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3 Tips for Turning One-Time Shoppers Into Repeat Customers

Phil Turicik

E-commerce marketers are among the most sophisticated marketers out there. The race to gain impression share and conversions through promotions is intense, driving e-commerce marketers to innovate and test new strategies continuously. You must compete – in real time and with relevant promotions – for your customers, especially during peak shopping times as relevant to your catalog.

However, as a former colleague of mine used to say, “E-commerce marketers jump over dollars to pick up quarters.” In other words, marketers can become so consumed with the short-term goal (i.e., completing the transaction) that we forget the key to long-term growth is in parlaying highly-motivated transactional shoppers into loyal, repeat customers with a solid lifetime value.

Today’s consumer is savvy; they know a transaction from an experience. If you treat customers like a transaction, that’s exactly what they become. But if you provide them with a relevant, memorable and engaging experience, you stand a far better shot at converting them to loyal, returning customers (think Comcast vs. Amazon – you know which one provides the experience).

Here are three tips for keeping your eye on the proverbial ball when it comes to converting one-time shoppers into lifetime customers.

Tip 1: Kill it with your Landing Page Optimization Strategy

Let’s face it: your landing page optimization strategy can make a huge difference in turning a visitor into a customer. And creating a landing page “experience” can be the factor that turns a transaction into a relationship.

If, for instance, you’ve pulled in a website visitor from a product ad for a power tool, a good strategy might be to offer alternatives to the featured item (like other drills) or products meant to accompany it (like a case or an additional battery). Smart marketers give visitors more options to keep them on the site. The deeper they’re immersed, the less likely they are to leave and the more likely they are to stay and buy, making life easier for both retailer and consumer.

Of course, landing pages should also feature smooth navigation and promotional offers relevant to a shopper’s situation and interests. If someone is shopping for Stars and Stripes party decor three days before Independence Day, popping a free overnight shipping offer on the landing page does a lot to make the kind of impression that the consumer remembers the next time they go to make an online purchase.

Tip 2: Leverage the 30 Days Post-Purchase Loyalty Window

Here’s a hard stat to handle: 70% of your first-time customers will never make a second purchase with you. Ouch. BUT – If they do, it’s that first 30 days after the purchase where your window for re-engaging them is most open.

What to do in that 30 day window?  It’s important to strike while the iron is hot, but be helpful and thoughtful – not pushy. Don’t send a first time customer a request for a product review, for example; rather, send an offer for a related item or free shipping on their next order.

Tip 3: Don’t Ruin the Honeymoon: Focus on the Customer Experience in Every Channel

So following the logic: build a customer experience that delivers what the shopper is looking for, and you’ll win more customers. However – it’s critical to deliver that experience everywhere, in every channel.

Let’s say you’ve won over a new customer; you delivered the right on-site experience as well as the product on time and as expected. You even took advantage of the 30-day post-purchase window with relevant follow-up. Case closed, right? Repeat customer for life? Not so fast …

What if your new customer is shopping online, does a Google search and sees a product ad for one of your products at a price that seems right. They click through to your site only to find it’s sold out. That’s a bad customer experience – and there goes all that good brand equity you so carefully built up with the consumer.

Smart and thoughtful marketing must apply to every channel — onsite and beyond.

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