It’s easier to retain customers who’ve bought from you, then look for new ones all the time. With the increasing amount of competition for consumer attention, you’ve probably already realised that.
But how do you keep your existing customers engaged and bring them back to make more purchases?
By not letting fate decide when they want to come back and implementing strategies that nudge them to.
If you’re new to what customer retention is, remember to read this guide first.
Time-tested customer retention strategies for your Shopify store
Set up customer account pages
First things first. If you really want to retain a customer, you need to get to know them better and the only way to do that is to set up customer account pages.
We’re not asking you to force each shopper to create a customer account on your store. We’re just saying give them an option to do so and make them want to sign up by offering them something of value. This is one of the most popular customer retention strategies used by popular brands to get to know their customers better, and in turn, use the data to sell more to them!
Here’s an example of Chumbak doing the same. They’ve made it easy for the shopper to sign up for an account on the store by offering a social login and sign up.
Within the customer account page, you can let the shopper do the following:
- Save their delivery addresses to complete purchases faster
- Share details like their birthdays and anniversaries which can be used to engage them with exclusive deals
- Save the products they like or want to purchase later in a wishlist
- Reorder items from their previous purchases easily with a single click
- Track their order status without having to go to a courier partner’s site
You can set up customer account pages using apps like Flits.
Run segmented marketing campaigns
The one differentiator between brands that succeed and those that fail too early is how well they’re able to personalize their customers’ journeys. This is not just about the deals you offer to them - it’s about how well you’re able to identify their purchase behaviour.
For example, there are going to be some shoppers that tend to purchase from your store only when you’re running deals. Then there’ll also be those who would choose to buy the products on full-price just to be the first ones to get it. Similarly, there are going to be shoppers who tend to buy more from you on every visit and then those who just abandon every item in the cart.
Different shoppers, different behaviour. That’s why the second most important strategy for customer retention is to segment your shopper base. Identify your active, inactive, full-price, price-sensitive, VIP, loyal and cart abandoning customers. Then based on that, run super-targeted marketing campaigns on the channels they’re most active on.
You can create such customer segments using apps like RevTap.
1. Email marketing
Reach out to each segment of your customers with a personalized message. Remember to drop in a bit of context while reaching out to them to let them know that you notice them and know what they’re looking for.
For instance, reach out to price-sensitive shoppers promoting products that are on a flash sale or offering an exclusive discount to them. On the flip side, reach out to your loyal customers and brand advocates with a sneak peek into your upcoming deals or products, to pre-book their purchases.
Here’s an example of a simple email, reaching out to active and repeat customers, requesting feedback and showing them how valuable they are:
2. SMS marketing
Apart from continually checking our inboxes, what’s the next channel we tend to keep on inbox-zero? Our messages.
SMS marketing has proven to deliver almost 98% open rate because of its crisp and clear messaging that instantly gets consumed. But driving a shopper from open to clicking through the link to your store, can be tricky. That’s where you need your customer segments in place to ensure your message is personalized enough to instantly hook their attention.
Follow the same approach as with email marketing, setting up different SMS marketing automations for different segments of your customer base.
You can further improve your text marketing campaigns to boost customer retention by adding a human touch to your automated campaigns. Reach out to customers and ask them what they’re looking for, what they’d like and how you can help them make better purchases. Then automate the campaigns ahead for higher engagement rates!
3. Facebook Messenger
Let’s face it. While most of us choose to spend time scrolling through Instagram all day, we’re also checking our Facebook account as frequently. More specifically, to use the Messenger to reach out to our friends and family.
That’s why Facebook Messenger is a great channel to implement customer retention strategies. Be it promoting your deals to customers who have subscribed using Facebook or are following your page, first to simply keep them engaged by asking for feedback post an order delivery or reminding them of the products they left behind.
Again, use your customer segments to make your Facebook Messenger marketing campaigns highly contextual.
4. WhatsApp marketing
WhatsApp now has over 400 million active users in India and that makes it one of the most effective channels for marketing. But more than that, it makes it a great channel for keeping your customers engaged. Be it sending updates about their existing orders or simply recommending products based on their previous purchases, it is the one platform you can be sure they won’t miss your message on!
You can also use WhatsApp to recover abandoned carts. Send out automated reminders and offers to nudge shoppers to come back and complete the purchase.
You can start your WhatsApp marketing campaigns in minutes with apps like SuperLemon.
5. Web push notifications
Similar to all other channels, another way to keep your customers engaged is using web push notifications. Since this channel doesn’t require them to share their contact information like email addresses and phone numbers, it sees a higher number of notification opt-ins.
You can automate cart recovery messages and upcoming sale promotions using this channel, and be rest assured that your message gets read because of its instantaneous nature.
