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Marketing

How a Lean Startup Can Keep Customers

Editor's Note: This is the second of three excerpts from The Startup Owner's Manual, a recently published step-by-step guide for building companies. The first installment is How to 'Get' Customers.

Keeping customers in the web or mobile channels has the same goal as retention efforts in the physical world: to minimize churn by providing great products and services, and interacting with customers often.

Retention is done more easily online, where companies have the incredible power and ability to track and monitor every customer's individual behavior (without violating their privacy).

Loyalty programs and other tactics borrowed from the physical channel can play a significant role here, as can elegant personalized (and often digital) customer service. FAQs, user blogs, clubs, and newsletters help with retention as well.

As you come up with a strategy, remember that retention programs live or die by a close monitoring of customer behavior. You want to learn who's staying, who's leaving and why. It's especially critical to follow the behaviors you most want to improve.

Related: Starting Lean: Selling a Vision (Video)

Here are a few examples of what to monitor:

Keep the following guidelines in mind as you test customer-retention programs:

Remember, the data that customers give you make personalized retention efforts easy. But you need to collect it. As you observe and track customers' behavior, use that data to create personal one-to-one relationships that guide them to the next steps. (But always respect personal-data privacy.)

Related: Seven Ways to Keep Angry Customers (Like Me) Happy

Some simple retention tests to consider:

Lastly, you'll want to monitor and act on at least these basic retention metrics:

Check back next week for an excerpt on growing customers.

Related: Steve Blank and the Big Picture at SXSW 2012 (Video)