In early 2021, Clubhouse gained over 10M users in just a couple of months.
It looked like it was going to be the next big social media platform.
But soon after, the hype died down and growth came to a halt.
This isn’t uncommon among many startups.
In fact, some of the fastest growing companies often neglect the most important business metric — user retention.
Without knowing how to retain existing customers, all of your customer acquisition efforts go to waste. It’s like pouring water into a leaky bucket.
No matter how much water you pour at the top, you will never have enough water in the bucket.
This is what happens to businesses that don’t pay attention to customer retention in their marketing.
Customer retention marketing is the practice of keeping customers engaged with your products and services in a way that turns them into repeat buyers. It involves having a product or service that solves a specific problem better than any other company and a great customer experience that builds brand loyalty.
Strong customer retention is what keeps a business healthy. It’s much easier to retain a customer, or have them continue buying from you, than it is to convince a totally new customer to purchase from you for the first time.
Not only that, customer retention makes it a lot easier to acquire new customers. The longer someone uses your product or service, the more likely they are to recommend you to their friends and family.
This word-of-mouth acquisition that occurs from having a strong retention rate is what leads to a lower cost to acquire a customer (CAC).
But customer retention is not solely based on one team within a company. It’s a combination of having a great product team, a great customer service team, and a great marketing team.
The responsibility of customer retention typically falls on the marketing team. Marketers are responsible for understanding the pain points and desires that make people want to continue using a product or service.
However, much of customer retention is based on the first impression someone has with your brand. You can have a great product, with an even greater marketing campaign, but if someone has a bad experience, especially when it comes to customer support, there’s a good chance they won’t continue using your product.
So one could argue that customer service and success teams are at the forefront of customer retention. The marketer's job is to get people in the door. But the customer service team is responsible for making sure customers are happy and that their questions are answered.
Making sure customer questions via email, chatbot, or social media are answered in a timely manner is crucial to creating a great customer experience.
But you might be asking yourself, how do you even calculate customer retention?
Knowing how to measure customer retention is key to making sure your business is growing at a healthy rate.
Let’s talk about a few ways to think about measuring customer retention.
Customer retention and customer churn are pretty much the opposite of each other. The word “churn” is generally used by subscription companies to explain when a user stops paying for their service.
Customer churn = bad.
Customer retention = good.
Customer churn is an important metric to know because it’s how you determine growth in your company. According to Kevin Hale, a Partner at Y Combinator, growth is the gap between conversion and churn.
If you don’t know your churn rate, you may be mistaken for what growth actually looks like in your company.
If you’re just focused on acquiring new customers, and you forget if people are actually sticking around and turning into repeat buyers, you could miscalculate growth.
This is why knowing your churn rate is important.
Later in this article, we’ll go over a few tools you can use to help you calculate your churn rate, as it will depend on the type of business model you have.
Calculating your customer retention rate (CRR) is going to depend on a lot of different factors. However, there is a simple formula you can use.
To calculate CRR, you need a specific time frame. This is going to be hard to track if you’ve just started your business. But if you’ve been around for a while, ideally you want to look at data over a 12-month period.
Assuming you have a year's worth of customer data, you can calculate CRR using this formula:
Using this formula will help you calculate your customer retention rate. Again, make sure you pay attention to the measured period you are using and keep it a constant.
The last way you can measure customer retention in your marketing is to look at your average customer lifetime value (LTV). This will take a while to calculate accurately, but your LTV is a key metric in determining how much each individual customer is worth.
We already wrote a full guide on LTV on our blog, so we won’t go into too much detail here.
But the main takeaway with LTV is that there is a correlation between retention and LTV. The longer you retain a customer, the higher your LTV will be.
So if you see LTV growing over time, it’s a good sign that each individual customer is paying you more over their entire customer lifecycle.
In order to calculate this metric easily, you’ll want to integrate your customer data with some sort of customer analytics tool.
Here are a few tools you can use to track trends in your customer retention and data:
Chatdesk Trends aggregates all of your customer conversations happening across email, chat, and social and gives you real-time automatic customer insights.
With Chatdesk, you can analyze customer feedback and check for any negative sentiment in conversations happening around your brand.
You can also send your customers NPS surveys to get a better understanding of how people feel about your brand.
ChartMogul is a platform used by many SaaS (software as a service) companies to track everything related to their company’s revenue metrics.
The great thing about ChartMogul is that it lets you see data around customer acquisition, current customers, and churned customers.
Over time, you’ll be able to get an accurate picture of your customer retention rate and your churn rate during a given time period — weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Involve.ai is a customer success platform that helps you identify churn before it actually happens.
It’s an early warning system that lets you see what segments of customers are more likely to churn or stick around for a longer period of time.
The great thing about Involve.ai is it helps you find churn before it happens. So, it’s a great way to segment customers and incentivize them to stay using some of the customer retention strategies we are about to go over.
