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Like most businesses, you are probably already using social media to engage with your customers. So why not learn some new strategies to strengthen those existing relationships and improve your customer retention rates? Social media is the perfect avenue for creating brand loyalty with your user base and deepening the bond customers already have with your company, so they become raving fans (who are willing to recommend your company to their friends and family and help bring in new business) and use your product or service even more than they already are. You spend a lot of money to acquire customers with your various marketing activities, so the goal here is to use social media to keep them coming back time and time again. As you can see from the below graphic from Yotpo, returning shoppers are not something your business can afford to lose given the tremendous amount of revenue they bring in:

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So lets dive in and go over some strategies for improving customer retention rates with social media so you can ensure your existing customers, who are absolutely critical to the long term success of your business, are being kept happy and content at all times:

Offer Excellent Customer Service

Customer retention starts with customer service. Makes sense, right? More and more customers are turning to social media for their customer service needs out of convenience (who wants to get stuck on a long phone call, being placed on hold, getting bounced from department to department nowadays?), but in return, they do expect quick responses. In fact, according to The Social Habit, 32% of customers expect a response within 30 minutes and 42% of customers expect a response within the hour. Furthermore, 57% of customers expect your response time during nights and weekends to match your response time during normal business hours.

HubSpot gives a great example of a company who takes quick customer service on social media true to heart, JetBlue. Their goal is to respond to all inquiries within minutes, which is pretty amazing for a company as large as they are, as evidenced by the below example (10 minute response time, and this wasn't a question or complaint, just a general comment):

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But it's not only about a fast response time. While we shouldn't have to point this out, you should always treat your customers with respect. Too often, you see business owners take offense to comments from customers left on social media, and their rather nasty comments go viral, and what happens next? It ends up costing them big time, meaning they get more bad publicity than they ever bargained for, which leads to lost revenue. So always be polite when replying to your customers, address them by their first name (little things like this show customers you care), take their comments true to heart, and try to fix any problems that may arise, regardless of how petty you may think they are.

Make It Easy For Customers To Find You

Have you ever tried to go on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or any other social media network, and not been able to find a business you were looking for? Unfortunately this is something that happens on a daily basis, but it is something business owners often bring on themselves. Why is that? They make it very difficult for customers to find them by having different usernames on different networks. The goal here is to be consistent. Whatever username you use on one network, try to use on all.

If that isn't possible (for example, the username matching your business is not example), you can add something as simple as "get" to the beginning or "HQ" to the end of your social media username, but do it for all networks you sign up on for consistency. KnowEm is a great resource to use, as it enables you to search hundreds of social media networks to check the availability of a potential username you may be looking to use before you start signing up for various networks.

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You should also make sure you're active on the social media networks your customers are active on. While you don't want to stretch your resources too thin on sign up on so many networks that you aren't able to keep them all active, you also don't want to sign up for only 1 or 2, while your target audience is active on say 3 or 4, meaning they won't be able to find you on those networks when they go searching.

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Demonstrate Multiple Ways To Use Your Product

You need a hook to keep your customers engaged and wanting to come back for more time and time again. One way to achieve that is by demonstrating multiple ways to use your product. If people can use your product in more than one way, it gives then multiple reasons to be a repeat customer, which improves your customer retention rates, and social media is the perfect avenue to demonstrate this. Social Media Examiner gives a great example of how Oreo does this:

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Oreo is speaking directly to their target audience and giving them an alternative idea for the use of their product, in this case a recipe for an Oreo banana cream pie (sounds delicious, right?). The video is getting a ton of engagement, so their target audience is obviously responding well to it, and Oreo is giving their customers a unique way to use their product...and lets face it, who doesn't have a package of Oreos sitting in their pantry right now? Something as simple as this is a fantastic way of building trust and turning customers into repeat customers.

Market Your Loyalty Or Rewards Program

Customers absolutely love it when you have a loyalty, rewards, or VIP program in place. Something that offers them an incentive to do business with you, which in turn helps to increase retention rates. Whether that's cash back, instant savings, or a chance to earn prizes, having programs like this in place demonstrates to your customers that you care and you're eager and willing to give back to them and reward them. Don't rely on just email marketing and your website to market your loyalty or rewards program. Social media is hands down the best avenue for marketing your loyalty or rewards program, the avenue where you will get the most engagement. This is especially true if you are trying to get your customers to interact with you as a result of your program, whether it's entering a "secret word" to earn rewards points, like Zyrtec has done below:

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Or asking your customers to interact with you on Pinterest by having them pin their favorite wedding style, and as a result, being entered into a contest to win a gift card, which Belk has done in this example (this also helped Belk learn what kind of wedding styles their consumers were into):

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The options are truly endless when it comes to marketing your loyalty or rewards program on social media, with the goal focused on building a stronger relationship with your customers by giving them a reason to continue to do business with your company. Not only does social media help extend the reach of your loyalty or rewards program to a new audience that you otherwise likely wouldn't reach through just your website or audience marketing, but it enables you to remain "top of mind" with your customers, increase revenue, and turn single-purchase customers into long-term customers.