Digital Strategy Tactics for Customer Retention
Marketers have a strong tendency to focus on courting new business. But this can cause you to neglect your very best prospects: the customers you already have. According to figures from the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, a loyal customer will spend ten times their initial purchase value over the life of a relationship with your company. But, building these strong relationships takes planning and strategy.
A few things to consider when building your digital strategy for customer retention.
DEFINE YOUR AUDIENCE
Customer retention is about engaging with your existing customer base. Hopefully you already have a wealth of analytical insights on who your customers are, how they interact with your organization and their purchase patterns. If not, now is a crucial time to get to know who your buyers are and begin to create marketing materials and promotions that appeal to them. Learn what they want and provide it to win their loyalty. To bring this existing data ”to life”, think about creating various personas of who your existing customer is.
The marketing materials you create targeting your personas will also become a crucial part of your content strategy and play a pivotal role in improving your overall SEO efforts, because you can create content that would be sought out by each of your personas. Buyer personas are an excellent tool for getting inside your customers’ heads. A persona is a fictional creation who matches the demographics of one of your sets of buyers.
SET REALISTIC GOALS
Without goal setting, you’ll have no tool to measure the success of your customer retention efforts. There are many ways to define your goals. To ensure success and buy-in within your business, create your set of retention objectives around the SMART principle. Consider sales figures from prior years or months to set the goal for an upcoming time period.
Example S.M.A.R.T Goals
- Achieve 17% of existing customers to service their online account within 12 months. Service could be defined as: visiting the site, logging into their account, or making a repeat purchase.
- Upsell 27% of existing customers to make a repeat purchase within 5 months through the company website.
USE EMAIL EFFECTIVELY
Email can be one of your most powerful tools for bringing customers back to your site to make new purchases. There are a number of strategies that you can employ:
- Abandoned cart emails. Conversion rates for abandoned cart emails are twice as high as other email marketing. Some companies send a simple reminder that the customer left during checkout. Others offer a discount or free shipping to lure the buyer back.
- Drip email campaigns. Start with a thank you email a day after a purchase; then, send periodic emails with tips and tricks for using your product and a reminder when it is time to reorder. This can all be automated, meaning you put in the work once and enjoy the benefits for months to come.
- Email newsletters. Sending your customers regular newsletters with informative and useful content inside increases their brand awareness and creates warm associations with your company.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO CONVERSE WITH YOUR BRAND’S FANS
In a survey conducted by research group Loyalty 360, more than 25 percent of businesses indicated they ranked social media as the most effective channel for customer retention. The main reasons being that social media marketing allows for brands to speak directly to customers (and attract new ones), along with easy access to companies.
Customers use social media more and more often to contact a company when there is a problem. By responding quickly (surveys say that customers expect replies in 24 hours or less) you can not only fix your customer’s problem; you can also publicly show the quality of your customer service.
Here are a few other strategies to consider with using social media to improve customer loyalty:
- Analyze your current database of Social Media followers/fans. Services like Followerwonk and SocialDNA are great resources. If you’re B2B, consider creating lists on Twitter for all current customers.
- Create an editorial content plan specific to your customers needs (remember they are different than prospects’ needs) in place to drive timely content through social media channels.
- Ensure you’ve provided In house training for staff to use social media channels in communicating with customers.
ANALYZE YOUR SUCCESS & SET KPI’S
Check your engagement, sales and other figures regularly to see how your efforts are working. When you observe a tactic that works well, you can use it again to bring more success in the future. But, if there are efforts that seem to fall flat, you know it’s time to tweak things. You can also use monitoring to decide on the best places to invest your time and funds. For instance, if your Pinterest page has three times the engagement of Instagram, you know that Pinterest is the place to put the bulk of your social media marketing efforts.
Here are a list of suggested KPI retention measurements that could be considered:
- Number of branded keywords
- Number of not branded keywords
- Number keywords on 1st page of SERP
- Number of outbound links generated
- Traffic referral volume
- Pages viewed per visit
- Number of in-bound links generated
- Number of emails sent out
- Segment email lists by existing customers
- Click through rate to website
- Open rate of email campaign sent
- Repeat purchase rate through channel
- Number of followers and fans
- Measure engagement through re-tweets, likes
- Percentage of referral traffic through to website
There is no one size fits all solution for keeping the romance alive with your current customers. But, by testing strategies, consistently putting forth effort and measuring your performance, you can increase your retention rates and significantly increase your brand’s sales.
Website Launch Checklist
Launching a new website is exciting, albeit daunting. There are several things to accomplish, details that are too essential to overlook, and many people collaborating to make the deployment go smoothly.
In this blog, I’ll give you a checklist of things you should review before your website launches.
Disclaimer: This isn’t a comprehensive list, there are many other details I don’t go into here, but I hope this provides a solid sample of the steps to take to ensure you have a successful website launch.
1. SPELLING, GRAMMAR, PUNCTUATION
It’s cumbersome, but necessary to go through the site and check for typos, grammar, and proper punctuation sitewide. Pay special attention to new pages. Also, many times weird formatting can appear if you copy/paste from older pages, Word or Google Docs.
