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  • Writer's pictureAlex Johns

How to hang on to your customers

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Average retention rates for D2C businesses are 28.5% … so that’s means that about 70% of your customers who say they were satisfied with your services probably won’t shop with you again. It reinforces that it's bloody hard to win a customer but even harder to hang on to them.

But 86% of customers say they will pay a premium for a great experience and yet only 1 in 26 customers actually complain when something is wrong, the rest don't bother returning.

So what can you do to ensure they do return?

1. Understand your shopper

Drill into the detail and take care to understand your customers better

Sounds obvious right? Wrong ... most businesses don't really understand their customers very well at all. So spend time on the data interrogation and understand everything you can about the current status quo of your customers. Don’t put this off, you need to know:

1. How often your customers reorder?

2. What things bring your customers back – coupons, product offers, recommendations?

3. What's the average time between orders?

4. Does the average order size go up or down?

5. What time of year do you onboard most repeat orders?

6. How long are your customers with you (customer lifecycle)?

Once you have these basics you can start!

2. Bin the stuff that doesn’t work … Fast

Test, learn, refine, repeat

One time buyers are a waste of time, they flatter to deceive and lose you money in the long term. Analyse the things that bring customers back and stop doing the things that don’t. (coupon codes which don’t return, bloggers and influencers who are a waste of time, money and effort etc)


3. Push the good stuff

Aim for the clear water and don't be afraid to shout from the rooftops about what you do well

What products in your range get people coming back?

Focus on your heroes and centre campaigns around those … don’t push too many things, be focused. For a start it’s costly to constantly push you stuff and secondly you want to be known for something.

4. Reward loyalty

Your customers are your lifeblood, be nice to them ... lots!

Incredible how little time is spent rewarding the loyal customers and how much on winning new ones. Your current shoppers are golddust, make them feel special.

  • Exclusive content and backstories on products

  • Early-bird sales or new collection pre-orders

  • Priority customer service

  • Free shipping and returns

  • Extra perks like supplying an out-of-stock size

  • A membership zone with additional content, help or other perks.

The better you make these customers feel, irrespective of the amount of work it takes, the longer they will stay with you and the more they will advocate you to their friends.

5. Sticks and stones may break my bones …

Say sorry when you screw up, it doesn't hurt and does your business good

Much as we hate to have done something wrong, its actually good when someone points out something that isn’t up to scratch. Thank these people for their comments (as long as they check out and aren’t spam or competitors causing havoc). Even if they never shop with you again, you can fix the problem and ensure it doesn’t annoy others.

6. Make them feel part of something bigger

Be blatantly for something ... don't hide away, take a risk, back something you believe in, your customers will love you for it

Find a cause to get behind …. Give something back. Authenticity nowadays is huge, customers will believe in your business if your values are similar and crucially it can increase sales by as much as 74% in some sectors. I love what Brewdog did in lockdown … great example of a brand acting fast and doing something meaningful.

7. Send post-purchase use tips

Follow up the purchase will real information which is useful, not mindless crap no-one reads

Hit up your customers will really good email content post purchase. Advice and inspiration is key here. This could be how to guides, recipes, fitness tips, styling tips … cool content as a follow up works.

I love what patch plants do…

·Experience is everything

Spend extra on making your brand's experience just better ... your will get it back several times over

Be better than everyone else ... and remember how crucial the "at home" opening experience is. Poorly conceived packaging is massively detrimental, great packaging builds brand loyalty.

1) Great packaging

2) Personalised thank yous

3) Free samples

4) Top tips in a beautiful leaflets

Pasta evangelists nailed this and so do many others ... net a Porter, glossier etc. Sweat the small stuff here, the moment your customers open your package is the most important long term memory.

9. Offer great customer support

People like to talk, encourage them to on whatever channel you can

· Live chat used well is good … poorly is rubbish.

· Telephone hotline

· Give refunds immediately

· And returns when they don’t like the product

· And respond quickly to complaints on social media

And remember the customers is always right … so take a little time to make them feel loved.

10. Personalisation is everything

Don’t fire off blanket offers and poorly conceived marketing campaigns … make it deeply personal.

Use the latest ECRM products to segment your audience and give them content which is relevant and timely.

Segment your audiences and create customised content:

People who only buy on sale

People who love Rioja

People who only buy Vegan

People who love the new collections

People who engage with social media

You get the idea. 😀

11. Build a club

Rapha - nuff said

Create a space which feels unique and special – once you have a community, you can build a loyal following and give them tips and advice which feels special. Invite them in!

12. Time reorder reminders right

Know when they will buy before they do

Understand your shoppers habits and hit them up with content at the right time. Use data to help segment your audience. Do not flood their inbox every day with stuff, over time you will quickly be demoted into the bin.

Use programmatic content to schedule when to send them their email usually a few days before you know they will buy again.

And then send them something on the day which reminds them to buy from you …

If they still don’t order, revert to a special discount to get them back in.

In summary

Make people happy every step of the way, understand them and their habits and communicate to them with content you know they will enjoy. And if they don’t like something, jump on it and fix it quickly.

Go the extra mile for your customers, they will love you for it.

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