Customer Retention Strategies and Personalization

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The holiday season is upon us which means companies will be preparing for many new customers. According to our benchmark survey with CommX, 63% of retailers are expecting holiday 2022 sales to beat 2021. Thus, it is critical to focus on customer retention strategies for repeat purchases beyond the holidays. 

In our webinar Winning Customer Loyalty Beyond Holiday Sales, we discussed several retention strategies that retailers can use to create a winning customer personalization experience such as:

  • Creating a loyal following straight from the first purchase
  • Focusing on personalization with customer retention strategies
  • Experimentation with new models for better data collection
  • Establishing strong loyalty programs
  • Keeping up with evolving retention strategies

Speakers:

  • Amanda Bopp, VP, North America Marketing at Kate Spade
  • Stephanie Urban, VP, Direct to Consumer at Camuto Group
  • Suruchi Shukla, VP, Marketing at Minted
  • George Khachatryan, CEO at OfferFit
  • Moderated by Veronika Sonsev, Co-Founder, CommerceNext

Watch the replay below and read the recap for the top takeaways. 

Customer Retention Strategies Webinar

From First Purchase to Loyal Following

First purchase capture is extremely important as the first step in building retention strategies—and in building a successful personalization program, which will ultimately power retention. 

Retailers should get as much first-party data as possible from their customers in order to customize outreach and product recommendations in the future. Past purchases can even be predictive in this way. There are correlations that can be useful to observe in personalization—for example, between the channels that customers elect for mail and the times of day they prefer such messaging. 

Centering Personalization in Customer Retention Strategies

Despite the promising predictions about sales for this coming holiday season, factors like inflation and a 16.6% return rate in 2021 (up from 10.6% in 2020) signal that this season will not be a promised success, according to OfferFit. In fact, the majority of our webinar attendees believe that their retention will be worse this year than last. 

Given this, it’s important to prepare retention strategies to optimize success not only this season, but also beyond. One of the best ways to maintain customer loyalty is to personalize the customer experience. 

OfferFit suggested three core tactics every personalization program should incorporate:

  1. Include promotions with targeted campaigns. Avoid blanket promotions, which can hurt margins, but also be mindful that if you have no promotions, customers will have less incentive to return. 
  2. Utilize paid retargeting campaigns which are successful with customers who have shopped with your brand before, and can be helpful in ensuring ROAS. 
  3. Personalize product suggestions (for more data on the importance of personalized product recommendations, check out our latest CommerceNext Research Report).

Keys to Success: Data, Models and Experimentation

Taking one step back, OfferFit shared that the foundation for personalization is unified data, and even still, not all personalization is effective. For example, adding a name to an email subject line could seem spam-like if implemented without truly understanding your consumer base. 

It is critical to engage in experimentation with personalization to test which strategies work best for your goals. One easy place to start is with communications frequency. Even simple concepts like employing a frequency model are helpful because you can set up penalties for numbers of unsubscribed actions and hone your relationships with customers by quickly reflecting their preferences. 

Automated experimentation, in particular, has benefits in comparison to manual A/B testing. Continuous automated testing allows for multiple dimensions to be evaluated simultaneously and is much better at personalizing 1:1 based on all available customer data. In addition, retailers can apply their findings automatically with always-on testing, and also can detect and apply to market changes instantly. 

Machine learning is up-and-coming in the industry and is making 1:1 customer personalization more viable. This is a big endeavor, so retailers should staff up or automate their personalization systems. 

Loyalty Programs and Promotions

Loyalty programs and promotions are some of the easiest ways to retain customers.Twenty-four percent of attendees use targeted promotions to drive second purchase and 13% claimed to use loyalty programs. 

Loyalty programs can take many different forms. Minted has a very successful subscription loyalty program with an annual payment accompanied by significant discounts and a specially made box with a $168 value. Interestingly and apropos to current Holiday strategy discussions, Minted gets most of its subscribers and redemptions in Q4. Camuto Group has a points-based and cash-back reward system with a month dedicated to offering incentives for their loyalty members. In exchange, Camuto Group receives first-party data from its consumers. 

Promotions are both crucial in driving the top line of business and in  earning loyalty from specific customer cohorts, when necessary. They are helpful in converting customers into another category of shopping, as well. Promotions are a great way to recommend different products to both new and loyal customers. Minted stressed that they make their promotions journey-based for their customers. 

Evolving Customer Retention Strategies

Retention strategies have changed both in the context of modern technology and the ongoing pandemic. Minted is focusing less on a wholesale shift and more on reactivating former channels of influence pre-pandemic. The company has employed several strategies like influencer and TV marketing to both gain new customers but also retain their consistent consumers. 

Evolving industry technology has significantly improved customer retention strategies. Customer data platforms (CDP) can help organize priorities for different personalization goals. Setting up a CDP is helpful in enabling fluid work for machine-learning, which many companies are adopting. AI based predictive analytics and category-affinity segments also contribute to an easier experience in catering to customer preferences. 

Our webinar today covered many important topics about capturing customer loyalty from early on, new strategies for retention, and building a personalized relationship with consumers for continued purchases. 

To learn more insightful tips about retention and personalization, in both Holiday and beyond, be sure to register for our upcoming Ecommerce Growth Show in NYC in June 2023. 

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