2. WEB FORMS
Checking forms is especially important if you have a marketing automation platform integrated in your site. Go through and fill out the forms and note the following questions:
- Are the forms passing lead information over to your marketing automation system?
- Can the flow be improved? Shortened? Or do they need to be updated to reflect your new business model/service offerings?
- Did you get stuck? Were there any errors?
- Does the completed form get sent to the right people or person?
- Was an automated response sent to the reader (i.e. Will they receive a thank you email after completing a contact form or receive the intended content after they download it from your website)?
3. LIVE URLS
When a site goes live, the URLs are transferred from a staging area to production. Every single URL on your site needs to be tested when the site goes live to make sure they lead to the correct destination. This is important from both a functionality standpoint and for SEO purposes; visitors will get frustrated, and your site will be penalized search engines if these URLs are incorrect.
Will your URL structure be changing significantly? If so what is the plan for redirecting them to prevent broken links? Here’s an example of a change we made on the Mediacurrent website:
4. TITLE TAGS/META DATA
This may sound old news to many, but make sure every page has a unique title tag. Also make sure each has a meta description. This is still a common source for search engine spiders to draw from to understand what the page is about and provide visitors with a sneak peak into the page contents from the results.
5. SITE SPEED
Site speed can make or break your users’ experience. The better performing your website is, the more efficiently a user will complete their desired tasks. Consider things like: How fast (in units of time, such as milliseconds) does it take to load an entire web page? How big is the webpage, in terms of file size? Does the website use web development best practices for website performance?
There are two main factors to consider when testing the speed of your site. 1) Initial page load – this will take longer because all of your images/css/js must be sent from the server to your browser. 2) Returning visitor – these users will have some, if not all, of the assets cached so they won’t have to download all these files again. Be sure to test for both scenarios where you want to get the initial page load size as small as possible and you want to have as many assets cached for returning visitors.
It’s also critical to test page load times on mobile devices.
Before mocking-up wireframes take a step back and review your buyer personas. Frankly, some of your messaging and positioning may have become outdated. Once you’ve updated your personas, build out your our content strategy, wireframes, and visual design around the needs of your target audience.
When giving a critical eye to the pages within the site, ask yourself:
- Why would your target audience visit this page?
- Does the page address the audience’s buying questions?
- Is there a clear call to action or conversion path?
Testing your design in advanced browsers as well as legacy browsers is a necessary part of any project. The old-school way to test code was to load your website on as many computers as you could find, using as many different combinations of browsers and operating systems as possible. That was fine if you had access to a bunch of different computers (and had some time to kill). But there are much more efficient ways to test across browsers, using either free or commercial Web services and software like Adobe Browserlab, Browsershots or SuperPreview.
8. MAP ALL OLD PAGES TO NEW
Sometimes content gets lost in the transition. New pages are added, deleted, and renamed. It’s not the most glamorous or challenging project, but mapping out your page redirects will have a significant impact on your new site. A basic Excel spreadsheet showing all the old pages and their corresponding new pages will probably be sufficient.
From time-to-time font codes get dropped into a page inadvertently and make a letter or a word look wacky. Go through the copy checking to see that the formatting is consistent, and look for odd blips in the copy.
Make sure all display text renders on the image when you hover over it (the alt attribute). Make sure the images display correctly. Understand the images you are posting and the correct format for them. While most people ignore the file type/extension they all have their own strengths and weaknesses. The most common types of images you’ll deal with are JPG, PNG and SVG. You’ll want to store photographs as JPG, simple images like logos, icons etc as PNG or SVG. If you use Adobe Photoshop or similar programs they’ll usually let you compare the different formats side by side so you can get the quality level you want while comparing it to the overall file size. Remember, you can get your image on your site looking perfect but if it’s a few megabytes in size most people aren’t going to want to look at it. Also don’t forget image optimizing programs like Imageoptim, which will losslessly compress your images much better than your photo editing software allowing you to shave off a few more kilobytes from your page load.
Make sure Google Analytics or the analytics package you’re using are set up and ready to go. Also ensure all Drupal modules (including marketing automation modules) have been installed correctly and are functioning.
12. SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION
Having your users share your content on social media is also a big portion of driving traffic (both organic and direct) to your site. Ensure that the social media icons on the site go to the correct pages. Are the right buttons and social plugins installed for what you are trying to accomplish? (For example, share a page versus “Like” you on Facebook.)
13. STRESS TESTING
It’s important to stress test your site to ensure it won’t error out from the surge in traffic from your initial publicity push or there after. This simply means by simulating the HTTP requests generated by simultaneous users, you can test your web server performance under normal and excessive loads. A suggested tool is Load Impact.
Launching is just the beginning. You should continue to iterate based on how your site is performing on analytics and customer feedback. Hopefully you can see that everyone on a marketing and web team can be assigned tasks to test leading up to a site launch- even if they aren’t a developer.