Retention Marketing Best Practices: Create Engaged Customers

Posted by David Kindervater on Jul 3, 2018

You've probably heard the retention marketing adage:

It costs more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current one.

Well, it's not just an adage. It's a researched fact. The figures fluctuate between five and 25 percent according to the Harvard Business Review, but just about everyone agrees it's an important element for any business.

Finding new customers is always appealing—and essential for any business—but when you keep your current customers happy, you can substantially increase your profits. When you're spending less trying to find new customers, that's money saved.

Here's a digital retention strategy you can use to create engaged customers.

1. Be Transparent About Your Mission

retention marketingWhen you're clear about who you are and what you stand for as a business, you're telling your customers you have nothing to hide. Find something people care about, then position your brand around it. It won't guarantee success, but it will put you on the right path to it.

American clothing company Patagonia sells outdoor clothing marketed as sustainable. They promote their mission statement as their "reason for being."

Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire, and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. (Patagonia.com)

Life is Good, an American apparel and accessories wholesaler, retailer, and lifestyle brand, simply sets out "to spread the power of optimism." They also donate 10% of their net profits to help kids in need.

TOMS built their business around making the world a better place, thus far donating over 60 million pairs of new shoes to people in need. They're known as the "One for One Company" because they give away a pair of shoes for each pair they sell.

Warby Parker distributes a pair of glasses to someone in need for each pair they sell. They distributed over four-million pairs of glasses through their "Buy a Pair, Give a Pair" program.

Oftentimes, the reason we're loyal to a brand is because of their values. They're aligned with ours or we respect their stance so much we want to associate ourselves with them. So we fly on their airline or buy their coffee or wear their shoes day after day.

Try to combine physical, emotional, and logical elements into one outstanding experience for your customers. By creating this connection, you might also create a loyal customer for life.

2. Develop Trust to Improve Retention Marketing

When you build and grow trust over time, your customers will advertise your brand for you. You won't even need to ask them. And you won't have to pay them, either.

Using data and analytics, you can understand how to serve your customers better. You can even predict what they're going to need in the future.

The Forbes Insights report "Building Trusted Relationships Through Analytics and Experience" focused on how consumers have become more sophisticated. They have more information than ever before to help them with their buying decisions.

Data and analytics can lead to valuable insights for use in targeting and understanding the customer. Businesses understand they need to focus on building relationships and trust as opposed to concentrating solely on their product or service. Customer experience needs to be the primary consideration.

Brands should also take transparency seriously. With social media, there are no secrets anymore. Customers want to know everything about a brand. The brands that embrace this concept find that consumers do some of the marketing for them.

3. To Retain Customers, Start by Empowering Them

digital retention strategyWhen it becomes easy for your customers to do business with you—by making your products and/or services easy to get—you're empowering them.

An omni-channel sales approach allows customers to interact with a brand in a variety of ways. This provides the customer with an integrated experience no matter how they're connecting: via desktop or mobile device, the telephone, or a physical store.

For example, you can use your Starbucks Rewards card wherever you make a Starbucks purchase. Check and reload your card through their app, in a store, on the phone, or from their website. When there are updates to the card, it travels across all these channels instantly.

4. Educate and Inspire Customers and Clients

By educating your customers about your product, service, or industry, you're giving them good reasons to continue buying from you. By providing valuable content from the outset as part of a content marketing plan, you give them more reason to remain a customer. It also allows you the opportunity to build your reputation as a thought leader within your own industry.

Consider webinars and e-newsletters to create impact.

Webinars can play a key role in lead generation and customer retention. They're considered a cornerstone in many marketing programs. As long as the webinar is properly promoted in advance (three weeks of promotion via email and social media is the best practice), a business could see 20% to 40% of the attendees turn into qualified leads. Brands like HubSpot, KISSmetrics, and Unbounce grew into multi-million dollar businesses with webinars.

E-newsletters are a great way to train your customers and they're still widely considered as one of the best customer retention strategies. Train new customers with educational content and keep existing customers with informative updates and newsworthy content they would find interesting.

5. Offer Surprises to Boost Customer Engagement

marketing to existing customersUnder promise, then over deliver.

Don't just do the ordinary and give your customer only what they're expecting. Those things are important, naturally, but don't be afraid to "give outside the box" so to speak, with an unexpected freebie that will make their day—and keep them thinking happy thoughts about your business.

After all, everyone likes a pleasant surprise.

When you give a customer more than they bargained for (in a good way), it shows them they're not only getting what they expected—they're getting more.

