A long-standing challenge commerce marketers face is knowing where to focus their marketing budget – customer retention or acquisition? The growth of new channels such as mobile and social has made it easier to secure one-off sales from new customers, which can be a tempting strategy to pursue. However, it can be more costly in the long run and is unlikely to encourage the development of deeper customer relationships.
As a recent report from IMRG and Capgemini revealed, online retailers have begun to recognise this and make retention more of a priority. The retention rate for active consumers reached a record high in the period from May to July, peaking at 36.5%, an increase of 5% from last year. For many brands, retention strategies provide an opportunity to effectively use their customer data to build stronger relationships and drive repeat purchases. In fact, retailers who increased their spending on retention in the last three years had a near 200% higher likelihood of increasing their market share in the last year than those spending more on acquisition.
With the peak shopping season approaching, there’s never been a better time to invest in retention strategies. Maximising the customer data you already have to deliver relevant and personalised communications will increase purchases during Black Friday and Christmas. Technology has brought about a huge range of tools to help encourage repeat purchases, but which strategies are most effective in securing customers for the long term?
Give Customers What They Want
Customers will only become repeat shoppers if a brand understands them. Uncover customer preferences and then use segmentation to create and send relevant communications. There are a number of ways to segment customers, from the more basic age and location to the more specific channel preferences and areas of interest. Finding ways to collect this information as early as possible in the customer lifecycle lays the foundation for an ongoing personalised approach, which will help catch your customers’ attention and create new opportunities to deliver more content.
Implement a Personalised Post-Purchase Series
With a wealth of brands to shop from, one sale does not secure a customer for life. You need to encourage them back soon after the first purchase, and an automated post-purchase series is an easy way to do this. It not only keeps the brand top of mind, but also creates opportunities to gather more insight on the customer. A personalised ‘thank you for your purchase’ message is a simple way to prolong the shopping experience and engage customers again. Include relevant recommendations for other products to invite them to take another look at your site. Combine it with a discount coupon or special offer for the next purchase, and customers will likely consider shopping again sooner.
Beyond this, encourage customers to celebrate their purchase by sharing via their social channels or submitting a product review. Of course, personalisation is at the heart of success here. Sending emails about the wrong product or failing to address the customer by name could send them elsewhere.
Make Your Customers Feel Like VIPs
If customers feel special and valued, they are more likely to shop with you again. Inviting customers to join a loyalty programme is an effective way to enrich the relationship, but customers who invest in such a programme will naturally want to see the value of it. You might offer early access to sales, free shipping or VIP shopping days, but most importantly, offers should be relevant to the customer and keep them interested in the brand. Featuring the programme on the website and including the sign-up option as part of the checkout process or in a post-purchase message can make the customer aware of the additional benefits they could be receiving.
Getting a customer’s attention can be easy, but the real challenge comes in keeping it. The Christmas season is almost upon us, bringing with it opportunities to recharge customer retention strategies. Do you have the tools in place to attract a loyal customer following? It’s time to think beyond that first purchase and start building lifelong brand fans.
About Saima Alibhai
Saima Alibhai has over 10 years of experience in the marketing technology industry, working alongside clients internationally in the UK, Europe and Latin America.