Acquiring customers is exciting - there’s a real rush when someone new hits the buy button - but don’t forget about your existing fans. They are 6x more profitable than new buyers and are the people who will shout about your brand from the rooftops.
But, with so much competition online these days, it’s difficult to get folks to stick around. They get distracted by a shiny new brand or an ad that pops up on their Instagram feed and all of a sudden they’ve disappeared without a trace.
This is where customer retention comes into play. Putting strategies in place to secure loyalty from customers and keep them coming back is crucial if you want to maximise growth and continue to increase your revenue.
What does customer retention mean?
Customer retention is the act of engaging existing customers over time so that they keep buying from your store long term.
It differs from customer acquisition because you’ve already managed to convert these customers once, and the goal is to convert them again and again. Doing this will build long-lasting relationships and increase customer lifetime value.
The importance of customer retention in eCommerce
You don’t want to be ‘just another store’ in a sea of many.
You want to be the go-to store for shoppers who love your products and recommend you to their friends and family. Existing customers trust you with their money, because why else would they keep coming back?
The competition is fierce out there and solely focusing on acquiring new customers is a surefire way to create a ‘one-and-done’ brand. Instead, putting customer retention strategies in place to engage existing buyers will secure growth by building a foundation of loyal fans.
There are other positive side effects of customer retention, too:
- Increased revenue
- Cheaper cost of conversion
- More word-of-mouth referrals
- More feedback from engaged customers
Obviously, when a customer comes back they like what they see. At a very basic level, this means that they like your products and they liked the experience you provided.
Here's how top eCommerce beauty and wellness brands are building their retention strategies for success.
How to track your eCommerce customer retention rate
Now you know what customer retention is, how do you measure it?
There are four steps in the process:
- Identify how many customers you have at the end of the month (if you’re measuring your customer retention rate monthly)
- Subtract the number of new customers you’ve acquired over that same time period
- Divide it by the number of customers you had at the beginning of the month
- Multiply the result by 100 to get a percentage
For example, if you started the month with 5000 customers, acquired 400 new customers during that time frame, and ended the month with 4500 customers, the equation would look like this:
(4500 - 400) / 5000 * 100 = 82%
Get into the habit of checking your customer retention rate regularly (ideally every month) to see if the strategies you’re putting in place are paying off. It helps to consider your customer retention objectives before you start tracking and measuring, as this will help you determine whether you’re smashing your goals or not.
Win back shoppers with these 6 eCommerce customer retention strategies
How do you retain customers in eCommerce?
The key is to provide an excellent and memorable experience that addresses customer needs at exactly the right time. Basically, make it as easy and enjoyable as possible for shoppers to do business with you.
So, what are the eCommerce retention strategies? We’ve got you covered.
1. Reorder prompts
There’s nothing worse than running out of a product and not having a replacement when you need it. Reorder prompts avoid this situation by sending customers a replenishment reminder when it’s time to buy again. This works particularly well for food products, beauty products, and even footwear that tends to get worn after a certain period of time.
The customer may well have forgotten about where they originally ordered the product from, but as soon as you pop up in their inbox with a friendly reminder that it’s time to repurchase, they’re going to have tunnel vision for your brand.
2. Encourage upsells
Upselling is the act of suggesting an upgraded version of a product or an additional purchase at the point of checkout to boost the average value of the order. Doing this provides a win-win situation for everyone involved. For the customer, it gives them the chance to get a better product and, for the brand, it bumps up profit.
However, it’s important to pitch your upsell right. Going straight in with your most expensive product simply because it’s your most expensive (even if it has nothing to do with the customer’s original purchase) will likely put off shoppers. Instead, recommend upsells that are relevant to the original purchase and that might be a good fit for each shopper’s needs.
This brand offers customers the chance to get extra coffee for a small additional fee. Remember, your upsell doesn’t have to be massive, just a couple of extra dollars can do the trick. On top of this, it shows you have your customers' best interests at heart because you want them to get more product for their money, which can build trust and strengthen relationships.
3. Pre-filled checkout links
No one wants to jump through hoops to make a purchase.
Instead of asking customers to go through the checkout process whenever they want to buy something new, make it easy for them by creating pre-filled checkout links that allow one-click orders. Populate the forms with the information they’ve provided previously so it’s simply a case of them clicking “buy” to proceed.
4. Deep linking
Deep linking helps customers create their own journey through your site based on their individual needs and interests. This can work in a number of ways to encourage customers to either stick around on your website while they’re shopping or to come back to your site if they’ve left.
Consider deep linking by:
- Sending links to specific products a customer has shown interest in via text or email
- Linking to similar or relevant products on a product page
- Sending links to a customer’s cart or the checkout if they have abandoned a product
The longer you can keep a shopper on-site, the higher the chances are of them converting. And, sending them deep links related to their past shopping behavior can increase retention rates and make sure they come back again in the future.
5. Abandoned cart conversations
You’ve heard of abandoned cart emails, but what about abandoned cart conversations? Without knowing why a customer left a product in their cart, you can’t truly provide the right information they need to continue with that purchase.
As it stands, the average abandoned cart rate is 69.80%, which means only 30% of shoppers actually make it all the way through checkout. And they leave for a variety of reasons, too:
- Found a better offer
- Were just ‘window shopping’
- Additional costs
- Slow delivery
- Complicated checkout
Opening up a conversation about why a customer abandoned their cart can help you deliver personalized content that will make them feel valued and encourage them to complete the purchase. They’ll also remember that you took an interest in them next time so, when they need a similar product again in the future, they’ll come straight to you.
If you can see that a customer is struggling to checkout, send them an SMS to help. There, you can link directly to the product or products in their cart and give them the option of talking to customer support if they need to.
For more on how to create SMS abandoned cart reminders that convert, check out our guide.
6. Two-way customer support
It’s common for customer support to take the form of an email (which can often go unopened) or a chatbot (which is more of an in-the-moment solution for shopper problems). Providing a space for two-way customer support to flourish can help strengthen customer connections and build trust.
So what does this look like in action?
It can look like a place to chat one-on-one, help answer questions, drop tips and tricks, and solve shopper issues quickly. And one of the easiest and most connective places to do this is via text message. Not only does this empower customers to carve their own journey, but it has a knock-on effect of increased revenue.
Aperitif brand Ghia went against the grain and created a unique “hotline” experience for customers. Shoppers were able to ask questions via the website, email the brand, and submit a ticket, all of which would be funneled into Blueprint’s conversational inbox, where brands could chat one-on-one with their audience.
The result was a 32% increase in LTV and an 18x increase in ROI.
Increasing customer retention with Blueprint
Retaining existing customers is crucial for eCommerce brands today. If you don’t put the effort in, there are plenty of other places they can go to get what they’re looking for. These customer retention strategies for small businesses not only secure customer loyalty, but also create an enjoyable experience for shoppers who are looking for in-the-moment answers, an intuitive checkout process, and convenient purchases.
Blueprint’s SMS marketing platform makes all of this possible from one central dashboard. You can collect customer communication in one place and respond from there, create deep links to send to customers via text message, promote upsells, and send reorder prompts to keep customers coming back.
Blueprint supercharges customer retention for the top eCommerce brands in the UK and US via SMS & WhatsApp. To find out more, book a demo today. For more on how brands are focusing on retention to build eCommerce revenue, have a read of our chat with Reel.