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3 Actionable Tips on Customer Retention

Customer retention is the first essential element of a successful strategy. If you want your business to succeed, you need to spend enormous amounts of time improving customer retention. Because, if you don’t, you should consider closing your doors today.

It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, whether it’s an e-commerce store or selling services. You need to understand why your potential clients aren’t returning.

Winning new clients, by increasing your advertising budget, because you are losing existing clients isn’t solving the issue either.

According to many pieces of research: the number 1 reason why people aren’t returning to your site or purchasing your product, is “TRUST“.

Yup, the visitors don’t trust you, your product or service.

So if this is a trust issue (trust is personal) why do some of the top marketers believe you can solve this issue with a static strategy.

Building trust isn’t some gimmick!

In this post, I’m going to share 3 actionable tips to grow customer loyalty.

Why aren’t your clients returning?

Before we continue with 3 actionable tips, let’s take a step back for a moment.

If you have an e-commerce store, you will know that visitors don’t just buy stuff because you happen to sell the product they want to purchase.

Clients purchase when they trust, when they feel everything is ‘kosher’.

What do I mean by ‘kosher’:

The site looks tidy; pages load fast, images are crisp and clear, no annoying pop-ups, a live agent online ready to help, clear return policies, and so on..

Because retention has everything to do with building a trust relationship, I find it hard to grasp that companies and even marketing professionals preach of ‘customer retention strategy.’

You can’t build trust based on a strategy. Establishing a trust relationship should be in your DNA.

Do you need a strategy to be a nice person? Do you need a strategy, to be honest, or deliver the client what you promised to do?

So why do these guru’s preach of customer retention strategy when, in fact, all you need to do is, be a decent human being?

Steven Covey talks of an emotional bank account which he defines as: “An emotional bank account is an account of trust instead of money. It’s an account based on how safe you feel with another person.”

He continues to define six ways to make deposits on this emotional bank account

  1. Understanding the individual. This means to understand another person, such as an emotion. Show interest, and don’t debate the emotion
  2. Attend to the little things. Covey means what might not be important to you can be extremely important to your client.
  3. Keeping commitments.  There’s not much imagination needed to understand trust will die if you don’t keep to your promises.
  4. Clarify expectations. The cause of low trust levels is due to conflicting or ambiguous expectations. So be clear.
  5. Personal Integrity. If people sense you aren’t integer trust levels will decline rapidly. So be honest and keep to your word.
  6. Apologising When We Make a Withdrawal. We all make mistakes, and we might even violate trust at some point. It’s how you apologise how you can increase the trust-level back to where you started before you made a boo-boo. When trust level is high you can ‘afford’ to mess up. When trust level is low – you can’t afford, and it usually turns out into a client never to come back. Don’t be surprised that this very person will kill your business on social media channels.

Now, look at those six bullets in bold – you need a strategy for this?

Those six bullets are what I like to refer to as “being a decent human being”. Simple ey?

Now, what these self-proclaimed marketing gurus should be teaching their clients is, how to manage relationships with thousands of individuals.

Looking at the six Steven Covey bullets – does this seem extremely hard to accomplish?

With today’s technology, you can increase trust levels without ever talking or personally meeting with your clients.

It’s not that complicated.

Last week I visited a webshop. I was looking for a new pair of winter shoes. They had a great Black Friday deal but to see what the real deal was, you had to create an account first.

That was disappointment number one (for me). Because I was seriously looking to buy a new pair of Timberlands, I signed up.

I got to see the offer, and it wasn’t cheaper than any other store I compared prices with, without a registration. (disappointment number 2).

Disappointment number 3 was when they emailed me at least four times asking why I didn’t buy the product (the abandoned cart email).

So, after one visit this webshop disappointed me three times. What’s the chance I will ever go back?

Now, if they were a little smarter, they would have sent me an email asking me to fill out a questionnaire. They could ask me why I signed up, why I added the product to my basket and finally, why didn’t I purchase.

I would’ve answered in full detail why I felt screwed over by this ‘promotion’. They could’ve learned something.

The way they could’ve replied to this mistake or mess-up would be by taking a look at bullet point number 6.

So before you get into building relationships with the idea to improve your customer retention, my advice would be to understand why your clients are leaving in the first place.

Send clients, that haven’t purchased with you for 12 months or more a friendly email, ask them to participate in your survey. As a reward offer them a 10% discount on their next purchase or send them an unexpected minor gift, such a handwritten thank you, by post (not email).

