Customer Retention in a Recession Requires Ongoing Customer Engagement

by Sean Ogino | Customer Loyalty, eCommerce

Welcome to the second part of our ongoing Customer Retention series. If you missed the first part of our series, you can read it here.

Weathering through the storm market volatility is not easy. It requires making good judgment calls and trusting your team to pull together. But it also means shielding yourself through the worst parts of the downpour by focusing on what is already working.

In our previous blog post on the subject, we talked about the importance of doubling down on customer retention through enhancing your customer loyalty offerings and email tactics. We saw the difference refreshing your loyalty offerings can make for a business like Macy’s, who is closing store locations and eliminating jobs over the next three years but is focusing their efforts on loyalty version 3.0. We also highlighted the importance of email messages and deliverability.

Today, we continue our deep dive into the realm of customer retention by spotlighting the need to constantly reinforce your relationships with your customers. First, we’ll focus on how you need to market your loyalty program and second, how your website is your most important driver of conversions.

Market Your Loyalty Program

Customer retention techniques only work if you market them. It is an unfortunate reality that some businesses invest in a loyalty program but fail to properly engage and inform their customers about the program. Please don’t make this mistake as the results from your customer retention and loyalty program are very meaningful and significant.  

A loyalty program is a psychological signal to the consumer that you are investing in the relationship beyond the one-time transactions (which we discuss in our piece on creating emotional loyalty).

By effectively marketing your loyalty program, you amplify your brand’s signal to your customers that you are focused on rewarding them for their loyalty. One of our clients, MacKenzie-Childs, does a great job at this. They regularly inform and market their loyalty program to their customers, making it an important customer touchpoint in the customer journey.  

During the holiday season, they regularly market their loyalty program and the benefits it offers to entice customers to return to their eCommerce store. Members in higher tiers can expect a surprise reward (you can read about surprise and delight techniques here) that are unique only to people in the loyalty program. Customers can also expect a points promotion, special offers such as faster shipping and exclusive access to upcoming new products. 

The exclusivity creates a club that adds to feelings of connectedness or relatedness within the community. When combined with an active marketing campaign on the sites where we connect (social media), you can generate buzz and excitement which are necessary ingredients to ongoing and successful customer engagement.

Drive traffic directly to your website.

One of the main drivers of any form of customer retention is making sure your main conversion hub is optimized – your website. With main retail locations shut down due to the current COVID-19  economic situation, all traffic absolutely must be pointed directly to your website to maximize your conversions.

The main move at this stage is to convert those formerly physical store shoppers into online shoppers. Your email list (which we discussed in our previous article in the series), will be your main point of contact to drive them directly to the site. Technologies like Native Receipt Scanner (NRS) then you to reward customers who are purchasing your products at other retailers like Target, Walmart, Amazon, etc. e.l.f. Cosmetics is doing a great job using this technology to further engage and reward their customers. 

The incremental traffic to your site due to COVID-19 is your opportunity to convert. Your customer retention and loyalty program during this critical time period will play a critical role in your success for 2020. However, you must take action now as opposed to waiting for the “market turnaround.” Hope is not a strategy. And, while Amazon is currently fulfilling orders for essential goods only, your eCommerce store is able to take advantage of those consumers that must look elsewhere.

We recommend a couple of things during this time to help you retain your most profitable customers:

  1. Market your loyalty program by placing it in conspicuous parts of your website. Reinforce the message that the loyalty program is for the customer’s benefit. Add more rewards that will appeal to your customers during this difficult economic climate such as allowing more time to redeem earned rewards or providing more points for any new customer referrals.  
  2. Remind consumers about your newsletter and signing up for it. This is one of the best times to capture consumers you can nurture for the future, and is probably one of the few good uses of the delayed 30-second pop-up.
  3. Show off any activities that prove that your business is engaging in Corporate Social Responsibility. Case in point, Zara’s owner is offering to produce hospital gowns for hospitals in Spain. Also, now is a great time to reward your customers for doing good in the world by purchasing items for their friends and family.
  4. Focus on eliminating as many bottlenecks to conversion as possible on the website. Convince users to create wish lists so that their information can be cookied and restored upon their next visit, when they have the ability to purchase.

With these changes to your website under your belt, you can put yourself into a position of success as we start to get past the impact of COVID-19.  Be ready for it, but also be mindful of your messaging because this is a very volatile market. We don’t want to discourage potential visitors – we want them to be excited for when it all turns around.

Tune back in next week for our next article in our continuing series on customer retention.

 
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