Here are seven customer retention strategies you can use today:
Let’s dive a bit deeper into each one.
Creating a personalized first-purchase experience is a great way to create a memorable first impression and make a customer feel as if your product or service was made exactly for them.
When done successfully, this can seriously impact your chances of increasing customer retention in the long term.
More often than not, your onboarding process is what determines if someone wants to keep coming back to your product. If you can’t create a great experience from the get-go, customers will lose trust, get bored, and move on to the next product that can woo them.
This is why it’s so important to get your first interaction with a customer right. If you can delight users on their first purchase, it’s going to lead to better customer satisfaction, and your customers will be more likely to engage in any referral programs you may offer to them later in their customer lifecycle (more on this later).
One of the best ways to create customer loyalty is to be proactive in the way that you communicate, both with your existing customers and potential customers.
Being proactive shows that you’re always one step ahead of your customers, and that you have thought through any questions or concerns they may have beforehand.
One way companies are being proactive today is by leveraging outsourced US-based support agents through Chatdesk. These agents are experts in your industry and work diligently to understand your brand's messaging and customer base.
Chatdesk support agents then go on to respond to customer inquiries, engage with people in your niche on social media, and nurture customer relationships.
Instead of being reactive to customer complaints, the idea here is to be proactive and give your customers access to solutions they will eventually need.
Another way you can do this is to create a knowledge base on your website to let first-time customers know that you have a self-service customer service option for them if they ever need it.
This will make customers feel safe and assured that they will always be able to find the answer to their questions whenever they come up.
One strategy many subscription companies use is to give a discount when a customer is about to cancel their subscription.
For example, if you sell a SaaS product that is worth $99 a month, when someone tries to cancel their subscription plan, you could offer 20% off their monthly plan if they decide not to cancel.
It’s a marketing tactic that can work if your customers are churning because of a pricing issue, or if a competitor tries to undercut your prices.
However, it is important to note that if pricing is the only issue, there’s a good chance that this type of customer may eventually churn regardless. If your product is actually solving a strong pain point for a user, paying an extra 20% should not make much of a difference.
So while this tactic can help retain some users and help with retention, the customers you do retain may not be the highest quality users that you’d want.
One of the best ways to show your appreciation for your most valued customers is to give them perks and rewards for being loyal to your brand.
Many companies do this through loyalty programs.
For example, if you’re an ecommerce store, you could set up an automation that sends customers a discount code after they surpass a certain number in total revenue with you. Not only does this show that you care about your customer, but it also helps in creating a repeat purchase.
Using social proof in your marketing is a great way to show off your customers. This not only helps in acquiring new customers but also in improving your customer retention rate.
This is because customers want to know that a product or service was designed for them. If you show off your customers in your marketing, it gives your users a chance to go, “hey, that’s just like me!”
This, in turn, reassures your customers that they made the right decision in choosing your brand over others.
People just want to know they made the right decision, so try to leverage this strategy as much as you can, especially if your product serves multiple different use cases.
For example, if you’re a SaaS company, it may be a good idea to write case studies, do webinars with successful customers, and ask for video testimonials.
If you’re an ecommerce company, you can ask for video testimonials, highlight top customers via email marketing campaigns, and provide your existing customers with guides created by other customers on how to use your product. Of course, this all depends on the type of product you’re using and the use case it solves.
Similar to our first point about creating a personalized experience, creating segmented marketing campaigns is a great way to engage different audiences that may be using your product or services.
If you’re a SaaS company that sells a product that can be used by freelancers and large enterprises, you want to make sure you speak differently to each cohort of users.
If you send a generic email to all of your customers, it may not resonate.
When you try to speak to everyone, you speak to no one.
Instead, you should create segments of different users and send email campaigns tailored to their pain points.
A great way to create loyal customers is to create a brand that truly cares about doing good in the world.
When you’re selling a commodity, like apparel, quality is important. But what’s even more important is what your company stands for. Your brand is what sets you apart.
A great example of a company building brand loyalty through giving back is Patagonia. Since 1985, they’ve pledged 1% of their revenue to support environmental causes — giving back over $140M to date.
And as of last year, the company decided to donate all of its profits to fighting climate change.
So every time someone purchases something from Patagonia, they know that they’re contributing to positive change. And this makes customers want to continue supporting a brand that actually cares.
Customer retention marketing is crucial for creating a healthy and sustainable business. If you can’t create repeat customers, you’re going to have a hard time creating a loyal customer base that helps your brand grow through word of mouth.
It’s much easier and more cost-effective to focus on keeping your existing customers, or turning them into repeat customers, instead of only focusing on acquiring new ones.
Hopefully, one of the strategies we went over in this article will help you create a better customer retention strategy in your marketing.
And if you need help with creating a great customer experience, don’t hesitate to book a free pilot with Chatdesk!