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Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention: Stats, Trends & Tips

Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention - Replyco Helpdesk Software for eCommerce

Should you focus more on customer acquisition, customer retention or both? Learn about the stats, trends and tips for improving them here.

When it comes to customer acquisition vs. customer retention, many business owners focus their efforts more heavily on acquisition strategies. But is this the right move? 

While it is incredibly important to continually gain new customers, research shows that retaining existing ones is both less expensive and woefully underutilized. So, today, let’s take a look at customer acquisition vs. customer retention stats and trends, as well as ways to balance your approach and excel in both areas.

Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention Stats & Trends

Acquisition vs. Retention Stats & Trends - Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention - Replyco Helpdesk Software for eCommerce

We’ll start with one of the most well-known facts. As we’ve reported before, obtaining a new customer can cost up to 5X more than retaining an existing one. This means that if you’re not focusing some of your efforts on customer retention, you’re missing out on an inexpensive way to encourage company growth.

Invespcro recently released an infographic that contained tons of additional statistics on customer acquisition vs. customer retention. Their presentation compiled research from several different sources and offered some very interesting insights. You can find several of those stats summarized below, along with the lessons they teach us. 

Customer Retention Is Undervalued

44% of companies report having a stronger focus on customer acquisition, while just 18% of companies say they focus more on customer retention. That’s a striking difference in the level of importance placed on each goal. 

Just 40% of companies place an equal emphasis on both customer acquisition and customer retention. 

Companies Use Several Channels for Customer Acquisition

The majority of companies reported using their website and email as their top customer acquisition channels. Here are the exact stats on which channels businesses reported using the most for customer acquisition:

  • Website: 89%
  • Email: 81%
  • Social Media: 72%
  • Direct Mail: 66%
  • SEO / PPC: 65%
  • Web Banners: 60%
  • Mobile Devices: 34%
  • Aggregator Websites: 32%
  • Price Comparison Websites: 18%

Companies Understand the Importance of Customer Experience

Naturally, customer experience plays a huge role in your company’s customer retention rate. After all, if shoppers have a great experience with your brand, it makes sense that they would be more likely to do business with you again in the future. 

And it seems that most business owners recognize this fact. The Invespcro graphic shows that a whopping 89% of companies view customer experience as a “key factor in driving customer loyalty and retention.” 

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Companies Struggle to Measure Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)

A full 76% of companies believe that customer lifetime value (CLV) is an “important concept” for their business, however just 42% of organizations are capable of measuring it accurately.

This means that, while business owners realize the important role CLV plays in their companies’ success, many still fall short in calculating it. 

It’s Easier to Sell to Existing Customers

One thing the customer acquisition vs. customer retention statistics show us very clearly is that it is much easier to sell to existing customers. 

According to Invespcro, the likelihood of selling to an existing customer is between 60% and 70%, as compared to a 5% to 20% probability of selling to a new prospect. Furthermore, existing customers are also 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more than new prospects. 

Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention: How Channels Are Used

Companies use several channels for both customer acquisition and customer retention. Some of these channels are utilized more heavily for acquisition, others for retention and a few are used fairly evenly for both. As you’ll see, the data from Invespcro shows that tools such as paid search and online display advertising are utilized heavily for acquisition, while mobile messaging and email are often used for customer retention.

Here’s how all the numbers break down… 

  • Paid Search
    • 86% Customer Acquisition | 2% Customer Retention | 13% Both
  • Online Display Advertising
    • 85% Customer Acquisition | 4% Customer Retention | 11% Both
  • SEO
    • 66% Customer Acquisition | 6% Customer Retention | 28% Both
  • Web Retargeting
    • 61% Customer Acquisition | 22% Customer Retention | 18% Both
  • Mobile Web
    • 52% Customer Acquisition | 18% Customer Retention | 30% Both
  • Mobile & Web Push Notifications
    • 34% Customer Acquisition | 39% Customer Retention | 27% Both
  • Mobile Apps
    • 30% Customer Acquisition | 44% Customer Retention | 26% Both
  • Website
    • 29% Customer Acquisition | 16% Customer Retention | 55% Both
  • Mobile Messaging
    • 23% Customer Acquisition | 58% Customer Retention | 19% Both
  • Email
    • 21% Customer Acquisition | 52% Customer Retention | 27% Both

Email Marketing Is Key to Customer Retention

We’ve mentioned email marketing in relation to customer retention several times now. So, it comes as no surprise that this tactic is the leading method for improving customer retention. 

