10 smart ways to prevent customer churn
You went through all the trouble of defining who your customers are, understanding their need, devising the tactics of reaching and engaging them and building a great funnel to convert them into customers. But as time passes you find that customer churn is becoming a big problem for you. You’ve got a wonderful offering that these people clearly want, so why aren’t your customers sticking around?
There are millions of reasons why you (and not just you by the way, this is a problem every company faces) can’t seem to keep many of your customers. Maybe the product/service didn’t meet their expectations, maybe they signed up and don’t understand what to do next, maybe they had a one-time need and after filling it they moved on or maybe yours is not the only product/ service they use and after a while they just forgot about you.
Here are 10 smart marketing tactics that will help you prevent customer churn:
- Email strategy
- Satisfaction surveys
- Event-based retargeting
- Knowledge base
- Pop ups
- Community building
- Friend referral program
This is a pretty obvious one – you want to prevent customer churn and since you have all your customers emails, you decide to send them an email (or 20) to get them active again.
Emails are an extremely effective way to keep your business top-of-mind for customers, especially new ones, but if you don’t build up a smart email strategy, they’ll remember you for the wrong reasons (and they won’t come back).
To keep customer churn down you need to devise a plan. This plan will include the following:
1. Send them a welcome email when they sign up.
2. During the first week, while your business is still fresh in their mind, send them some more information about your services. Send links to a learning center (we’ll get to that in a bit), webinars, incentivise them to sign up for your newsletter to keep up to date on trends in your field.
3. Make sure to update them whenever a new release comes out.
4. Reach out if you see they haven’t been active a week after sign up.
5. Choose relevant intervals to get in touch every once in a while after that – once a month, twice a month, whatever is right for your business. If you don’t know what’s right – test different intervals and see which email interaction sequence proves most effective in retaining customers over a given time period.
Another thing about your email strategy – be sure to define only 1 goal per email. What do you want this specific email to achieve? Write your email with just that in mind. A focused email will make it much more coherent and easy to follow.
You should also take the time to write the perfect email subject lines because, as you probably already know, most people don’t open emails. With tons of emails being sent to your customers daily, you have to do whatever it takes to increase the chances they open your email and see all the great stuff you’ve neatly explained within it so don’t write the email subject line as an afterthought. Test out different subject lines for the same email and refine them based on open rates.
Newsletters are a content marketing tactic all companies need to employ. In Newsletters you give your customers knowledge, showing them that being your customers has more value than just the product or service you sell.
If you become a source of knowledge for your customers, you’ll find it easier to retain them – they will respect you, trust you and want to keep doing business with you because you help them and teach them, for free.
Not to mention the fact that newsletters are sent every week (or every day if you have enough content) and, like with the email strategy mentioned above, they will keep you top-of-mind on an ongoing basis.
3. Satisfaction surveys
Honestly, I don’t like surveys. If you plan on basing your future company activities on survey results you’re basically assuming two things:
- you are able to write a non-biased survey. [The order of your questions, the way you phrase them and what people believe each answer will say about them, will inevitably bias results]
- people actually know why they do things. [Newsflash: They don’t]
It’s not that we explicitly lie when answering surveys, we just don’t know better – we think we do A because B, but maybe we do A because of C or because of B + C, or maybe we do A because of D but D wasn’t one of the answers available in the survey so we didn’t think of it.
The reasons behind our choices are rarely simple and easy to detect, they rely on preferences (which are not always transitive and logical) and context (what mood were we in? Were we in a hurry? Were we at home when we decided this or at the supermarket?) and sometimes, even if we want to, we are just not aware enough of the causation in our lives to give accurate information.
So.. after I’ve thoroughly explained why I don’t like surveys, let me share with you why I believe that in spite of all the above – they are a great tool for reducing customer churn:
- Customers become loyal because of emotional, not logical reasons. You don’t have to offer the cheapest product to win in the free market, you have to give the best customer service. If your customers like you and feel that you care, they will stay. To my point – by conducting surveys you signal to your customers that their opinions matter to you.
- You know how I said it’s pretty hard to conduct an unbiased survey? Well, maybe you shouldn’t try – build your survey smart so that you influence customers’ perception of you and your products and get them to take the actions you want. This is a pretty manipulative strategy mind you, so tread lightly.
4. Event-based retargeting
Retargeting is a great retention method. Using event-tracking pixels (Google has one, Facebook has one and many other providers have one too), you can essentially follow your users online and show them ads relating to your business (maybe a new product they might be interested in? or a blog post they might have missed?) in order to get them back into the fold.
What’s great about retageting is that it allows you to utilize all the knowledge you’ve gained about your users’ behavior on your site as well as their interactions with your product in order to design messages tailored specifically for them.
For instance, say you’re an eCommerce site owner and you see that many people who buy shoe type A, tend to also buy handbag B, so you take a list of all those who bought shoe type A but not handbag B and retarget them with an ad about handbag B.
Giving stuff at a discount or for free will surely revive a lot of dormant customers. I mean – who doesn’t like free stuff?
Having promotions from time to time will help with customer churn, but keep in mind, doing too many of them will dilute your brand and teach your customers that they shouldn’t buy now, because a new promotions might be right around the corner.
6. Knowledge base
Webinars, ebooks, explanatory videos on YouTube or on your site, an active blog about your field – all of these will help reduce customer churn, and here’s why:
- They give you a reason to contact your customers again (contact is always a good thing since, as we mentioned, it keeps you top-of-mind)
- Like newsletters, giving knowledge means providing additional value to your customers
7. Pop ups
Until now I’ve mainly discussed how to reduce customer churn after the person has already left your site. But in reality, you need to start much sooner – when the person is on your site, you need to make sure he wants to stay, trying to bring him back is a much harder task.
Pop ups are a bit intrusive I know, but they work – before a user leaves a pop up that suggests he sign up for a newsletter / downloads an eBook to read later / checks out this wonderful promotion / etc. are all great ways to get a user to interact with you one more time before he leaves, with the hopes that the more interactions, the more value he sees in you, the more likely he is to return.
Having a customer support chat on the website is another neat way to reduce customer churn. If the is a technical issue, if you’re not there to talk them out of leaving, customers will quit on you, so don’t make it hard for them to reach you, with a simple chat app, you can be present in real-time, when your customers need you.
9. Community building
This one takes time but it is by far my favorite customer churn reduction technique. The idea is simple – if your customers are continuously engaged, they will not churn and if they can keep each other engaged without you having to actively engage them all the time – well that’s even better!
If customers can interact with each other on your site – that’s the best. You need to encourage it. If not, open a Facebook group (or a linkedin group, which might be a better fit for some B2B companies) and get users to comment share and converse with one another.
10. Friend referral program
Friend referral programs are like catching to birds with one stone – they bring you new customers and they help reduce existing customer churn. Can you ask for more?
Give incentives for friend referral (a promotion maybe?) and your customers will not only refer friends, they will tend to use your service more because now they’ll have someone to share the experience with.
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