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by Kane Jamison, Founder, Content Marketing Agency
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How to Get Repeat eCommerce Customers

With data indicating that it costs 7x more to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one, it’s clear why many eCommerce retailers work hard to cultivate a loyal audience of shoppers that buy again and again.

The question is: How exactly does one do that?

Building a reliable group of repeat eCommerce buyers pivots on frequent communication, stellar customer experiences, and rewards for loyal shoppers who continuously buy from your online store.

By exploring each of these areas in detail, you too can craft a strategy that helps not only boost your number of repeat sales, but that also makes customers feel a greater sense of loyalty to your brand.

Automated customer journeys

When it comes to driving repeat purchases, email is one of the first channels you should capitalize on, as it’s proven to be one of the most effective ways to drive sales. Past studies have shown examples where every $1 spent on email marketing generated a $38 return on investment, and that 77% of marketing ROI comes from segmented and automated campaigns.

Many retailers have already hopped on board: More than 50% of companies are currently taking advantage of automated customer journeys, also known as drip campaigns. These emails are helping brands stay top-of-mind with customers old and new by educating subscribers on products, regularly sharing product suggestions, and following up with those who’ve abandoned their carts.

You can get fairly elaborate with your automated journeys. Here’s an example driven by a purchase from a specific product category that adds the buyer to the relevant email newsletters immediately after purchase:

fresh start product delivery journey real

(Source: Sample customer journey for Simple Green Smoothies)

Some specific journeys you might send include:

1. Education & product benefits

Drip campaigns can be used to nurture buyers who are not quite ready to follow through and make a purchase by educating them on the benefits, features, and value associated with your offerings. By regularly reminding potential customers of the pain points you can solve as well as the highlights of your products, you can lead them further down the conversion funnel until they’re ready to buy.

hi rise

2. Recommended product suggestions

Leveraging customer data such as previously viewed products or past purchases, you can develop emails that promote relevant, personalized product suggestions via automated customer journeys. Delivering these seemingly hand-picked product suggestions can not only spur repeat purchases, but can increase your average order value, too.

product suggestions

3. Cart abandonment follow up

With the average rate for cart abandonment sitting around 70%, drip campaigns can help you follow up with customers who didn’t complete the checkout process and capture those shoppers who are still considering the purchase. Reminding shoppers of items left in their virtual baskets is a simple way to drive those buyers back to your store.

dstld

4. Interesting content

Your customers are probably interested in your company beyond simply the products they’ve purchased. Particularly with lifestyle brands, many consumers are looking to support companies that build communities that the consumer wants to be a part of. Engaging content programs that are designed with your ideal target customer in mind are perfect for catching the interest of prospective customers who haven’t been introduced to your brand, and for keeping the interest of customers after their initial purchase. Take a look at our email marketing tips for content promotion for some more ideas on what types of content to send via email.

lookbook

Relentlessly improve customer experience

Data from Walker indicates that by as soon as 2020, customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator for B2B, which is why now is a good time to start thinking about how you can revamp your different processes related to your eCommerce store. In doing so, you’ll be building a more user-friendly experience that reduces buyer frictions and makes it easy for your customers to check out over and over.

One good way to approach this is to consider the factors that make users purchase. In recent research on omni-channel shopping trends from BigCommerce, Americans surveyed listed a number of factors that influenced their shopping decisions:

omni channel research(Source: BigCommerce Omni-Channel Research Study, 2016)

With those purchase factors in mind, let’s review some key customer experience improvements to consider:

1. Optimize for mobile

 It shouldn’t be a surprise that mobile shopping is on the rise, with over 38% of cyber week purchases made on mobile devices in 2016. That means your eCommerce store needs to take on a mobile-first mentality. Make sure that your website and product pages are optimized for mobile users and that buttons and checkout processes are as simple on various devices as they are in desktop format.

skinny ties(Image source)

2. Add customer service options

An easy way to frustrate your shoppers and to miss opportunities for repeat purchases is to have limited customer support options. Instead of only offering email or phone support, consider adding elements like live chat or FAQ pages so that shoppers can troubleshoot and resolve issues on their own.

remarkable

3. Collect customer feedback

Regularly conducting surveys with your customers on how you can improve different aspects of the customer experience has twofold benefits: It allows you to give your audience a voice, and it enables you to discover and prioritize improvements.

nordstrom

You can send these surveys out by email or using a website survey embedded in a pop-up or on the page. Here’s a good example showing how to send out a NPS (Net Promoter Score) survey in Autopilot.

Reward customer loyalty

Another simple way to build an audience of customers who make repeat purchases is to reward them for their loyalty.

From formally structured loyalty programs to simple email promotions for customers who meet a set spending threshold, eCommerce retailers know that efforts that treat repeat buyers like VIPs are already paying off. Data from a 2016 study found that members of loyalty clubs generate between 12-18% more revenue than non-members.

So what can you do to reward your loyal shoppers?

1. Create a VIP email segment

One of the best parts of Autopilot that we don’t see from a lot of other automation platforms is that it allows you to build customer journeys that are automatically triggered once a subscriber completes a specific behavior (like spending $500 or making five purchases). With automated campaigns that take the legwork out of loyalty rewards, you can keep your frequent shoppers coming back for more by rewarding them with rewards like discounts or free shipping offers.

free shipping

2. Create special access offers

Another way to make your loyal shoppers feel special is to give them early access or behind-the-scenes previews of new products coming soon to your store. It’s also a good idea to give your VIPs first access to pre-orders if you’re launching a new line or introducing brand new offerings. These actions help you remind your loyal shoppers that you value them and want to put them first.

godiva

The bottom line: If you don’t already have some sort of loyalty program in place, now is the time to think about what you can to do boost your retention rate with this segment of customers and drive repeated sales.

Your objective: get more repeat eCommerce customers

By leveraging automation tools like customer journeys, improving the overall customer experience, and rewarding your loyal shoppers, you can put your eCommerce store on the path to boosting sales with loyal shoppers who buy again and again. In doing so, you’ll spend less time worrying about constantly acquiring new customers that ultimately churn, and can focus instead on building an even larger base of loyal supporters.

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Author Kane Jamison, Founder, Content Marketing Agency

Kane Jamison is the founder of Content Harmony, a content marketing agency based in Seattle, WA. Content Harmony helps eCommerce and software clients create targeted content marketing programs to build audiences, sales, traffic, and more. You can follow Kane on Twitter at @KaneJamison.

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