Want to keep your freelancing clients this year? Our advanced customer retention guide can help. Use our free downloadable checklist to make it easy and get more value from your existing customer, while keeping your acquisition cost low.
Recently, we talked about ten ways Nigerian freelancers can get new clients.
That article was really helpful. It gives some great advice on how to scale your freelancing client acquisition efforts. And if you’re looking for ways to keep those clients, this resource is for you. It’ll walk you through 12 ways to boost your customer retention rates and how to design an effective retention program.
It also explains what a customer retention strategy is and why you need one.
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So, let’s begin.
Table of Contents
Key Takeaways (Editor’s picks)
- A customer retention program helps you build a loyal customer base.
- Brand differentiation is an effective retention strategy that helps you stand out from the competition.
- Exceeding customer expectations is the most straightforward way to retain customers.
- Use tiered pricing to personalise your services and cater to all customer segments.
- Cross-sell existing customers to improve average order value.
- Re-engage inactive customers with retargeting campaigns.
- Provide after-service follow-ups to enhance customer satisfaction.
- Encourage active clients with enticing incentives.
- Run different holiday marketing to ride on the excitement of those celebrations to generate additional revenue.
- Use FOMO to trigger impulse purchases.
- Create a customer feedback loop for insights on retaining your existing customers.
- Follow clients actively on social media to build stronger connections.
- Offer related products to diversify your earnings.
- 10 Ways Nigerian Freelancers Can Get Clients
- Top 15 Paying Freelancing Niches for Nigerians
- How to Build Your Brand as a Freelancer In Nigeria
What’s a Customer Retention Strategy?
A lot of clients will do business with you, but before you know it, they’ll stop coming.
Because it costs so much to get people to pay for your products or services, letting them go without doing anything to get them to come back is a bad business decision. And that’s where a customer retention strategy comes in.
It’s a plan of action that lets you create customer loyalty to turn your customers into repeat buyers and keep them from switching to your competitors.
Your customer retention rate shows how happy your existing customers are with your services. It helps you quantify your brand loyalty—the act of customers picking your brand over competitors with similar offerings.
Why a Client Retention Strategy Matters for Freelancers
Not having a customer retention strategy as a Nigerian freelancer is a huge mistake. Here are some reasons you shouldn’t joke with it:
- Helps you build a loyal customer base, reducing churn rate.
- Lets you continually drive value from existing customers, improving customer lifetime value.
- Gets you quality referrals which can help reduce your acquisition costs.
- Improves your earnings through repeat businesses.
Now, let’s see the different client retention strategies you can try for your freelancing business.
12 Freelancing Client Retention Strategies that Work
Here are 12 ways you can retain your freelancing clients in Nigeria:
- Stand out with differentiation
- Prioritise customer satisfaction
- Offer tiered services
- Boost AOV with upsell and cross-sell
- Retarget inactive clients
- Enhance customer experience with post-service follow-up
- Incentivise active customers
- Build excitement with holiday specials
- Trigger clients’ FOMO
- Implement a customer feedback loop
- Follow clients actively on social media
- Have a product
1. Stand out with differentiation
Pursuing clear differentiation is one of the easiest ways Nigerian freelancers can retain their clients.
It can help you stand out from the crowd, connecting your clients emotionally to your brand. Brand differentiation involves setting apart your brand from competitors by emphasising its unique features and value propositions.
According to Goran Paunovic, a Forbes Councils member…
“Differentiation begins with discovering what makes a brand relevant, and then continuing to highlight the supporting aspects and emotions that solidify those points. He believes that these differentiators are what will attract an audience, garner attention, and lead to conversion opportunities.”Source
He believes that these differentiators are what will attract an audience, get people’s attention, and lead to conversion opportunities.
How to implement a brand differentiation strategy:
- Achieve built-in differentiation with niche services.
- Differentiate by pricing differently.
- Build a consistent and compelling brand identity as a freelancer.
- Deliver unique purchase and post-purchase customer experiences.
- Strive to always over-deliver on customer expectations.
- Create an emotional connection with your unique brand stories.
- Support a cause to give back to society.
- Go green to differentiate through sustainability.
- Redefine your services by emphasizing alternative uses.
Quick fact: Customers are willing to pay 16% more for products that leverage its differentiation to offer a better customer experience.
Download Free Freelancing Clients Retention Checklist
Use this free downloadable checklist to make retaining your existing freelancing clients easier and get more value from them, while keeping your acquisition cost low
2. Prioritise customer satisfaction
Your customers won’t return if you have failed to satisfy them.
