Clinched a sale? Fantastic! But that’s just the start: It’s now time to convince that customer to return again and again … and again.

Customer retention. You’ve heard about it but perhaps haven’t given it much of a thought until now. Indeed, online retail startups are so focused on growth and customer acquisition that customer retention becomes a bit of an afterthought.

However, let me hit you with some stats: Existing customers provide way more than half of the average company’s business, while the chances of us selling to an existing customer are 70%. Even better, as this HBR paper shows, if you increase your customer retention rates by just 5%, you can boost profits by as much as 95%.

The aim, then, should be to sell to new customers … and to then sell to them again.

And again.

Why let them get away? If you do, you have to start all over again trying to find new customers who are going to buy from you when, in the ideal scenario, you could simply sell over and over again to existing customers!

Sounds too good to be true? Here are five practices to employ post-sale that will keep customers coming back:

1. Offer a loyalty program

Walgreens loyalty program

What does a loyalty program do? It rewards your frequent customers. For you, a loyalty program is simple enough to implement, and for the consumer, well, it gives them an incentive to keep shopping with you.

The premise is often as simple as a customer getting one free bottle of shampoo for every four bottles they purchase. Doesn’t this sound like something that can work? After all, one free bottle of shampoo for every four doesn’t sound like a lot for you and will certainly come in handy for your customers

Well, studies have shown that loyalty programs do work. 73% of customers want brands to offer them, while another study showed that customers who are part of a loyalty program can generate as much as 18% more revenue than those who aren’t.

Sometimes, a free product or discount every once in a while is just the ticket that makes us appreciate the brand. So when you clinch a sale, keep a buyer warm by offering them a place on your loyalty program.

That said, a loyalty program won’t mean that your profits are suddenly going to go through the roof, but they’re a good way of keeping customers in the game.

Of course, a customer might forget all about the discounts or loyalty points they’ve built up, which is why it’s a good idea to send emails that remind them how many points they’ve got or what kind of promotions for loyal customers you are running that can go towards their next purchase. This is a great way to retain existing customers, and it also helps to build rapport.

2. Make things easy for your customers

Imagine if you had a really horrible shopping experience. It wasn’t that the company treated you badly per say; it was more that it just seemed so difficult to make a purchase.

This one is simple: The easier you make the shopping experience, the more encouraged customers will be to return.

Take a look at this quote from a satisfied Starbucks customer:

“Just this morning I parked at my kid’s school, placed my order in the parking lot, took him inside, then walked over to the Starbucks and picked up my drink. Mobile Order & Pay can cut 10 minutes out of my morning routine. I told my boss that it’s the reason I’m actually on time for work now.”

If you can make your services or products as accessible as you can, you’ve got a great chance of your customers coming back again and again. Just ask yourself what your customers need? What will make their shopping experience better? Once the sale is done, work out ways to make sure coming back to you is easy for the customer.

3. Use email to keep existing customers engaged

Email marketing is cheap, easy-to-do and it boosts customer retention. It’s also trackable and personal. And it’s a great way to catch the attention of customers who have purchased from you.

It’s simple: Offer customers the chance to opt-into your email list when they place an order and then work out an email marketing strategy post-sale that will keep you at the forefront of their mind.

One of the reasons we lose customers is because we lose contact with them or don’t establish it in the first place and fail to build relationships. Email marketing lets you:

  • Stay in touch with your customers
  • Personalize your messages
  • Remind customers of deals, discounts, and how many loyalty points they’ve amassed

The whole point of email marketing is to build better relationships with your customers, but the end goal is to sell more stuff. However, you need to provide value via email you can’t just sell all the time. Take a look below at how Whisky Loot advertises their product to their customers via email by being fun, different and useful.

Whisky Loot’s marketing email

Here are a few types of emails you could send:

  • Educational Can you teach your customers something?
  • Anecdotal Tell your customers a story, perhaps about why you started your business
  • Promotional Promote your products and deals
  • Sell This is why you’re here after all!

4. Keep track of your stock

Anyone who runs a business, be it online or offline, should have an inventory management system in place. The thing is that many businesses still don’t have one.

An inventory management system helps you keep better track of your stock so that you don’t run out of stock or run the risk of having too much stock. It lets you know what you’ve got, where it is, as well as when you need to put more orders in.

Sounds good, right? But how does this fit into your customer retention strategy? Well, picture the scene: A customer places an order, gets ready to make their payment … but then gets told that, actually, that item isn’t currently in stock! This is embarrassing for you, frustrating for the customer, and it means they’re going to shop elsewhere. The chances of them becoming a regular, loyal customer are zero.

An inventory management system automates the whole process, updating your inventory as soon as you sell an item. This essentially means that there’s no risk that a customer will put in an order for something that isn’t in stock.

There is software available that helps you manage your inventory. Some of my favorites are:

5. Leverage reviews to build trust with your customers

Source: FourLane

What do you need to do post-sale with customers? Build relationships. And the backbone of any relationship is trust.

Consumers trust reviews. In fact, 61% of customers will read an online review before making a buying decision.

As well as convincing a customer to make a purchase in the first place, reviews also help to build trust between you and the consumer, and the more they trust you, the more they’ll want to keep coming back.

So use customer reviews on your site. Place them on your landing page. Get people to notice them.

Other ways you can nurture your relationship with you and your customers include:

  • Be honest and never misrepresent
  • Don’t over-promise if you can’t deliver
  • Take responsibility for any problems
  • Keep your promises
  • Engage with customers on social media

These are five practices to employ post-sale that will keep customers coming back for more. Remember, what all of these practices are really doing is building a relationship between you and your clients. Keep that in mind at all times, and you’ll be well on your way to turning a one-time customer into a potential lifetime one.

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