Customer acquisition remains one of the primary goals of any business, whether they’re a startup or an established enterprise.

According to the latest State of Inbound report, the number one priority shared by inbound marketers across the globe is converting leads into paying customers.

customer retention strategies state of inbound

Source: State of Inbound

Another study shows 60% of B2B businesses allocate most of their marketing budget towards getting new customers.

Focusing towards acquiring new customers is understandable — even expected — particularly for startups. After all, without these new customers coming to your website making purchases, you won’t start generating revenue.

However, the inbound marketing methodology model doesn’t end with closing the deal or making that sale. There’s one more part to the equation: delighting the customer.

inbound methodology customer retention

Source: HubSpot

Sadly, this is the step that many businesses tend to forget since they tend to focus their marketing efforts to close new customers.

Smart business owners know that this part is perhaps one of the most critical stages of the inbound marketing program. That’s because this is the stage where the focus shifts from customer acquisition to customer retention.

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Why is customer retention important?

Believe it or not, keeping customers loyal to your brand after their initial purchase is more profitable for your startup.

For starters, you spend fewer resources keeping customers. According to the Harvard Business Review, customer acquisition costs anywhere between 5 and 25 times more than customer retention.

A report recently published by Gartner supports this statement, pointing out that businesses need to invest in more resources to convince a prospect to become a customer.

This makes sense because customers are now bombarded with content that they’ve now learned to become skeptical towards the content they consume online. This is the reason why the average conversion rate for new customers ranges between 1% and 3%.

customer retention smart insights

Source: Smart Insights

Once they are convinced, however, it’s easier to convince them to come back and make a repeat purchase. In an article published by MarketWired, the chances of converting an existing customer to make a repeat purchase spikes to 60% – 70%!

Not only that, but repeat customers also purchase 30% more than first-time customers.

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Keeping your existing customers happy also helps you tap into the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

Despite the rise of different marketing strategies, word-of-mouth remains the most effective and economical way to promote your brand and products. That’s because people are willing to trust recommendations given to them by those that they know.

nielsen customer retention strategies

Source: Nielsen

Now that you see the benefits customer retention can provide, here are 10 different ways on how you can start delighting your customers and boost their loyalty to your brand.

1. Over-deliver, not over-promise

Whether or not they admit, many inbound marketers and salespeople tend to get carried away when it comes to delivering your brand and products’ value proposition.

This tactic may get your leads to buy into your product, but if your product or service doesn’t live up to their expectations, it could cause more harm than good. Not only will this cause your one-time customers to demand a refund, but they would also take their business to your competitors.

Worse, customers tend to be more aggressive in sharing their negative experience with people in their network. One study shows that 54% of customers with a negative experience towards a product or service will share this to at least 5 people in their network!

Even though you sincerely believe that your product and service is the best thing since sliced bread, keep your promises at a conservative level. Your customers will see anything above these promises as you go the extra mile for them, and they will they appreciate it. It will also further strengthen their loyalty and trust towards your brand and products enough for them to make a repeat purchase.

2. Be transparent and honest

According to a survey done by Label Insight, 94% of customers say that they are willing to stay loyal to a brand for as long as that it’s transparent to them. 39% of customers said that they are eager to switch from their preferred brand to another that offers more transparency towards their customers.

transparency customer retention strategies

Source: Label Insight

Of course, that doesn’t mean to say that you need to divulge every single bit of information about your business. What this means is that your customers want you to be honest and candid about your products and services, particularly when it comes to how they work and their limitations.

An excellent example of this is TheBestVPN, a website that provides readers with reviews on all the different Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers.

On their homepage, visitors will find a link where they can read through the different steps taken when they review each of the VPNs they include in their list.

bestvpn customer retention strategies

By doing this, their visitors are more confident that the reviews and other information they read for a particular VPN are free from any bias. As a result, their visitors can make better purchasing decisions and make them more confident in doing business with them.

3. Prioritize your customer service

For many businesses, it’s not their products that make or break them. It’s the quality of customer service that they provide their clients.

Every year, businesses in the US lose approximately $83 billion in revenue all because they fail to deliver quality support to their existing customers.

And it doesn’t end there.

56% of customers dissatisfied with the quality of service and support given to them say that they refuse to do business with that company again. Another 25% will strongly discourage their family and friends from doing business with you.

Provide Support customer retention strategies

Source: Provide Support

On the other hand, these are the stats that businesses enjoy when they take the time to make sure their customers receive quality customer service:

  • 85% of customers will choose to still stay loyal to your brand despite experiencing some form of inconvenience.
  • 73% of your customers will fall in love with your brand.
  • 62% of B2B customers will come back to spend more.
  • 42% of B2C customers will become repeat purchasers and spend more.