Consistently exceeding their expectations is the easiest way to build a strong customer retention strategy. Many business owners think that providing quality services and products will do the trick. It’s not enough.
You’d need to blow their minds.
Eugene Gold recommends doing what your competitors are not doing. Something that makes your customers feel that they are valued more by you than your competitors.
How you can prioritise customer satisfaction:
- Set clear expectations with your clients so they know exactly what to expect.
- Deliver on your promises to meet those expectations.
- Surprise them with extra value that exceeds their expectations.
- Build a brand that stands for something greater than what you do.
- Help customers discover the root cause of their problems and align solutions accordingly.
- Invest in customer relationship management (CRM) software.
Quick Fact: About 61% of customers will leave for a competitor after one negative experience.
3. Offer tiered services
Build scalability into your offerings with tiered pricing.
It offers customers multiple price points, allowing them to choose the option that best accommodates their needs and budgets, making it easier to retain them. Also, offering tiered pricing lets you cater to a larger customer segment. And the best part is you can incentivize them to move up the tiers.
Offer monthly and annual subscriptions to derive more benefits from your clients, while providing them with enhanced personalised experiences. As part of your pricing strategy, offer non-subscription tiered prices for those who want one-of payment or don’t wish to pay monthly or annual fees.
Quick fact: Tiered pricing lets you leverage the decoy effect to drive higher average order value (AOV).
4. Boost return rate with cross-selling
Cross-selling is an effective eCommerce strategy for improving AOV and customer retention rates.
We believe replicating it for your freelancing business will yield similar results, rewarding you with greater revenue. It involves recommending related services to customers to complement their orders. For instance, if a client orders a freelancing writing service, you can recommend custom graphics.
Cross-selling aims to increase the overall value of their transactions. But you can use it to boost freelancing customer retention rates. And here’s how we recommend you go about it:
- Design complementary services for each service you offer.
- Craft a compelling value proposition for each complementary service, demonstrating how it can help clients make the most of their main order.
- Recommend this complementary service a few days after completing the clients’ order instead of at the point of purchase, as most eCommerce brands do.
- Follow up if you don’t get an immediate response.
- Avoid high-pressure selling tactics.
- Improve your odds of success with enticing discounts.
Quick facts: About 65% of companies successfully increase sales through cross-selling.
5. Retarget inactive clients
Inactive customers are a huge missed opportunity.
You can win them back with personalized retargeting campaigns. And it could save you more than acquiring new ones. A study found that it costs five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. So, retargeting your inactive clients should be on the table.
And here are our recommendations:
- Create a list of your inactive customers.
- Reach out with a personalised email to find out why they stopped doing business with you.
- Address their concerns with tailored solutions to entice them to return.
- Offer them enticing incentives.
- If you have more than 100 emails, you can run a personalised Facebook custom audience campaign to create omnipresence and multiple customer touchpoints.
6. Enhance customer experience with post-service follow-up
Customers’ post-purchase experience largely determines whether they’ll return or not.
A study found that nearly two-thirds of customers will leave for a competitor if they have one negative experience and 72% will leave permanently after two bad experiences. That’s a huge number to risk, so prioritizing customers’ post-purchase experience should never be up for debate.
So, we recommend following up with clients immediately after sales.
It can help you increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, and drive repeat business. Also, it can help you generate customer testimonials and get quality feedback to innovate and differentiate.
How to follow up after sales:
- Send a note or card to say thank you to the customer immediately after sales.
- Check-in a few weeks later to find out how everything is going and if they are happy with the service. Listen to their needs and try to resolve any issues they might have.
- Send them helpful information based on their needs and interests to consolidate the trust.
- Recommend complementary services (cross-selling) to encourage second sales.
- Ask for referrals from happy customers.
7. Incentivise active customers
Active clients are your most valuable customer segment.
They’re the reason you’re still in business. And it’s likely roughly 80% of all your revenues will come from around 20% of them according to the Pareto Principle. This principle suggests that 80% of consequences come from 20% of actions, implying an unequal relationship between input and output.
Identifying and prioritising this segment should be top of your minds, and then incentivize them to keep them coming back.
Follow these steps to get more value from your active customers:
- Identify your most active customers.
- Send them notes, cards, or personalised gifts to thank them for their business.
- Give them a discount on their next order and let them know it’s only for loyal customers.
- Repeat steps two and three periodically, and get them perpetually engaged with your brand.
Quick fact: About 83% of customers are more likely to stick with a brand that offers a loyalty program.