When measuring the most effective digital marketing strategies for customer retention, Invespcro listed the following top performers:

  • Email Marketing: 56%
  • Social Media Marketing: 37%
  • Content Marketing: 32%
  • Referral Marketing: 26%

SEO, display advertising, mobile advertising, digital video advertising, affiliate marketing and paid search rounded out the list at 13%, 12%, 8%, 7%, 6% and 4%, respectively. 

Better Customer Retention = More Profits

These last few stats showcase how better customer retention leads to more profits for your company. 

First of all, improving customer retention rates by just 5% can lead to a reported 25% to 95% increase in profits. And a whopping 70% of respondents in the Invespcro data compilation reported a belief that it is easier to retain existing customers than acquire new ones.

How to Increase Customer Acquisition

How to Increase Customer Acquisition - Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention - Replyco Helpdesk Software for eCommerce

Now that we’ve covered several stats and facts surround customer acquisition vs. customer retention, let’s take a quick look at ways to improve both, starting with acquisition. While a deep dive into how to improve customer acquisition would require an entire guide all on its own, here are a few quick tips on how to attract more customers. 

Improve SEO

Customer acquisition is all about getting your brand in front of as many prospects as possible. This starts with attracting more people to your website, and one of the best ways to do so is to make sure your site ranks highly in online search results through good search engine optimization (SEO). 

A few strategies for improving your SEO include: 

  • Publishing high-quality blogs and articles that are useful to your readers and well-optimized for specific keywords that are relevant to your brand / industry. 
  • Linking within these blogs and articles to other high-quality, high-ranking, expert sources on similar topics.
  • Creating keyword-rich feature, location and product pages for your website.
  • Implementing a backlinking outreach strategy to get high-ranking sites in your industry to link back to your website, blogs and / or articles.

SEO can be complicated, and there are a lot of moving parts involved. Many companies hire an SEO or outreach specialist who can research their company, industry and goals in order to create the best strategy for their business.

Integrate with Additional Products

In order to reach a larger audience and offer more use to prospective customers, you might want to consider integrating with other products. This is especially helpful if you’re a software or other service provider. 

For example, Replyco integrates with several eCommerce marketplaces and platforms to give the robust message management experience possible to our customers. Integrations with Amazon, eBay, Linnworks, Facebook, ShopifyWooCommerce and more ensure that our customers can centralize messages and easily stay on top of orders no matter where they sell. 

From an acquisition perspective, doing this allows your company to appeal to users of any products / companies with which you integrate. You can dramatically expand your audience while also improving your offerings.

Partner with Other Brands

In addition to integrating with additional products, you can also attract more customers by partnering with other brands in your industry to put out great content

Visibility and usefulness are still the two keys here. Get together with large brands in your industry to create webinars, podcasts, guest blog swaps (published on your site and theirs) and the like. This will help get eyes on your company so you can get your message out to more people, while also giving them highly useful information. 

This approach will also enable you to provide more value to your existing customers. For example, Replyco recently partnered with Avalara and OnBuy to host a webinar on navigating the post-Brexit landscape.

Build Great Email Lists

If you want to acquire more customers, you need to build great email lists. This starts with generating more qualified leads, then sending content that gets opened and inspires more click-throughs. 

Your email content should be engaging and interesting while speaking to the needs of your prospects. And to make sure the emails even get opened, your subject lines should be captivating and irresistible. 

To learn more about exactly how to build an email list and send effective messages, check out our guide, Email Marketing: Your Definitive Guide to List Building

Use Social Media

Finally, use social media to reach more prospective customers. Search through hashtags and trending topics to learn more about what people are talking about that is relevant to your industry and get in on the conversation. 

For example, if you sell apparel and come across a conversation in which people are asking where they can find unique summer dresses, participate in the comment thread by letting them know what you have to offer. 

