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Sure, customer acquisition is important. But what happens after you clinch that conversion? How do you ensure you don’t lose the new customers you worked so hard to get?
Well, that’s where a well-thought-out retention strategy comes in. When you invest in customer retention, you can increase customer return rates, cut down on churn and drive purchase frequency to keep customers in the buying cycle. And it’s worth it: check out this infographic to see how a good retention strategy can boost your bottom line.
Coupons are a classic marketing strategy for a reason... THEY WORK. This tried-and-true method of retention encourages your customers to make another purchase. Whether you send it in an email or through the mail, a good discount can get your customers back into the buying cycle.
TIP: Don’t forget to add a deadline. An expiration date increases urgency and fuels impulse purchases.
Better yet, if you can add personalization to your coupons, you’ll really stand out. Address the customer by name. Show a product they’ve been looking at on your website, maybe even something they added to their cart and didn’t purchase. Give them recommendations based on their previous purchases. If your coupon is personalized and relevant, you can make your customer feel like you know what they want... when they need it... at a special price just for them. And that is a powerful motivator to purchase.
Loyalty programs are a no-brainer for retail and food service. From punch cards to gamified apps with rewards (think Starbucks’ wildly successful rewards app), you can use loyalty programs to encourage customers to keep returning to your business.
But you can even extend these loyalty programs to other industries. If you’re a B2B company, can you offer access to product features that are still in beta to your current customers? Can you offer a “freemium” service upgrade to loyal customers? LinkedIn does this, offering a free upgrade to their paid Gold level to active users. A temporary upgrade like this can make your current customers feel special... and it can have the added benefit to upsell when the trial ends.
But remember, loyal customers want to feel rewarded, not squeezed for more. If you treat them to something, they’re more likely to give you their business. But if you come on too strong or make it feel like you’re always pestering them to buy more or upgrade for an added cost, it could have the opposite effect. Make sure you strike the right tone with loyal customers: thankful for their business, happy to help and eager to make their experience the best it can be.
Talk about two birds, one stone. Happy customers make great brand ambassadors. So, when you reward them for referring their friends, you get the best of both worlds: one happy, rewarded current customer and one new conversion. It incentivizes your current customers to spread the word.
This is a strategy that works well for B2B companies, financial services, and even utilities (like for special energy-saving programs). Onboard a new customer into your service and give the referrer a bonus: bill credits, cash, a gift card, etc. It’s a good idea to give your current customer the bigger reward... they’re doing you a favor, after all. Show them you value them with a proportionate reward.
Sustained, relevant communication
Keep in touch with your customers, even if you aren’t offering a discount or gift. Touch base through multiple channels: align a direct mail campaign letter with a related email stream. Follow up on purchases and ask for customer feedback. When you make the effort to personally communicate with your customers, it keeps your brand top of mind.
Just make sure customers know you care. For small businesses, a handwritten note can go a long way. For larger businesses, personalized mailings, gifts, and branded merch is a great way to build loyalty with customers. Healthcare company Humana sent masks to policyholders. Consumers Energy sent appliance maintenance supplies like dryer balls and dishwasher cleaner to members of their Appliance Service plan (see video below). Think about what your customer needs and give it to them... before they even ask.
Retention in Action: Video Case Study
Consumers Energy offers their customers the Appliance Service Plan (ASP), a plan that gives customers protection against unexpected appliance repair costs. But a number of people were dropping their contracts within the first year. Consumers Energy’s existing welcome letter for new customers was a short, impersonal receipt for the program. For many people, it served as a reminder that this was an extra cost and gave them a reason to cancel. See how Jacobs & Clevenger helped reduce attrition and build a loyal customer base through a successful retention campaign in this video case study.
And if you need help building a retention campaign that gets results, contact J&C today.