8. Take advantage of holiday marketing
Sadly, most freelancers in Nigeria don’t do this.
Many of them often treat holidays like any other day. And this could be costing them a lot. Market analysts estimate that U.S. retail and eCommerce sales will make up 18% of the full-year sales in 2023. That’s a lot of money to leave on the table.
You can use the excitement of the holidays to get more from your customers by offering them holiday-themed discounts and deals.
Key holiday season dates to keep in mind
- Riyad season (October to March)
- White Friday (Middle East shopping holiday November 22 – 29th)
- Thanksgiving (the fourth Friday in November)
- Black Friday (the Friday after Thanksgiving)
- Small business Saturday in the U.S (the Saturday following the black Friday)
- Cyber Monday (the Monday following the black Friday)
- Giving Tuesday (the Tuesday following the black Friday)
- Small Business Saturday in the UK (first Saturday of December)
- Green Monday (second Monday of December)
- Hanukkah (the 25th day of Kislev in the Hebrew calendar)
- Christmas Eve (December 24th)
- New year eve (December 31st)
- Ramadan eve
- Chinese new year
Pro tips: Plan your campaign early. Focus on your target audience. Be creative with your campaign to stand out.
9. Trigger clients’ FOMO
The fear of missing out (FOMO) often causes people to make impulsive, reactive purchases.
For instance, when people feel like they’re missing out on something, they may feel a sense of urgency to buy it before it’s too late. This can lead them to make purchases that they don’t need.
FOMO marketing combines social proof, urgency, and scarcity to influence buying decisions. It works because people’s decisions are often influenced by those around them.
You can leverage this FOMO to influence your customers to buy again.
Let’s see how:
- Share exciting stories of your happy customers on social media.
- Offer time-sensitive discounts with a countdown timer to influence sales.
- Try a “First 100 Buyers” offer to use scarcity and urgency to encourage sales.
- Show off customer testimonials to let clients see what they’re missing.
- Share widely new milestones to communicate your roadmap to clients.
- Use bundled services, like “buy this, and get that” to drive sales from a win-win situation.
- Inspire trust by displaying acquired badges and awards on your website.
Quick fact: 60% of young adults make purchases based on FOMO.
10. Implement a customer feedback loop
Implementing a customer feedback loop is key to retaining your existing customers.
The truth is, it’s hard to improve your processes and optimise customer experience if you don’t know how customers feel about it. But with this system in place, you can collect and analyse customer reviews and surveys to gain actionable insights.
This can help you:
- Identify areas where you can improve your services.
- Gain a better understanding of your customer’s needs and wants.
- Build trust and loyalty with your customers.
- improve sales and customer return rates.
Begin by specifying the methods to collect feedback at the various touchpoints in the customers’ journey. Analyse this feedback for trends and patterns to understand why customers behave the way they do. Acknowledge the feedback to let customers know you listen to them.
Next, acr on the feedback and follow up with customers to show them that you value their feedback, which can help strengthen the relationship and make them more loyal.
Pro tip: segment users before collecting feedback to draw meaningful conclusions.
11. Follow clients actively on social media
Following your clients actively on social media is a great way to stay top of mind and build relationships with them. Not just following them, but also sharing, commenting, and liking all their posts.
Doing these consistently shows that you’re engaged with their content and that you’re interested in what they have to say. This can make them feel more connected to you and your business, which can lead to more opportunities for collaboration and business development.
Here are a few tips for staying active on your clients’ social media:
- Like and comment on their posts regularly: This shows that you’re paying attention to what they’re doing and that you appreciate their content.
- Share their posts with your followers: This helps to spread the word about their work and can introduce new people to your business.
- Respond to their comments and questions: This shows that you’re available and responsive, which can build trust and rapport.
Pro tip: Search out your clients on Facebook and follow them. Engage actively with their content to become a top fan, which can help strengthen business relationships.
12. Have a product
It’s possible to have your product even as a freelancer.
And we recommend this. For instance, if you’re a freelance writer you can create a course that guides customers and businesses on how to generate leads from their blog posts. SEO freelancers might want to create an SEO sales course that guides clients on how to convert their SEO leads to paying customers.
Having a product helps you boost your retention rate, diversify your earnings, and create a new customer base. And you can begin your journey with the steps below:
- Identify customers’ real pain points.
- Design a product that addresses these problems.
- Find a way to customise the product to your customer’s needs.
- Build your store.
- Develop your marketing and cross-selling strategies.
