Sometimes brands get so laser-focused on acquiring new customers that they overlook the value of the ones they already have.
Here’s the deal, though: customer retention is significantly less expensive and ultimately easier than bringing new people into your funnel.
Think about it. Once someone’s going through the motions to make a purchase, you’ve already done most of the heavy lifting right?
But customer retention represents the ultimate test of your marketing strategy.
After all, brands today thrive off of customer loyalty, repeat business and ultimately reducing churn. If you can keep customers coming back to your content and products time and time again, you’re golden.
The good news? Keeping up with your current crop of customers is a cinch these days. Below we’ve outlined 21 smart customer retention strategies for brands of all shapes and sizes to do exactly that:
1. Create More Content
You can’t keep your customers engaged if they have nothing to engage with.
This might seem elementary, but sticking to a consistent content calendar and regularly pushing out new stuff is key to customer retention. You can streamline the process by using Sprout’s scheduling tools.
After you’ve created your content, schedule it to get shared across all your social channels for days, weeks or months later.
Whether it’s blogs, listicles, social promotions or your email newsletter, your customers should always have something to look forward to.
Customer retention isn’t a passive process. In order for any of these strategies to be effective, you have to be consistent. That’s how you effectively dwindle your churn percentage.
2. Just Say ‘Thanks’
The beauty of social media is how easy it is to connect with your customer base.
In an instant, you can remind your followers just how valuable they are to you. Brands such as Samsung regularly go out of their way to say “cheers” to their customers, well, just because.
Every social mention represents a potential conversation with your followers. By acknowledging your customers in some way, shape or form, you immediately stand out from brands who don’t respond at all.
It only takes a few seconds to say “thanks” for the sake of keeping a customer around for the long haul. Not a bad ROI in terms of your time, right?
3. Ask Your Customers More Questions
Speaking of conversations, you might notice that many of these customer retention strategies involve going back-and-forth with your followers.
That’s because brands don’t have to bend over backward to pick their customers’ brains anymore. Asking questions via social or email only takes a few seconds, meanwhile showing that you value the opinions of your audience.
Campaigns such as Sprout’s own #SproutChat represent opportunities to not only learn more about our customers, but also clue us in on their challenges and struggles. This insight leads directly to a better customer experience when it comes to creating content or coming up with future product features.
— Sprout Social (@SproutSocial) January 10, 2018
4. Provide Swifter Customer Service
In a day and age where people expect you to respond to customer service concerns within 24 hours, brands can’t afford to sleep on customer concerns.
Questions both big and small need to be dealt with swiftly. Even if you can’t solve a problem directly via social, leading customers to the appropriate place for assistance signals your status as a lifesaver.
For example, check out how Slack provides seamless customer service on Twitter:
5. Autoresponders & Cart Abandonment Messages
Abandoned shopping carts plague approximately 70% of marketers, resulting in trillions of dollars left on the proverbial table year after year.
Implementing autoresponders and cart abandonment emails represent one of the most important customer retention strategies for those in the world of ecommerce. Doing so decreases the likelihood of customers bouncing out of your funnel during a purchase.
Such emails don’t have to be spammy or desperate, either. Check out this classic example of a humorous autoresponder from Black Milk:
6. Conduct a Customer Survey
More formal than social questions, surveys can help you better understand how you can provide better customer service.
Short but sweet surveys such as this one from Azendoo show just how easy conducting a survey can be. Don’t underestimate the data and insights gleaned from bite-sized questionnaires, either. Until you ask your customers directly how you’re doing, you may be surprised at your own shortcomings.
7. Shout Out Your Customers with UGC
Modern brands are both building trust and driving engagement through to user-generated content.
Yet also keep in mind how UGC can also assist in retaining more customers.
After all, shouting out your customers via social can be done in a matter of seconds. Doing so is a stylish way to show your appreciation to customers and differentiate yourself from competitors. Check out this sleek yet simple UGC post from Adobe as a prime example:
8. Listen to Your Lost Customers
Whether it’s a nasty email or a good old old-fashioned roasting on Facebook, you can’t keep 100% of your customers happy.
You might make a mistake. People will move on. It happens.
That said, if you want to reduce churn, you shouldn’t ignore all negative feedback concerning your brand. Listening to customer complaints can clue you in on what not to do in the future. If you find that multiple customers are complaining about the same problem or concern, it’s probably time to take action.
And it’s actually not hard to make these changes for good. With Sprout Social’s Listening Tools, you have real-time sentiment analysis and tracking, so all your negative messages are grouped and easy to go through. We know it’s not simple to seek out all your customer’s bad experiences, but it’s truly a breeze with our tools. Try it free today with a 30-day trial!
9. Focus on Educational Content
Businesses are about more than just products and services. That’s why brands should strive to become resources to their customers, providing a reason for buyers to come back again and again.
Providing a wide array of educational, problem-solving content is key to become that sort of go-to resource. Teaching your audience not only signals yourself as a helping hand, but provides more opportunities to reel in new customers.
