Creating Loyal, Repeat Customers for Your Ecommerce Store

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Published on
June 8, 2016

Ecommerce marketers spend a bulk of their time and budget winning over new customers. Forrester estimates the average online store devotes more than 80% of their spend on new shopper acquisition.  It’s an expensive strategy, and is at odds with well established research showing repeat customers are more valuable than first time buyers. When you take into account the lifetime value, spending habits and lower marketing costs of return shoppers, repeat buyers represent the foundation of ecommerce profitability and growth.  With growing pressure to generate better results from marketing spend, online retailers are wisely turning their focus toward converting new buyers into repeat customers. If you’re one of them, we have some tips to help you increase loyal and repeat purchasers.  

Benefits of Repeat Shoppers

+ Repeat Customers Spend More
New ecommerce customers spend $24.50 on average, compared to $52.50 for repeat customers. (McKinsey and Company)  

+ It’s Cheaper to Market to Repeat Buyers It takes much less convincing to get a customer to return to your store if they’ve already made a purchase. It can cost up to six to seven times more to market to a new buyer than it does repeat shoppers. (Bain and Company)  

+ Repeat Customers are Less Price Sensitive
Research backs up the idea that once a customer has several positive shopping experiences with a brand, they are less likely to be sensitive about prices or pricing changes.  

+ Loyal Buyers are Vocal Brand Advocates
There may be no such thing as free advertising, but word-of-mouth marketing comes pretty close. Repeat buyers are more likely to spread the good word about your product which is a cheap and effective way to earn new customers. 84% of shoppers say they trust recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

5 Tips to Increase Repeat Customers

1. Amp Up Your Order Confirmation Messaging

Use your first outreach with a new buyer to encourage them to return and shop again. You can do this in your email receipt or order confirmation message. The open rate of post-transactional emails is about 45% higher than standard marketing emails so it’s a great opportunity to add marketing to the relevant information they need for their order.  Consider offering a special discount for a future purchase, cross-sell an accessory item, or provide a useful blog or ebook with information about the product they just bought.

2. Get Personal

Use email marketing to send targeted, personalized messages to re-engage with one-time shoppers. Segment your email messaging by analyzing data on demographics, purchase history, and online behavior.  Personalized email campaigns have a much better chance of being opened and converted into a repeat purchase. According to Aberdeen Group, companies sending customized emails see a 51% increase in email opens and 26% increase in conversion rates.  Analyzing customer data can also help you determine the best timing of your email campaigns based on trends in first, second and third time buying history.

3. Reach Out - Say Thanks!

Expressing your thanks to a first-time customer costs almost nothing. Include a personal message of gratitude for a customer’s business in an email receipt or follow up email campaign.   Use thank you emails as remarketing opportunities to get the buyer to return to your online store. Add a special offer, product recommendations or link to a product page that may be of interest to the customer.

4. Excel at Customer Service

Providing consistent, high quality customer service is critical for increasing your rate of repeat shoppers. 72% of shoppers say customer service is what makes them loyal to a brand or business.  Start by providing self-service support that allows shoppers to find answers to their questions on their own, quickly and easily. Establish an FAQ page to address commonly asked questions. This gives buyers fast access to accurate information and reduces the time you spend answering the same questions.  Make sure you offer multiple options for customer support including live chat, social channels, email and phone.

5. Consider Customer Accounts

This is a tricky one. We’ve discussed before that requiring an account to checkout is sometimes cause for shopping cart abandonment. But if you do it the right way, you’ll make checking out easier for shoppers who return and want to buy again.  Make the account registration process simple and fast and let buyers know up front how many steps, or how long it will take. You can also provide an option at the end of the checkout process to ‘save my information’.  

Question to Ask Yourself:

After implementing repeat shopping strategies you feel best suit your online store, it’s time to analyze what’s working. In order to find the success metric that turns first time buyers into repeat shoppers, use data to answer questions like:  

  • Through what channel did shoppers find my store the first and second time they purchased?
  • What did they purchase the second time?
  • How much time elapsed between the first and second purchases? The second and third?
  • Which emails led to the most repeat purchases?
  • Is my Repeat Customer Rate higher in some quarters than others?

Use the answers to redefine your marketing and customer experience strategies. You’ll also want to measure retention metrics such as purchase frequency, repeat customer rate and customer lifetime value to determine the success of your efforts and marketing spend.

Glew’s Customer Insights makes this kind of analysis easy and intuitive. Customer Insights include lifetime value metrics, customer purchase behavior, new vs. repeat customer ratio, repeat customer rate and more.

Elevate your Commerce Intelligence with Glew.

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