Lots of businesses focus on customer acquisition. But the key to generating long-term success is to focus equally as much, if not more, on customer retention. It can be 25 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to convert an existing one.
Reducing customer churn rate and focusing on building a base of loyal customers is a cost-effective and powerful way to boost sales in both the short- and long-term. In fact, more than 22 percent of a business’ revenue comes from repeat customers—even though they only make up about 11 percent of the entire customer base. They spend 120 percent more over the course of a year and are 50 percent more likely to try a new product.
One way to build a network of returning customers is with a customer loyalty program. And when the holiday shopping season rolls around, retailers have interactions with more new customers than any other time of year.
Deliver a Great Experience
Differentiate your business by providing more than just a discount or exciting sale—create a seamless brand experience. Seventy-five percent of consumers are willing to spend more money based on positive past experiences, and 66 percent will look for a different business after negative experiences.
If you’re known for overnight delivery for online orders, make sure you’ve forecasted enough to meet the demand. For online customers who pick up in-store, make the pick-up process as simple as the online purchase process. It’s essential to deliver a consistent, positive customer experience, especially during such a stressful time for consumers.
During the holidays, consider offering free gift wrapping. Personal touches, such as handwritten gift notes instead of ones printed out in Times New Roman, will make a lasting impression. For the online experience, allow for shipping to multiple addresses. For brick and mortars, offer free childcare or chair massages to make shopping during this chaotic season a little more bearable. 86 percent of consumers would pay more for a positive experience, so these small initiatives can really impact your bottom line.
Create a Customer Loyalty Program
Seventy-three percent of members would recommend a brand because it has a good customer loyalty program. Businesses with “good” customer loyalty programs design them around the needs, desires, and habits of existing loyal customers. Look at data to help you understand behaviors and motivations, and craft your program around that. Mens’ shorts retailer Chubbies set out to make their own program, and knew that their success hinged on creating a brand that customers would get behind. They created a customer persona to understand their audience and then built the program around that.
But it’s not all about the customers—it has to help your business, too. Establish your own business goals to ensure you’re moving the needle. This also helps you assess your program over time and make changes where needed.
Promote Your Customer Loyalty Program
Because consumers are so busy during the holiday season, they’re not easily distracted. And anything that adds an extra step in the purchase process is likely to be a nuisance. That’s why it’s so essential to strategically promote your loyalty program, make it easy for customers to join, and offer joining incentives that will move your customers to take action.
A combination of immediate benefits, as well as promised future ones, will give your customers a reason to join now, as well as a reason for you to get in touch with them post-holiday. For example, perhaps you offer 20 percent off today’s purchase, plus a free gift on January 1. Or, give customers extra points for purchases made during the holiday season — position it as a way of giving back to your customers who are giving to their loved ones.
Promote these incentives on the shopping cart page and throughout the checkout process, plus on product pages on your site. Train in-store sales associates to promote the program directly to customers, as they enter the store and at checkout. Integrate it seamlessly into the shopping process, so you don’t create too much friction and dissuade customers from joining. You can also promote the program outside of the shopping experience, such as on social media or in an email.
Build a Relationship With Customers
And put that relationship first. Even though returning customers are more likely to purchase from you, it’s important to not over-promote. Your loyalty program should provide real value for its members, through significant discounts and promotions, free and relevant content, and personalized messaging and offers.
After holiday purchases, ask customers how the gift recipient enjoyed the product. Allow plenty of opportunities for customers to provide direct feedback—and show them that you’re listening. It’s important to remember to nurture the relationship with your customers and make them feel part of your family. You closed the sale in November or December, and you can use that as the foundation of the relationship with those customers into 2018.
Learn more about the state of customer loyalty and how you can improve customer retention rates with our customer loyalty report.
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