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How to Turn Your Customers Into Repeat Buyers: An Actionable Guide

In ecommerce, loyal customers are valuable not just for their ability and willingness to provide you with good praise and support—but also for their ability to significantly impact sales. Attracting and converting new customers is an essential part of growing your ecommerce business, but if you really want to boost sales in 2017, you need to put more focus on getting active and one-time customers to visit your store again.

Why?

Because existing customers are more likely to buy. They’re also more likely to spend more than a first-time customer. Consider these statements shared in a blog post from Sweet Tooth Rewards about the value of repeat customers:

  • “Customers who have purchased with your store 2 times before are 9x more likely to convert than a first time shopper.”
  • “Your loyal top 10% spend 3x more per order than the lower 90%, and your top 1% of customers spend 5x more than the lower 90%.”

So here’s the question: what can you do to transform more of your one-time customers into repeat buyers?

Below you will find a list of proven tactics, categorized by focus area, that you can review and consider incorporating into your marketing and sales strategies to boost sales in 2017.

Focus Area #1: Your Website

To begin transforming more one-time customers into repeat buyers, the first place that requires attention is your website itself. As a general rule, you should always be working to improve, optimize, and test new ideas on your website. Other types of businesses can afford to have slightly out-of-date websites, but not in ecommerce. In order to continue building a sustainable and profitable business, you have to constantly be working to ensure that you’re always providing your customers with the best experience possible whenever they decide to visit your website again.

You also have to be willing to use your website not only as a place to showcase and sell products, but also as a tool and platform for driving more sales.

There are three tactics you can implement on your website this year to get customers to buy again:

Tactic #1: Make your website fast and the shopping experience easy. If your customers do decide to return to your website again after purchasing from you, it’s essential that you create a fast, easy, and positive experience for them. Remember: if you can get them to buy from you more than once, their lifetime value is going to continue increasing steadily over time.

To ensure that your one-time customers have no trouble buying from you again, make sure:

  • Your website is accessible across all devices.
  • Your homepage hasn’t become overly cluttered or too unfamiliar since their last visit.
  • Your website loads fast across all devices. You can check by using the PageSpeed Insights tool from Google.
  • Your customers can easily find the account sign in button anywhere on your website. This can enable them to save more time during the checkout process.

Tactic #2: Use pop-ups to give returning customers a reason to buy again. Pop-ups can also be a great way to encourage past customers to buy from you again. A lot of pop-up tools give you the ability to target visitors based on whether or not they have purchased from you in the past. With that in mind, consider building pop-up campaigns that allow you to:

  • Tell returning customers about special offers only available to them.
  • Direct former customers to newly released products or newly stocked inventory.
  • Encourage them to sign up for your VIP email list to receive special deals and early-access invitations to new products.
  • Cross-sell related items that you think they’d be likely to buy based on past purchases.
  • Remind them of any items that were left in their shopping cart during their last visit.
  • Perform surveys that help you better understand what products your customers are looking for.

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Example from Fabletics

Tactic #3: Understand your customers better by incorporating list building opportunities everywhere. You can also add opt-in forms throughout your website in an effort to get to know your returning customers better. Instead of adding the same standard email list building form in multiple places throughout your website, consider creating unique forms that incentivize people to sign up for different reasons. This will allow you to gain more information about the interests of your customers.

For example, if you ran a men’s outfitter ecommerce store, you could create different forms for based on the different categories of products that you sell. In this example, customers might only want to receive updates and information about hunting clothing. Or, they might only be interested in fishing gear. To find out which customers are interested in which products, create separate list building forms for each primary product category in your catalog.

Focus Area #2: Your Emails

Email can also be an incredibly powerful tool for driving one-time customers to visit your store and buy from you again. At a minimum, you’re probably sending a few transactional emails out to customers when they purchase products from you, and maybe a few offer emails that goes out to your entire list of subscribers, but there’s a lot more that you could be doing to drive one-time customers to buy from you again.

Here are three ideas:

Tactic #1: Turn your transactional emails into sales emails. If you’re sending standard order receipt and shipping confirmation emails out to first-time customers, you’re missing out on a huge sales opportunity. In most cases, the time at which a customer receives an order confirmation email is when they are most excited and interested in your products. Not to mention, these emails have amazing open rates!  It’s the perfect time to provide customers with the information and incentive they need to make another purchase from you. You can build sections onto your transactional emails that include:

  • Information about related products
  • Special limited-time only offers
  • Featured recommended products that could support the product they just purchased
  • Opportunities to add more products to the same shipping order before it gets processed

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Example from Dollar Shave Club

Tactic #2: Build out a lifecycle marketing program. You can also drive customers to buy again by creating a lifecycle marketing program that allows you to send emails based on certain triggers or actions that your subscribers take. Example of emails you could send include:

  • Cart abandonment emails
  • Replenish stock emails
  • Item back in stock emails
  • Special offer email that gets sent out a certain number of days after a purchase
  • Win-back emails

To learn more about how to create an effective lifecycle marketing program for your ecommerce business, read through this helpful guide from Rejoiner.

Tactic #3: Share value with customers for free. You can also use email to provide free, educational value in an effort to drive past customers back to your product pages. It’s a great way to nurture relationships with customers, build loyalty with your biggest fans, and leverage your brand as an influencer in whatever space you’re operating in and in relation to whatever pain points your products solve for your customers.

