Retaining Your Customers is More Important Than Acquiring New Ones

Posted on

Give your customers some TLC (and keep them coming back for more)

For most standard businesses, growing your customer base is all about racking in more profits. Completely valid. But for seasoned business folk it’s clear that retaining your existing customers and getting them to come back is actually a way more efficient to increase orders and revenue.

Why give your customers some extra love?

The next time they buy, they trust you with more

Returning customers are more likely to spend more overall than one-night-stand customers. Even if their first purchase is small, you’ll be able to sell more in the long run to people who come to like your brand, and upsell them on your bigger ticket items.

They already trust you, so you spend less money convincing them

Most of the money we spend on advertising goes toward building up the credibility and attractiveness of our brand, and showing that off to people we think will be interested. These people are already interested, and they take much less convincing. You just need to show them something fresh that they don’t have yet and are interested in getting, rather than selling them on your store’s concept.

Your existing customers refer their friends

It’s still true that getting a recommendation straight from the mouth of someone you trust is more likely to get you to buy something than seeing a passing ad. Your customers are more likely to share their content with their networks if they actually want to come back. When you build the trust and respect of customers, they turn into your star PR people.

How do you get customers to come back?

There are many ways to get your customers to come back, and those with a real flair for business will have creative ways to retain customers. Here are a few tried-and-true ways to build loyalty and have your existing customers come back for more.

Make recommendations

Product recommendations based on previous purchases are some of the most effective ways to get your customers to buy more. You can use Shopify to put product recommendations:

  • At the checkout phase
  • Just after they’ve made a purchase, on the thank you page
  • In a follow-up email with MailChimp

Product recommendations can help suggest items that your customer might not have seen, or give them just the little boost they need to add a bit more to their cart. They’re also a good way to say hi via email after not seeing someone in your store for a while. Use product recommendations to make seasonal sales, like Christmas gifts or summer gear.

Recommending products is part art, part algorithm. You can use phrases like “Customers who bought this also bought…” or “Complete the set with…” to show customers their product isn’t the end of your collection.

Bonus Read: Use a Product Recommendation Engine To Increase Your AOV

Start a loyalty rewards program

Everybody likes free stuff, and everybody likes feeling like a VIP. There are plenty of tools to help you build a straightforward points or VIP program that rewards people for coming back. Even if you give repeat customers a discount through these programs, you’re winning financially in the long run by getting more sales.

There are a few key principles to running a successful loyalty program. First off, incentivise your customer to come back. That means you shouldn’t just give away freebies that are unrelated. Giving out exclusive content or products that can be accompanied by paid services you offer is a better way to go.

Second, use the principle of “artificial advancement”. This means making your customers feel like they’ve already made progress toward the first incentive.

Take this example of a car wash company that handed out two kinds of stamp cards. One had 8 stamps, and the other had 10 stamps with two already filled out. Same amount of progress that needs to happen on behalf of the customer, but those who had two stamps already done came back 178% more often.

Third, up the rewards with referrals that actually bring you customers. It’s easy for people to share with their network, but incentivising them to convince their friends to actually use your products will get them talking. Uber and other ride sharing companies, for example, get this right. When someone signs up with your code, they get a free ride and you get a free ride - but only after the referred actually signs up and uses the service.

Surprise your customers by going above and beyond

Answering questions promptly, solving problems and always being professional are a given in good customer service. However, its those that go above and beyond that really catch the attention of customers. Sending unexpected thank you notes or small gifts, including handwritten or personalised cards, or getting creative with how you respond (like making a video, showing up to solve a problem, or making it personal in another way) can make all the difference. Those who experience above and beyond customer service are more likely to tell their friends and convert those friends into customers.

Get emailing

Email is consistently a source with some of the highest conversion rates - and it’s the way you can send the most topical content. There are a ton of things you can include in emails, such as recommendation slots, links to your content, and discount coupons.

But a good way to get people to come back is to make them feel like they’re part of your team, not just a customer. Keep them in the loop with what’s going on with company newsletters or send them a roundup of what you’re finding around the web; always with a strong CTA about revisiting your store.

Engage with your customers on social media

If someone posts something that includes your content, reach out to them directly. Say hi, say thanks, give them a wave. Make it clear that it’s a real person on the other end of the screen, and in such a way make more of a real relationship with your customers. This sticks in people’s minds - even if it’s a really small gesture - way more than a faceless business.

Give targeted discounts

A lot of business owners, especially small businesses, are hesitant to give out discounts because profit margins are tight. That’s understandable. What you can do is to be a bit selective about who you’re discounting. For example, you can give discounts only to those who have made purchases over a certain amount, because they’re likely to bring in bigger purchases. Or you can send a discount only to those who have come back a few times, so you’re rewarding your repeaters.

Set up automatic repeat purchases

Most products have some sort of time limit to them. Without lowering the quality of your product, figure out roughly when the average user will need to have it replaced. Every couple of months? Once a year? If you sell coffee, razors, or toilet paper for example, you can set up the possibility of automatic deliveries (a subscription, in effect) every month. Subscriptions can go a long way in getting your customers to automatically come back.

Ask them what they want, what they really really want

If you’re not seeing your customers come back, it could be a recurring issue that you haven’t figured out yet. Who’s the best authority on what your customers want? Your customers.

Design a survey with MailChimp and ask your customers for their opinion. This information will be invaluable to you, because you’re hearing directly from the people who are already engaged, perhaps already even bought something. You can choose your target group using segments and lists.

You could ask questions such as:

  • Do they really wanna zigazig ah
  • How did you first hear about us?
  • What is your favourite section of our blog?
  • How long were you deliberating about buying one of our products?
  • Questions directly related to your product development
  • Questions about demographics
  • Questions about personality/style/habits

Remember not to keep your survey too long - it should take about two minutes max otherwise people will get on with their lives and you won’t get your data.

Have another great idea? We want to hear it

Get in touch with Elkfox if you’ve got a great way you get customers to come back. Or, ya know, if you want help growing your business. We’re a Shopify Expert dedicated to helping e-commerce companies build beautiful and effective stores.

Oh, and if you're a Shopify Plus merchant, check out this tutorial on using Shopify Flow to track and monitor repeat customers.