The key to providing quality customer service to your potential and existing customers is making sure that you give them the support they need quickly and in a friendly manner.

Investing in support system tools like live chat software can significantly improve your brand’s customer service. These ensure that your customers can quickly engage with you and get their concerns and issues resolved in real-time while still giving them the benefit of a one-on-one experience.

4. Create a customer loyalty program

Another effective way of improving your brand’s customer retention rate and boost customer loyalty is by having a customer loyalty program.

Loyalty programs work in two ways. First, by giving something back in return, you make them feel valuable and that you sincerely appreciate them doing business with you.

Second, it encourages them to take action that would benefit your business, depending on which customer loyalty program you choose to implement.

The point system model is the most common. Here, customers earn points when they make a purchase, answer a survey or refer their friends or family members. This will increase your revenue.

At the same time, your customers will help promote your brand and products to other potential clients.

5. Make your checkout process more convenient

Did you know that as much as 81% of people will not complete an online purchase because of a complicated process?

In fact, most customers would prefer that they go through as few steps as possible to complete their purchase. This is why Amazon remains as one of the preferred online shopping websites today. Its one-click payment option let customers quickly and conveniently buy what they want without having to go through so many steps.

Offering different payment options is another solution. Including payment solutions like PayPal, ApplePay, GoogleWallet, and even good old-fashioned Cash-on-Delivery will increase the level of trust your customers have for your business, making them want to keep coming back for more.

6. Offer discounts to new customers

Providing your new customers with a discount code that they can use on their next purchase would increase their chances of wanting to come back sooner to buy more items from your business.

Discounts can come in the form of percentages or dollar amounts. Give these a try and look at which ones resonate with your clients the most while still giving your startup a reasonable profit.

7. Listen to your customers

I’ve got news for you: it’s your customers — not your marketing team — that dictates what they would cause them to remain loyal to your business. So, make sure you to listen to what they have to say.

In addition to asking them to give you constructive feedback, make sure that you keep watching for anything they post about your brand and products on social media or in other parts of the web.

Mention’s social media monitoring tool is a great choice to invest in for this. It collects meaningful and relevant mentions of your brand, products and services on different Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook on a real-time basis.

That way, you can quickly engage new customers, respond to any questions, and even resolve complaints shared by potential and existing customers.

8. Provide valuable content through email

Email marketing is one of the pillars of customer retention. In fact, it plays such an important role that, if you don’t do this correctly, it can cause 23% of your existing customers to leave.

On the other hand, if you send emails with the right content at the right time, it can boost your customer retention, increase conversion rates, and generate more revenue.

That was the case Shopify found based on data they gathered during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. On these days, Shopify users found that emails yielded a 4.29% conversion rate.

Shopify customer retention strategies

Source: Shopify

There are several ways to do this. First is by sending your new customers a thank you email for making their purchase along with some questions on how they are enjoying the product or service they bought. This helps to reinforce their decision to buy from you and makes your brand appear more approachable.

Another way is by sending emails recommending complementary products and services along with customer reviews. This helps boost the value and appeal of these products and services, encouraging your customers to come back and make a repeat purchase.

If your offering products that are perishable or consumable, sending out emails with valuable information about your products’ lifespan and friendly reminders to replenish them at the right time will increase your chance of reviving dormant customers, and get them to come back to buy again.

9. Engage with your customers on social media

These days, social media plays an integral role in helping businesses build more meaningful relationships with their customers.

Creating a closed Facebook group will make them feel more like they’re part of a close-knit family. It also provides you with a platform where you can further nurture your customers so that they eventually become not just loyal customers, but even advocates of your brand.

10. Allocate your efforts wisely

Not all of your one-time shoppers will become loyal customers regardless of how much effort you put into your customer retention strategy. In fact, only 20% of your total customers will convert into loyal, repeat purchasers.

That said, make sure that you carefully direct your customer retention efforts towards those customers you observe that keep coming back to buy more from you.

Attracting new leads and converting them into paying customers is essential for your startup to begin generating revenue. However, that’s only the beginning. Once you’ve developed a client base, you need to allocate resources towards making them stay with you instead of going with your competitors.

The different customer retention strategies I’ve shared here won’t make miracles overnight. But with consistency, they can significantly make a difference in boosting customer loyalty for your brand.

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Kevin Payne is an inbound marketing consultant that has helped multiple Saas startups increase their online sales through the use of inbound marketing, growth hacking, and social selling. When he's not advising startups he often writes about the many lessons he has learned from the trenches.