Underused Ways To Engage And Retain Customers In Ecommerce

By Guest Author | Business

Feb 22

How well do you engage and retain your customers? A recent survey among DTC brands found 28% to be the average customer retention rate. If you’re below that, your ecommerce business will probably benefit from upping its game at engagement and retention.

But we will not be talking about tactics like using reward points or fighting cart abandonment with a discount. They’re pretty clear and overused. We’ll go over some underused ways to engage and retain customers in ecommerce that are actually very effective.

The idea is to trigger targeted emails at specific times to engage the customer in a more natural, relevant way. There are so many opportunities for authentic interactions between brands and buyers that companies miss out on. Here are some examples of moments in the customer journey and how you can react to them in order to continue building the two-way relationship.

Content engagement

Most ecommerce businesses go down the road of constant, non-stop promotions. Once they get a lead’s email, they start bombarding them with offers all the time. Of course, getting sales is the ultimate goal but let’s be realistic. 

People can only shop so much. Going through all your products categories and varying the discount in two emails a day is counterproductive. They will get bored, probably even annoyed. Research shows that 69% of US shoppers would unsubscribe from a company’s newsletter because of too many emails.

A better approach would be to alternate sales messages and non-promotional content. This way, you engage your audience without wearing them down with CTAs. This content can be information about your products and industry, new research you’ll be using, projects you’re involved in, partnership announcements, events, etc. 

Anything about the interests you have in common with your customers will also do — maybe it’s a love for travelling, or sports, or skincare, or a particular type of music. Developing your content pays off because brand awareness and loyalty can soar when you blend brand and lifestyle. 

So, in between promotions, send emails that are pure fun or useful advice. People will learn to open and read those emails since they’d be genuinely interested. And you’ll be the brand that comes to mind when they finally decide to buy something.

Credit: ReallyGoodEmails

Restock reminders

If you sell everyday items like personal hygiene products, pet products, food or drink items, etc. retention should be a top priority. Your products are meant to be used all the time, after all! 

The least you can do is to set up automatic emails to trigger at a certain time after making a purchase. How long does your deodorant last? Set the email to go off a few days before that to remind people they need to restock if they don’t want to wake up to no deodorant. You can get creative here and play with urgency CTAs to get their attention with every email.

Credit: Clicks

These type of restocking reminders are useful for the customers (so they receive them well) and increase your retention and sales.

“Buy as a gift” offer

After a customer buys from you, you might find yourself in a position where you don’t have another product to offer them. This is the case of one-product stores and many DTC brands that start out with a small product range. Take Palmpress, for example. It sells a proprietary coffee press, two accessories and one kind of coffee. This means it could be difficult to convince people to keep coming back to Pampress once they’ve bought these products. 

You can suggest that your (only) product will make a good gift. When looking for gifts, people are often worried about how to choose something good. If they’ve tried the product before, they’d be more at ease, which is a great advantage over other products. It should be an easy conversion so definitely reach out to your old customers especially around the holidays to give them the idea.

Gathering and using feedback

For a strong relationship with the customer, you should be open to feedback. People love sharing their opinions and that can actually help you. First, they are much more willing to give feedback after a negative experience — it’s just human nature. So you’ll know where to start improving. You will get ideas for products and services as well, which is great if you don’t know how to grow from here.

Also, asking people to share their thoughts makes them feel heard and important. This can be especially if you add a personal thank you, for example. They’d want to see if you implement any of it so they’d stay engaged with the brand. And even if that one experience had not been optimal, those customers might forgive you and come back because they see the effort on your part. 

Feedback was the tactic Native used to become the wildly successful brand it is today. It went through over 20 formulas for their deodorant until it finally was what people loved and sales went crazy.

User-generated content challenges

UGC works both ways: it makes people think about and use your products more, but it also is authentic social proof for others. 

It’s a great way to retain customers. They like it because they’ve already bought the product, no need to buy it again. And the exposure is intoxicating, especially in times when many people aspire to be a micro-influencer. 

On the other hand, others will see your product in various settings, used by normal people, even someone they know. This is both persuasion and inspiration. It’s not just the perfect studio pictures they see on your site, the product is a lot more engaging when they see it as a part of life.

Below is an example of Boden’s user-generated style gallery. Products are tagged on the photos.

Credit: BodenUSA

These under-the-radar tactics could engage and retain your customers better than some of the more popular methods. Their power is in the fact they bring positive emotions for the customer, unlike some cold sales calls that are too harsh, intrusive and unhelpful. Try them for yourself!

Author bio: Murry Ivanoff is the CEO of Metrilo, an ecommerce analytics, CRM and email tool in one. Metilo helps ecommerce brands grow through customer engagement and retention.