Training Staff for Accelerated Development – Published in the Sunday Times HR & Skills Section
June 17, 2016
A/B Testing in Email Marketing
July 15, 2016

Ways to get more repeat customers

Credit for this article goes to: Akira Terwin

As an online store, you may spend a lot of time and money concentrating your marketing efforts on getting the brand out there in the e-commerce space and attracting a host of prospective new buyers who are used to spending money online.
But getting these customers to buy from your site is only half the battle; getting repeat purchases and a loyal customer base are highly valuable and essential for continual profitability and growth.


So perhaps it’s time to turn your attention toward converting new buyers into repeat customers. Here’s some tips to do just that…


Segment segment segment

Once you have an email base, there’s a host of information that you can glean about your customers that can be used to create personalised mailers that offer them useful information. Here are just a few ways to segment your data.


By purchasing frequency
You can segment out customers who’ve made a purchase from your site at least once – then set up a customer winback mailer that fires off to them say, 75 days since their last purchase, showing them products that may be of relevance to them, and asking that they consider purchasing again. Or, if your bottom line allows it, give them a reason to really come back. It could be free shipping on their next order, or a discount. And when it comes to mailers offering a discount, it doesn’t need to be fancy. Take this example from Crocs – simple and to the point.




By birth date
If you’re getting information from customers about their birth date, then you have a golden opportunity to show that you really care about them as a customer. And this can apply to any customer, whether they’ve made a purchase or not.
Some ideas to consider are giving them a free gift if they make a purchase on the site within a certain timeframe from their birthday. Several online stores though, instead offer the customer a special birthday discount. And if you have further info about their gender, as online fashion retailer Asos do, you can personalise that mail even more.




By gender or location
As mentioned above, information about your customer’s gender can go a long way toward segmenting and hence personalising your mails – like Ripcurl did below. Your database may consist of male and female customers who may find some of the information or promotions you’re advertising in your mailers, to be completely irrelevant to them. This can of course lead to low click rates and even unsubscribes – which of course stifle repeat purchase behaviour. So split your base up into male and female and send them information based on this.




By products previously purchased
Segment customers by the product types they buy. For example, if you sell beauty products ranging from hair to makeup to nails, then segment your customers based on their interests and where they’ve previously bought, to offer customised mails based on their interests. Also, if your site has popular and consistent sellers, then keep customers coming back by suggesting they buy companion products that would also be of interest to them. That way instead of coming back several months later to replenish that one item, you’ve got them consistently purchasing and making your site a one stop shop for everything they need. Hairhouse Warehouse South Africa does this with a simple but very targeted cross sell mail. Customers who purchased the aftercare Olaplex hair product from the site are then suggested other products to either maintain their lightened hair, or take it to the next level, by trying some bold colour.




Reward repeat purchases
Don’t take customer loyalty for granted – instead reward customers who make purchases often by giving them exclusive offers and early access to things your regular customers may not have. For example, if you’re having an amazing clearance sale with limited stock, you can share the news with this segment of customers via email, a day or two earlier so they get a first crack at buying the discounted goodies.


Customer Service is key
This may seem obvious but it can’t be stressed enough – treat the customer the way you would like to be treated. That means, make it as easy for them to purchase as possible by constantly assessing where customers may be getting confused and dropping off. Do you offer enough payment methods to cater for not just the tech savvy, but also the ones who are skittish about online shopping? Do you provide troubleshooting for common queries/concerns on your site so customers can get the info they need to complete a purchase? Also consider other more immediate options like a live chat and answering questions via social media. After sales service is just as important to keep them coming back. Make the returns or exchanges process as painless as possible. Mistakes can happen, such as incorrect orders or a delayed delivery – but acting swiftly, taking responsibility and communicating with the customer will go a long way in smoothing things over and creating trust so that they won’t hesitate to buy again and become loyal brand advocates.