The success of pure customer loyalty strategies online depends on your brand, products, customers and execution of the program. Companies should focus on the foundation of customers and digital media to get a handle on the vast number of customer retention strategies.
Companies that prioritize the customer experience generate, on average, 60 percent higher profits than their direct competitors who do not focus on the customer experience. In the same light, a 2 percent increase in your customer retention rate has the same bottom-line impact as decreasing your total operational costs by 10 percent.
Customer experience is the heart of loyalty and retention. Learning what works best and the foundation you need to have in the digital space will better prepare you to create more positive user experience. Here are 3 simple but important digital customer loyalty and retention area to focus on.
1. Start With Social Media
Social media will always top customer retention tips and loyalty recommendations because it’s easy to start, most of your customers already use it and it allows for communication however your customers prefer.
The beginning of social media is participation. Join the communities where your customers are and work to provide benefits – with a mix of branded and unbranded help – to show that you’re committed to their efforts and not just making a sale. Communicating within groups allows you to skip over the uninterested consumers and reach those who have actively said they need a service in your industry.
Your initial goal is just to provide help. Being helpful is an amazing digital customer retention strategy because digital assets don’t die; they linger. Solve one person’s problem publically and there’s a good chance another person with that issue will stumble upon the interaction or answer.
The likelihood of this discovery increases on platforms that search engines index more often, such as public LinkedIn groups and blogs. Twitter chats and Facebook posts won’t see as much search traffic, but they have better share rates and perform well for B2C brands.
Small brands can’t afford to create their own community, but you can participate in existing communities and reach your customers where they’re already looking for and sharing tips and help. You’ll generate loyalty by being helpful and can improve traffic to your best assets.
The other reason you need to be on social media is that 88 percent of people are less likely to buy from companies who leave social media complaints unanswered. Meet your customers where they want to be: on social networks.
2. Use Email as Your #1 Digital Retention Strategy
Email remains the most common activity on mobile devices and is a great place to build loyalty, according to Smart Insights research. The reason it ranks well, beyond pure usage numbers, is that email typically builds trust and mobile devices inherently feel more personal and intimate. Reach out to mobiles, especially through email, and you can capitalize on intimacy as long as your messaging isn’t too stiff.
You can optimize your email efforts by personalizing content based on the purchase habits and preferences your existing customers provide. This can be as simple as showing when a past purchase goes on sale or as complex as using detailed personas to deliver specific content around advanced feature sets.
Email gives you a variety of areas to personalize, from the subject lines and body to the ending call-to-action. Among the best digital customer retention tips is to match your pitch with the tone of your customers and keep personalization out of areas where it may cause anger.
A good rule of thumb is to personalize an email as much as you think is appropriate and then take one step back. You don’t want your brand to come off as creepy, and personalization can do that as Target learned the hard way.
- The One Email You Need
The welcome email should be among your top three customer retention strategies. As soon as someone makes a purchase or provides an email for your newsletter, send over a quick note to thank them.
It starts the conversation and allows you to spell out any information you need. Provide useful contact details and information, but keep the promotions limited here. You’re establishing a relationship, and 65 percent of loyal customers want this type of communication.
- Always Opt-In
How many businesses ask for an email address to send you a receipt and then follow up with ads and spam?
One of the easiest ways to tank your digital customer retention strategies is to start harassing customers when they haven’t realized they’ve signed up for your marketing. Running an implicit opt-in, when you use emails or contact information from forms for downloads or registrations, can be troublesome if there is no indication that your customers are joining a mailing list. In some countries, an implicit opt-in policy in your marketing is illegal.
Subscribers you force into mailing lists may bolster the volume of your list, but they’re also more likely to consider your emails as junk and send you to the spam folder. To avoid that, it’s best to use a combination of explicit opt-ins and follow-ups.
Ask customers to sign up and make the pitch for why your loyalty program is beneficial. When they’ve signed up, send an email that asks for a confirmation of the subscription. Now you’ve got a list of people willing to take a few steps to engage with your brand, so they’re more likely to be loyal. This opt-in confirmation is also the perfect place to provide the email address of your content so new subscribers can be on the lookout for great content. Automating the confirmation process can also help you immediately send out a welcome email, which we know improves loyalty and retention rates.
After you’ve secured the sign-on, make sure customers can adjust their preferences easily. A preference center on your website can be automated to improve retention and show customers you care about their time and concerns.
3. Define Your Goals – CLEARLY
At the end of your big customer loyalty push, you’re going to have a lot of numbers. Understanding them gets significantly more difficult if you didn’t have a set of defined goals. You also risk not tracking the right data if you don’t enter with eyes wide open.
Goals should be spread across a wide variety of metrics, including:
- Repeat sales
- Increases in newsletter or program sign-ups
- More followers, subscribers and friends
- More social media conversations
- Likes, shares, mentions and retweets
- Email opens
- Upsells or cross-sells
In that subset, it’s clear that revenue is not the sole goal of a strong customer loyalty program. The best digital customer loyalty tips cover your interactions and focus on long-term growth, which can simply mean getting more followers today. Improving loyalty across multiple channels, especially new channels you’re launching, requires a blend of sales and customer service, so make your metrics appropriate to those goals. Remember to consider privacy and customer complaints relative to these metrics – you may see a dip in followers or subscribers over time if people feel they’re not being properly helped or feel tricked into your loyalty program.
Customer loyalty tips should never cause you to overlook the people you’re serving. When in doubt, ask customers what they want and provide options that you’re willing to provide. Learning what works best will better prepare you to create a positive user experience and long lasting relationship with your customers.
To read more about building brand loyalty through personalized digital programs check out Olivia’s related blog post on Humanizing Your Digital Marketing.