Brands like HubSpot are a prime example of this sort of education in action, constantly churning out new blogs, videos and resources to keep their customers in the loop:
10. Run Exclusive Deals for Past Customers
Simple and straightforward, running deals for existing customers is a smart move for bringing past buyers back into the fold. Whether it’s a steep discount or a BOGO offer, such deals are a great way to grab the attention of customers who may otherwise sleep on your marketing messages.
11. Don’t Forget About Freebies
“Free” is undoubtedly one of the most powerful words in marketing, period. People typically love free stuff, meanwhile giving something away to your customer signals how much you value them.
Every time you roll out a new freebie for your business such as a webinar, report or case study, make sure you let your former customers in on the action. This customer retention strategy once again speaks to the importance of creating more content and getting the most out of it.
12. Take Advantage of Reviews and Testimonials
Sometimes you need to remind your customers just how valuable you are.
Displaying social proof in the form of reviews and testimonials builds trust with current customers and can help you convert with future ones. These testimonials for OptinMonster are specific, authoritative and provide the brand with major credibility at a glance.
13. Crack Jokes With Your Customers
Could humor be the key to quite literally keeping customers happy?
For some brands, it certainly seems that way.
There’s a reason why marketing via humor has become so standard for brands. Rather than present yourself as a cold and calculating business, cracking jokes with customers allows you to remind people of the human behind your brand.
While you don’t have to go full-blown Denny’s on Twitter in terms of tickling your customers, some light-hearted humor can go a long way toward customer loyalty.
guy: can I get a milkshake with 2 straws?
girl: that’s so romantic.
guy, chugging milkshake with makeshift straw tusks: were you thaying thomething?
— Denny's (@DennysDiner) January 14, 2018
14. Roll Out a Referral Program
If you can drive your buyers to recruit new customers on your behalf, you know you’re doing something right.
Referral programs are one of the few customer retention strategies that put the marketing legwork on your buyers. Discounts and freebies for referrals, as noted in this example by Ulta, create a steady stream of new customers while encouraging old ones to keep spending.
15. Run a Giveaway
Remember what we said about freebies?
Running a social contest is a smart way to get former customers stoked and attract new ones accordingly. Frequent giveaways likewise give your customers something to look forward to on your content calendar and an excuse to regularly engage with your content.
16. Competitor Call-Outs
Sometimes making an impression on your customers means standing out from the crowd.
Brands such as Wendy’s have made their mark by playfully throwing shade at competitors through banter on Twitter. While you don’t necessarily need to go out picking fights, highlighting what makes you different from a competitor can be a strong selling point.
17. Show Your Heart
Again, brands are about more than just the stuff they’re selling.
Shouting out causes, charitable acts and a specific mission statement again reveals the human element of your business. Perhaps one of the best examples of a brand associated with a cause, TOMS regularly highlights their charitable work and thanks their customers accordingly.
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This year, your purchases made a big difference in the lives of so many. When you bought a pair of shoes, you helped children across the globe be healthier. For every pair of eyewear purchased, you helped someone have their sight restored. All that TOMS coffee you drank helped provide safe water to communities that need it. Your purchases of TOMS bags helped provide safe birth for mother + child. When you wear your TOMS Backpack, know that your purchase helped support bully prevention and response programs. Your purchases of TOMS bands for Apple Watch helped provide a safe environment to cook, study and work after dark. Thank you for everything you did this year.
18. Tell Your Customers What to Do
Plain and simple, sometimes you customers just need a little extra “push” to take action.
After all, you can feed your followers content day after day. But unless you’re providing some sort of specific call-to-action with each, it’s easy for them to sleep on your messages.
People are busy. They’re overwhelmed. Being explicit isn’t condescending to customers: it’s downright helpful.
Offering “next steps” and suggesting specific actions is a must-do for marketers. Check out how we do exactly that with our Sprout Introductory Webinar email below.
19. Remarket to Quiet Customers
Sometimes winning customers back means reminding them that you’re still around.
Maybe you have one-time buyers that you want to turn into repeat customers. Perhaps some of them have bounced to a competitor.
Either way, Facebook remarketing represents an effective way to take those past customers and give them an incentive to return. With the ability to target past customers on your list, you can serve ads specifically tailored to former buyers who need an extra incentive to come back.
20. Learn More About Your Current Customers
Chances are you already have a decent amount of data on deck to improve UX and customer experience both on-site and off.
For example, are you regularly paying attention to your most popular content via Google Analytics? Do you know where most of your leads are coming from and what pages they’re spending the most time on? Which pieces of social content are getting shared most often?
These insights can help you take action and fine-tune your marketing campaigns without saying a single word to a customer.
21. Keep it Positive
Finally, don’t neglect the importance of a positive outlook when interacting with customers.
It might sound cheesy but think about it. You’d rather support a brand that’s positive and patient versus someone who sounds desperate or bored with your concerns, right?
Don’t look at customer retention as a chore, but rather an opportunity to make a stronger connection with your fans and followers.
What Does Your Customer Retention Strategy Look Like?
While more new faces in your funnel is always a plus, don’t ignore the people who are already propping up your business. Thankfully, these customer retention strategies are simple and straightforward enough that just about any brand can employ them ASAP without breaking a sweat.
What are you currently doing to show your customers some serious love? What customer retention strategies do you find to be the most effective? Let us know in the comments below.