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For any digital marketing strategy or digital communications plan, defining a set of objectives and clear strategy behind your plan is essential to the success. This post focuses on creating an actionable online customer retention plan, which by definition is maintaining or growing your existing customer base loyal to your product offering.
Retention should be at the heart of your digital strategy in maintaining and building communication with your existing customer base. Separate to this post, I’ve also created an outline covering techniques for creating a digital marketing strategy for acquisition.
So, where to start? I advise the same place as for all marketing plans!
Before embarking on your retention strategy, understanding your audience is a key requirement to ensure the chosen retention tactics are in line with your existing customer base – so begin to build up a profile of the type of customer/s that interact with your brand.
Retention is about engaging with your existing customer base, so you should already have a wealth of analytical insights on who your customers are, how they interact with your organisation and their purchase patterns.
A Persona (definition) helps the rest of your organisation understand the characteristics of customers and helps you to get buy-in from across the organisation – for example, here are a few Persona examples for an online sports retailer:
By bringing together the background and situation of the organisation (Understanding your audience), this content should now provide you with a set of Objectives as to why there is a requirement for a retention plan. To ensure success and buy-in within your business, create your set of retention objectives around the SMART principle, for example:
Now begin to define how these objectives will be realised – by identifying which digital marketing tactics you plan to use as a retention technique in meeting the objective of the plan. The chosen tactics should be justified from the findings you uncovered in evaluating your existing customer and how they interact with your brand in section 1.
As an example, here are a list of digital techniques tailored for retention with defined retention measurements linked back to the Objectives laid out earlier in this post:
Whilst SEO will be mainly be considered as a tactic to drive your acquisition objectives, there are many opportunities to utilise SEO to assist with your retention communications.
Creation of email templates – create and test out multiple email templates to your existing customer base and begin to monitor the effectiveness of your emails – look to segment your customer base and see which segment drives the best performance based on your retention measures e.g. repeat purchase
Ensure the right email technology is in place – if you’re using a 3rd party email software provider, does it provide you with the opportunity to create multiple email templates? the right metric reporting?
Ensure email lists are data cleansed before commencing a campaign – have you removed and are up to date with existing customers who wish to be unsubscribed? Have you tested out your email success rate in hitting your customer inbox?
Personalisation: Segmentation of your email audience by product or defined persona group
Analyse your current database of Social Media followers/fans
Create an Editorial content plan in place to drive timely content through SM channels – this should be based around the editorial plan mentioned under SEO in defining your content plan
Ensure you’ve provided in-house training for staff to use SM channels in communicating with customers – SM provides a timely and cost effective channel in providing a real-time customer service channel
With the chosen retention techniques in place, it’s crucial to measure and monitor the effectiveness of each channel throughout the campaign, so consider setting specific KPI’s for each channel. By setting KPI’s, this means each measure can be quantified and used as objectives and provide on-going measurement. The control phase of the report also provides insight into whether the overall objective of the campaign is being met within the set timeframe, e.g. 12 months.
Here are a list of suggested retention measurements that could be considered.
The retention part of the customer lifecycle is the most profitable, where the greatest level of relationship value is greatest. So take time and ensure you have a defined strategy and tactics in place that listens and builds communication with your existing customer base.
The Smart Insights Online retention planning guide has more detail on structuring and implementing a retention plan.
By Simon Swan
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