I’m not going to start with that statistic.
The one where I tell you how much more lucrative it is for your business to keep your older customers than get new ones. (5 times is the answer) or where I tell you that a 5% increase in retention can increase profits up to 125%
If you’ve been reading about business development customer retention for a while now, chances are you know this stuff already.
So what can I tell you that you don’t already know about customer retention?
The fact is that you need various examples of customer retention to be inspired. You need to see actionable examples of customer retention strategies across industries because these strategies aren’t one size fits all.
They change depending on the resources that you have, how well you know and understand your customers and which industry you’re in.
So we made it simpler.
We broke down the basics of measuring customer retention. Next, we put together examples of customer retention strategies across industries like eCommerce, Publishing and Travel. We also sources some of the best pieces across the interwebz on this for you to read and get a better understanding of, and put together any great tools that could help you here.
I’m still confused. Why is customer retention so important again?
Happy customers are your primary source of income. When customers decide not to use your product, when they stop signing in to your website or buying your services (this is also called ‘churn’) chances are, you make a lot less money. You may have partnerships and other streams of income, but keeping your customers happy brings more to your organisation than income alone. When your customer retention rate is high, customers form longer term bonds with you and you also receive
- Unpaid Evangelising
- A great group of people who get your offerings to ask for feedback and make improvements
- Testimonials and Case Studies to build your brand
- Validation that your existence on this planet actually makes a difference to people
Need I say more?
What makes a customer stick with you?
To show you what makes a customer stick with a brand, let me give you an example.
I started using a service called This Is My Jam back in 2010 to share new songs I found that became earworms I simply had to spread. I found their value proposition simple, I could share songs I loved and see what other people were binge-listening. I found this a unique, sticky experience: engaging with a small group of customers. I stuck on.
Alas! It was not meant to be
So when This Is My Jam shut down in 2015, I was genuinely sad to see my weekly jam posting routine die. Yet, they probably did something wrong. They didn’t do enough to engage customers, they didn’t set themselves apart from other sites like SoundCloud and Spotify where you could also share and see what others liked, they didn’t build a good paid model or create a USP – and hence had to shut down. Sad Story.
The moral? Customers stick on because…
- You offer something unique that they love, a product that is easy to get the hang of.
- They like your payment model (or lack of it)
- They like your user interface
- They see others like them getting value out of what you offer
- Your customer service is good (71% of consumers have ended their relationship with a company due to poor customer service.)
- They don’t like change.
Is there anything as annoying as getting used to a brand or service then and needing to move away from it because it shuts down or you can’t afford it anymore?
Luckily, I had SoundCloud to satisfy all my tune cravings (my new love) but that isn’t the case when you invest time, money and resources heavily in a sales automation platform or product management tool. You want it to work out. And the least you expect in return? Getting what you were promised.
Measuring Retention Right
Measuring what your customer retention rate is and how well your customer retention strategies are working means having an understanding of exactly how your industry works and what your customers expect. Joseph Pigato, The CMO of retention platform Sparked.com in an article on how companies keep their customers explains
“No one likes to be dumped. But companies are blindsided every day by customers who leave them. Often, companies don’t see it coming: in fact, 91 percent of customers leave without any explicit warning.”
Some of the post prominent ways that companies already measure customer retention are by methods like
- Snapshot Retention Analysis
- Cohort Analysis
- Survival Analysis
- A combination of all of the above
Either way, if you aren’t doing it yet – a great place to start is using a simple tool like Google Analytics and beginning to understand your customer retention rate based on your most basic metrics like web traffic or sign up rate and then progress to implementing more complicated customer retention strategies.
Retention 101: A calculation as simple as dividing Returning Visitors/Total Visitors shows you the percentage of visitors who visited your site more than once in a period of time that you specify.
eCommerce Retention Strategies
The eCommerce industry is unique because a website can’t always predict how often a customer will come back to buy a product. What they can do however, is make the experience of buying the product great. In eCommerce, the factors that go into retaining a customer are plenty. Examples of customer retention strategies in eCommerce are discounts to bring back older customers, exclusive previews to sales, great return policies, quality products, smooth payment and return experience and more!
