You’d be forgiven for thinking that marketing is just about attracting new customers. But in fact, marketing also needs to make a concerted effort to keep older, lapsed customers on the hook too – a concept called customer retention.
They’ve already purchased from you so you know they’re already qualified customers with an active interest in what you do. Why limit your marketing efforts to winning business from new, possibly less qualified individuals when you have a gang of earnestly interested parties who already know your worth?
What’s more, it’s considerably cheaper to win back a lapsed client than it is to replace them with a new client. Research data suggests that it’s around 5-7+ times cheaper to win an older client back than it is to earn one from scratch. Certainly nothing to be sniffed at!
So now we know why it’s advisable to lure back lost clients, let’s investigate how to do it…
12 Effective Customer Retention Strategies to Win Clients Back
1. Keep in Touch… For All the Right Reasons
Think back to the last time you received a promotional email from a company you’d recently purchased from. Chances are that email was simply trying to get you to make another purchase.
This is something we all see far too often – companies sending out post-sale emails that are single-mindedly focused on nothing more than the next sale. To those companies, we say: “chill out”.
Every new customer presents an opportunity to build a new – potentially lifetime – customer relationship, so focus on developing that. Encourage them to come back to visit your brand online, but not necessarily to buy something.
Show them the latest industry insight you’re sharing on your blog; the culture you’re propagating over on social media; let them know about a helpful lead magnet you’ve published; or announce a new release or event that may be interesting to them. If you get involved with social responsibility projects, you could even keep them up to date on the good that you’re shining back into the world.
If you have a money-off voucher or an offer in place to help tempt people back, that’s great too, but don’t limit yourself to that. The right customers will come back to you for a far more important reason than a mere discount code. A new customer is much more than just their wallet – there’s so much more to talk about than just the next purchase.
2. Tempt Them Back with Remarketing Ads
Remarketing pixels are handy, little, invisible widgets that you can incorporate into your website or email marketing content to keep track of those who are interested in what you do and tempt them to return through pay-per-click ads.
Facebook Pixels are a prime example. By incorporating a Facebook Pixel on your website, you can start to feed ads to those who visit your site whilst also logged into Facebook or other Meta products. You already know they’re in the market for what you sell because they were on your site (possibly as a returning customer) so this enables you to market your business to those warm – and maybe returning – leads. Facebook Pixels also allow you to measure conversions from ads, create custom audiences, find related audiences, and create hyper-targeted campaigns.
Google Ads provides a similar suite of remarketing tools. Their standard level of remarketing allows you to show ads to past customers and can even focus ad spend on “past converters” to win back previous clients. Dynamic Google remarketing can even present ads about the specific products they were browsing on your site – great for creating a truly targeted ad experience.
3. Direct Mail: The Novelty Factor is Back
Now that we’ve been stuck online for a couple of years, direct mail – promotional material that comes through the actual postal service – is a bit of a novelty. It’s rewarding to get something nice through the post, especially an unexpected corporate gift; a handy complementary notepad; or even a tactile, high-end brochure.
“Lumpy mail” is a term used to describe promotional mail that doesn’t conform to the usual size and shape of letter post; be that because it’s a novel brochure size or that it contains a bulky item like a pen. Unexpected lumpy mail can pique a previous (and opted-in, of course) customer’s interest and nudge them towards a sale. Just make sure to pay the right postage sender-side – making each recipient head to the post office to pay your postage fee shortfall is a recipe for reputational disaster!
4. Build a Sense of Community Around Your Brand
Nowadays, we’re surrounded by faceless brands who are so large and cumbersome that they struggle to relate to the common person on the street (Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi ad, anyone?). Yet small businesses tend to be much more down to Earth and tethered to reality – giving them a significant advantage over these behemoths.
Smaller brands are more able to put forward a real face to their brand – one that naturally draws in like-minded individuals. The word “community” can mean a lot of different things to different organisations. It can mean access to a customers-only exclusive Linkedin or Facebook Group. It can mean encouraging user-generated content (UGC) from happy customers and brand ambassadors. It can involve bringing people together through a Twitter hashtag or even a chat app like WhatsApp or Telegram (though it’s worth mentioning that chat apps may have less in the way of nuanced moderation features).
There are various ways you can build an online community – the world’s your oyster!
5. Events, Events, Events!
Running a free-to-attend event can be a great way to build hype around your brand.
Service brands can offer a talk sharing industry-relevant wisdom. This should serve as a small taste of what the company offers – if attendees want to go any deeper, they’ll have to become a paying customer. Product-based brands can run similar events showing how to use a product or extolling its benefits.
In-person events are great for meeting your market and for building a very real sense of community (there’s that word again), but if you operate nationally or internationally, a webinar may be more effective. Tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and GoToWebinar are usually used in B2B settings, but B2C brands would probably be more successful by running a release livestream on social media, YouTube, or even Twitch.
6. A Good, Old-Fashioned Check-In
This one’s exactly what it says on the tin: reach out to your older clients for a 1-2-1 check in. How you do this may depend heavily on what you do and for who; we think this makes more sense in B2B environments, personally.
