Online Customer Retention: How to Keep your Customers
Every business, large or small, should have an actionable plan that details their methods of retention. It should focus on maintaining and growing, your current customer base, building on the existing trust and expectations of the customers.
Retention should remain a high priority for your company and, luckily, there are many actions you can take to avoid customer defection. What many businesses fail to recognise however is that your retention begins the moment the customer interacts with your business, and continues for the life cycle of their interaction with your business.
Customer Retention vs. Customer Acquisition
Whilst customer retention is the process of keeping a customer in your fold, customer acquisition is the process of obtaining the customer. The focus for many businesses is on the acquisition process, reaching new potential customers, targeting them through marketing strategies and triggering their interest in the products/services offered.
A lot of money goes into this process.
After you have acquired a new customer, you have to work hard to ensure they don’t jump ship to a competitor. Therefore, you need to work on your methods of retention. These strategies focus on customer service; quality of products and services; engaging with customers; and providing incentives and loyalty programs. It often costs a lot less than the initial acquisition phase.
For both processes, you need to know your target audience. Understanding the audience you are marketing towards is the crucial step not only to reach them, but to keep them. You can identify this through the creation of a customer avatar, identifying who your ideal customer is and why they may need your particular product or service. You should already have a pretty good idea of who your current customer base is, so working from that when attempting to target new customers could help your strategy.
Once you have identified the audience that you wish acquire, then retain, it is now time to work on the tactics you will employ across your digital marketing strategy in order to meet your retention objectives. There are a number of methods to utilise for your retention strategy, which expand across the digital marketing sphere, including:
SEO for Retention
Whilst Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is primarily regarded as an acquisition tactic, it is also a worthy tool for retention.
- Personalised search results can ensure your brand appears in short and long tail searches not only for new customers but for customers who have visited your site before. This means that those who have interacted with you continue to have the incentive to further engage with your site.
- On page optimisation that targets both leads and existing customers. Think about the journey that both customers and leads may take within your site and ensure that you facilitate accordingly to help them towards a sale.
Email Marketing for Retention
Email Direct Marketing (EDMs), are a fantastic way to retain customers. Through testing and segmentation, you are able to target different customer groups and appeal to interests based on their interactions with your brand. The best method to tackling your retention through EDMs is to create and test multiple email templates and designs to see which garners the best results.
- Ensure your email lists are cleansed before commencing your campaign to ensure that everything is up to date. By dong so, you are making sure that your emails are reaching customers who are willing to have interactions with you through this medium, as opposed to those who may have unsubscribed from the mailing list.
- Ensure you have the technology that supports the testing of emails and allows you access to real time metrics to evaluate.
Social Media for Retention
Social media is a fantastic tool for both acquisition and retention, and the platforms are only expanding to facilitate business to customer interactions. It can be a great tool to use in your retention methods, and with a strategic plan you can help to grow the relationship you’ve built with your customers.
- Create a content plan that is tailored to your followers on the various social media platforms your company upholds.
- Push specific incentives across social media platforms through targeted campaigns to encourage customers to continue interaction with your business.
- Reply to your customers posts and thank them for using your business. This is a crucial step that many businesses fail to harness. A little thank you and recognition goes a long way!
Monitoring Your Retention
Once you have identified your key methods of retention, ensure that you measure and monitor their effectiveness. This can be done in a variety of ways across various channels but will work to ensure that you are reaching your overall retention goals.
Formulate a key performance indicator for each channel and measure the ways you are reaching those outlined areas. Below, you will find suggestions for the various channels we touched on in this blog.
- SEO KPIs: Traffic referral volume, pages viewed per visit, number of inbound and outbound links generated and SERP position per keyword.
- EDM KPIs: Click through rates to website or landing page, open rate per campaign, repeat purchase rate and number of emails sent out.
- Social Media KPIs: Level of engagement, number of followers, click through rate to landing pages or website and percentage of referral traffic from that channel to website.
Retention, when carried out thoughtfully and thoroughly, can be the most valuable component of your customer cycle. It can generate the most business to your company, and build a strong relationship and trust with your ideal customers. Ensure you put some tactics in place to nurture your audience for years to come.