Acquire and retain customers online

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Woman gesturing with headphones on

Online retail Acquire and retain customers online

Published on 26.07.2022 by Cynthia Rousseau, Digital Commerce, Post CH Ltd

There is a growing number of communication channels for addressing new and existing customers for online retailers. We explain what to communicate, when and where.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, many retailers engaged with online retail for the first time. There are various instruments available online for acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones. This means retailers who are used to approaching customers in their own country have to adapt.

The greater number of possibilities when it comes to approaching customers makes it hard for the inexperienced to discover suitable channels on their own. We explain which tools you absolutely need and which additional paths are optional.


An absolute must-have for every retailer. You stand little chance these days if you cannot be found on the Internet. A website is like a retailer’s business card for online users.

A website is not mandatory for running an online shop. However, it is recommended to build an online shop and maintain it alongside your high street store. For online shops, the “user experience” is enormously important. Clientele must be able to buy the product they want with as few clicks as possible.

Content marketing and SEO

For content marketing, you need to think strategically about what content you want to include on your website so that it comes up in search engine results. Mere product descriptions are only part of the puzzle to achieving high rankings on search engine results pages. Content marketing also gives you space to highlight your competence.

You can also use content marketing for posts on social media.

Display advertising and search engine advertising (SEA)

Advertising includes paid ads that a retailer runs in order to direct customers straight to their shop or make them aware of specific products. These ads come in various forms, such as search engine advertising (SEA) or on portals or market places.

E-mail marketing

Although newsletter marketing has been in use for years, it remains highly relevant and is not to be underestimated. Acquiring customers is a bit more difficult with newsletters, but they’re an ideal way of retaining customers.

Social media marketing

In social media marketing, various platforms, such as Meta, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, etc. are used for acquiring new customers and retaining existing ones.

The intention behind these platforms is to entertain users. Plain ads from the retailers rarely pop up for users.

Affiliate marketing

In affiliate marketing, partners (which can also be customers) create ads for a business. This comes in different forms; for example, affiliates can offer their followers a discount code. The affiliate will receive commission if this converts into a transaction.

Influencer marketing

In influencer marketing, customers buy a product from an influencer. Influencers are not necessarily TV celebrities. They reach a wide audience on social media and inspire people. This means they work with the trust of their followers, while promoting a product or retailer. The sale happens on its own.

How do I find out what form of online marketing suits me?

To find out, it’s important to know your target group or buyer persona. If you still haven’t done a target group analysis or don’t know how to approach it, please read on.

Why do I have to define target groups?

It is ineffective to run ads or produce content without an exact idea of who you’re targeting. The “shotgun approach” or “market crier” principle only works to a certain extent online. It’s not about reaching as many people as possible, but instead reaching people to whom the message or product is relevant. The more precisely defined the target group is, the more effective the advertising.

When can I publish what and at what times?

Defining a buyer persona, i.e. a target group, allows you to ascertain information on the group’s preferences, namely their preferred platforms or when they go online. This information then forms the foundation for planning when and where a post will be published.

It’s important to then carry out an evaluation to optimise time windows or the nature of the posts and reach more potential customers.

You can find more on this and an editorial calendar in the post: Why should content be planned?

How do I get my customers to order from me more frequently?

The foundation of this is the quality of the product. If this does not win them over, it’s difficult to turn a customer into a regular or one who places multiple orders. A satisfying purchase experience can encourage the customer to buy from you again.

Therefore, you should follow up with customers to find out how satisfied they are. In this way, you are demonstrating interest in your customers’ satisfaction and have the chance to direct them towards other products. You can do this in an e-mail, for example, which suggests they write a review and offers a discount code as a reward.

On social media, it’s important to react to questions and comments and keep communication channels open. This builds trust.

Cynthia Rousseau, Post CH Ltd

Cynthia Rousseau was a trainee in the Digital Commerce team at Swiss Post. In this role, she supported retailer customers in improving their level of digital maturity.

Portrait Cynthia Rousseau

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