Customer retention is vital to the long-term success of any ecommerce business. While attracting new customers is important for healthy business growth, retaining existing ones can be even more profitable. 

“It’s no secret that loyal customers spend 67% more than new ones, so focus on retention should be key when looking to get the most out of your database.”

– Lauren Clements, Partner Marketing Manager EMEA, Dotdigital

However, customer retention doesn’t just happen automatically. It requires careful planning and execution. For this Complete Expert Guide for ecommerce merchants, we have gathered advice and tips from ecommerce experts across the industry. 

From creating a positive customer experience to personalised marketing, and monitoring the right metrics. This guide will cover the essential steps to building a loyal customer base and achieving sustainable growth.


What is Customer Retention and why is it important?

Customer retention means making a concerted effort towards keeping existing customers engaged and satisfied. Encouraging them to continue buying from your business, or continue to use your services. 

It’s an important investment for ecommerce merchants because not only is it more cost-effective to retain an existing client than to acquire a new one, but their average order value also tends to be significantly higher. Loyal customers are also more likely to promote your brand and refer others. 

Unless you’re very lucky, customer retention doesn’t just happen on its own. You need to actively implement strategies that win your customers over and build long-term relationships with them at every stage of their interaction with your brand. 

Keep reading for your complete step-by-step guide to growing customer retention.


The Ecommerce Experts’ Guide
to Customer Retention:


1. Positive Customer Experience

First impressions matter. You have just seconds to win customers over, and if the online experience doesn’t meet their expectations, they will just leave. Simple as that.


“Creating a positive customer journey from day one is a must. Focus on providing excellent customer support and make sure that your customers are satisfied with their purchase.”

Jamilya Ashyrbaeva, Partner Marketer, ReferralCandy

Excellent customer support makes your shoppers feel valued. Go above and beyond to address any questions or concerns customers may have, proving that their satisfaction is your top priority. Customers that feel valued will return to your store and are more likely to share their experience with friends and family.



2. Personalisation

Personalisation is a critical tool in creating a positive customer experience. By tailoring your offerings to your customer’s individual preferences, you show them that you understand and care about their interests.


“Personalisation is the key to customer retention — the more personal you make your customer experience, the more engaged your customers will be. To do this, you need to know your customers on an individual level and be able to reach them wherever they want to interact with your brand, whether it’s on your site, through an ad campaign, or in your store.”

–  Hugh Kimber, General Manager, EMEA, Bloomreach

The first step in personalisation is getting to know your customers. Make full use of your CRM and analytics tools to collect data on their browsing and purchasing history, feedback and any other information you can gather to draw a full picture of the customer. Use this information to segment your audience and create targeted marketing campaigns that speak directly to their interests and needs.


“You can build a stronger connection with customers through personalised product recommendations, cart-abandonment emails, etc.”

– Lauren Lovato, Partner Manager, Gorgias


3. Product Recommendations

“My top tip for customer retention would be that product recommendations are an absolute must to ensure your customers are feeling engaged and rewarded on their purchasing journey. AI powered product recommendations give your customers a tailored experience that will keep them coming back again

– Lauren Clements, Partner Marketing Manager EMEA, Dotdigital

Product recommendations are an important part of creating a personalised experience on your ecommerce store. With the help of AI, merchants can analyse their customer data and generate relevant and timely recommendations. 

Using social proof by displaying ratings, reviews, or customer feedback in product listings,  to show other customers recommend this product too, can also increase the effectiveness of personalised recommendations. 



4. Value Add Marketing & Additional Support


“One of the most effective strategies for growing customer retention is value-add marketing. Value-add marketing is a way to cut through the noise of pushy sales pitches, by offering a more empathetic experience. If customers think of you as an expert in the field, they will return, not just for your useful content, but for repeat purchases.”

– Heena Vara, Senior Partner Growth Manager, BigCommerce

There is more to building lasting customer relationships than a smooth shopping experience. If a customer is buying your products, that indicates an interest in the products’ uses and other related subjects. Establish yourself as the expert on your products and everything related to them. Useful content on their topic of interest will bring customers back to your website or social channels and keep you top of mind.

“Offer additional support and educational resources to make sure that your clients will use your product correctly and to its fullest potential to see successful results.”

Jamilya Ashyrbaeva, Partner Marketer, ReferralCandy

The experience post-purchase is just as important to building long lasting relationships with your customers. Handy “how to” guides or video tutorials can help your customers to get the most out of their purchases, making them more likely to return to you in the future. 



5. Communication – Checkout and Beyond

The key to any good relationship is clear and consistent communication.

“Make sure to maintain constant communication with your customers. Email marketing and loyalty programs with special discounts and promotions will help to stay top-of-mind and encourage them to come back to your store to shop again.”

Jamilya Ashyrbaeva, Partner Marketer, ReferralCandy

Part of good communication with your customers is timing. If visitors to your store have questions, don’t leave them hanging, they won’t wait for you if a competitor is more responsive.

“Be responsive and timely: 90% of consumers rate an immediate customer service response as “important” or “very important.””

– Lauren Lovato, Partner Manager, Gorgias

Keeping in contact doesn’t end with a sale. You could say the relationship only begins once they have clicked buy and become a paying customer. The challenge from that point is to make them a loyal customer.


