Marketing has gone digital since the 90s and it isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the technology is only getting stronger. With digital marketing evolving into a mass market, it’s important for eCommerce stores to have a strong retention marketing strategy.

Digital marketing agencies are using automation and mobile CRM to keep clients engaged. As a result, these tasks become much simpler and easier for any eCommerce store owner. Plus, marketing automation can be used to execute campaigns across a wide variety of channels from social and mobile initiatives to phone campaigns.

eCommerce businesses need marketing automation because it comes down to time management and which of your online competitors can convert leads the fastest. The digital world moves at a quick pace, and online stores have no time to waste on non-converting customers. In addition, moving through various platforms takes time. This is why marketing automation has evolved so that marketers can focus on big-picture marketing strategies while saving both time and money.

What is customer retention?

As opposed to regular marketing which focuses on acquiring customers, customer retention strategies aim to resell to existing ones. In some cases, this can also happen through a subscription model.

Retention marketing or customer retention is defined as the strategy of using marketing tactics to increase repeat purchases from existing customers or to set up a regular stream of revenue from them.

Customer retention vs. acquisition

As the terms suggest, customer retention involves getting existing customers to buy more without the business spending extra on subsequent purchases. Customer acquisition is the process of bringing the consumer through the digital door. This can happen through paid marketing efforts, referrals, etc.

Naturally, referral customers have a greater value attached to them since they’re likely to convert sooner. Paid acquisitions, on the other hand, make more sense when they continue to buy from the brand, thus offsetting the amount paid to acquire them in the first place.

Why is customer retention important?

Let’s admit it- marketing is expensive! Today, every ad on every platform comes at a dear cost, and one purchase alone cannot compensate for that spend. Plus, customers who have already bought from a brand are more likely to trust the brand again for another purchase.

This means that these people can be encouraged to buy even through organic means. As a result, they bring in more value for their acquisition. For example, you may run a campaign where the cost per conversion is $2. If one customer were to make a purchase worth $10, that’s good. But if they come back and make another purchase for $20, then you’re getting more bang for your buck.

This concept is called customer lifetime value, or CLV. You can read more about it here.

Customer Retention Best Practices

  1. Stay authentic
  2. Provide excellent customer service
  3. Accommodate unique situations
  4. Use apps to improve business connectivity
  5. Create a community with your clients

1. Stay authentic

As the online universe has expanded, we now have to remember that content alone won’t get us where we need to be. There are already millions of blogs vying for your target customer’s attention. They have become desensitized to it all. The one thing that does get attention is authenticity. This is where you can stand out from your digital competition. What is your story, and how do you tell it through marketing automation? Your authenticity will engage consumers and this will be the foundation of your retention marketing castle.

Automation and CRM will ensure that you’re tracking and monitoring your messages to take note of engagement levels. Which tweets and Facebook posts are getting the most responses? Do you notice a theme? Dialogue is how you can build a community of brand advocates.

2. Provide excellent customer service

There isn’t any question that marketing automation allows us to get our messages out much more quickly, and respond just as fast. How else can you automate emails, social media posts and more within a matter of minutes? Excellent customer service is critical for any eCommerce business because it’s a differentiator among your virtual competitors. You want your consumers to stay loyal to your brand and you can’t have retention marketing without the best customer service on the web.

Effective customer interactions are difficult to replicate in a digital environment. You can use marketing automation to create much more personalized content, which your customers and prospects appreciate. All of this can be done through content tailored to their purchasing behavior and profile data.

Excellent customer service can only be provided when you understand your target customer. The more personalized your content becomes, the more time your customers and prospects will spend reading your Facebook posts, your tweets, your website, and your emails. Plus, they’ll feel recognized and heard. This is the ultimate method for converting leads into customers. Here are a few ways to use automation to improve the customer experience.

  1. Automate the follow-up

    . Customers will reach out to your eCommerce business for a wide variety of reasons. To make the experience more pleasant, a timely response is a necessity. Unfortunately, you can’t stay up all hours of the day and it can get costly to hire a 24/7 staff. Instead, you can use automation for the follow-up. When your staff is available, they can get in touch with the customer for a more personal response to ensure there are no outstanding issues. Another option is to use marketing automation to prioritize and correctly route email inquiries to the right team member.

  1. Automate personalized emails

    . Segment your subscribers by demographics and send automated emails such as location-based coupons or information on upcoming sales on items they have purchased before. Moreover, you can use automation to improve the customer experience by sending information on hats if a customer has recently purchased sunglasses. Marketing automation allows you to segment clients by their different interests.

  1. Send timely thank you notes after a purchase

    . If you have thousands of customers, it would be difficult to manually send thank you notes to every single one. Marketing automation helps improve the customer experience by giving you the ability to trigger a thank you email after a recent purchase. This simple action can help enhance the future of the relationship.

