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Top five ecommerce customer retention strategies

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Last editedNov 20223 min read

Once you’ve won yourself a new customer, hold onto them. Even if they only buy from you infrequently, they can still act as a brand ambassador for you. Here is a straightforward guide to the top five ecommerce customer retention strategies.

Use customer service for the win

Good customer service should be something everyone should be able to take for granted everywhere they shop. Unfortunately, in the real world, it often isn’t. This is because customer service is only as good as the back-end support given to the customer-service team. 

This means that delivering excellent customer service depends at least as much on your back-end processes as it does on your front-line staff. You should therefore be constantly monitoring your operational processes and looking to improve them. This frees up your customer-service team to focus on adding value rather than apologising for issues.

However, periodic issues are just a fact of life. Customers understand this and generally accept it as long as they are handled well. This means that any issues need to be swiftly communicated to your customer service team. They also need to be kept updated on what you are doing to fix it and how you are progressing with the fix.

Make a point of requesting customer feedback

Many customers give you feedback if you just ask for it in the right way at the right time. The right way is a very short and simple question to be answered by clicking on an icon. Maybe also include a free-text box for brief comments. 

The right time is in the moment. For example, on-page surveys capture feedback when the customer is literally on the page. Customer satisfaction surveys are best presented immediately after the interaction. Online polls can be answered while the customer is on your profile.

Run more in-depth surveys or even focus groups to get feedback on specific areas or from specific customer groups. These do take more commitment by both the company and the customer. It’s best also to offer some kind of reward to the participants. For this reason, keep these types of surveys for occasional use.

Content marketing

Advertising still has its place but direct adverts on the internet are becoming less and less valuable all the time. It’s just too easy for consumers to use ad-blockers. What’s more, doing so is actually a good cybersecurity measure. 

The decline of direct advertising has led to the rise of content types such as infomercial and edutainment. These content types focus on value-add content (information and/or entertainment). They blend in references to specific products or services.

Influencer marketing can also be a highly effective way to engage with customers and to make sure that your brand stays relevant to them. The key to success here is to choose your influencers with great care. 

Ideally, look for influencers who are already engaged with your business in some way. They should be a good fit for both your products or services and your brand values.

Community marketing

It’s even better if you can become an influencer in your sector and build your own community. In addition to publishing top-quality content, you also need to engage with comments. 

Ideally, create games, run competitions and have the occasional prize draw. These all encourage people to discover your profile. Just be careful about the frequency of these. Running them too often can encourage people to visit you in the hope of getting free gifts rather than because they’re interested in you.

You can also run a customer rewards programme or a referrals programme. These help to leverage your existing customer base for repeat sales and introductions to new customers.

Personalised content

As far as you can, offer each customer a personalised experience. For example, use email marketing software to put each customer’s name on your email newsletter. Offer them periodic special gifts and promotions that aren’t made public. If you know their birthdays, that’s a great time to offer them.

How to measure ecommerce customer retention

Before you implement any new ecommerce customer retention strategy, have a way to measure its success: measure ecommerce customer retention before, during and after the ecommerce customer retention strategy is implemented.

There are numerous metrics you can use to calculate this. Here are five of the most common ones and how they are calculated.

1. Customer churn rate (CCR) = (Number of customers (start of period) - Number of customers (end of period)) / Number of customers (start of period)

2. Repeat purchase rate (RPR) = Number of customers who bought more than once during period / Total number of customers during period

3. Purchase frequency (PF) = Number of orders over period / Number of unique customers over period

4. Average order value (AOV) = Total revenue over period / Total number of orders over period

5. Customer lifetime value (CLV) = Customer value * Store's average lifespan

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