This sponsored post is produced in association with Citrix GoToWebinar.

In today’s hyper-connected, multi-channel world, turning a lead into a loyal customer has become almost as challenging as turning lead into gold for an alchemist. Fortunately, marketers today actually have all the tools needed to guide their customers’ journey through the sales funnel and maximize their lifetime value.

Focusing on user retention is key. In e-commerce, customer acquisition costs are sky-high — so you need to ensure your customers keep coming back to break even on your investment.

In fact, an online customer loyalty study by Bain & Co revealed that even a five percent increase in customer retention can lead to an increase in profits of between 25 and 95 percent. Additionally, the report also highlighted that most businesses need to retain customers for at least 12 to 18 months to break even on their investment.

The path to customer contentment is easier to walk when it’s guided by the two beacons of user loyalty — brand authenticity and sincerity to service.

Actions speak louder than words. If you’re ready to lead a mature customer loyalty initiative, then here are a few service catastrophes you want to avoid — the things that will undermine any retention efforts:

  • Inconsistent resolution of customer issues
  • Over-promising/under-delivering service
  • Treating customers crudely or showing mistrust
  • Repetitive transfers of customer support calls and poor delegation for handling the complaint ticket
  • Leaving the customers in “support limbo” without following up on queries and issues
  • Incessantly advertising another product to the customers without fully resolving their support issues
  • Providing inadequate FAQs and outdated product information to customers

Before setting off on your journey to become a master of user retention, it’s essential to first become a keen student of personalized marketing strategy. According to a study by Experian Marketing Services, personalized marketing emails receive 29 percent higher open rates and 41 percent higher click-through rates than non-personalized mailings.

Emphasizing the essence of personalized marketing, Qubit CEO Graham Cooke said, “By understanding your customers’ previous browsing and shopping behavior, you can improve retention by showing products they might have run out of or through a better understanding of their preferences.”

All of this adds up to pro-active engagement with your customers, the kind seen in the four approaches below.

1. Offer a loyalty program

All loyalty programs beget user retention, but not all loyalty programs are created equal. Arbitrary titles like “VIP” or “Gold Member” are frivolous if you simply fail to communicate the short-term and long-term benefits of your loyalty scheme to your consumers,

A strong multichannel loyalty scheme strives for constant relevance in the eyes of your customer by giving you a transparent account of the points rewarded for each purchase. By tracking their score, you can send special promotional offers that highlight how they can redeem those points for maximum savings.

No matter what kind of loyalty program you implement, it’s always best to allow customers use the devices that are part of their lives 24/7. Do away with inconvenient punch cards and let your customers use their mobile device to receive updates and track offers through push notifications or app engagements.

Incentivizing social media actions as part of your loyalty program is a simple and powerful way to mobilize your loyalty program without draining your resources. For instance, Zyrtec’s highly successful rewards program engaged customers through a monthly Facebook secret word loyalty incentive. They posted a picture on their Facebook brand timeline, which included the secret word and a link to the rewards website. Once logged in, members could enter the secret word and gain 10 points in their rewards account.

This tactic not only improved engagement on Zyrtec’s Facebook page, but also helped build awareness among its Facebook fans who had not signed up for their loyalty program.

2.  Go above and beyond with your customer service

According to a Zendesk report on customer loyalty, 88 percent of consumers rank quality and 72 percent rank customer service as the two principal drivers of loyalty.

While many companies try to cut down on handling calls in a bid to lower costs, it is vital to sustain a dependable multichannel customer support system that effectively leverages e-mail, social, and call center channels based on the complexity of queries.

For instance, many brands now do the majority of their customer resolution work through their Twitter feed. Highly technical issues are forwarded to the call centre team to hasten the resolution process.

According to the 2014 UBM Customer Connects survey, webinars proved to be a valuable content asset for delivering a more hands-on customer service experience. It showed that webinars are primarily used for technology demos (67 percent), technical info (66 percent), technology news and analysis (57 percent), how-to info (52 percent), and training purposes (48 percent).

The report highlighted the immense retention potential webinars can offer to marketers. According to the survey, the top three customer actions taken after viewing a webinar were:

  • 61 percent of users went to the vendor website
  • 58 percent shared the webinar with a colleague
  • 34 percent based a product purchase decision on info learned through the webinar

Eliminating the element of uncertainty from your customer’s lifecycle can earn you a lot of brownie points too. By taking proactive approaches to anticipate problems that could snowball into negative experiences, you can do a better job at guaranteeing customer satisfaction. For example, corporate billing agencies can alert customers when their invoice is nearly due to avoid bombarding them with unpleasant late payment charges later.

3.  Cultivate your own community culture

An engaged community of customers is truly the pinnacle of brand loyalty all marketers strive for because it can have a huge impact on driving repeat sales. Additionally, it helps you gain key insights into the evolving demands of customers to help tweak your campaign to fit their needs.

For instance, Naked Wines offers its members, known as Angels, special discounts on all goods and also offers them exclusive use of their mobile app to order wine on-the-go and interact with independent winemakers from around the world.

A proactive community can be one of the most successful automated marketing tools for your brand as users congregate to contribute experiences and ideas that motivate the community to keep investing in your brand. You can hire community managers to supplement the work of product managers. and Growthhackers are two dazzling examples of community culture done right. Both of them are high-traffic communities built from the ground up by product companies Moz, Hubspot, and Qualaroo. In this way, customers will naturally have their products in the back of their minds when they participate in community discussions.

The key is to cultivate a sentiment of ownership in your company in the minds of your customers. Tying in your loyalty program with your community engagements is another great way to keep your customers coming back for more compelling offers.

As far as your social media community engagements are concerned, a platform like Buffer should be at the top of your priority list for maintaining an automated cadence for your tweets and posts across all channels. It can be a huge advantage when it comes to maximizing brand visibility on social platforms.

If you’re looking for a simple and priceless way of creating temporary discussion threads to engage your followers, hosting #TwitterChats is a great way to do so.

4. Follow up with personalized post-purchase e-mail

Apart from sending the standard product purchase confirmation message, businesses can use strategic post-purchase e-mails as a bridge to connect further with customers and work towards extracting more value out of these interactions.

Here are six popular types of post-purchase e-mail messages that can help you derive more insights and conversions:

  • Service satisfaction survey — for an honest analysis of the state of your customer service
  • Product review request — for valuable feedback on your core product
  • Cross-sell/recommendation — for taking advantage of your customer’s social network and attracting new leads
  • Short-supply reminder — for products and services with expiry dates or periodic maintenance requirements; it helps anchor your customers to your brand and creates a regular flow of revenue
  • Bounceback — for upselling or downselling customers by sending special incentives to customers who have recently purchased something from your company
  • Purchase anniversary — to personally acknowledge your customer interaction and refresh the memory of your customers with fresh offers

With each of these post-purchase messages, the key is to generate extra touch points to keep customer engagement alive and kicking by encouraging feedback and incentivizing future purchases.

However, the success of multichannel customer engagement relies on better integration between diverse marketing processes and the implementation of new technologies. Developing a pervasive customer engagement hub with the right technical infrastructure is what brands must strive for to make it big.

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