

Simply offering a subscription service is not enough, though. Once you make the decision to offer a recurring service, you must have the infrastructure in place to support it. Your customers will expect flexible billing options and terms as well as control over their subscription.

Another important element for subscriptions is tracking analytics. Getting familiar with buying behaviors will help you to provide unique and personalized experiences that will help drive brand loyalty.

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3 questions to ask yourself

If you find yourself ready to revamp your eCommerce customer retention strategy, plan a brainstorming session and answer the following questions.

1. Is my product or service useful?

If you want to win at the eCommerce game, you must create an environment where customer retention benefits the business as well as the buyer. Is the price to value ratio balanced? Is there more you can provide? Adding a specialized service in addition to your products could be the fresh spin your business needs.

2. Is my business staying relevant?

It is also smart to stay on top of emerging trends in your industry or niche. Are you staying relevant, or do you evolve with customer demand? If you are staying idle, your competition has ample opportunity to lure your customers to their side.

3. How can I improve brand interactions?

Reputation is everything in a digital world where reviews are available for the world to see. Research shows customers who have a bad experience are 2-3 times more likely to leave a negative review than happy customers are to leave a positive one. While encouraging your customers to leave a review when they have a good experience is one way to help counterbalance this, implementing an overall strategy for improved customer experience is key.

eCommerce is a fast-growing industry, which lends itself to increased competition. Taking intentional steps toward customer retention is in your best interest. One at a time, you can gain another customer for life with the strategies outlined here. Visit the PowerSync blog to read up on more eCommerce insights that can help your business flourish.