4 Problems Keeping Customers From Buying Again

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You need consistent revenue to keep your business running smoothly—and there’s no better constant than repeat shoppers.

But that’s only if you actually do successfully retain customers, and there are many common barriers that can keep it from happening.

We’ve gathered research on the top four reasons customers don’t return, plus how you can solve them.

How much could you earn if you retained more customers?

Loyal customers give your business lifetime value when they buy from you over and over again. But how does that value translate into actual numbers?

A loyal, or retained, customer is worth 10x as much as their first purchase. And businesses that increase their number of loyal customers by 5% improve their profitability by up to 95%!

PC: Quicksprout

That’s a ridiculous amount of ROI, right? But that’s not the only major reward retaining customers has.

Loyal customers will also go out of their way to refer their friends and family to you. Plus they’ll spend way more on your products and services because they already know the value you offer.

It’s also usually 5-25X more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to retain a loyal one.

How do you calculate your amount of retained customers?

You can’t calculate the dollar value earned from retained customers, if you don’t know how many customers continued shopping with you.

This formula can help you calculate the percentage of customers you retained by the end of a certain period:

Customer Retention Rate = ((# Customers at End of Period - # Customers Acquired During Period) / # Customers at Start of Period) X 100

The time period you choose could be quarterly or yearly. It just depends on how far back you want to go during your audit of lost customers.

For example, if you online shop has 20 regular customers, plus five brand new customers in the first quarter, and one customer doesn't make a second purchase, your retention rate for that first quarter would be 95%:

( (24 - 5) / 20 ) ) x 100 = 95% retention

You can't improve what you don't track—but once you know your percentage of retained customers for a chosen period, you can start to gauge the types of customers you keep vs. the ones you lose. Then you can identify which problems are keeping them from returning.

We’ll cover the four most likely ones below.

1. You need consistent multi-channel marketing.

You’ll need to become a normal part of your customers’ lives and consistently build relationships with them, if they’re ever going to become loyal to you. Marketing across multiple channels gives you the power to do just that.

Here’s an example of a multi-channel plan for when a customer makes their first online purchase:

  • The customer automatically receives their first promo email thanking them for their purchase
  • Two weeks later they receive a targeted followup digital ad
  • Three weeks later they receive another email advertising your SMS subscriber list
  • They automatically receive their first SMS ad when they join
  • Four weeks later they receive another targeted digital ad
  • Five weeks later they receive another promotional email
  • Six weeks later they receive another SMS ad
  • So on and so forth

You just need a way to organize which customers receive promotions from which channels and at what frequency.

Sending promotions and ads too frequently can deter a previous customer from returning—but sending too few (and missing some channels) won’t encourage return shoppers either. 51% of businesses cite inconsistent marketing and communication as an internal barrier to their customers’ loyalty, because it’s tough to find that balance.

PC: Sailthru

Tools like Trello and Google Business Suite can prevent any last minute guesswork on multi-channel campaign scheduling and planning.

Hubspot can also help you set up automatic email workflows similar to the one described above.

You can't build loyalty if you aren't also loyal. Multi-channel marketing is how you can stand by your customers for long periods of time wherever they go.

2. Your marketing requires more personalization.

Personalization has become an expected part of the buying processwhich is why 44% of consumers say they are more likely to become repeat buyers after a personalized experience, and 74% of customers get frustrated by marketing that doesn’t cater to their personal interests

A customer experience is considered personalized when it's designed to accommodate a specific type of customer.

You need data on your current customers to identify their common traits to do this, including:

1. Their transactional data
2. What they’ve checked out on your website or bought in your store
3. Which websites and channels they spend time on

Once you have that data, you can start creating a buyer persona, or a semi-fictional representation of your average customer that typically includes their:

  • Demographics (i.e., age, gender, marital status, education level, income, etc.)
  • Needs, aspirations, and goals
  • Problems, pain points, and obstacles to achieving their goals
  • Buying behaviors and patterns
  • Potential objections to your product or service
  • Average timeline from interest to purchase

This buyer persona can be used to better focus your marketing tactics, like targeted landing pages, persona-driven blog content, and email and text campaigns.

