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Three steps to engagement: How to turn a purchaser into a regular customer

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2nd Oct 2013
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For the second instalment of our “Three steps to improving customer engagement and enhancing the customer experience” series we will take a look at what can be done to transform a single purchaser into a returning customer. In the customer lifecycle we are describing, the organisation has used visitor behaviour to personalise content; customers have purchased items using a secure online payment system and completed the customer registration process. The next challenge for digital marketers is how to encourage those customers to return and purchase again.

The purchase process has provided the organisation with some customer details such as name, shipping and billing address and email. This opens up the opportunity to start targeted communication via email newsletters, abandoned basket emails or purchase and delivery confirmation emails.

The first opportunity for encouraging further purchases is by using the order and delivery confirmation emails as an opportunity to promote up-sell and cross-sell offers that are of particular relevance to that individual. These can be based not just on what they have purchased, but also on what they have browsed and searched for during their time on the organisation’s website.

By being proactive with personalised communication, digital marketers have the opportunity to draw customers into personalised offers and encourage them to share further information about themselves. For example, a personalised email enquiring why a basket has been abandoned may highlight a previously unknown problem experienced by the customer during the payment process or give insight into that individual customer’s online purchasing concerns and motivations. The organisation then has the opportunity to rectify that problem or deal with the individual’s concerns and consequently win the sale.

Using cookies enables organisations to get a picture of an individual over time, such as how often they visit the site, how long it has been since their first and last visit, which campaign they arrived on the website from, how long they spent on the website and which products they looked at or searched for each time. This builds even greater insight into that individual’s interests and motivations to help drive highly relevant, well-timed content with the website or via other channels such as email or even a call centre.

Proactive personalised digital marketing

Proactive personalised digital marketing is made even more accurate through the use of omnichannel data now available to digital marketers. For example, understanding not just an individual’s interaction with an organisation’s website, but also interactions with social media including ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’. On top of this it’s critical to be able to piece together an individual across the different devices they use, so that organisations don’t end up offering a discount to the same person using a tablet that has just purchased the product via their desktop. As a full omnichannel customer view is created, organisations can develop that view further to optimise up-sell and cross-sell special offers.

For example, using sophisticated customer analytics it is possible to identify that a customer visits an organisation’s website on a mobile device during the hours to 7:00am to 9:00am Monday to Friday, but actually purchases the items viewed on a laptop in the evenings or over the weekend. Combine this online behaviour with the knowledge that the customer has a birthday coming up soon and the digital marketer has an opportunity to be proactive and engaging. Sending that customer a birthday greeting with personalised special offers based on previous website behaviour and purchase history has the potential to draw the individual into a buying process and further interaction with the website. Thoughtful personalised communication which is attracting existing customers back to the website for another purchase – what is not to like about that?

Tactics such as personalised birthday offers, confirmation emails with highly relevant personalised offers and a slick buying process are a small part of a wider digital marketing campaign, all of which should hold personalisation as a key component. Setting the rules of the campaign can be a challenge and adapting them quickly to react to online customer behaviour was once an even bigger challenge. However, through the use of technology such as first party cookies and decisioning engines, organisations can have the capability to allow digital marketers the freedom to customise page content on-the-fly and adapt rules in real-time.

Using highly personalised content to communicate with customers will help increase an organisations reputation in the eyes of its customers. When we are nearing this point we are entering the realm of converting that customer into a brand advocate or ‘fan’, which is the topic of our next blog. 

Katharine Hulls is VP of marketing at Celebrus Technologies.

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