Keep Customer Loyalty Over the Long Term

Building Long Term Customer Retention

Customer Loyalty The most successful businesses have a well optimised e-commerce website and pay close attention to building customer loyalty in all they say and do. This need for good customer loyalty is true, whether you are selling a physical product or a professional service of some sort.

The customer loyalty game is not always easy to play as according to one survey seven out of ten consumers visit multiple website's before making an online purchase, so they can find the best possible deal.

Another survey found that 42% of Internet shoppers use comparison search engines to compare prices before they buy.

So it's clear from these surveys that special offers and discounted prices are an essential part of a good customer retention program. But with all that shopping around what else must you do to attract and turn your customers into long term buyers of your products or services?

This is where SEO, social networking and a good web design can help. Your site, and any shopping cart, must be very easy to use, with clear navigation and no broken links, otherwise your site visitors will quickly leave your site and go somewhere else.

When potential customers visit your website you want them to take an action of some sort. You want them to make a purchase, sign up for your services or a perhaps request a newsletter.And once they do it for the first time, you want them to continue doing business with you. You want to create a "loyal" band of customers who frequently return to buy an ever expanding range of your products or services.

To achieve these aims you need to use as many incentives as possible to keep getting a regular flow of new customers and to encourage your existing customers to order again.

It should be obvious to everyone that a 'happy' returning customer costs you a lot less in online marketing than trying to generate new visitors using something like a Pay Per Click program. A happy returning customer, also improves your websites return on investment (ROI) and, as a result, increases your sales income. What's more a returning customer who is impressed with your service levels will already be sold on the product or service you provide and be happy to purchase it.

Return on investment - or ROI - is the rate of revenues received for every pound invested in an item or activity. In a marketing sense, knowing the ROI of your advertising and marketing campaigns helps you to identify which techniques are most effective in generating income for your business.

So why are customer loyalty and SEO linked? This is because all the search engine optimisation in the world will not do any good, unless the online business is also playing its part by developing overall customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Customer loyalty may be a single program or incentive, or an ongoing series of programs, all designed to attract and keep your customers. So what are some of the ways to do this?

Buy-one-get-one-free programs are very popular, as are purchases that come with rebates or free gifts. Another good incentive for achieving customer loyalty is offering a risk free trial period for a product or service (this tactic is very popular with software providers).

Customer loyalty is also achieved through high value trade-ins, extended warranties and rebates.

Also known as brand name loyalty, these types of customer loyalty incentives are meant to ensure that customers will return, not only to buy the same product again and again, but also to try other products or services offered by your company.

To help manage your customer loyalty programs make sure you track all the visitors to your website whether they purchase something or not. At QBS PC Help we highly recommend Google Analytics as a great analytical tool. To use it all you need to do is sign up and place a small piece of code on each page of your website. Google give an easy to follow guide on how to do this.

Using Google Analytics you can track visitors, set up goals and e-commerce reports and a whole lot more.

Successful customer loyalty is the result of a well-managed customer retention program. All good customer retention programs rely on communicating with your customers on a regular basis. Opposite you will find a list of some of the best ways to build customer loyalty.

Build Customer Loyalty

Here are some great ways to build customer loyalty:

1. Regular communication

Whether it is an email newsletter, an online downloadable catalogue or a reminder for a product or service renewal, reach out to your existing customers. Keep them fully informed about your business products or services and you will see positive results. In particular, email newsletters are very affective if you have a good sized customer mailing list that you can target.

As you keep in regular touch with your customers some will do your company a great deal of good by telling their family and all their friends about your company and the products or services you offer.

2. First class customer service

Go the extra distance and meet customer needs. Train your staff (if any) to do the same. If you treat your customers well they will remember this, and will be more inclined to buy your products or services again and again.

3. Customer incentives

Give your existing customers a reason to return to your web based business by offering good encouragement and incentives in all your communications with them.

4. Product awareness

Know what your regular customers purchase and always keep these items in stock. Over time, add other products or services that compliment the items that your customers already buy. And make sure that your staff (if any) understand everything they can about your products, so they can answer any 'technical' questions that might be put to them.

5. Always keep your website up to date

Update your website frequently with new product information, pricing, on-going sales and other incentives. If products are no longer available, are out-of-stock, or on backorder, post a note on the product page and underneath any image that might be present. If possible give a time frame of when the product will be available. The last thing customers want is to reach the checkout page to find out that the item they wanted is no longer available or is out of stock.

6. Know your customers name and personal details

Use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to keep track and organise your contacts with current and prospective customers. Typical CRM goals are to improve the services you provide to customers, and to use customer contact information for targeting marketing campaigns.

See the definition of CRM.

7. Up sell your products or services

Always try to move your customers up the next level, to bigger and better products or services, as this will greatly improve your overall profitability.

8. Make your business or service reliable

If your website states that a purchase will arrive on Wednesday, make sure it is delivered on Wednesday. Be a reliable business who sticks to its promises. If something goes wrong, let your customer know immediately via email or a phone call and compensate them for any inconvenience.

9. Be Flexible when solving problems

Try to solve your customer problems or complaints to the best of your ability and never offer feeble excuses for poor service or zero stock levels. Always try to minimise problems.

10. Employee Training (if applicable)

Train your employees in the manner that you want them to interact with your customers. If you use a CRM tool make sure everyone is trained on how to use it. Empower your employees to make decisions that always try to benefit your customers.

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