One of the biggest missed opportunities in business is failing to nurture return customers. While acquiring new shoppers is important, keeping your current customers happy should be equally as important. However, most businesses don’t realize that they’re neglecting their most valuable customers, which could eventually lead to the loss of loyal shoppers.
To avoid this from happening in your business, it’s important that you pay attention to your current customers and invest in retention and growth strategies targeted towards return customers.
The value of returning customers
To make the decision to invest in return customers, you have to understand just how valuable these shoppers really are. Particularly during a market downturn when shopping volume has slowed in trend with the economy, there are many reasons why your return customers are the ones you should be focusing most of your attention on.
Loyal customers are easier and cheaper to sell to
Getting the first sale from a customer is the most challenging and time-consuming part. According to studies, the average ecommerce website can expect to win a new sale only 2–3% of the time. Once you’ve done the legwork of nurturing and converting the first sale, convincing the customer to return goes up to 50%.
With return customers, trust is already established, value is already perceived and the relationship is already forming. You’ve sold them once, so you don’t not necessarily need to sell them again, but you do need to add value. To do this, you want to always stay top-of-mind, remind them about your benefits and recommend other products they may like.
Loyal customers spend more money
The more times a customer returns to your store, the more likely they are to spend a higher amount on future purchases. In fact, return customers spend, on average, 67% more than a new customer. This is simply because with every sale, brand and product trust builds. When a return customer is comfortable with your brand, they are more willing to try new and different products. Overtime, their average order value will increase and your job as the retailer is to continue to build on that value and provide personalized and relevant product recommendations.
Loyal customers drive worth-of-mouth marketing
Quite possibly the most valuable thing about loyal customers is that they are your most effective and cost-efficient marketing tool. Customers who are satisfied and constantly returning are more likely to refer their friends and promote your brand. This brings new potential customers into your sales funnel that are low in acquisition cost and higher in conversion rate.
Today, encouraging word-of-mouth referrals is easy. More than half of consumers (58%) will share their positive brand experiences on social media. To encourage more referrals, there are both organic and paid strategies that your business can try, like leveraging influencers, affiliate links and user-generated content (UGC).
How do you know who your loyal customers are?
Identifying your returning customers is simple. All you need to do is look at your customer profile data and transaction history to see which shoppers have made more than one purchase in a given timeframe. Shopify already comes included with all the features handy so you can easily identify who your returning customers are.
However, you should know that within your group of returning customers, there are different levels of loyal customers:
- Price loyal — these customers don’t necessarily have an affinity towards your brand. What they like is your price point. If it ever goes up, these customers may not be returning.
- Product loyal — these customers are loyal to one or few very specific products. They continuously reorder the same item and rarely add anything new to their cart.
- Brand loyal — these are your truly loyal customers that will swear by your brand and products. They will often try different products and are the first to purchase any new items. They may love your product, but what they actually love more is your brand and what it represents.
Though these are all returning customers, they all have different reasons for their loyalty. Your brand loyal customers are the gold standard and you want to strive to have most of your return customers under this category.
How to grow your loyal customer base
To turn your customers into true brand loyal shoppers, there are various tactics you can implement to retain and grow your returning customers.
Offer rewards they want
One of the best ways to delight your customers is to offer them special rewards and incentives. This can come in the form of personalized discounts, loyalty points or cashback. This is meant to do two things: trigger positive emotions when you show appreciation, and encourage the customer to return or refer.
There are plenty of loyalty apps available on the Shopify marketplace that can help you easily get started on customer reward and appreciation. You should also keep in mind that some of the best incentives are unconventional rewards. For instance, with the Peopletail app, you can offer your customers with crypto-back rewards, rather than traditional cashback. If your customer base is largely Gen Z and millennials, this could be a good reward to offer. What’s important is that you understand what your customers truly value and want.
Listen to customer feedback
You may not realize it, but customers pay attention to whether or not you actually listen to and act on customer feedback. It’s a big opportunity to understand your customer better and improve your product or service. However, as much as 42% of businesses don’t collect any customer feedback. That’s why when businesses actually acknowledge and follow up on feedback, customers take notice.
It’s all part of building a trusting, two-way relationship. Customers listen to what you have to say, and in return, they also want to be heard. When you show that you value your shoppers, you will find customers more inclined to return to your store.
Upsell with personalized recommendations
Aside from wanting to be heard, customers also want to know that you understand them. Based on a customer’s shopping history, website clicks and items in their cart, you can begin to recommend other products that they may be interested in. Major retailers, like Amazon are great examples of how product recommendations can boost sales. As much as 70% of Amazon’s homepage is dedicated to showcasing relevant products to customers. As a result, product recommendations account for over 35% of Amazon’s total sales.
However, it’s important that you are actually recommending relevant products and not just trying to upsell on anything. This could end up harming your customer relationship and potentially cause them to turn away.
Always stay top-of-mind
The simplest, low hanging task that you can do today is to just ensure that you are staying in touch with your customers. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised to know that this can be challenging for many small businesses. You either don’t have the automation in place to scale communications, or you are too worried about “bothering” customers. However, staying too silent can lead to shoppers forgetting about you.
Here are some effective communication tips to help you stay in touch with customers better:
- Keep it short and simple: Don’t overload your customers with information. Keep your communications short and to the point to avoid wasting their time. It will also feel like less of a task for your customers when you keep your messages concise.
- Provide value: You don’t always have to sell your products in every message. There are ways to communicate your brand value that could help influencer sales. For instance, you can send your customers valuable content, customer stories and company updates. These all add value to your brand, without directly selling your products.
- Be timely and relevant: Trigger-based and personalized emails will always be valuable. When you truly understand your customer’s needs at the moment, it can make all the difference in the customer experience and effectively nudge them to the next steps.
Maximize value of returning customers
If you’re not already nurturing your returning customers, it’s time to shift your attention towards them. Especially during economically challenging times, new customer acquisition will be harder than ever. Growing the value of your existing customers will be the most productive thing you can do to drive business sales. Thankfully, within the Shopify app marketplace, there are thousands of apps to choose from that can help with your retention strategies, such as loyalty apps, customer surveys and more.