Harry’s, for example, sends email marketing campaigns that educate subscribers about face-washing. It’s not as aggressive as most typical promotion emails you see, but it still gives Harry’s the opportunity to feature their products and drive subscribers toward action.

harrys

Example from Harry’s

Focus Area #3: Your Social Media Channels

If you’re already investing a lot of time and energy into email and website tactics, the next area you can turn to do drive more repeat sales is your social media channels. Aside from email, social media is one of the best tools you can use to communicate and engage with your customers and loyal advocates.

Here are three tactic you can try in order to engage your customers and drive them back to your website again.

Tactic #1: Post user-generated content. Your Facebook and Twitter followers don’t want to see your perfectly staged product photos all the time—they want to see your products being used in real-life. One of the best ways to remind customers how great your products are is by encouraging everyone who buys from you to share photos of themselves using your products on your social media pages.

To drive this type of user-generated content, you can:

  • Create a custom hashtag for customers to use when posting photos of your products, or looking for photos of your products that have been taken by other customers. The goal here is to create a movement—a platform for customers to interact with each other and share their excitement and experiences using your products. You can also incorporate the photos you get from customers into your product pages. This is done most often through Instagram using apps and tools that connect seamlessly with your merchant platform.
  • Run a contest that asks customers to post a photo in order to enter to win a prize.
  • Collect stories from your best and happiest customers, then feature those stories with your social media followers on a regular basis—like every Friday afternoon.

Tactic #2: Invest in social advertising. You should be willing to allocate some of your marketing budget toward Facebook and other social network ads that get your products back in front of your customers.

If you haven’t experimented with social media advertising for ecommerce before, explore these resources:

  • Ecommerce + Paid Traffic: How Ezra Firestone Turned $434,256.72 into $1,422,500.15 in 30 Days Using Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google and Shopify [READ IT]
  • An Introduction to Facebook Ads for Ecommerce [READ IT]
  • Copy & Paste Guide: How to Drive a Flood of Ecommerce Sales Using Facebook Ads [READ IT]

Tactic #3: Launch exclusive offers. Don’t be afraid to share exclusive offers and promo codes with your loyal audiences on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Your customers are connecting with you because they support your business, but they’re also connecting with you to stay up-to-date on your product offerings. Reward them by creating limited-time-only and VIP deals that drive them back to your website and into the shopping cart.

Though not ecommerce related, GrubHub presents a great case study for how you could be using Snapchat to share exclusive offers and promo codes with your most loyal customers:

grubhub-offer

Image Source

Focus Area #4: Your Products

The final area worth investing in to drive customers to buy again is your products themselves. To build customer loyalty and increase repeat sales, you have to create amazing, unforgettable experiences for anyone who purchases a product from you. In ecommerce, we don’t have the luxury of being able to interact with customers face-to-face when they’re buying from us—so we have to delight them through the ordering and delivery experience.

Here are three ideas you can use to create unforgettable product experiences that drive your customers to return to your store again:

Tactic #1: Invest in and streamline multi-channel selling. As I mentioned earlier in this post, in order to build customer loyalty and drive more repeat sales, you have to make it incredibly easy and convenient for customers to buy products from you. For a lot of ecommerce businesses, that means selling your products on other marketplaces where your customers go to shop, like Amazon and eBay. Investing in multi-channel selling can help you connect with and market to customers on sites and channels where they feel most comfortable.

Pro Tip: to manage and streamline the entire process, sign up for a free 14-day trial to try Sellbrite.

Tactic #2: Include special offers and thank you’s in your packaging. To delight and surprise customers, consider stuffing surprise offers, exclusive promo codes, and handwritten thank you’s when you send out products to first-time customers. It’s a small, but impactful way to show your customers that you care, and it will help you differentiate from your biggest competitors. It’s essentially the same strategy you’re using when you optimize your order receipt emails, but in this case it’s offline and something that your customers can actually hold in their hands.

Tactic #3: Create an amazing and unforgettable unboxing experience. Along the same line as the previous tactic, you should also consider put money into creating amazing packaging for your products to create a memorable unboxing experience for your first-time customers.

This goes back to the idea that you don’t get to be there with your customer when they receive your product, so instead, you need to create an amazing, exciting experience for them that doesn’t involve you. If you can create an exciting moment in time for customers each time they receive a product delivery from you—one that makes their day a little bit better—your customers will want to buy from you again. To learn more about how to create an amazing unboxing experience for your products, read this post from Shopify.

Over to You

What steps are you taking to transform one-time buyers into repeat customers? Tell me in the comments below, I’d love to hear about your ideas and experiences.

William Harris William Harris is leading content at Sellbrite and is also the Founder & Growth Marketer of Elumynt, LLC., VP of Marketing and Growth for a top 700 online retailer and former head of Marketing for When I Work, a VC backed SaaS company. William is also a contributor to leading publications like The Next Web, Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today, and Sellbrite and a speaker at industry events covering topics such as marketing strategy, search engine optimization, content marketing, digital marketing, social media and personal branding. Follow William on Twitter (@WmHarris101), LinkedIn, and Google+.
  • http://www.matridtech.net/ Shailene Woodley

    At Matrid tech, we think that interactive pop ups are another way you can enhance user engagement on your website! Playful and comic displays not only engage customers whimsically but also become an amazing promotional strategy.