Set up a customer loyalty program
Another tactic that has proven to work right from the H&Ms to the Forever 21s across the world, is a customer loyalty program. This customer retention strategy focuses on keeping a customer motivated to continue purchasing from a brand in turn of value in the form of store credits or rewards. Like a profitable exchange where both you and your customer are winning!
When you set up a loyalty reward program, you’re basically telling the customer how they can win something - a discount, credits or an exclusive offer on their next order; making them want to come back and make another purchase. Because who can say no to anything exclusive or a discount?
You can also tie your loyalty program to actions other than making a purchase on your store. For example, signing up to create an account, leaving a product review, referring the store to their friends, following you on social media and similar activities. When they see how easy it is to earn rewards that can be redeemed on their next purchase, the more likely they become to buy more.
Here’s an example from DSW:
Involve your customers and build a community
With so many brands coming online or starting out, a typical online shopper has so many options to choose from. Even if they’ve been loyal to a brand for years, they’re slowly starting to explore the other options available to them, leading them astray.
But how do the industry leaders like Caratlane for instance, survive in this competition? How do they still have customers vouching for their products even when there are pocket-friendly options available to them?
Because they don’t just sell their products. They involve their customers into their marketing and have built a community that is loyal to their brand. Right from setting up a branded hashtag that customers can use to share their experiences with the brand, online to reposting their content, giving them shoutouts on social media and even involving them in creating content, the brand does it all.
Ensure a great post-purchase experience
If you want customers to keep coming back for more, you need to make the right first impression on them. That doesn’t happen by simply offering the best of discounts on your products. It definitely does not happen by just taking care of how good your store looks. It all comes down to the post-purchase experience.
How the customer feels after having made a purchase from your brand has a big impact on whether they’ll come back or not. Here’s how to ensure the customer feels as good about waiting for the product to be delivered, as they did about purchasing it from the store:
- Choosing the right logistics partners to ensure higher efficiency on order delivery based on their serviceability
- Send them automated order status updates on email and SMS so that they don’t endlessly worry about where their purchase is
- Branded order tracking pages so that customers don’t have to visit logistics sites to know where their order is
- Make customer service top priority and ensure it is easy for your customers to get in touch with you (email, phone, live chat, social media)
Give shoppers a cause to relate to (cause-marketing)
Time and again, marketing surveys have highlighted how consumers choose to side with brands that support a cause they believe in. More recently, in the post-COVID world, surveys suggest that people hardest hit by the pandemic now want brands to do good and care for people. That only doubles down on the effectiveness of cause-marketing. In fact, 63% of consumers purchase from purpose-driven brands. So what’s stopping you?
Look into your vision and mission, find what you truly care about, share your story and tell shoppers how you want to contribute towards the cause. Here’s an example from Two Brothers India:
Help shoppers make an informed purchase
The world has turned to online. Gone are the days when we could walk into stores to touch, feel or try a product before purchasing it. We’re all choosing to make the smallest of purchases online, and the biggest too!
But what would take this shopper away from your brand? A bad purchase. A purchase they made because they were ill-informed or couldn’t find what exactly they wanted. This is where your role comes in to help them out and in turn, boost customer retention.
Here are some ways to do this:
- Detailed product descriptions: Make sure you go beyond the basics and spend some more time on your product pages. Detail out your products, what they’re made of, what purpose they solve, how they’re different and remember to share reviews and testimonials from other customers.
- Size guides: If you’re into the fashion and apparel industry, or sell products that may vary in size, remember to include guides that help shoppers pick the right variant.
- Blogs: Create content that helps shoppers understand what goes behind the making of your products or how they add value to them, or how they can use them. These serve as how-to guides and inspiration to shoppers, helping them choose the right products.
- Live chat: Implement live chat on your store to make yourself available to the shoppers. Let them drop you a message whenever they’re doubtful about a purchase.
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs): If you get some questions all too frequently around a few of your products, remember to create a section with answers to them. Make sure that these FAQs are easily visible to all the shoppers coming to your store.
Here’s an example of a Shopify store using blogs to educate their audience - &me.
Do you really need to focus on customer retention?
Whether you should focus more on customer acquisition or retention is heavily influenced by where your store is in its lifecycle. A store that started yesterday is vastly different than one that’s been up and running for many years. We’ve explained this in-depth in one of our blogs here.
But if you ask us what we believe in general, we’d say customer retention should be your focus right from the start.
Considering how retaining a new customer costs 5X lesser than acquiring a new one and the increasing competition for the same audience’s attention, retention is the only way to grow your store sustainably. And not like just another brand that makes its first 100 sales and fades away!