January is often filled with goal setting and preparations for the year ahead, but it’s also the moment to review where sales might be at risk. To protect yourself, you need to roll out some customer retention strategies for e-commerce growth. That way, you’re not only attracting new people but keeping existing shoppers happy and ready to buy again.
That’s all easier said than done. It can be tough to create a loyal fanbase. Some of the biggest pain points for an e-commerce customer are when the purchase journey is not smooth, poor customer service or lack of trust in your shop's site. The good news is that there are a lot of tactics you can use to boost retention, and here are six ready and waiting for rapid deployment.
Research your customers
Retention is often a budget-intensive process because you want to shift away from new leads to people you know will buy. It can be hard to make that shift, especially if you still need to push SEO and search ads to keep your pipeline full.
When you need to improve retention but can’t hit the brakes on any other efforts, it’s time to mine the data you’re already collecting. Research the people visiting your site and the ones buying, from the pages they visit and what they buy to how they find you and when they leave. Pair that data with broader information about your market segment and the types of people who use each channel that delivers leads.
Thankfully, there are a lot of tools out there and the research you do here impacts both retention and new customer acquisition. Discover as much as you can about customers and preferences. Work to determine their needs, desires, and objections. Then, ensure every page and piece of content you make addresses those three elements.
Follow up with benefits
People are willing to provide a lot of this information for discounts. If that works for your first sale, double down on the effort by providing incentives for referrals.
Use these same opportunities to communicate with customers. After the sale, you’ll need to follow up and offer people help. You might share how-to videos, make suggestions, or highlight what people love. Just make sure you include easy ways for someone to reach you and get help.
Some people reach out around issues, others don’t. Both are important to long-term sales and growth. Messaging, especially email and social campaigns, can help you reach these two types of customers. If you’re being helpful and answering common questions, you’re in good shape. Plus, this is a great opportunity to direct people back to your site, tutorials, and other content so that you stay top of mind in this helpful space
Improve your operations
Retention always depends on the customer’s experience. When the experience is terrible, people aren’t going to buy from you again. So, make 2023 the year you tackle UX from how people first find you through shopping and buying to final delivery and repeat purchases.
Delivering orders can be a substantial challenge as e-commerce companies grow. Work on the behind-the-scenes elements to build your business, especially order fulfillment and returns management. The more friction you can eliminate here, the more likely people are to come back.
If you’re unsure where to start, have multiple people walk through your processes — like those secret shopper programs. Then, review what worked and didn’t, documenting each step. Multiple tools can help you track steps and development work appropriately. Don’t neglect IT documentation software alternatives to apps where you can harvest more data or have a long trial of the tool.
That’ll identify areas where you need to improve, including your vendors and integration partners, not just customer-facing services. Review your processes and tools here to make that easier and avoid creating friction later. When in doubt about how to improve, use this work to help you find outsourcing partners for things like warehousing, logistics, fulfillment, and even email marketing automation for those ‘order status’ emails.
Tackle site security and improve trust
One thing that should be on the top of these to-do lists that rarely makes it is website security. You must protect your shoppers throughout the purchase experience and then protect their data afterward. More than half of Americans say they’ve decided not to make a purchase or use a service because of the personal information it collects. And a higher percentage of shoppers say that they won’t return to a website after discovering a data breach.
This builds on operational improvements to help you turn those effective process changes into tangible security for customers. As you retool each step in your process, look to see where people are or aren’t protected and ask how you can improve on-site security, as well as reduce phishing attempts.
SSL/TLS Certificates are the top place to start with site improvements. These certificates not only ensure you are using the right kind of protection, but browsers also look for these to determine if they need to warn customers about the connection. An unsecure website will not instill confidence, but with a SSL/TLS certificate you can ensure website security and take the first step to gaining your customer's trust.
Consider using a provider for your certificate because they will help you meet standards and regulations across the globe, and ultimately maintain your customers' secure browsing.
From there, create a list of cybersecurity things to expect in 2023 and create plans to tackle potential issues.
Simplify your buyer's user journey
Build on friction reduction and look for ways to simplify customer experiences and actions. This should be a continual project for your team. Think of how easy Apple and Google payment systems have made it to buy directly from Instagram and other channels customers use for entertainment first.
Here are some of the core recommendations:
- Make your checkout a single page
- Create optional accounts and guest accounts
- Expand payment options to reach more people
- Add data to carts, so people can immediately see coupons, estimated shipping, and more
- Eliminate any process or fee that feels hidden — either remove it completely or introduce it earlier so people do not abandon your cart at the last moment
The more satisfied someone is with the site experience, the more likely they are to make a purchase and keep your doors open. When you are struggling with the processes behind these, it is time to start evaluating your options for better sales through better partnerships.
Use straightforward personalization
Personalization has been a hallmark of retention strategies for a while, but it gets unnecessarily complex.
Complexity makes it hard to execute well and leads to many abandoned efforts, which harms your team and customers. So, stick to simple personalization. Create campaigns or elements for your most popular products and target shoppers with those broad elements. Use CRM and other data to deliver a message based on the page someone visits first. This way, you’re sending every shopper a relevant offer.
As you dig deeper into analytics, still keep building something for a category instead of an individual. Target groups and share multiple coupons or videos instead of trying to get the single correct item to each person. Use the research from the beginning to understand the top challenges, and then give people a chance to ask questions when they need more.
Your mission is to make shopping with you easier and more enjoyable. Get that right, and you’ll have an amazing 2023.