Digital technologies have made it easier than ever for marketers to demonstrate the return on investment from their initiatives – making them much more accountable as a result. In this climate it’s natural to want the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

With this in mind, have you thought about what happens after a customer converts, as well as the journey it takes to get them there? It does currently cost five times more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one after all…

Lesson #1: focus on the customer experience

One of the best ways to keep your users coming back for more is by making sure that every aspect of their experience with your brand is the best it can possibly be. This might sound like an obvious point, but you probably know that this idea of the ‘customer experience’ has generated a great deal of discussion in recent years (we’ve even contributed to it).

Much of the discussion has been driven by advances in technology, which have given users much greater power – at the same time as the customer experience has become more important than ever, it’s also become more difficult to manage. Markets of all types and sizes have been opened up to disruption and innovation from alternative sources – increasing choice for users and making things more difficult for established organisations. On top of this, users are now better able to control exactly when and how they interact with organisations; it’s become difficult for marketing departments to penetrate this and business strategies have had to be adapted accordingly. Finally with so many channels now available to customers, the user journey is often highly complex – stretching across devices, platforms and channels in a route that’s rarely linear.

In this fragmented and challenging landscape, activities such as customer experience mapping have the power to deliver great value, by helping ensure all your digital touchpoints work together to serve the needs of the user, communications are relevant and the appropriate messages are delivered at the appropriate time for maximum impact. It’s also important that you continue to refine the experience you deliver in response to technological advances and changing behaviour patterns, and here activities such as usability testing and expert usability reviews can prove particularly valuable.

Lesson #2: make it easy

While digital technologies have introduced challenges to the delivery of an exceptional customer experience, they can of course also be used to support it.

For a start, with more channels available to you, you can make your content more readily available – something that’s become particularly important as users increasingly search for information on the move. You can even tailor the content you deliver according to how device capabilities and user motivations differ across devices using a Create Once, Publish Everywhere model.

Providing your users with a pain-free way to access information should have a noticeable effect on retention rates, but it’s not just information today’s users want. They’re demanding greater freedom in all forms of interaction – so consider how self-service capabilities could be introduced into your digital platform. Not only will this improve the ease with which users can complete key tasks, but it’ll also encourage them to engage more deeply with your organisation.

And don’t think that because you’re not an ecommerce organisation you can’t do self-service – at Box UK we’ve helped organisations across a range of industries provide their users with value-add tools that help them do more. For example, TBC Bank has enabled its customers to analyse their finances in detail through sophisticated Personal Finance Management (PFM) applications, while RS Components has facilitated collaboration among their audience of engineers and electronics enthusiasts with an online community portal.

Lesson #3: make it personal

Alongside self-service tools, there are a number of other ‘delighters’ you can introduce into your digital strategy to make sure the experience users have with your organisation is one they’ll want to repeat. Just as with traditional physical interactions, these often relate to the quality of service being delivered, and encompass everything from the smallest microinteraction through to the processes and strategies at the very heart of your organisation.

Following Steven Bradley’s ‘Design Hierarchy of Needs’, once basic functionality is guaranteed designers can focus on the reliability, usability, proficiency and, finally, creativity. Thankfully, though, there’s never been a better time to introduce these qualities into your digital services. For example, if you take a structured approach to the collection, processing, storage and analysis of the data you possess as an organisation, you’ll be able to increase the relevance and impact of your messages by incorporating information about personal details and personal preferences. If your data strategy is truly aligned with your business goals, you’ll also be rewarded with deep insight into individual user behaviours and profiles, which can be used to further tailor the content you present.

Don’t forget, though, that this understanding needs to reach across all your touchpoints to be most effective. After all, it’s only when you have a holistic picture of the customer journey that you can ensure you’re responding to the most current information and interactions.

Getting started

Following the best practices highlighted above is a great way to get started with a customer retention strategy, but the initiatives that make your audience stick around will of course depend on you specific circumstances and requirements. In today’s landscape of limitless choice and limited attention spans, you need to deliver a customer experience that’s seamless, streamlined and special in order to succeed – but the benefits you stand to gain mean it’s an approach worth pursuing.