You can even segment your future marketing campaigns by multiple personas if you realize you have more than one.

Related: How to Create (and Target) Custom Buyer Personas

3. Discover where your customers had negative experiences.

74% of customer loyalty is based on whether or not they had a good experience.

Typically support is the first department that comes to mind when a customer says they had a negative experience. But dissatisfied customers can also be referring to their frustration with your website, marketing, or how they were treated by a previous employee.

That’s why you need to read through your reviews to pinpoint exactly where you need to improve. To help you get started, we also went ahead and researched solutions to the top frustrations customers typically cite when they say they have a negative shopping experience.

PC: hotjar

1. Long waits.

There’s a lot of different wait times you want to eliminate at your business, but here are the three biggest.

Webpage Load Times

40% of consumers will abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load.

You can decrease your pages’ load times by compressing image files and making sure your website’s theme is optimized for mobile and tablets. You’ll also want to cache files that don’t typically change (like your logo and header), plus add expire headers that signal to a browser whether or not to request what’s been cached.

Message Response Times

You need to respond ASAP when someone texts, emails, or reaches out on social media. Within 15 minutes is ideal, but have an autoresponse telling people when to expect your response if you can’t.

Being Put on Hold During a Call

Your customers will lose faith in you when you put them on hold after you said you'd be available for a call. Don't commit to having a conversation over phone if you know it's going to be interrupted. 

2. Not understanding customer needs.

This where those buyer personas we talked about earlier come in. Not only can your marketing team use them to make better targeted campaigns—your support and sales teams can also use them to hone in on pain points before the customer even has to mention them.

3. Unanswered questions.

Customers don’t want to search your website for answers. You can keep them from having to do that when you make it easy for them to contact you with SMS Chat.

It’s a widget that goes on the bottom right-hand corner of your website. The customer’s question comes in as a text, and your replies to their cell phone.

4. Lack of human touch in marketing.

This is where SMS can come in. While 3/4 consumers make it a point to avoid ads, 99% of those same consumers will read a text.

That’s because texts are short, informal, and feel more personal. Texts are also not spammed as much as voicemail and email, making texting the number one preferred communication channel for consumers. You can also do other smaller things to give your marketing a human touch, like:

  • Omitting jargon and fluff from your copy (so it sounds like an actual person wrote it)
  • Inviting customers to respond to and engage with your content
  • Including pictures of your reps in their emails

4. Customers don’t know what else you have to offer.

A customer’s buying process should never be a vacuum. You need to actively add onto their experience by showing them products and services that complement the ones you already offer. Steadily show them more ways you can add value to their life.

This could be as simple as asking them if they’d be interested in checking out your new offers with a promo or ad, or giving them perks for repeat visits.

30% of customers repeat visits are influenced by knowing about new offers and deals. You just need to give them a reason to be interested. If you build it, they won’t just come.

Customer loyalty programs and subscriber lists can make this easy. The key is getting your customer’s contact information across multiple channels.

You can also establish yourself as an expert in your industry and provide content (either through a blog or through online forums) that keeps encouraging previous customers to revisit your site. Sephora does this by offering online beauty classes and communities for customers and fans of makeup.

The more a customer visits your site, the more likely they are to buy something again. You just have to show them the value in coming back.

PC: Sephora


Promotions are key for retaining customers.

You can’t sell to a customer one time and expect them to come back. That’s why you need a set schedule for promotions to continuously show consumers the value you can bring them.

Even if the customer did have an initial bad experience, a successful promo can be a way to invite them to give you a second chance and let you show off how you’ve improved.

You just need the tools to grab their attention, and our Customer Promotions Cheat Sheet can help you do just that!