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Customer loyalty: Keeping the relationship alive

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Keeping your existing customers happy and loyal is far more valuable than finding brand new buyers.

How do we know? The data backs up that it both costs less and the returns are higher when you sell again and again to your loyal customers. In fact, Gartner found 80 percent of future profits come from just 20 percent of existing customers. Data typically shows that acquiring a new customer costs five to seven times more.

This is a well-known fact in B2C and e-commerce. Unfortunately, it’s not easy for marketers to earn customer loyalty today. With so many convenient shopping options available for buyers, B2C marketers have to engineer the repeat purchase carefully and thoughtfully.

That’s why it’s so painful when a loyal customer disappears. You can view their record of regular purchases, see they followed you on social media, opened your emails, referred friends and family. Things were great but suddenly they stopped buying. Not a single email opened or social post liked since.

There could be a valid reason — a broken wrist would cancel a golf season and related purchases. Maybe not, though, and you’ve got to figure out how to re-engage them and keep it from happening again. The following five tips can help you retain and connect with your loyal customers long-term. Remember, though, every company is different, so monitor the results closely and be ready to adjust your flow and messaging to be sure they’re working for your brand.

Identify and rectify

Many times, customer relationship management tools provide invaluable insight but aren’t used fully. If losing loyal customers takes you by surprise, you likely weren’t using at-risk segmenting — and you should. This puts a customer who hasn’t engaged for a set amount of time in a specific category. Some businesses consider 30 days the threshold — costlier purchases could extend it to a year.

Next, analyze data you’ve collected to see if there was something that rubbed them the wrong way. See if there were complaints about delivery times on social media. Did they contact customer service, have a bad checkout experience, receive a defective product?

If you know the issue you can take corrective measures. Slow delivery? Let them know you’ll send the next item for free. Faulty product? Reach out with a discount on their next order.

Identify and rectify, but make sure you’re looking at data across your channels to get a full picture.

The relationship reminder

You might not see any clear issues that drove a customer away. If so, don’t immediately throw discount codes at them. Start with simple emails reminders about why they shopped with you in the first place and the good experiences you’ve had together.

Maybe a little help is all they need to remember where their favorite coat came from – and that it might be time for some new gloves. Then again, try other messaging – a humorous approach about the benefits of a particular product could do the trick. Sometimes a little fun will get it done.

Change the channel

Email inboxes get crowded and messages get missed or deleted. If you’re relying on the same channel, switch it up. Maybe try paid ads on Facebook, Instagram or Google. Investigate web or mobile push tools, as well.

Further, coordinate your social, search, push and email marketing for a true omnichannel experience. This focus could increase your chances to connect with a buyer and reinforced messaging can drive engagement.

Experiment with incentives

If your brand emails or texts aren’t hitting the mark, try incentives using a win-back campaign. If possible, determine what moves the customer most — a discount, free delivery, new products — and build outreach around it.

Still, use this as an opportunity to explore new approaches. Promote a discount through a paid ad, push notification message about new items on sale or a free delivery email. Test different messages and coupons across channels to see if they respond; motivation and communications methods do change.

Ask for feedback

Consider that perhaps it’s time to have a heart-to-heart talk with your customer. You can do this with a survey or a feedback form. Be direct, ask what the problem is and how you can make them shop with you again. Offer them an incentive to fill out the survey or form. They’re taking time out of their day, they know what works and doesn’t with your organization, so this is a good investment.

Be sure to follow-up, too. It’s another chance to win them back by proving you’re committed to the best customer experience possible. It puts another check in the positive column, which might be the one that reminds them mistakes do happen but you were ready to make it right.

A chance to sell another day

You can try it all and still not win a once-loyal customer back. It happens.

If you define an active customer as one who opened or clicked in the last 150 days, reach out 10 days before that period ends. You can do so with a simple email letting them know they’re being removed from your list, while offering a final chance for them to remain subscribed.

Don’t waste further time and resources if they aren’t responsive. The fact is, like some relationships in life, you’ve got to know when it’s time to go. Do so gracefully: Annoying them with additional heavy-handed emails or paid ads could prove the last straw.

You always want to keep the door open for a chance to sell another day. And the fact is, sometimes a little distance makes the heart grow fonder and a relationship can be rekindled.

Republished with permission from Retail Customer Experience.

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