Pro tips: Host your store on a subdomain, for example, www.store.freelancer.com. It also lets you build your store the way you want and gives you more flexibility to manage your marketing.
Designing Your Client Retention Programme
Now that you have seen 11 ways to retain your freelancing clients. Follow these five steps to design your client retention programme.
Determine your budget
Customer retention programmes are not created equal.
The budget you have will have a big impact on how much you can do with your program. So, the first step in designing yours is to determine how much you’re willing to spend.
Once you figure this out, you can easily align your strategies with this budget.
Pick your retention strategies
Next is to pick your retention strategies after determining your budget.
If you have a small budget, you may want to focus on strategies that are low-cost or free, like:
- Sending out thank-you notes or postcards.
- Offering loyalty programs or rewards.
- Providing excellent customer service.
- Following clients on social media.
- Offering tiered services.
- Implementing a customer feedback loop.
But if your budget is larger, you may be able to afford to implement more expensive strategies, such as:
- Offering discounts or promotions.
- Personalizing your marketing messages.
- Investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software.
- Leveraging FOMO and holiday marketing.
- Investing in brand differentiation.
Build your toolkit
You’ll need the right tools to make your retention program a success.
So, figure out what tools you need to execute your strategies and make sure they fit within your budget. If you’re on a tight budget, you can use the free versions of some tools. For example, you can use the free plan of your favorite email service instead of the paid plan.
Here are some examples of tools you can use for your customer retention programme:
- Email marketing software: Staying in touch with your customers, promoting your services, and cross-selling customers.
- CRM software: Tracking customer interactions and managing your relationships.
- Social media marketing software: Connecting with your customers on social media and running social media ads.
- Customer feedback software: Collecting feedback from your customers and using it to improve your services.
- Customer loyalty software: Incentivising customers and running loyalty programmes.
- Payment gateway: collecting payment and managing your tiered pricing system.
Set KPIs for each strategy
It’s important to track the results of your customer retention strategies so you can see what’s working and what’s not. This will help you tweak your program and make sure you’re getting the most out of it.
One way to do this is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) for each strategy.
These are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals that you can use to track your progress. For example, if you’re running a FOMO marketing, you might set a KPI to increase the number of repeat purchases by 10% in the next six months.
Once you’ve set your KPIs, you need to monitor them to ensure you’re on course. You can do this by tracking data such as engagement and repeat purchase rates.
Monitoring your data can help you identify areas where your customer retention strategies are working well and where they need improvement. You can also use data to identify new opportunities for customer retention.
For example, if you notice a lower engagement or repeat purchase rate for a particular customer segment than others, you might want to develop a specific retention strategy for that segment.
Document your strategy
Your retention programme is not complete if you don’t document it.
This is because documentation is essential for quality and control processes. Proper documentation also encourages knowledge sharing, which helps your team focus on the goal and overall picture. It can also help you allocate your resources optimally and target the right audience.
How can I retain my customers?
You can retain your customers in several ways, but some of the most effective include providing excellent customer service, offering rewards and incentives, differentiating your brand, and cross-selling existing customers to boost return rates.
What are some common reasons why customers leave?
Customers leave for several reasons. But the common ones include poor customer service, lack of perceived value, and feeling like they are not being listened to.
How can I improve my customer service?
You can improve your customer service in several ways. But some of our favourite strategies include being responsive to customer inquiries, resolving customer issues quickly and efficiently, and going above and beyond to meet customer expectations.
What are some rewards and incentives I can offer my customers?
You can offer your customers different rewards and incentives to encourage loyalty and repeat business, such as:
- Discounts: This is one of our favourite strategies for rewarding customers. You can offer discounts on specific services, or entire purchases.
- Free products or services: This is another great way to show your appreciation for your customers. You can offer free samples or services.
- Points or rewards programs: This is a great way to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more. You can offer points for every dollar spent, or for specific actions such as signing up for your email list or referring a friend.
- Social media rewards: This is a great way to connect with your customers and reward them for their engagement on social media. You can offer discounts or free products for following you on social media, liking or sharing your posts, or referring friends.
No matter what you choose to offer, make sure it’s something your customers will want and value.
Start Retaining Your Freelancing Clients
Retaining clients is essential for the success of any freelance business.
The tips in this resource can help you increase your chances of keeping your clients happy and coming back for more. Remember, the key to client retention is providing excellent service and building strong relationships. So, prioritise them. Customer retention becomes easier when you do.
Also, download the free freelancing customer retention checklist to make it even easier.