Following on from the article 10 Simple Hacks to Improve Conversion Rate on a Mobile Phone I wanted to dedicate a Friday afternoon on improving customer retention. This article will focus on hacks that you can done in an afternoon or at least set in motion.

What is customer retention?

Customer retention refers to the ability of a company to retain its paying customers who continue to buy over a specified time period.

Why is customer retention important?

  1. According to a data by KPMG in 2014 a survey of 100 senior US retail executives revealed that customer retention will be the most significant retail revenue driver in next 12 to 36 months.

Retail Revenue Drivers

  1. According to Econsultancy, 70% of respondents from a cross channel marketing report believed it was cheaper to retain then acquire a customer.


Importantance of Rentention



  1. A retained and happy customer is more likely to refer other customers to the business, increasing the customer base and further grow the business.


What can we do drive customer retention?

Customer Retention Hacks

Hack 1

According to a report from RightNow Technologies, 89% of customers begin doing business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Take the afternoon and sit and listen to the customer calls, read customer emails or visit online review sites that talk about your brand. Make a list of common problems and score them on the impact on the business and the amount of effort required to fix it. Find the sweet spot where effort to resolve the issue is minimal and the impact is greatest, and go resolve those issues or begin the process to resolve them.

Hack 2

Transpomo emails come from the terms transactional and promotional. A transpomo email is when a promotion piggybacks on an existing transactional emails such as order confirmation, shipping confirmation or your account has been created email. Transactional emails have the highest open rates, so it makes sense to piggy back of these.

If you already do transpomo review the results. What can be improved? Can you create a schedule to promote specific events or products. For example in June you could have a banner for the Summer sale, in November Black Friday. Or add a special offer.

If you do not do transpomo email, create a offer banner and get it added to a transactional email and test.

Customer Feedback

Hack 3

Leverage customer feedback (good and bad). Once a order has been shipping, it is common to ask the customer to leave a review.  If the review is positive, send a follow up offer. It could a store wide percentage discount, money off discount, a promotion for a related product or a promotion for a popular product.

If the review is negative, get the customer service team to follow up with the customer to resolve any issues they may have. Once the customer is happy, give them a special discount for their next purchase.

What can be done on a Friday afternoon? You can place an order,  follow the process and see what happens over the coming days, arrange a meeting between customer service and marketing or put a plan together how you think it should work and how it can be tested. A simple hack could be to take customers from both pools (those who left a positive review and those who left a negative review but have had their issue resolved) and send out an offer.  Measure the uptake on the offer. Test different offers to see what works best.


Hack 4

Provide incentives for the second purchase.  Once a customer has made their first purchase it is common to treat the customer no different from a loyal customer who has bought several times from your business. For a first time purchaser, give them the opportunity to leave more about your company, what makes your company special or the values that the company believe in.  It could involve giving them a free gift on their second purchase, free delivery/shipping on their next order or a free upgrade. Spend the afternoon defining what you could offer and a way to test to determine the most popular offer.

Social Media

Hack 5

Social media and TOMA (Top of Mind Awareness). Being in regular communication with your first time purchasers helps develop TOMA, which increases the possibility of a second purchase. A first time purchaser may follow a brand over social media for different reasons (latest offers, for fun, new products or to communicate with the brand). Check if you have a program to introduce social to you first time purchasers. If you don’t, spend Friday afternoon developing a plan how you will to connect to first time purchasers  and how it can be tested. Look for a quick and an easy way to test the impact of social on first time purchasers.


Hack 6

Subscription Service. A subscription service allows a customer to select a product and determine how often they want to receive it. The benefit to the customer is convenience and knowing it is less likely to run out. Examples of subscription services include contact lenses, food or beauty products. Not all products lend themselves well for a subscription but being able to identify the rights one can lead customer going from single time purchasers to multiple time purchasers. Spend Friday afternoon identifying what product you can currently sell that could be sold on a subscription service or new products that be sold. Find a quick way to test it (having a product page with the option to sign up to a subscription, just a banner advertising the service and monitor the clicks).

Hack 7

Packaging Insert program. An insert program can be a discount offer, it could include a product sample, a small gift like sweets, a thank you card or a request to share on social media . Creating a delight or surprise with a first-time purchaser can help to generate that second sell. Spend Friday afternoon defining what are the possible options you can test in an insert program.

Loyalty Program

Hack 8

Loyalty program. Loyalty programs not only can help achieve that second sell, it can also help strengthen the brand affinity and build long term benefits. Make a list of all the loyalty programs that the people in office subscribe to. Identify the characteristics of the most popular programs and how they could relate to your ebusiness. Once you have some ideas run them by the team. See what resonates and develop a way to test it out. For a hack, invite a handful of customers into you office on a Friday afternoon and walk through each of the offers. See which one is most popular and why.

Hack 9

Complimentary products campaign. If I have purchased a pair of jeans, a pair of trainers, an iPhone over an Android device or a book there will be a complimentary good or goods that a customer could be interested in buying. Look at what your competitors offer and compare to your offering for your top selling products. Do you see a gap? Is there something you could add to your product category? Is there something that could differentiate from your competitors? Make a list. Also make a list of how you target these customers? In  basket as a cross sell? On the order confirmation page? As a transpomo email? An offer email? Paid social? For a hack, if you have a customer service team who take phone orders, test different complimentary offers when customers call to place an order.


Hack 10

CRMs have a wealth of customer insight if you ask the right questions. For example, what can you learn about your loyal customers that could be applied to first time purchasers? On a Friday afternoon make a list of open ended questions that help you determine the key characteristics of a loyal and regular customer. For example, what are the commonly purchased products for loyal customers versus those single time purchasers. What is the average frequency of purchase for loyal customers? What was the time gap between the first and second purchase? Did they full price for the second purchase or was it discounted? Did they purchased through an offer on email or social? For a hack, if you know which products are commonly purchased by loyal customers determine which ones can be tested over email on first time purchasers. Put together a test plan.


I write about ecommerce, m-commerce and marketing. I live and work in London.

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