Social media platforms can help businesses attract new customers, connect with current customers, build brand awareness, and push new products. However, many brands don’t understand social media’s vital role in customer retention.
A well-thought-out social media marketing strategy helps increase customer retention by building trusting, loyal relationships with consumers. Loyal customers provide invaluable repeat business, help create positive brand perception, and tend to spend more money per visit.
We’ll share expert advice on using social media for customer retention and explain the importance of a customer retention strategy.
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How to use social media for customer retention
You must sustain and grow customer relationships to grow your business. There are two parts to this: customer acquisition and customer retention. While successfully converting leads into customers is always a priority, it’s pointless if you lose existing customers at the same rate.
Here are five best practices for using social media for customer retention.
1. Build a relationship with followers to boost customer retention.
Building a relationship with your customers is vital to retaining them. If customers trust you and like your brand, they’re more likely to stay.
Building a relationship with your followers is an ongoing process that needs care and attention, noted Rachael Goulet, social media manager at Sprout Social. “This starts with creating authentic, genuine content that adds value for the audience.”
To build relationships, you must create content that is valuable to your audience without being overly promotional. Customers prefer connecting with brands they like, so be friendly and relatable.
“It’s important to remember that relationships are a two-way street,” said digital strategist Taylor Fulton. “Brands should both listen and communicate with their audience to build meaningful engagements. This means talking with people, not just talking at them.”
Tip: To create personalized, relevant content, prioritize emotionally connecting with customers. Discover what interests them, what they need and what problems they want to solve.
2. Connect with customers online to boost customer retention.
People come to social media to be social. If you aren’t engaging your audience on social media, your posts will be lost in the endless stream of new content. Customers who feel a strong connection to your brand will likely stay customers.
Effective ways to engage on social media include the following:
- Use social media for customer service. One way to engage on social media is to respond to followers and use social media as a customer service tool. Samuels said most people connect with brands to ask a question, share a complaint, or praise them. “This type of engagement is a prime opportunity to make a meaningful impact on a customer’s experience and begin to build the trust that is needed to keep customers coming back time and time again,” said Samuels.
- Be proactive on social media. Samuels noted that customer retention is more than just customer care. It’s also about being relevant and useful, anticipating needs, and delivering on brand promises. Engage customers by asking questions, sharing updates and providing valuable information.
- Engage with customers’ posts. When a customer shares a positive post about your brand, engage with it by sharing it, liking it or even saying thanks in the comments. “Simple things such as liking a post that you were tagged in on Instagram can help build relationships. Customers always want to feel appreciated, and this simple gesture does not take much effort, yet it is so effective,” said Philtrina Farquharson, senior account executive at Rogers & Cowan.
- Ask customers to promote your brand. If they’re happy with your offering, ask customers to promote it online and spread the word via social media. Suggest that they post an online customer review on Google or Yelp. Satisfied customers can become valuable brand advocates.
3. Listen to your customers to boost customer retention.
Use social media listening tools to understand who your customers are and what they want. When you understand where they’re coming from, you can align your posts and products with their preferences.
Here are some ways to listen to customers:
- Evaluate how they respond to social media marketing. Evaluate followers’ responses to social media marketing campaigns and use what you learn to tailor your online presence. “When marketers can tap into social data around content performance and where their brand fits within broader conversations, customers will feel their brand experience is more tailored to their needs and give them more reasons to continue engaging even after the purchase,” Samuels said.
- Learn your customers’ demographics. Fulton recommends using social media metrics and analytic tools to gather data on followers’ interests, locations, average income and even phone carriers. “Social listening and creating content that resonates with a target audience is important to build trust, loyalty, and provide products and services that customers want to buy,” Fulton explained.
- Ask customers what they think and want. Use social media to ask your followers’ opinions by posting polls or questions and gathering survey data. Listen to what your audience says, and implement their customer feedback about your brand and operations. Promote the changes you implement on social media to ensure followers know you take their feedback seriously.
Did you know? To learn what people are saying about your brand online, proactively manage your online reputation by searching for your business on social media platforms and search engines.
4. Make your social media pages valuable to boost customer retention.
Perks like coupons can drive engagement and retention. Post coupons or exclusive sales only on your social media pages to keep customers returning to your accounts and thinking about your brand. You can also post company news and helpful resources on your social pages to increase followers.
“Brands can use social media to share specific offers, announce company news, and even share exclusive resources, information, or tips about new or different ways to use their product or service,” advised Rachel Blanks, social media manager at InterContinental Hotels Group.
Sharing exclusive, helpful content can turn social media into a valuable resource for customers, and make your account worth following.
5. Extend your loyalty program to social media to boost retention.
There’s more to customer retention than excellent products and competitive prices. Building a customer loyalty program will incentivize customers to return, buy more and reap the rewards. Use your social media accounts to promote your loyalty program and rewards, including products, discounts and freebies.
Loyalty programs reward customers who choose your business over your competitors. They’re straightforward to plan and implement and easy to market via social media.
Besides the obvious benefit of increasing customer loyalty, marketing your loyalty program on social media will bolster customer retention, attract new customers who want in on the exclusive offers, and create stronger relationships with social media followers by making them feel special.
Bottom Line: Ideas for your customer loyalty program include offering unique rewards, giving special rewards for referrals, rolling out a bonus point campaign, and organizing a prize draw.
Importance of a customer retention strategy
A customer retention strategy is essential to ensure your business’s long-term growth and success. The benefits of an effective customer retention strategy include the following:
- A customer retention strategy reduces risk. Retaining customers insulates your business from competition and economic downturns. A happy customer base means you can rely on a steady revenue stream. If you find yourself squeezed by higher supplier prices or your competition lowers their prices, you’ll be less affected than if your customers had a weaker connection with you.
- A customer retention strategy fosters organic growth. Loyal customers will repeatedly patronize your business while you continue attracting new clients. In addition, happy customers are much more likely to write positive reviews and testimonials, praise you on social media, participate in case studies, and refer others to you. The extra business you get from these brand ambassadors costs you little or nothing.
- A customer retention strategy increases profitability. According to Invesp data, gaining new customers costs five times more than keeping a current customer, and existing customers spend 67 percent more than new customers. Additionally, the probability of selling to a new prospect is between 5 percent and 20 percent, but rises to 60 percent to 70 percent for an existing customer. Satisfied existing customers trust you and feel comfortable doing business with you. However, your business is an unknown quantity for a new customer who may worry about product quality, usefulness, pricing or customer service. The more existing satisfied customers you have, the more money you’ll make.
- A customer retention strategy increases CLV. Customer lifetime value (CLV) is a crucial KPI to track. CLV is the sum of the money an average customer spends with you. When a customer only does business with you for a short time, there’s less opportunity for them to spend more. Retaining that customer increases CLV and makes each customer more valuable to the company.
Did you know? A high CLV is one of the factors lenders, angel investors and venture capitalists consider when deciding whether or not to fund your business.
Social media can help you shore up customer relationships
Customer retention is crucial to your business in myriad ways, so it pays to have a well-thought-out customer retention strategy. You’re probably already running social media marketing campaigns. Boosting your efforts with specific attention to customer relationships and customer service issues will protect existing ties and yield enormous dividends.
Some source interviews were conducted for a previous version of this article.