The online eCommerce seller Zappos, developed a customer retention strategy where customer retention and success was measured based on the metrics that mattered to their customers. Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos explains
“Branding Through Customer Service Over the years, the number one driver of our growth at Zappos has been repeat customers and word of mouth. Our philosophy has been to take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead, letting our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth.”
― Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose
This way, Zappos changed their call centre customer service agenda to providing maximum value for customers by focusing not on ending calls quickly and measuring time per call, but by measuring total call time – and increasing that number.
A simple way to begin measuring your ecommerce retention rate is to find the number of customers who shopped with you 12-24 months ago who also shopped in the last six months and then divide that by the number of customers who shopped with you 12-24 months ago alone. This is a good measure to carry out monthly or quarterly to spot trends and changes in your numbers.
- Shopify’s 7 Customer Retention Tactics to Get Current Ecommerce Customers to Purchase More
- Prove.it’s article on How to leverage actionable ecommerce marketing initiatives from your customer retention rate
While in the eCommerce space, customer experience can be a great driving factor for retention, this is even more important in the travel industry. As globalization shrinks the world and customers no longer depend on travel agents or stay loyal to one airline – now is the time when airlines, travel companies, hotels and resorts must complete to stay relevant.
The rise of platforms like AirBnB have further ‘hipsterized’ the travel experience. The modern traveller is concerned about more than the cost of their travel and luxury quotient. They also care about
- The quality of the experience.
- The ecological impact
- How immersed they can be in the local culture.
- The amount of leisure and peace of mind the experience brings.
- How good a deal they get.
Most examples of customer retention strategies revolve around the five figures above. Measuring how many customer look at your offerings vs how many actually book (look to book ratio) and how much revenue you receive as a travel marketer per search are ways to measure how effective your positioning and booking experience is. However, this is a poor benchmark to measure customer retention. Travel marketer’s now measure customer retention rate with
- Average Spend
- Repeat Rate and
- Average Retention Time
Comparing look-to-book ratio and revenue per search figures against historical day and mapping changes over a period of time is a good way to understand if your business is growing.
To get the customer lifetime value for each of your segments, you’re going to multiply Average Order Value, Number of Repeat Sales and Average Retention Time.
(Average Order Value) × (Number of Repeat Sales) × (Average Retention Time) = (Customer Lifetime Value).
Offering NPS surveys exclusively to repeat customers can also help them feel valued and increase customer retention rate. Customer Referrals are another great way to retain and grow your customer base, something that AirBnB has revolutionised.
- Roomstorm’s post on Measuring’s Customer Lifetime Value in the Travel Industry
- Forbes’ post on Driving Customer Loyalty in a Commoditized Travel Space.
Publishing, News and Media
The news, publishing and media space is another crowded avenue where retaining a customer is difficult. In the early days of the internet, it was easy to put out great content or offer a timely news service or daily bulletin and you could build your subscriber lists en-masse.
Today, with email overload, content shock and the plethora of free content that you can find online, getting customers to pay for news and media content is increasingly difficult. Most examples of customer retention strategies are experimental, depending on the publication. Some publishers like Conde Nast and New York Magazine even collaborated with Jun Group to offer rewards to readers who visit their sites for timed sessions. The group even helped a national news publisher drive over 30MM page views over four quarters for the selected sections of the site. Mitchell Reichgut, Jun Group’s co-founder and chief executive explains
“This is the most powerful way to responsibly get people to a site, this delivers real people to sites in a way where they are much more open to advertising.”
- Arkadium’s post on How Publishers are increasing user engagement and retention.
- Service Source on Customer Churn and Retention in Information and Media.
Analytics for Airlines from Triometric
Solutions for Travel also from Triometrics
Loyalty Programs for your eCommerce by Sweet Tooth
Customer Support Software from Zendesk
Recommendation Engines for eCommerce and Publishers from Boomtrain
Engagement and Rewards for Publishers and Brands from Jun Group
Let’s add to this list. Are you in an industry where you’ve developed your own customer retention strategies and a unique way to measure them? Let us know!