An article from eMarketer caught my eye this morning, citing that the most valuable business milestone for small businesses in the US is generating repeat customers. There is no doubt that for businesses with limited sales and marketing budgets, a second purchase by a repeat customer can often be the fuel needed to acquire the next customer and further power the growth engine of a company. Adobe reports that repeat customers make up 8% of the customers of a typical online store, but they actually represent 41% of the total purchases.
Understanding this, I've outlined a few tactical approaches to converting first-time customers to the ever-coveted repeat purchaser.
Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM) and database marketing have long been staples of the digital marketing playbook, and there are extremely sophisticated platforms at the marketer's disposal to target and personalize timely and relevant emails to your valuable customers. Beyond a simple demographic profile, what data do you have about your customers that can inform your communication strategy? What products or services did they purchase or browse, and what does that behaviour imply about their other potential needs or wants? When did they purchase, and what implications does that timing have on when they may need to purchase again? What third-party data can we use to better enhance our understanding of the customer? Database enhancement and append services from companies like Experian or Rapleaf can help businesses get a more robust picture of customers based on their 3rd party demographic, household, interest and purchase data. A recent study by Harris Interactive showed that 81% of surveyed customers said they were at least somewhat likely to make additional purchases, either online or in-store, as a result of personalized emails that used past purchase behaviour or preferences.
We've all had the experience of visiting a company's website for the first time, and then all of a sudden, as if by serendipity, every other website we visit from that moment on seems to feature ads by that same company. This is no coincidence, and is typically an indication that you are being retargeted by that brand. For a really useful primer on how this works, check out this article from eConsultancy . By creating smart retargeting segments based on products that your customers have purchased or browsed, or even based on other data you store about your customers using Custom Audience targeting on Facebook, marketers can be incredibly precise with timing, messaging and placement, serving up ads that have very high engagement and conversion rates.
Real-time offers & Personalization
Using the same types of data and targeting capabilities already discussed in this post, real time offer and personalization platforms can increase the probability that a customer that returns to your website will convert to a repeat purchaser. Amazon has long been the master of this, using Amazon Recommendations to show you the products and offers that you are statistically most likely to respond to base on extremely large consumer data sets and predictive modelling. Real time website personalization platforms allow web marketers and ecommerce companies to segment and target customers on a near one-to-one basis is real-time, ensuring that the content and offers that a return shopper sees are as a relevant as possible. There are a tremendous amount of solutions in the marketplace, some of which are covered by Dave Chaffey and Giancarlo Cammarota .
Despite tremendous competition in the loyalty space, loyalty and rewards programs continue to be an effective driver of repeat business and customer lifetime value. For a great overview of the state of the loyalty space, check out Colloquy's report here.
In my opinion, My Starbucks Rewards remains one of the finest examples of a brand providing utility, convenience and value through a loyalty program via a mobile experience.
Beyond a discount or a buy some, get one promotion, what additional service, utility or value add can you deliver to a customer that purchases with you multiple times. Understanding their customers' values of sustainability and eco-responsibility, Patagonia created a partnership with eBay to allow customers to easily sell their used gear, recouping some of the original cost, and empowering their customers to feel good about making a subsequent purchase with Patagonia.
How do game mechanics play into your program to lead the customer along path to purchase and ultimately incentivize conversion? Will you add a social aspect to your loyalty program to drive customer acquisition via social referral? There are a number of loyalty platforms that can easily integrate with your website or ecommerce platform, including PunchTab, BigDoor and 500Friends .
Obviously, this is just the tip of the iceberg when thinking about how to drive a repeat transaction, and each business will have unique opportunities to create the customer loyalty that is so important to bottom line growth.
Are you looking for strategic support for turning your digital customer experience into a conversion engine that drives repeat purchases and improves customer lifetime value?