How to Improve Customer Retention

How to Improve Customer Retention - Customer Acquisition vs. Customer Retention - Replyco Helpdesk Software for eCommerce

Now on to customer retention. Just as with customer acquisition, a full lesson on how to improve customer retention would require a complete guide all on its own. But luckily, we’ve already written one here

That said, here are a few quick and convenient tips for retaining more customers. 

Make Shopping with You Simple

First of all, if you want people to keep coming back to your company, make the experience as pleasant and easy as possible. If you’re an eCommerce seller, this would include ensuring that your website loads quickly and offers seamless navigation. 

Your checkout process should also be easy and straightforward, and your online inventory should be searchable and well-organized. Another great way to make things simple for your shoppers is to provide useful self-serve options. These could include highly accessible: 

  • FAQ pages.
  • Help docs.
  • Terms & conditions.
  • Knowledge base pages.
  • Product / service instructions.

Offer Loyalty Rewards & Promotions

Another obvious way to improve customer retention is to offer loyalty rewards. After all, shoppers are much more likely to return to your store again if there’s an advantage for doing so. 

There are tons of ways to offer loyalty rewards, so get creative when coming up with ways to thank your customers. For example, Macy’s has a Star Rewards program in which members can earn an escalating number of points per purchase that can then be used towards future orders. The store also frequently gives certain gifts or discounts on items when a shopper makes a purchase from specific departments or brands that exceeds set dollar amounts. 

And in addition to loyalty rewards, you can also run promotions for current and new customers. Bath & Body Works, for instance, holds a huge semi-annual sale twice a year. This sale includes deep discounts on nearly every item on the site, and the company also typically adds new or previously-retired products into its inventory for the event. Promotions such as these keep shoppers coming back again and again, while also attracting new prospects as well (often converting them quickly to loyal customers). 

Send Promotional Emails

If you’re going to hold promotions in order to boost customer retention, be sure your customers actually know about them. 

Send out promotional emails ahead of any events you put on so you can encourage the highest turnout possible. In these emails, include information about when the promotion will take place, some of the most exciting items that will be on sale, discount percentages or prices and any other information that is pertinent to the event. 

You can even include special discount codes that are exclusive to your email list subscribers. These codes could enable users to enter them for an extra 25% off their purchase price, free shipping or any other perk you’d like to offer. 

Use Social Media

No, this isn’t a typo. We’ve listed “Use Social Media” twice for a reason. While social media is crucial to your customer acquisition strategy, it is also incredibly important when it comes to improving customer retention. 

There are countless ways you can use social media to retain more customers. Just a few of them include: 

  • Informing customers about any promotions or sales. 
  • Announcing new products that you have available.
  • Communicating company news.
  • Keeping up with & addressing any questions / complaints that have been lodged via social media.
  • Creating an engaging & entertaining branding tone that converts customers into loyal fans of your company.

Provide Great Customer Service

Finally, the key to customer retention is excellent customer service. This is where the aforementioned importance of customer experience comes back into play. 

In addition to making the shopping experience as simple and pleasant as possible for your customers, you also need to make sure you’re offering them the very best service. Respond quickly to questions, provide knowledgeable and friendly support, give accurate information and astute answers to questions. Do everything you can to keep shoppers happy with the products they buy from you and the service they receive. 

This is where an eCommerce helpdesk solution like Replyco can help. If you sell on multiple marketplaces, our centralized messaging means you can view and reply to all customer inquiries from one easy-to-use inbox. Plus, tools such as live chat, smart auto-responders and convenient message templates mean you can boost response times and delight shoppers, even when you’re not in the office. 

Take a tour of our features to learn more, or get control of your inbox right now by starting your free trial today

Sheena Ingle - Content Writer for Replyco eCommerce

About the author: Sheena Ingle

Sheena Ingle is a copywriter and marketer with more than 10 years of experience. She studied communications at Southern New Hampshire University and specializes in educating consumers in the eCommerce, technology, customer service and SaaS industries. Sheena's work has been published in major outlets such as USA Today and LIVESTRONG.com, and she truly enjoys helping SMBs and online sellers achieve their goals.

To inquire about guest blog posting and other media opportunities, contact Sheena at sheena@replyco.com. You can also follow her on LinkedIn.

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