The end goal of any business is to generate sales and consistent income, pure and simple.
Getting new visitors who convert into leads and generate sales is a success, but a short-term one. Finding ways to retain customers as time goes on is equally as vital and this process comes with own set of caveats.

The key to retaining customers lies within appropriate mix of strategic planning, and usage of ads and promos. These concepts tend to be misused, however. If current efforts to retain customers’ loyalty don’t bear any fruit, business owners may want to reconsider current course and implement adapted strategies to retain customers.

This article acts as a point of guidance and aims to provide an actionable template for business owners of any caliber or type. But first, why is it important to retain a client base?

Retention vs. Acquisition

For one, it’s harder to acquire new customers. A measly 18% of companies make a conscious effort to retain rather than attract. With expenses being 5 times higher for attracting than retaining, one would expect the percentage to be more sizable. Not to imply that acquisition is not crucial, but maintaining customers who have a higher lifetime value is the more reasonable long-term priority here.

To survive in a competitive environment businesses often rely on narrow profit margins, but simply slashing prices and undercutting the hell out of competition is not a practice that provides passive growth over time.

Undercutting others may provide a short-term gain, but once you go low, consumers will expect you to always do so, which is bound to create an unsustainable model. The competition will most likely use it to their benefit. People are willing to pay for convenience, so instead of relying on price cuts to do your business for you, opt in for an analytical approach and follow the example of established websites.

For instance, assuming your business operates in the restaurant supply industry, make sure to research giants such as Amazon and Etsy AFTER you’ve gone over niche-specific authority sites. By following the example of niche-related sites as McDonald Paper, ones that target a specific customer, you give yourself a better chance to establish yourself as an authority in the industry.

To restate, focus on crunching data of niche-specific competition, provide value and talk with your consumers in order to improve their experience.

Provide user-driven suggestions

For retention, the idea is to relate, not impress. The people you’re trying to retain are skeptical, even if they did buy from you beforehand, and they’re always on the lookout for an exit. Finding a pressure point and relieving it is the first sensible thing to do.

In order to relate, data-driven campaigns based around customers’ preferences are needed.

– How did these people find your business?
– Did they buy or not?
– Where did they go afterwards?

Even though these questions can be answered by delving into basic analytics, the other method which should be used relies on direct feedback — surveys. You might have noticed that many businesses survey their customers already and it’s a sound idea. It takes a few seconds for users to respond and it’s quite easy to implement from a technical standpoint.

In addition to the questions above, surveys may include these:

– Do they have money problems?
– Have they gone to a competing brand?
– Have they benefited from making a purchase from you and how?
– Do they see value in what you offer?

Generating tips to retain customers from answers is a common technique.

In order to fix a problem one must know its source. Once you have a point of departure, ads and promotional offers can be adapted to suit the ever-changing needs of the client.

Ads are effective only when they are custom-tailored. Combine transactional metrics and showcase the good they’ll get out of dealing with you and you’ll set a path for more sales in the future.

Seasonal and one-off offers

It should be noted, since it bears repeating, unique promos and time-limited seasonal events are a marketing staple and should be used, but sparingly. Seasonal events are great for ecommerce (and pretty much any other endeavor) and they establish much-needed brand awareness. Although referring back to undercutting and profit margins, not every seasonal sale or event should immediately apply to your business. Keeping track of sales lift is crucial for maintaining a healthy margin.

On top of seasonal events, one-offs sent via email are often a sustainable retargeting technique. These often take the shape of (but are not limited to) a coupon or a discount code.

It may also be a gift. A small gesture of appreciation goes a long way and acts as a strong indication that the business cares about its customers. It can be a note, a pair of slippers or a pack of gummy bears. It’s the little things that count.

To summarize:

– Don’t separate your business with pricing and undercut your profits by constantly offering a discount
– Work on establishing consumer profiles and try to relate to their needs
– Provide the best possible customer service
– Be passionate about what you do

There you have it, simple tips on how to retain customers. Retention rates are improved by constantly iterating and collaborating with your client base. There is no cutting corners here. Offer a great product, make sure it’s properly marketed and reap the benefits of increased brand loyalty by generating more sales than ever.