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How to Become Irresistible With These Seven Winning Customer Retention Strategies

Your first love likely seemed irresistible…

It’s a feeling characterized by an insatiable thirst to return to your love time and time again regardless of the difficulty, distance, or dire straits involved.

Unfortunately, with maybe the exception of childhood sweethearts who ultimately marry, that irresistibility generally wears off over time and leads to a parting of ways.

The same separation can easily happen between ecommerce brands and their customers.

Retaining loyal customers is a key driver of growth and a differentiator for high performing ecommerce companies: making sure you are able to achieve it hinges in part on becoming irresistible:

Image via RJ Metrics

This irresistibility isn’t achieved with ease or by luck…

In fact, purposeful ecommerce merchants willing to work harder and smarter than their peers can coat their brands with a shine of irresistibility that can result in a lift in customer retention and sales.

Here are seven winning customer retention strategies aimed at helping you become irresistible:

Strategy #1: Reduce Customer Service Response Times

We live in an instant gratification world…

It’s not uncommon for people to call seconds after a text message goes unanswered, to bounce from a website that doesn’t load quickly, or decide not to watch a video that doesn’t begin playing immediately:

Image via Boston Globe

Image via Boston Globe

Increasingly, people expect to find, access, or use what they desire without friction or delay. Ecommerce companies that are blind to this reality actually put themselves at risk in terms of customer retention.

Instead of seeing a lack of patience as a detriment, high performing ecommerce companies can actually use it to their advantage by hitting the gas on customer service.

Customer satisfaction is declining across the board. However, it’s not necessarily because customer service is deteriorating materially, but rather because customer expectations are growing and evolving. Unsurprisingly, there’s a correlation between the speed at which customer service responds to an inquiry and customer satisfaction:

Image via Live Chat

Image via Live Chat

Responding to customer service inquiries in less than a minute, according to research, is crucial in satisfying customers. Not only is it important to reduce the time it takes to initially respond to an inquiry, but it’s also necessary to maintain speed throughout the process until the matter is resolved.

Here are a handful of metrics with which you can measure your customer service speed and efficacy:

Image via Live Chat

Image via Live Chat

Strategy #2: Integrate Rewards With the Checkout

It’s like asking customers to abandon cart…

You persuade them to enroll in your loyalty program, they earn rewards points, but can’t use them when checking out.

Customers with rewards or discount codes expect to be able to redeem them when making a purchase. However, the fact is many loyalty programs are not integrated with their store’s checkout, which can make it a bit more difficult for loyal customers to redeem what they’ve earned.

This can potentially impact conversions and cause customers to leave without making a purchase and less than enthusiastic about returning to make future purchases.

The solution is to integrate rewards with the checkout.

This is exactly what Kopari, an online seller of beauty products made of organic coconut oil does for members of its loyalty program. Not only are customers able to apply their rewards when checking out, they can also instantly check their rewards balance and select from a drop down box the size of the points discount they’d like to apply to their order:

Image via Swell Rewards

Image via Swell Rewards

Strategy #3: Fast Delivery With Frequent Progress Updates

Shipping customer orders quickly is almost as important as price…

In fact, research suggests same day delivery is now a priority for 19% of those surveyed here. Similarly, 4% say they they’ve considered not purchasing an item because same day delivery was not an option:

While same day delivery is a much more viable option for merchants with warehouses or inventory in cities where UberRUSH is available, it may not be feasible for everyone. However, you can still position your brand to deliver customer orders rapidly by strategically positioning inventory as Planet of the Vapes, an online seller of vaporizers, does:

  • The company uses a third party logistics firm with warehouses on each U.S. coast that allows Planet of the Vapes to offer three-day ground delivery to approximately 95% of the United States

Consider though that rapid delivery only serves to bolster retention if customers are home to receive delivery. Regular delivery progress updates not only reduce the odds a delivery will be missed, but also communicates the retailer cares about the customer after the purchase:

Image via Econsultancy

Image via Econsultancy

Strategy #4: Surprise Customers & Exceed Expectations

Before you can exceed customer expectations you must first understand them

It’s exactly what Spikeball, an ecommerce company that sells equipment and apparel to people who play Roundnet – a sport described as a cross between volleyball and four square- does in an effort to build what it calls the next great American sport.