Instead of a small gift, a simple thank you goes a long way to showing customers how much their business means to you, especially if it's handwritten. If that sounds like an unreasonable amount of handwriting, consider digitally handwritten thank-you cards. Mimic your penmanship (or your CEO's) or choose a style that fits perfectly with your brand image.

A handwritten note is a treasured gem these days. In this age of digital communications, it stands out amidst all the texts and emails that fill our daily lives and creates a human connection. It can also create a customer for life.

6. Reward Customer Loyalty

Like surprises, rewards are gifts, but they're expected when a customer reaches a certain place in the business/customer relationship.

A loyalty program is a structured marketing strategy that motivates customers to continue supporting a specific business. It's as much about top-notch customer service as it is rewards.

According to Salesforce.com, almost 70% of millennials said they wouldn't continue supporting a brand unless they offered a good loyalty program. Be sure to create valuable offers and don't make it too difficult to earn points to claim the rewards.

7. Be Timely in Customer Conversations

retention marketingOne of the most important things your business can do is to be sensitive to time.

In an age of instant gratification, nobody likes to wait—for anything. Be sure your customer service department is responding to questions and comments in a timely manner. This includes phone, email, website chat, and all social media channels—wherever your customers connect with you.

When consumers were asked what element of the customer service experience was most important to them, 47% stated that a fast response to inquiries or complaints was number one along with a simple purchasing process. Many of them are on social media. About 75% of people using social expect a customer service response within an hour less.

So it pays to be timely. Almost three-quarters of customers who have a good social media experience with a brand are likely to recommend that brand to others.

8. Personalize Customer Communications

American writer Dale Carnegie said:

“Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

Keep that quote in mind as you attempt to create engaged customers. Your customers don't want to be an order number. Just the opposite, in fact. They want to be an individual with a name and a place of importance in the eyes of your business.

By using their name in a one-to-one marketing approach, you're improving their overall customer experience and increasing brand loyalty. You can personalize your direct mail, emails, custom content (like PURLs, video messages, etc.), live chat, and more. Just be sure your communication with them is consistent across all your channels. Whatever happens in-store should also reflect on all the other forms of correspondence with a customer.

9. Listen to Your Customers

digital retention strategyWhen your customers speak, listen. The information they provide via telephone, email, social media, etc. can go a long way toward making them happy in the future. 

If a customer hasn't already voiced their opinion, surveys are a great way to find out what they're thinking. You can try in-person, telephone, and mail surveys. But an online survey is the simplest and most inexpensive way to gather information, including customer opinions and preferences.

If a customer complains, don't dismiss them as a problem you'd rather not deal with. Rather, address their concerns and attempt to turn their bad experience into a positive one.

Bill Gates once said:

"Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning."

Embrace that advice. According to a study by Conversio, 70% of complaining customers will do business with you again if you resolve their complaint.

10. Nurture Customers With Marketing Automation

Keeping up with your customers can be time consuming. When you can automate certain tasks, take advantage of the opportunity. With marketing automation software, you can send scheduled emails, text messages, e-newsletters, notifications, and more.

You can also send messages based on user interaction. When a customer does one thing, they receive a specific type of communication. For instance, send an email based on pre-defined triggers, activity, or other criteria.

When you sign up for a brand's e-newsletter or mailing list, you'll typically receive a thank-you email message. This is an example of marketing automation.

11. Gather Positive Feedback and Customer Reviews

retention marketingIf you have positive reviews and testimonials from current customers, use them as part of your retention marketing strategy.

According to a BrightLocal consumer review survey, more than 90% of consumers look for reviews before making an online purchase, so you might as well bring those good comments to light.

Don't just use reviews, however. You can also boast testimonials and star ratings. This shows that others not only trust you enough to buy from you, but they also endorse your product or service. Consumers are cautious about online products, and they want to know what others are saying about your brand. Make it easy for them to find that answer.

Retention Marketing Creates Loyal Customers

If it costs more to find a new customer than it does to keep a current one (and it does), retention marketing should be a priority for your brand.

Be transparent and develop trust so you can empower your customers and make it easy for them to do business with you. Embrace the concept of under promising and over delivering. Your customer will be pleasantly surprised to receive something (anything) more than they expected. Reward them for their loyalty, always respond quickly, and listen to what they have to say. It could make all the difference in whether you keep them as a customer.

When you contact them, make it personal (use their name for starters) and use marketing automation to stay in touch on a regular (but not annoyingly regular) basis.

Lastly, use the testimonials and positive reviews you have from current customers to help new customers trust you and feel comfortable purchasing from your brand.

Ready to reach out to your customers to boost your retention rates? Request your free Simply Written sample to experience the excitement of receiving a digitally handwritten note!

Topics: Customer Loyalty, retention marketing