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Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any business. In fact, a recent study from Econsultancy discovered that repeat customers are three times more valuable than first timers. Additionally, the second sale proves to be especially important. Research by SumAll shows that if someone makes one purchase, they have a 27% chance of coming back again; however a second-time customer has a 54% chance of returning for a third purchase.
Unless you’re a subscription-based business model in which the acquisition of a repeat customer is done up front, you need to continually work to stay top of mind with your customers. Here are some good ways to nurture your customers to keep them coming back for more.
1. Have a newsletter
Newsletters may not seem trendy, but it turns out that they can do a number of important things for your e-commerce store:
- Nurture leads until they become customers. With the right email list segmentation strategy, you can separate your subscribers into workflows based on on-site activity and target them with content that meets their needs given their stage in the buying cycle.
- Communicate with current customers. By offering value, you have a reason to stay in touch with people who have bought from you before.
- Position yourself as an industry expert. With the right content, you can educate your customers about the field you’re selling in. If you’re selling clothes, you should be a style expert. If you’re selling protein powder, you need to give workout tips.
- Generate new leads. A newsletter provides incentive for providing contact information. Now you can justify a signup form on your site and blog.
So, having a newsletter to begin with should be a baseline email marketing activity. In addition to announcing new products and promotions, you can share company news, current trends, article roundups and your own blog posts.
2. Take advantage of welcome emails
People are most engaged with you when they first sign up for your email list. You have their attention. That’s why welcome emails are such a huge opportunity. So focus on this and do more than simply confirm your new subscribers’ email addresses.
Create an additional touchpoint with new subscribers right away. Invite them to engage with another one of your marketing channels, like social media or your mobile app. This approach works well for those who haven’t bought yet because that additional touchpoint is a chance to nurture them with more content. Down the line, it’ll work well for driving repeat purchases, too, because it keeps your company top of mind for previous buyers.
Discounts are a slippery slope. People get trained to expect discounts and that can be bad for business. So instead of offering perpetual discounts to all customers, try to focus your discounts on new customers. Use discounts to convert people early in the customer relationship. Criquet Shirts does a great job of this with their welcome email offering a code good for 3 days. Moving forward, rely on the value of your product, targeted product promotions and your brand to nudge existing customers to repeat purchases. The idea is that you’ll use multiple channels to convey all of that value to your existing customers.
3. Track on-site events to send targeted emails
A previous purchase of running shoes could indicate that the customer is also interested in complementary items, like workout clothes, or simply more offerings from that brand who made the running shoes. Additionally, page views of products are another indicator of product interest.
Tracking on-site events like page views and past purchase, as well as tracking clicks in previous emails, will help you set up behavior-driven campaigns. These are more likely to convert than blast newsletters of the same old content to every customer.
4. Drive followers to your social media accounts
Social isn’t necessarily where people go to shop, but it’s definitely where they go to research products by asking their friends and followers for product recommendations. To keep your brand, mission, product and value top of mind for customers, you need to stay front and center in their social feeds. Multi-channel marketing reinforces what you offer and ensures you are the first brand they think of when they are in the shopping mindset.
Yoga brand Kira Grace smartly encourages its subscribers to engage with them on social. In this email, they are heavily promote a Pinterest contest. But they also include links for all their social networks to encourage users to follow them across multiple platforms.
5. Build your own rewards program
Credit card companies, hotels, airlines, and major retailers are known for offering competitive rewards programs to incentivize repeat purchases, and email is the primary mode of execution for this strategy.
Full-fledge points programs that include strategic partnerships with other brands would be a major endeavor. But there are ways that even small e-commerce shops can offer a VIP experience to their customers.
- Private access to new merchandise. Zappos gives its VIP customers a sneak peek at new products before anyone else. Whether VIP-status is granted via a certain purchase amount or through private invitation, a dedicated email send like this is attainable and effective. By segmenting the product newsletter list to only those who have made a purchase before, even small shops can use this approach.
- Discounts based on amount of past purchases. Here is one situation where discounts could work to drive current customers to repeat their purchase. Once a customer has ordered a certain value in purchases, like $500, you can send them a coupon for their next purchase. If someone is getting close to the purchase goal, it’s good incentive for them to make just one more purchase in order to get the reward. To have success with this approach, you’ll have to figure out what the ideal discount and purchase requirement would be for your business model. If the numbers are right, though, this could be a really effective approach to driving repeat business.
6. Timing of purchases
What do shampoo, ink cartridges, and disposable razor blades have in common? They are things we run out of on a regular basis. Refills drive repeat revenue.
Subscription-based monetization strategies like Amazon’s Subscribe and Save program are one option for capitalizing on this. Offering this program in a campaign targeted at past customers could be a great way to drive repeat business.
In addition to products, there are also services we need on a regular basis. Valvoline takes advantage of this by sending reminders to schedule an oil change. Of course these emails are timed perfectly after customer’s previous oil change.
It’s time to start sending
With these tips, you are well-armed to approach your store’s email marketing program with repeat conversions as your main focus. Some things to keep in mind:
- Have a newsletter. You have to start somewhere and provide some initial reason for customers to provide an email address.
- Don’t ignore your welcome emails. This is when you have the subscribers’ attention the most. Take advantage of this opportunity.
- Pay attention to customer behavior. Tracking how they interact with your site and previous emails can help you send them the right content.
- Make use of other marketing channels. Draw attention to your social media accounts and mobile app, as staying top of mind for your subscribers increases the likelihood that you’ll get them to buy again.
- Reward your current customers. Exclusive access to new products and discounts for spending a certain amount are two simple ways to do this.
- Remember that timing of purchases matters. If it’s just about refill time, don’t be shy about following up and encouraging them to order again. They’ll probably be happy that you reminded them.
What are you doing to drive repeat purchases amongst your customers? Let us know in the comments.
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