Guest post: Which parts of your customer retention strategy can be automated?

There are numerous reasons why it makes good business sense to have a solid customer retention strategy in place for your e-commerce business. For starters, acquiring new customers can cost up to seven times more than selling to existing ones. 

Keeping your customers coming back for more will lead to a greater ROI, and help increase your customer lifetime value. What’s more, a happy customer leads to referrals, which means even more new customers for you.

Building customer loyalty is all about creating a great customer experience and delivering real value. You can do that by offering outstanding service, offering quality products at competitive prices, and by creating a loyalty program for your top customers.

Of course, all this can be challenging and time-consuming to implement, especially while you’re working to attract new customers at the same time. So it makes sense to automate as much of your customer retention strategy as you can while keeping that sense of personalization and real value in place.

Take a look at these customer retention strategy areas you can automate easily:

A welcome message

Your customer retention strategy should start the moment you get a new customer or a new subscriber. You can do this by creating a positive onboarding experience for them, designed to help them understand your brand, your products and what they can expect from your store.

A welcome email should form the start of your relationship with new subscribers or customers. But what should you include in your initial communication?

Check out this great example below from 100% Pure. The tone of the message is welcoming and warm, while the content clearly outlines some of the brand’s key values, explaining that 100% Pure products are natural and not tested on animals. The message sets out what customers can expect when they buy from this store.

The above email is a good format to follow, but an even better example is this one from Taylor Stitch below. It includes a special offer to entice the subscriber to convert into a paying customer with the promise of 20% off their first purchase. It’s really important to make this first offer a good one like Taylor Stitch have done – 20% off represents a substantial saving.

As you can see, this email also gives some background to Taylor Stitch, focusing on the environmentally friendly aspects of the brand. An email like this can be automatically triggered whenever you get a new subscriber.

Campaign series and promotional offers

Going back to the onboarding experience, you can set up an automated campaign series aimed at delivering value and customer retention. Here’s a basic example of how this might look:

  • First campaign – the welcome message, complete with a special offer for first-time buyers. Remember this first offer must be good to get the subscriber to convert. (This campaign would be sent out to new subscribers after they sign up.)
  • Second campaign – share useful content, perhaps one of your most popular blog posts or product tutorials. The aim here is to provide your customers/subscribers with genuinely useful and interesting information. (Send out a week after the first campaign).
  • Third campaign – promote your bestselling products, along with a discount and a countdown timer to encourage conversions. (Send out the week after the last campaign).

An automated onboarding series like this can help your subscribers become acquainted with your brand and should hopefully result in some early sales for you, perhaps even multiple purchases from the same buyers.

Ongoing communication

Staying in touch with your customers is vital, long after the onboarding process finishes. Part of your customer retention strategy should be about boosting product awareness and helping your customers navigate your product range. 

Email is one marketing channel you can use. But for best results, adopt an omnichannel approach for your customer retention efforts. Shopify Plus store, Intelligent Blends, does exactly this and earns $12.7 for every subscriber as a result. 

Intelligent Blends specializes in supplying gourmet coffee pods to a B2C and B2B U.S. customer base. Its B2C e-commerce division is increasingly becoming the major driver for sales. With its business across multiple channels, it’s vital for Intelligent Blends to keep their customers engaged and loyal, using an omnichannel strategy.

Intelligent Blends sends out a variety of automated promotional campaigns by web push message, email, and SMS to direct customers to its homepage, or dedicated sales page. Each campaign includes a discount code that the customer can automatically apply at checkout. See below how Intelligent Blends have generated $189K in revenue just from promotional push messages.

Review requests

Customer reviews are a crucial part of social proof, almost as important as word of mouth recommendations. In fact, 88% of consumers put their trust in user reviews as much as personal recommendations.

So how many reviews do you need before customers feel comfortable enough to buy from your store? According to this article from MarketWatch, around twenty reviews is the optimal number needed to instil confidence in a consumer about a particular product. 

Thankfully, the process of getting reviews is another activity you can automate as part of your customer retention strategy. There are plenty of e-commerce apps around that will trigger a review request after a customer has placed an order (Firepush is one of them).

By automating review requests, you can get on with the day-to-day running of your business and relax in the knowledge that you’re building up social proof on autopilot. 

Tip! Check your reviews regularly and respond to any complaints as quickly as possible.

Customer service updates

Finally, you can automate customer communications such as order confirmations, delivery updates and even refund requests. Providing clear and relevant updates is essential to reassure customers about their order and can reduce post-purchase anxiety (resulting in fewer refund requests overall).

Automating your customer retention strategy

Existing customers are often an untapped goldmine. It costs much less to sell to existing customers than it does to acquire new ones, which is why focusing on customer loyalty and retention is a must. 

Part of your strategy can be automated. Welcome messages and promotional campaigns both serve to increase brand and product awareness, and of course, they can help drive sales. Customer order updates help you deliver excellent service, while review requests help you to build social proof; both these activities can also be automated to save time.

About the author

Firepush

Firepush is an all-in-one automated SMS, web push & email marketing app that helps to drive sales for Shopify stores. Using Firepush, you can send out abandoned cart recovery campaigns, review requests, customer service updates and a whole host of promotional campaigns.

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