Not only does Spikeball understand that its customers must have working gear if the sport is to grow, it surprises them when a piece of equipment wears excessively or breaks by offering to replace the piece for free. Spikeball’s Scott Palmer explains:

“We replace parts for free for life. People will actually call and ask if they can purchase a replacement part because something has broken. Our answer is no- we will NOT sell you a replacement part. What we will do though is give you the part you need absolutely free. Customers are amazed by this which is the point- we love surprising and delighting them. We care about facilitating the playing of the game and people can’t play unless they have equipment that functions. We do this no questions asked and we cover the shipping which really resonates with customers. So it turns out, free replacement parts are our number one marketing expense.”

To better understand your customer’s expectations and design experiences that exceed them, merchants might consider engaging in the following four actions:

Strategy #5: Create a Memorable Unboxing Experience

The packaging you ship orders in is likely to be exposed for all the world to see…

Better make it premium!

A quick search of YouTube reveals millions of results for unboxing videos which depict consumers opening their orders on camera and reacting to the way in which the orders are packaged:

In fact, 62% of those surveyed say they’ve viewed an unboxing video.

Traditional components of a premium unboxing experience might include:

  • Branded boxing
  • Ribbons, stickers, or branded tissue paper
  • Handwritten thank you notes
  • Free samples that create cross-sell opportunities
  • Discount cards customers can use for future purchases or give their friends

Separately, creating a memorable unboxing experience is another way to add value to the orders you ship and aid retention. In fact, 52% of consumers say they’re likely to make repeat purchases from merchants that deliver orders in premium packaging.

Importantly, shipping orders boxed in branded packaging can not only help you retain customers but also acquire new customer by generating valuable word of mouth marketing:

While premium unboxing experiences can make customers feel special and earn loyalty, be sure you intimately understand the degree to which your customers value premium packaging. Excessive packaging that doesn’t delight, especially when delivered by brands closely aligned with sustainability, may be maligned as wasteful.

NOTE: Research suggests 30-percent of packages received are either too big or small. Similarly, research indicates that when targeting millennial consumers, who often appreciate stickers and unboxing surprises, excessive or superfluous packaging can be a turn off and cause consumers to choose another brand.

Strategy #6: Personalize Customer Experiences & Marketing

Consumers know you’re collecting information about them and their digital behavior…

They also expect you to use it.

In fact, research suggests 70% of consumers want more personalized experiences. Separately, more than half of consumers expect you to personalize experiences by making them relevant and consistent with their tastes:

Image via

Image via eMarketer

You can personalize your marketing in a variety of ways:

  • Send email highlighting a birthday, anniversary, or accomplishment
  • Retarget shoppers with ads depicting an image of the item they abandoned in cart
  • Offer recommendations for items that complement recent purchases
  • Remind and communicate expirations or replenishment cycles to existing customers
  • Launch win back campaigns designed to engage dormant customers

The Key to personalization is segmenting your audience based on its behavior.

Personalizing customer experiences and communications based on behavior is extremely important. It can help you stand out as well because of how infrequently marketers are using customer behavior to drive personalized email marketing engagement:

Image via Econsultancy

Image via Econsultancy

Strategy #7: Intelligently Offer Discounts

It’s hard to beat a good deal…

Think of discounts, so long as you’ve considered the impact on margins, as ways to spur online impulse purchases. In fact, research suggests as many as 50% of those surveyed won’t purchase online without a discount.

But don’t discount blindly.

Instead, offer relevant discounts based on consumer behavior:

  • Email and retargeted abandoned cart discount campaigns in which consumers have shown an intent to purchase a specific product
  • Offer discounts on cross sell, upsell, or product recommendations based on specific items customers have purchased in the past

Separately, combine your discounts with urgency to boost conversions. For example, flash sales that offer discounts for a limited time are effective:

You can also leverage urgency with exit pop-ups that contain a countdown clock:

Image via JustUno

Image via Justuno

Retention In Focus

Remember, retention as a strategy requires ecommerce businesses to be customer-centric not only in thought and word, but also in deed. It’s not enough to be committed- you must earn repeat business every day with your actions.

Use these seven winning customer retention strategies to get started…
When you do you’ll be one step closer to becoming irresistible.

customer retentionretention strategies

Nikhil Naidu • January 25, 2017


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