7 Retention Marketing Platforms for SMBs

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It can cost a business 5x more to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one, but keeping regulars coming back is often about more than just offering the lowest prices or the best customer service. As small and mid-size businesses move away from the once-ubiquitous daily deals platforms, they’re now funneling a great portion of their budgets toward retention marketing solutions.

Retention marketing can take many forms, from rewarding loyal fans to communicating digitally with customers, and even asking for feedback as a way to re-engage lapsed guests. What most vendors in the retention marketing category have in common is a desire to help businesses increase profitability by selling more to existing customers, versus going out and finding new ones.

Here are eight examples digital platforms, each taking a unique approach to customer retention. Although this list is by no means exhaustive, it does offer a look at the variety of options available to merchants interested in new ways to engage lapsed customers.

1. Spendgo: Reviving lapsed customers through digital offers
Regardless of whether they’ve shopped in-store or online, customers can be won-back using Spendgo’s personalized engagement tools. Spendgo aims to build loyalty and revive lapsed customers through a combination of closed loop promotions, digital messaging, loyalty programs, and branded customer experiences. Merchants can build their own programs based on their unique campaign goals, so one business could use Spendgo to manage a loyalty program while another uses the platform to schedule campaigns triggered by real-time events. Spendgo connects with existing POS solutions to attribute customer purchases and consolidate customer data, as well.

2. FreshLime: Automated marketing for local service professionals
FreshLime is an automated marketing platform that caters to professionals in the local services space, including salons, cleaning services, and dental offices. The digital platform collects the data being generated by merchants’ third-party business management platforms and then uses it to generate marketing insights reports focused on engaging customers and recapturing lost revenue. Using customer profiles, merchants can learn what keeps their customers coming back and how their most loyal customers prefer to engage. They can then target those customers through email, text, and social media.

3. flok: Check-in with customers via mobile
More than just a customer loyalty program, flok offers a way for businesses to actually engage with customers in real-time through mobile channels. In addition to its rewards tool, which replaces paper punch cards, flok gives merchants a way to send promotions or messages to existing customers and sparks customer engagement on social media. Using the mobile chat feature, merchants can ask customers to rate their visits or check-in to say hello. A beacon solution is also available to businesses that would like to welcome customers who’ve arrived at their stores and track behaviors over time.

4. OutboundEngine: A do-it-for-you approach to nurturing relationships
A marketing automation platform for SMBs, OutboundEngine pairs email marketing and social media services together with lead scoring and campaign analytics to nurture relationships between merchants and their customers. OutboundEngine is used most frequently by independent business owners, like real estate agents and CPAs. Rather than offering a self-service solution, OutboundEngine takes a full service approach and proactively nurtures the merchant’s customer list. OutboundEngine sends personalized messages and finds repeat business from a merchant’s network.

5. Belly: Sending automatic communication to lapsed customers
Belly tackles retention through personalized rewards and automated win-back solutions that target lapsed customers. Merchants that use Belly create digital loyalty and incentivize existing customers to return by offering off-the-wall rewards. Belly also collects customer information after each visit and uses the data to power email marketing and mobile campaigns. Automated communication is used to re-activate customers who’ve stopped coming in. (For example, customers might receive a special offer via email when they have visited in 90 days.) Merchants can also use social media to stay top-of-mind and promote shares from their most loyal fans.

6. Optimove: Data-driven retention efforts
Optimove takes a data-driven approach to customer retention by combining predictive customer modeling with campaign automation. The platform mines a business’ customer and sales data to predict future behaviors and determine which actions will have the biggest impact on satisfaction rates. Once Optimove has discovered what’s motivating a business’ existing customers, users can engage with those customers across multiple channels, and they can deploy triggers using any combination of events. (For example, sending a discount notification in real-time to customers.) “Strategic services” are available for businesses requiring more assistance in generating their data-driven retention strategies, as well.

7. Offerpop: Increasing average lifetime values
As a user-generated content marketing platform, Offerpop helps businesses engage with and convert customers on social media. What that really means is that merchants can create their own contests to keep customers and online fans engaged with their brands, and they can generate detailed reports to understand the full value their contests provide. Merchants can augment audience data with purchase histories, and they can identify which campaigns are bringing back the most existing customers. Identifying high-value segments can also help businesses boost conversion rates, lifetime values, and average order values.

Know of other retention marketing platforms? Leave a description in the comments.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.