Surprise your old clients and make them feel part of a community. Make them trust you again by asking for their input. Promise them you will take their advice and prove to them you have made the changes they suggested.

Again, this shouldn’t be a strategy; this is being human. This is investing in your emotional bank account.

Guess what, entrepreneurs investing in relationship building with their clients typically benefit much more and at a far more lower cost.

Even if your prices or delivery times aren’t as low as your competitors, your fans will stick with you. As long as your message isn’t We ARE THE CHEAPEST or WE DELIVER THE FASTEST you should be ok.

Assuming you now know why customers aren’t returning; let’s continue with our three tips.

1. Welcome emails

From the very moment, a visitor decides to register for a newsletter or creates an account you show your gratitude.

In most cases, all you get after registering is a double opt-in thank you email, and that’s it. There’s no real relationship building going on. It’s one of those ‘must send’ emails the law requires you to do.

But what if you create a welcoming email sequence and automate it with tools such as MailChimp, ActiveCampaign or my personal e-commerce favourite tool: Klaviyo?

A welcome sequence would consist of a few different emails and the idea behind it is to help your customer with purchasing.

Let’s say the first email would be a personalised handwritten email by simple thanking for registering an account with you. You can describe why you are in business and your beliefs, such as your mission.

This email doesn’t have to be four pages long, keep it short and to the point, or you will find a bunch will unsubscribe.

The second email could become a little more personal, asking them for their date of birth because you want to surprise your new friend with a beautiful birthday wish or even a personal discount (which genuinely is a personal discount).

The third email could be about the products they are interested in which in the end will help you segment clients into specific groups. Once you have your clients segmented, you can send relevant newsletters about the products they love.

These three simple examples are proven relationship-building material.

If you break these emails down, all you are doing is paying attention to the smaller details (bullet number 2 of the Covey list).

2. Reward clients

People like rewards, especially meaningful rewards.

Many shops have loyalty programs in place, but they aren’t meant for relationship building, they are intended to get those clients to spend even more money with them by pooping out discounts.

But when we talk about creating a loyalty program, we feel that every client should benefit.

So we create particular loyalty program segments. These segments aren’t based on their spend but also the return visits, reviews, amount of products ordered, product categories and whatnot.

Because we segment clients into one or more loyalty programs, they, the client is super happy.

The segments are created based on the answers they supplied during the welcome series emails, the products they viewed, added to cart and purchased.

The worst thing you can do is to offer an exclusive deal with products your clients aren’t interested to see.

I’ve had emails with exclusive deals stuffed with women perfumes. My computer store manages to send me exclusive deals on Windows desktops when they could see I’ve purchased nothing but Apple products since the beginning of this century.

What do you think happens when they send a new ‘deal I can’t miss’. Exactly, it lands straight into the deleted items.

Here’s another example:

Let’s say a client has purchased three pairs of Nike shoes in the last 12 weeks. From the statistics, we can see he’s never once looked at any other shoe brand. Would it make much sense to send a 20% discount on Adidas shoes? Would it make more sense to offer free delivery the next time he/she orders a new pair of Nike shoes?

The last option is super relevant, and you can count on it that chances are high, the next time he does buy a new pair of Nike’s he will buy them from you because he has that free delivery coupon.

This is also a form of building a trust relationship with your clients. Again, pay attention to the ‘little things’.

3. Customer Service

This should be no surprise to you, but customer service is one of the foremost important trust builders.

But this is where most of the guru’s stop talking about customer service, and that’s during the checkout sequence.

The gurus will share their knowledge about how to improve Average Order Value by displaying relevant products and crossing their fingers; the customer will add that item to their basket. But we are talking about actually being there to help people check out in the first place.

If a user gets stuck during the process, do you think it makes sense for them to search for the ‘contact us’ page, explain where they got stuck and then wait for an automated email response?

How about you add a dedicated checkout live chat and a phone number they can contact during the checkout process?

Again, paying attention to the little things will build a relationship of trust with your clients.

And again, you may even be a little more expensive, but the clients that aren’t as internet savvy as you are will feel comfortable purchasing with you because they know you are ready to help.


Obtaining new customers is a tough job, but it’s harder than paying personal attention to the clients you already have.
You want to find ways to increase a trust-based relationship sincerely. You aren’t winning trust by dumping prices, making promises which will harm you. Show you care and, to be completely frank, don’t be an asshole to people.

Take action on these three, easy to understand, tips and solutions, and you will see some positive results. I am sure.

Cheers and if you have some fresh trust-building tips, please share below.

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