“When a customer clicks buy is just the beginning. The customer journey doesn’t end at checkout. Every detail from shipping and delivery to onboarding quizzes, to interactions with customer support will colour your audience’s experience of your brand. Klaviyo has got postpurchase flows, surveys, and more to make that journey work for you.”

– George Underwood, Partner Account Manager UK, IE & Nordics, Klaviyo,



6. Loyalty

A good experience is likely to bring customers back at least once. Rewarding their loyalty will bring them back over and over. 

“Reward loyalty: Offer loyalty programs, referral programs, and other incentives that encourage customers to return and make repeat purchases.”

– Lauren Lovato, Partner Manager, Gorgias

As well as using a loyalty scheme to reward return visits, make use of referral programs to encourage your loyal customers to share your brand with their friends and family. Referral offers that reward both the existing and the new customer can help you bring in even more sales.



7. Segmentation

“Segment, segment, segment, you’re competing for precious inbox space. Use first-party data to create smaller, more personalized experiences and you’ll resonate with the people that care about your brand. A big unengaged list that you ‘batch-and-blast’ is bad for business – instead trying a good segmentation strategy with a smaller list can be more effective at keeping your customers coming back.”

– George Underwood, Partner Account Manager UK, IE & Nordics, Klaviyo

Segmentation is a vital part of personalisation and communication. With thousands of contacts in your CRM, you can’t email each person individually, and sending the same information to everyone won’t build those meaningful relationships. Separating your contacts into groups based on demographics, purchase history, browsing habits, etc, allows you to tailor marketing messages to each segment. Providing timely and relevant information as efficiently as possible.



8. Brand Community

You’ve got a happy customer, they’ve bought from you at least once, now what? Even better than building strong relationships with your customers is bringing them together to build relationships with each other.

“Another effective strategy for growing customer retention is building a brand community. A group of customers that are invested in your brand. By encouraging customers to make an account for exclusive offers, and join your group or page on social media, you start to build trust and loyalty. Customers that are invested in your brand are less likely to switch to a competitor for future purchases.”

– Heena Vara, Senior Partner Growth Manager, BigCommerce

Social media groups and forums where your customers can talk about your products, their experiences, and related topics, builds a feeling of community, belonging, and stronger loyalty to your brand. 



9. Connected solutions and data

All of the data you have collected on customers, their behaviour, their purchase history, their communications, products related to their interests, etc, is of no use if the different systems are siloed. Data needs to flow seamlessly throughout your different platforms so that you can base your customer retention strategy on complete and up-to-date insights. 


“You have to focus on the customer experience, and ensuring that you’re personalizing communications at every touchpoint. And to do that, you need connected solutions. Ensure that all of your products work together to give you a 360 degree view of your customer and allow you to build out the customer journeys that drive retention.”

Charlotte Bell, Partner Manager, Yotpo

Integrating your data systems not only gives you a better overview of customers and their behaviour, it also helps you provide consistent customer experiences across all channels, helping build brand image and trust.

“Once you connect all your data and orchestrate the ideal omnichannel experience, you’ll see loyal customer rates increase exponentially.”

–  Hugh Kimber, General Manager, EMEA, Bloomreach



10. Metrics  

“Ensure that you’re capturing the right retention metrics. Many brands are only using repeat purchase rate, but if you want the full picture, look more broadly at customer lifetime value, a more comprehensive metric that also includes AOV, time to next purchase, churn rate, channel growth and engagement, and purchase recency.”

Charlotte Bell, Partner Manager, Yotpo

Before you begin to implement a customer retention strategy, you need to understand your starting point. Collect the right metrics to get a full understanding of your customers’ behaviour and then monitor those metrics regularly to guage the effectiveness of the retention strategy. 



Conclusion

In conclusion, customer retention is crucial for the long-term success of any ecommerce business. Retaining existing customers can be even more profitable than attracting new ones so taking the time to implement a retention strategy is a worthwhile investment.

This Complete Expert Guide to Customer Retention provides essential tips and advice from industry experts to help ecommerce merchants plan and execute effective customer retention strategies. From creating a positive customer experience, personalisatrion, product recommendations, value-add marketing, and communication, to audience segmentation, data integration and monitoring the right metrics.  Every step is critical to building a loyal customer base and achieving sustainable growth. 

By implementing these strategies, ecommerce merchants can create positive experiences for their customers, understand their individual preferences, communicate effectively, and offer support, educational resources and promotions that will help build a long-lasting relationship with their customers.


How can Calashock Help?

With over 14 years of experience helping ecommerce merchants to grow their businesses, we understand the importance of customer retention. We specialise in helping merchants implement effective strategies to increase sales and grow their customer loyalty and retention. And in building bespoke ecommerce websites, customised to meet even the most complex of business needs. 

We work closely with our ecosystem of technology partners to ensure we tailor the perfect set of solutions for each merchant’s requirements. 

Whether you want to re-platform your store, need technical expertise on a custom project, or need help implementing the strategy to increase customer retention. Get in touch to discuss your ecommerce needs and see how we can help optimise your store and grow your business.


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