After a certain amount of time has elapsed after a purchase, see if you can schedule a review or check-in with each customer to ask what their experience of working with you was like and whether there is anything else you can help them with. Customer feedback forms only capture a snapshot of your relationship; you can gather a lot more information from a proper, interpersonal chat.
While you have them, focus on offering value above all else – ask how their previous purchase plays into their bigger strategic picture, and ask whether there is anything else on the horizon that you can help them with. You may even be able to give them a few personalised pointers for free!
7. Keep Track of Crucial Post-Purchase Milestones
This tip is all about becoming hyper-aware of post-purchase behaviour patterns. If you sell consumables, for example, get in touch with the customer around the time that they might be running out and encourage them to order a top-up. You could even establish a subscription option so the purchase happens automatically – with the buyer’s approval, of course.
Service businesses can also do something similar. For example, a solicitor’s firm who commonly rewrite T’s & C’s for businesses could automatically reach out to customers after 3-5 years for a review – or indeed after a crucial piece of legislation changes.
For businesses at the more e-commerce end of the spectrum, consider emails triggered by customer actions like cart abandonment, new releases similar to products they’ve previously shown interest in, or offers based around previous purchases and preferences.
8. Memberships or Loyalty Schemes
We’re surrounded by loyalty schemes in our day-to-day lives. Just think about the cards you have in your purse or wallet right now – chances are that loyalty cards vastly outnumber payment cards and other essentials.
Everything from a manual stamp card that entitles the bearer to their eighth coffee free, to money-off loyalty schemes, to rewards points can all tempt buyers back through your (real or virtual) doors. However, the real magic comes with the data that these cards and schemes can accrue. Digital loyalty systems log each member’s transaction history, enabling the company to keep a direct log of each customer’s purchase preferences. From this information, the company can tailor hyper-targeted marketing campaigns and offers to incentivise the customer to return. Yes, you need explicit opt-in permission for data collection like this but still… clever, eh?
So think about the loyalty cards you carry around with you every day and the online loyalty schemes you’re a part of. Which schemes can you draw inspiration from – and perhaps most importantly, what will you do with that juicy data!?
9. Corporate Gifts: The Gifts That Give Back
As mentioned above, we all like to receive a little something, whether it’s delivered through the post, handed out at a networking event, or shared at a routine business meeting. Branded corporate gifts can really run the gamut from a shiny new pen, sticky notes, and notepads; to handy gadgets and executive desk toys.
But whatever form they take, any free, tangible item that takes up a small sliver of space in your clients’ office or home creates a touch of natural, ongoing brand awareness. There’s a certain tactile value to receiving a branded gift like a pen – the weight and texture of it in your hand, the way you use it everyday – always acting as a reminder of the brand in question.
But gifting doesn’t always have to be something that stands the test of time. Simple, branded thank you or Christmas cards can be a nice gesture that keeps you on your audience’s radar.
10. Incentivise Reengagement
This may be a bit of a blunt option compared to some of the more sophisticated options on this list but it can work well. Tempt previous customers back into the fold by promising something in return for re-engaging – a limited time voucher code or a freebie. Some companies offer entry into a prize draw in return for leaving a review. A valuable community membership or an invite to an exclusive event can also be used as an incentive.
As long as it makes sense ethically and financially, anything can be used as friendly motivation!
11. Corporate Social Responsibility and Transparency
Nowadays, simply having a good product isn’t enough for many buyers. They want the companies they buy from to have documented, good principles and to be on the same page about hot-button ethical and charitable aims.
Corporate social responsibility policies aren’t something that should be approached coldly as a “spot of good PR” – it absolutely needs to come from the heart. Yet being vocal about how you’re helping the world can do wonders for drawing like-minded buyers to you like a beacon.
12. Continually Optimise for Repeat Business
We marketers habitually dig around in data and we feel that you should too.
When you regularly review your sales data, aim to uncover how much of your business comes from repeat customers. Set yourself achievable SMART goals to increase that figure. If you already use remarketing tools like those mentioned above, extract what data you can to make sure they are achieving a good return and remain cost-effective.
Also try to identify places where people have left your customer bubble, never to return. Are there any actions on either your or their part that led up to this customer “churn”? If so, what can you do to stop that from happening and get them back on the hook?
Aim to truly understand your audience’s motivations, especially those with a high lifetime value, so you can understand why people come back to you again and again. You may be able to use this information to encourage that behaviour in others, so customer feedback forms are your friend here! Remember to reward people for filling them out if you can, too.
One Last Tip
Hopefully this goes without saying, but the one key to great customer retention is to serve your clients to the absolute best of your ability. When customers feel well-served and looked after, they will naturally want to come back for more.
Need more tailored help to get your old customers back on the hook? Looking to break free of the endless cycle of bringing in brand new clients for each sale? Want to build a reliable band of regular, loyal customers? Simply talk to the marketing experts at OLCO Design. Together, we’ll devise customer retention strategies that get happy clients coming back to you time and time again like a yo-yo! Book your free, no-obligation marketing consultation today.