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Before you even begin selling your products, customer retention—the art of keeping your customers with your business—should be a major part of your success plan. The stability offered by subscriptions and recurring customers often allows merchants to expand their businesses. But growth is hard to achieve if your store is dealing with high churn or unhappy customers that don’t plan to return.

As a merchant, your efforts to increase customer retention should be focused around providing flexible purchase options, opportunities for engagement, and rewarding loyal customers.

Continue reading to learn more about these and other top strategies for retaining customers.

1. Create a strong brand community

If you want to connect with your new and existing customers and ensure they stick around in the long term, having a solid brand community will make all the difference. Customer loyalty thrives when there is a connection between consumers and your brand. There are so many great ways to build a brand community, such as creating a Facebook group for your subscribers or giving shoppers a chance to give back with their purchases. 

Another big component of creating a brand community, and thus boosting customer retention metrics, is encouraging and sharing user-generated content. Whether it’s YouTube videos, Instagram stories, or TikTok videos, you can create buzz and keep customers around longer when they feel like they’re appreciated by your brand. 

2. Incorporate SMS

A major factor in retention is flexibility. When existing customers have the option to skip a shipment, add items to their order, or further customize their subscription through transactional SMS, you can increase customer average lifetime value (LTV) by up to 30%. 

Consumers want to be able to manage their own subscriptions easily, without having to engage your Customer Support team—and incorporating SMS is one of the best ways for ecommerce brands to provide that needed flexibility. Reach new and existing customers on their mobile devices, and you’ve unlocked one of the keys to increasing customer lifetime value and retention.

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3. Offer incentives

Any merchant looking to retain customers should take advantage of incentives. When you offer special discounts, free shipping, and other perks for your subscribers, customers will feel valued and encouraged to come back and purchase again. Incentives can also help you acquire new customers, and reward your most loyal customers. Here are a few more ideas for merchants looking to offer incentives for the first time:

  • Give subscribers early access to new products
  • Offer bonuses like free shipping or special discounts
  • Allow customers to give back to a meaningful cause related to your mission by making a donation with their purchase

Often, merchants will create memberships, where customers can pay for access to these types of exclusive benefits. Acting as another rung in the ladder of incentives, memberships are easy to introduce and give your customers access to your brand in a new and exciting way. 

4. Make subscription management easy

As mentioned, allowing customers to easily skip or reschedule an order is high on the list of retention strategies. When consumers feel locked into their subscription with the key nowhere in sight, they’re more likely to bolt. Instead, make it easy for customers to manage their own subscription, whether it’s updating an address, adding a one-time product, or skipping a shipment. 

Create a customer portal that’s easy to use and your customers will relish the flexibility and convenience of your subscription services—it plays an integral part in optimizing your customer experience

5. Incorporate customer feedback into product development

Another helpful retention strategy is to structure your products in a way that will appeal to your customers. You can do this by learning and evolving based on helpful customer feedback. Solicit customer comments and track consumer behavior through analytics—then put those learnings to use and entice shoppers to stay with your business longer.

6. Give the option to prepay

When you consider increasing customer retention, a big component comes down to cost and billing. One strategy that can greatly help retention is offering a prepaid option to customers. When their credit cards are charged less often, customers may stick around a little longer. 

A Mac laptop is shown open, with a woman's hands holding a credit card and typing.

7. Start a loyalty program

Do you reward your loyal customers? Starting a customer loyalty program is another innovative way to keep customers around, not to mention make them happy they are a part of your brand community. There are many apps and integrations that merchants can use to help with their subscription program, like LoyaltyLion. You will be able to reward customers for referring friends and keeping their recurring subscriptions.

You can also give customers the opportunity to “unlock” special offers as they stick around—it will only increase their willingness to stay with you. Starting to incorporate discounts can look like seasonal discounts, free shipping, or even volume discounts. When shoppers see that there are discounts on the horizon, they will be incentivized to stay. 

8. Share your company’s mission

It’s no secret that customers today truly care about the brands they buy from and how they’re perceived by the world. Not only are shoppers eager to share their finds on social media, but they also want to make purchases that line up with their moral compass. Being transparent about your brand’s mission statement will help improve customer loyalty and retention. People will stick around because they care about what your brand stands for and the role they play in its success.

This image shows the ocean at the top, with the words "OUR WAY" layered above it; the bottom half is black text on a white background.
Petal is committed to creating a more sustainable world by reducing single-use plastic with their hand soap pods. Customers are drawn to how much care they put into their mission in helping to make the environment healthier. 

Keeping customers for life 

Focusing on customer retention programs is one of the best ways you can ensure stability and success for your brand. Merchants who think about customer retention from the beginning will be able to keep their loyal customers happy and satisfied with their subscription offerings. Utilizing these strategies as a playbook for retention will mean continued success for your store—like increased LTV and reduced customer churn—and a better customer experience.