How To Increase Customer Retention [11 ideas]

Start-ups and small businesses really have to focus on customer retention, as smaller companies have a smaller client base and holding on to that is simply essential. Here are a few low-cost ideas that can help a small business.


Start-ups and small businesses really have to focus on customer retention, as smaller companies have a smaller client base and holding on to that is simply essential. Your customers can be some of your most powerful sales advocates, too, especially if your budget doesn’t allow for a major advertising campaign. CRM isn’t just for big business, it’s for the one-man band and SME’s too.

According to a recent Marketing Metrics report:

“The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%”.

So here are a few low-cost ideas that can help a small business or start-up hold on to its current customers and even snag new ones:

1. Improve customer relationship management (CRM)

It’s no big secret that improving customer relationship management (CRM) is key to retaining your customers - but in today’s world of brands, social media, and blogs, businesses are having to do more and more to keep their customers happy. This is where using big data and analytics becomes necessary.

By collecting information about your customers’ wants and needs, likes and dislikes, and how they like to be interacted with, you can drastically improve the way you manage your relationship with them. Doing so leads to happier customers, which means that you don’t lose them to similar brands and businesses.

Collating and analysing this kind of information and actioning it in the right way is therefore key to improving customer retention. Think of it this way - you’re simply improving your customer service, but in a way that works for the 21st century.

2. Customise offers and promotions

Using your CRM data will also allow your business to customise its offers and promotions for each customer, using information about which of your products and services they have previously purchased. This works to improve customer retention in two ways:

  1. first, it makes your customers feel valued, and gives your direct marketing a more personal touch than customers might usually expect. This kind of improved service encourages brand loyalty, and will keep your customers coming back.
  2. Secondly, it also means that they are more likely to buy your products, as you can tailor what they see by using what you know about their likes and dislikes. Once you build up this kind of familiarity, you are more likely to retain that customer in the long run.

3. Create a customer loyalty programme

If you create a customer loyalty programme that rewards your clients for their future custom, you can improve your e-commerce company’s profit margins and boost your brand reputation. From offering voucher codes at specific times throughout the year to presenting exclusive discounts for both new and existing customers, loyalty programmes such as these will enable you to captivate the interest and buying habits of your customer base.

It doesn’t have to cost the Earth to give your customers an incentive to come back. A simple loyalty card costs no more than the cost of printing and they can be devastatingly effective for small cafes and service businesses. A loyalty programme also gives you something to announce and promote on social media, which can bring you new leads and customers.

4. Send monthly email newsletters

Email newsletters are simple yet highly effective digital marketing tools that can be utilized to establish an active online platform through which you can directly advertise your company’s latest products, services and business objectives with your customers.

You should endeavor to fill your company’s email newsletters with original and engaging content, such as images and multimedia content, and provide links to your company’s various social networking profiles. This will enable your customers to share your content across their own social media outlets, which will in turn generate more traffic towards your e-commerce website.

5. Invest in customer analytics reports

In recent years, both small businesses and large corporations have begun to actively invest in customer analytics reports and big data marketing strategies. This is due to the fact that customer analytics resources can be utilized by companies to gain a greater understanding of their target market’s buying habits and personal preferences.

In fact, according to a recent survey by Alteryx, 69% of the businesses questioned stated that they use customer analytics to support their core sales and marketing goals, 63% use analytics to enhance user satisfaction and 46% use analytics to improve consumer loyalty.

Ultimately by relying on customer analytics reports, companies can remain informed of current customer trends and tailor their products and marketing campaigns to directly appeal to their key consumers.

6. Responsive web design

A consumer study by Zen Desk revealed that 67% of the respondents surveyed made online purchases via multiple communication channels. As a result, it is becoming increasingly important for e-commerce companies to make their websites accessible for all manner of desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet and alternative mobile device users, in order to retain the loyalty of these modern day consumers.

Consequently, more and more websites are beginning to utilize responsive web design; an innovative web design system which will detect the screen size of each user who visits your website and automatically create, cache, resize, pan, scroll and deliver appropriately scaled editions of your website’s content.

7. The importance of social media

80% of brands are expected to advertise on social media sites. This trend is becoming increasingly popular because businesses are able to utilize these various social media profiles to open direct channels of communication with their customers.

By maintaining these social networking channels, companies can listen and respond to the opinions and constructive criticism of their consumers in addition to offering exclusive discounts and advertising to their target market on a more personal level. As a result, social media marketing strategies can boost a company’s long term profit margins and brand reputation because they can be used to secure the loyalty and future custom of a vast online consumer base.

8. Follow up with customers

It costs literally nothing to follow up on a customer with an email or phone call, where possible. This one is especially effective after a home visit, or a B2B service provision and it marks you apart as a company that cares. Without this simple follow-up you might well be forgotten, but it puts you back in the client’s mind and they might even have more work to talk to you about if you call at the right time.

9. Solicit feedback

The likes of Yelp and reviews on Amazon and even eBay can make or break a small business, but you can shape the public’s perception by actively soliciting feedback from clients or customers that you know have enjoyed the experience.

Software like Yodle allows you to send a personalized email to the customer requesting a review on your chosen site. Many will be happy to comply and there are several advantages. First you are inviting the customer to relive the positive experience, increasing the chance of repeat business, as well as showing them you care about customer service, and you build your reputation with new clients.

10. Engage your customers

Invite your customers to bond with you on several levels. Make it easy and friction-less for them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter. This immediately gives two more touch points and two new lines of communication that will ensure a customer sees your latest offers or new services.

11. Profile your customers

Don’t overstep the mark, but get as much information on your customer as you can. It shows interest, which can help forge a bond with this customer, and it helps focus your avatar, your typical customer, which means your future marketing efforts will be more successful.

Improving retention for your business

These digital marketing strategies will permit your online business to establish itself as an organization that delivers an exceptionally high level of customer service to each and every one of its clients.

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