The DTC Retention Audit

DTC Retention

When’s the last time you signed up for your own emails? Your own subscription? Have you had your products shipped to you recently to experience the journey as a customer?

I do this for brands day in and day out, and there are so many snags I hit again and again. Those little moments are huge for your customers, and they’re tough to catch if you aren’t consistently auditing your own CX.

This is where my Retention Audit comes into play.

According to Mark Johnson, eCommerce Manager at Hydrant (who just raised $5.7 million in series A funding), this audit can make you a hero.

 “That retention audit made me look like a HERO. Thank you.”

As it turns out, one of our founders had retention on the brain and asked us to put together a comprehensive plan. 

The audit helped us form the basis of the goals, kpis, and tactics we presented. The presentation went better than any presentation I've been a part of at Hydrant.”

Print this out. Post it on your wall. Walk through your process. I promise you'll find something to work on. (Available for download here)

High Level:

  • Is there a retention mindset throughout your entire company?
  • Is there a cross-departmental focus on the customer journey? 
  • Is your brand messaging consistent? Does it explore your deeper values?
  • Does the messaging stay consistent throughout the entire experience?
  • Do you value the customer experience above all else?
  • How well do you know your customers? Do you know the stories they are living?

Paid Advertising:

  • Are you prospecting with a retention mindset?
  • Does your ad tell my customer what problem in their life it’s solving?
  • Does the creative and copy speak to brand values?
  • Does it make your customer the hero, or your brand the hero?
  • Does it feature your hero product?
  • Does your ad tell the customer what problem in their life it’s solving?
  • Are you leading with your hero product?
  • Are you using intentional up-sell/cross-sell campaigns to increase LTV?
  • Are you factoring in your 60-day LTV when determining what your CAC target is?
  • Are you excluding existing customers from paid campaigns?
  • Are you utilizing *free* channels first before paying for your existing customers to come back?
  • When remarketing, are you running copy/creative that will IMPROVE the brand experience? (founder videos, how-to videos, UGC)

Important Emails and Channels to Audit:

  • Automated Flows: Newsletter welcome, Site abandonment, Cart abandonment, Post-Purchase nurture
    Content emails vs. Product emails– what’s the balance between these?
  • Transactional emails: Order confirmation, Account Creation, Shipping/Delivery, Failed payment recovery (subscriptions), Password reset, Survey requests, Referral emails
  • Are these messages speaking to your brand? Are they a positive experience?

Experiences to Test:

  • SMS- does it add to the experience or detract from it? Do all your channels work together to create a holistic (positive) experience?
  • Social media: Does it speak to your brand narrative? Are you connecting with customers and leads? Is there an active conversation happening?
  • How’s that unboxing/delivery process?
  • Are you educating on the product?
  • Does your customer understand *how* to use it when they get it?
  • What happens when there are issues with delivery?
  • What happens if a recurring charge fails?
  • Is the brand standard upheld in CS interactions?

Bonus Retention-Drivers to Consider:

  • Loyalty program- do you have one? Is it working?
  • Subscription management/account management- how is it? Is it easy, clear, and enjoyable?
  • Referrals- would you refer based on the communication from your brand?
  • Upsells/Cross-sells- are you doing them? Do they feel natural?
  • Surprise and delight- are you wowing your customers?

Remember: The brands who will win this year are the ones who have an unrelenting focus on customer experience.

Run this audit and find the areas you're *not* fulfilling that mission. I'll continue to dive deeper into all of these sections!

Kristen LaFrance

Head of community at Churn Buster, host of the Playing for Keeps podcast, and (unofficial) mayor of DTC Twitter, Kristen is an expert on all things retention. When she’s not interviewing leaders in the eCommerce world, you can catch her hiking 14-ers with her three rescue dogs.

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