Customer retention. It’s one of the things that keeps business owners up at night. While relationship-building strategies are essential to the health and growth of a business, many find themselves ensnared in an ongoing battle against a wasteland of lapsed customers. Bain & Company has found that customer databases that are dormant over a five-year span could reach customer attrition rates as high as 50%. Identifying these inactive customers can be difficult, and reengaging them may be even trickier. Remember, it costs 4—10 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing customer. Fear not, armed with these tools you can improve your chances of winning them back!
Purchase tracking collects data on every transaction customers make at your business. Each customer is unique and has his or her own typical buying cycles. Some may make larger purchases with less frequency, while others buy small items on a weekly basis. Gathering data on purchases allows you to define what is “normal” on a customer by customer basis. Once you’re able to do that, you can determine what period of time is indicative of lost interest in your business.
Not only can purchase tracking assist in identifying these customers, it can also help you win them back . Armed with valuable insights into your customers’ preferences, you can begin bucketing their favorite and most common purchases in order to better target communications to them with the most relevant info and offers. Just because the retention of your email and SMS lists remains strong, doesn’t mean that customers are reading or even opening your messages. Many people continue to allow a bulk of promotional emails to flood their inbox that they have no intention of opening, yet don’t take the time to unsubscribe.
Personalized emails generate an average of 6x more revenue, than their generic counterparts, making this customization mandatory for any business that’s serious about their email marketing. E-commerce giants like Amazon, do this especially well with their recommendations. People are more likely to open and engage with emails and texts that are interesting to them, which makes going the extra yard worth it.
If and when customers do opt to unsubscribe, make sure you ask them the reason. Offer some options, like “Content is not relevant to my interests”, so that you can get direct feedback and implement improvements that can avoid this in the future. Chances are, other people share these feelings, but just haven’t gotten around to unsubscribing yet.
You can also identify the highest-value customers in this group and spend a little extra time and effort sending them a hand-written note. Offer to have one of your personal shoppers give them a preview of a new line or collection, or invite them to be the first to try out a new service or treatment. This can be just the motivation they need to drop by.
If you’re still left wondering what your audience is looking for, try running some A/B tests. These test and report the results of two different variations of the same element (i.e. comparing how a personalized subject line will perform vs. a non-personalized, generic subject line). This allows you to see what resonates best with your audience, and how little tweaks to different variables, will affect it. Optimizely is a great tool for conducting these. Try A/B testing the following components to see if you can get any lift in activity:
- Subject Line
- Images and Design
- Copy length
- Tone (funny, expert, silly)
Use loyalty programs to offer them status-related benefits:
Not all incentives need to be monetary or discount-based. Sometimes it’s enough just to make clients feel special, or as if they’re part of your community. This could be inviting them to join a VIP program, which includes perks tailored to their preferences. Similar to a loyalty program this could reward them for purchases they make. Or, ask them for feedback on your new product or services. Allow them early access to shop these items as a thank-you. Reaching out to them, personally, in this manner makes them feel like their opinion matters to you. Try hosting events where clients can sample and provide feedback on what you’ve been working on. Ask them questions such as: What do you like or dislike about the design? Can you please share any pain points that this helps solve, or doesn’t address?
Retargeting ads follow customers who have visited your company’s website, and serve them your ads on other sites they browse, to keep your business top-of-mind. So, whether they’re reading an article from their favorite media source or planning an upcoming vacation, you’ll get a chance to get your message in front of them, and hopefully entice them make a purchase! Both Google Adwords and AdRoll help you launch and manage retargeting campaigns.
Employ Marketing Automation to send the right message at the right time
Marketing Automation can help to identify and address lapsed customers. A period of inactivity that is outside the norm for customers on a case-by-case basis will trigger a form of outreach. This is often an automatic “We miss you” email or text message sent after 30, 60, or 90. days of stagnation. But you can also send them a loyalty offer or the current incentive of choice: free shipping.
Technologies, like Signpost, can also help by creating records for the potential customers who have called or emailed your business, but have yet to actually make a purchase. By automatically segmenting this group, the platform then sends them a new customer offer if they fail to make a purchase within the average time, in an effort to get them through the door. Signpost’s AI-driven technology is always learning, and knows the best time to engage prospective, current, or lapsed customers with the right message, as well as the best type of content to send them in every instance.
Diversify outreach with social efforts and advertising
If recipients on your email lists aren’t opening and engaging with your email, it might be best to try to get their attention elsewhere. Some people have become deaf to the noise of cluttered inboxes, and instead spend their time perusing social pages to stay updated on current promotions and announcements.
You can choose to diversify these channels, or focus on one or two sites that your customers spend the most time on. If you’re managing multiple accounts, social media management and social listening tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social can help by centralizing the various networks with their uniform dashboards. They are also listening for conversations involving your brand or area of expertise, so you can jump in on these and identify opportunities to reconnect with customers.
Make sure to include images in posts to make them more engaging and eye-catching. Encourage customers to interact with you by asking them to post photos of their new haircut, before and after photos of their recently-remodeled kitchen, or favorite finds at your shop. You can repost these, comment on them or even hold a contest requesting submissions and allow other followers to cast votes. Your lapsed customers won’t want to miss out on the fun (or a chance to win!), and it may not be long before they come running back!
If you’re not seeing the desired result you’re looking for, try advertising on these networks. Each has its own unique set of options and customizations, so be sure that your goals are clearly defined and trackable prior to spending any money, so that you can better evaluate and adjust budgets contingently on the campaigns’ success. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, Signpost customers can ask their Account Manager how he or she can help with both Facebook and Google Adwords advertising. This is another great opportunity to A/B test different types of ads, images and copy!
Coming to terms with an ever-increasing wasteland of lapsed customers can be daunting. But armed with these tools and techniques, you’ll be set up for success when it comes to winning them back!