4 Customer Retention Strategies To Build Undeniable Brand Loyalty

4 Customer Retention Strategies To Build Undeniable Brand Loyalty

What’s more important: customer acquisition or customer retention?

This is one of the most heavily debated questions among content marketers. And if you were to ask Kristen LaFrance to weigh in, her answer would be clear: Customer retention creates predictable, recurring revenue for the company — and therefore is far more valuable than a new customer who makes a one-time purchase.

Kristen, who is Head of Resilient Retail for Shopify, believes the best customer retention strategies are those that create real human connection. In fact, Kristen argues that deep-rooted customer loyalty is the only way small businesses can compete with large conglomerates like Amazon (who will always win on price and convenience).

But how does a brand build loyal, predictable, and recurring customers? How does a company spark real conversations that could increase customer retention? Kristen argues that discounts, referral programs, and loyalty programs will only take you so far — instead, you need to build a brand experience that makes your customers feel connected with your company.

On episode #26 of the Growth Machine Marketing Podcast, Kristen shares how to improve customer retention through an optimized customer experience. Keep reading to see Kristen’s favorite real-world examples on customer support, how small businesses can boost profitability and reduce customer churn during the pandemic, and why content plays a vital role in improving your customer retention rate.

4 Customer Retention Strategies That Build Brand Loyalty

What makes a customer choose you over one of your other larger competitors?

While customer retention is certainly not a new concept, the COVID-19 pandemic shed new light on the topic. At Shopify, Kristen witnessed small businesses suddenly trying to compete for online sales with Amazon. As Kristen noted throughout the episode, independent shops will never be able to beat these mega retailers at price or convenience. They could, however, beat Amazon at customer relationships.

To build a brand experience your existing customers will rally around, keep the following customer retention strategies in mind.

1. Remember That Every Piece of Content Is a Customer Touch Point

Consumers want to feel a personal connection to your brand. To transform one-time connections into ironclad customer loyalty, your company needs to be hyper-aware of every conversation, across every channel, to every single one of your customers. Believe it or not, content is one of those “conversations”.

Kristen advises that companies stop thinking about the word “content” and start thinking about the phrase “touch points.” Every support team interaction, e-commerce blast, social media marketing campaign or messaging exchange, or YouTube video is a touch point between brand and consumer. The more you can exceed customer expectations at every touch point, the better your chances at retaining a single customer.

Look for unique ways to create unforgettable customer experiences at every touch point. For example, Kristen recently placed an order with an online retailer who donates a blanket to a person in need for every blanket sold.

When Kristen received her order, she was surprised to see a checklist of toiletries and other essentials inside. The checklist encouraged Kristen to reuse the cardboard shipping box by filling it with necessities and giving it to the next homeless person she passed by on the street.

This checklist created a memorable touch point between the brand (the blanket company) and the consumer (Kristen). If that essentials checklist wasn’t written, Kristen would have tossed the box in the recycling bin, resulting in a lost connection between brand and consumer.

To start building better brand loyalty, revisit every content channel in your arsenal. Are you missing any potential consumer touch points? For example, at Growth Machine, we have our social media channels, one-on-one conversations between editors and clients, a client onboarding process, a podcast, a blog, and an email list, giving us numerous opportunities to create memorable experiences between our audience and our company.

2. Create a VIP-Level Membership Program

Creating subscription programs is one of the best ways to create recurring revenue and increase the lifetime value of a customer. However, to improve customer retention, subscriptions should offer much more than the convenience of a repeat purchase.

Kristen encourages retailers to elevate their subscription offerings into a VIP-level, white-glove membership program. Entice loyal customers to purchase a subscription to gain members-only community access to limited content, new product previews, or special promotions.

For example, if you own a local fitness studio, you could allow members to sign up for classes two hours before class pack holders. Or, if you own an independent candle shop, you could mail new scents and samples to membership holders at the beginning of every month.

On a previous episode of the Growth Machine Marketing Podcast, we witnessed Corey Haines create an exclusive membership site for other content marketers. As the owner of SwipeFiles.co, Corey created a curated library of detailed marketing examples — available only to those who purchased a Swipe Files membership. While Corey continued to offer free content to his email list and social media audience, his best and most exclusive work was stored in a members-only area.

3. Create a Brand Experience

Tactical customer retention solutions — like loyalty programs, customer surveys, and special offers — will help retain customers, but only to an extent. According to Kristen, true customer loyalty is built through a branded experience.

Kristen notes that BarkBox, the dog toy subscription service, recently went public due to capitalizing on memorable brand experiences. According to Kristen, there is very little need to receive dog toys in the mail every month — but BarkBox made receiving those packages so fun, fur parents couldn’t live without it. Through fun packaging, unique products, and viral at-home videos, BarkBox transformed something ordinary (opening a cardboard box) into something worth remembering — which will keep customers coming back for years to come.

Where could you insert a memorable experience, thereby increasing your customer lifetime value? Could you light candles at your local shop to create a branded smell when customers walk through the door? If you’re a clothing retailer, could you include a hand-written note when you ship packages to your most loyal customers? Or, if you sell craft coffee, could you include recipe cards for mocha lattes or other fun drinks with each shipment?

4. Build a Customer Feedback Loop

Don’t try to guess what your customers love about your brand experience. Instead, allow your current customers to lead the way in revising your customer retention strategy, providing first-hand feedback on what works and what doesn’t.

You can measure customer engagement and decrease churn by utilizing regular customer satisfaction surveys, sending follow-up emails, fielding customer complaints, or asking for reviews post-checkout. However, Kristen argues that customer feedback doesn’t even have to be a formal (or automated) exchange.

In fact, Kristen believes that brick-and-mortar businesses carry a competitive edge over digitally native brands in that they witness consumers interacting with their brand first-hand. For example, brick-and-mortar companies know which sections of the store consumers shop first, how they might style an outfit, or which questions they ask sales associates. These interactions should directly influence your marketing strategy, product descriptions, website user experience, and other online features.

Generating these first-hand conversations is actually one of the main reasons we started the Growth Machine Marketing podcast. By conducting weekly conversations about content marketing with other content marketers, we expand our knowledge base to better serve Growth Machine clients. In addition, it allows us to carry these conversations into written pieces of content, such as social captions and blog posts.

Customer Retention Starts and Ends With Your Brand Experience

Customer retention programs are the backbone of a scaling business. While many business owners can easily get lost in attracting first-time buyers, repeat customers will always carry more weight. They make recurring purchases, send referrals, and increase word-of-mouth marketing for your brand.

Building a successful customer retention strategy takes more than a few discount codes or online sales. Instead, to build a loyal customer base, you should take a hard look at your content ecosystem and customer life cycle, ensuring that every brand touch point is a memorable, joyful one. In addition, allow your existing consumers to drive your retention strategy, asking for feedback on a regular basis.

Every piece of content you write is part of your branded experience — from long-form blog posts to the copy on your website. To help devise a content strategy that attracts loyal customers (not just readers), contact us for a free consultation.


Nora Schlesinger

Nora Schlesinger


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