  1. Set up alerts when your leads visit your website.

    Emailing your customers within an hour of their visit can increase the chances of a sale. To illustrate, if a prospect was browsing for running shoes, you might set up an automated email with information on your most popular brands for that product type.

Having valuable insights at your fingertips helps to ensure excellent customer service. When a client has a question or needs help with a purchasing decision, you know exactly what they’ve purchased, how much they’ve purchased, what they’ve viewed and how to best respond to their inquiries.

3. Accommodate unique situations

Automation incorporated in your retention marketing helps you to become much agiler and flexible with regard to the changing demands of a fluid eCommerce market. One way you can use automation to respond to unique situations is through continuously A/B testing your landing pages for consistent improvement. You can’t always predict how the markets will change a year from now, or what new online companies may start vying for your customer base.

Yet, you can stay at the forefront adjusting your retention marketing campaigns incrementally through measuring and modifying based on your findings. This can be done for your landing pages, as well as your overall marketing campaigns. You must “strike while the iron is hot.”

Through automation, you don’t have to wait on a schedule to reach out to customers. Instead, set up real-time alerts, to give you a better understanding of exactly when prospects are interacting with your retention marketing content.

To illustrate, you might set up an alert when a prospect signs up for clearance notifications. You’ll receive the alert, now you know that prospect is looking for a deal. The question remains: what type of content can you send that will resonate with that particular prospect? Naturally, it should be around current and future sales, discounts and deals.

As a result, you can address any and every situation in real-time.

4. Use apps to improve business connectivity

One of the many mobile CRM benefits is you have customer data on your mobile device and access it from anywhere, at any time. As an eCommerce site owner you should always be available for your clients and prospects–remember eCommerce is global and across time zones. This is why it’s essential to have apps that improve your efficiency and business flow connectivity.

You need apps that let you know when a customer is engaging with your content. In addition, it’s important to have apps that allow you to send timely retention marketing messages from the comfort of your mobile device. Some of the more popular marketing automation apps include:

  • Salesforce
  • Silverpop
  • Pardot
  • LeadRocket

As a result, you don’t have to rush to any location to get things done. Your business flow connectivity is not impeded, it’s instead, enhanced.

5. Create a community with your clients

Why do you want to create a community with your clients? Well, the main reason is according to Google research, 60% of buyers are looking for peer recommendations when making their buying decisions. This is where your customer community can help you by becoming brand advocates.

Ready to build a client community? Here’s how:

  • Determine how best to position your brand. (Focus on something your target market can relate to.)
  • Invite your customers and clients to interact with you on social media and your site. Send links to your site and social media profiles through email. You can also place links to your social media profiles on your site–invite customers to visit.
  • Get to know your customers through dialogue and tracking their purchasing behaviors using automation tools.
  • Use automation to send out a consistent set of relevant and useful social media posts and emails to keep your clients engaged and interacting with your brand. For example, if you sell costumes and a new superhero movie has just been released–you might create several posts around the movie and the matching costumes you have available.

You need to understand what motivates them. How much do you know about their goals, challenges, and needs? What are their personal interests? When you send out your email messages, make sure there are buttons for all of your social networking profiles.

6. Double Up On Retargeting Efforts

Industry estimates show that about 30-60% of your audience is lying dormant, and is ready to make a purchase given the right nudge. So, start nudging! If a customer has left the website after browsing, show specific, product-related ads to this customer on other platforms.

Retargeting can also be in the form of discounts on products browsed for. Else, you can consider spinning a story around the product. The approach you use for retargeting depends on your specific audience and the product you sell. The story approach works well for jewelry and handmade items while an upfront discount is better for apparel and electronic goods.

7. Keep Your Employees Happy!

When we discussed customer service earlier, we didn’t speak about the system that makes great customer service possible. We are speaking, of course, about your employees. When you build a culture of mutual respect, your employees love coming to work. This, in turn, becomes clearly visible in how they interact with customers.

We have all been to stores where the staff couldn’t care less, and to places where the staff themselves advocate for their products. The difference in customer experience, and therefore in customer retention at these places is, stark to say the least.

In conclusion

As you can see, automation only speeds up your retention marketing campaigns, making you more agile and responsive to customer needs and wants. Plus, it can help you create a community of brand advocates which only gives you the edge over your competition.

ryanAuthor Bio:

Ryan Stewart is a digital marketing consultant with over 8 years of experience working to help Fortune 500 brands grow their online presence. He currently resides in Miami, where he owns boutique creative agency WEBRIS. You can find Ryan on Twitter or LinkedIn.