Customer retention strategies: how to keep first-time buyers coming back
Lead conversion is a big win for e-commerce business owners. Yet, there are myriad steps that can—and should—be taken after you successfully convert your prospects into customers.
Marketing effectively post-purchase should be your highest priority.
As you probably know, it costs more to acquire new customers than to retain your existing ones. Thus, it is vital to have a customer retention strategies in place to nurture your new shoppers and ensure quality service and satisfaction.
You invested time and money into converting your prospects—you’ll want to ensure you don’t lose them.
Here are some e-commerce customer retention strategies you can use to encourage first-time buyers to purchase from you again.
Simplify the purchasing process
Successful online retailers have mastered the ability to provide their customers with a simplified way of doing business with them. And it’s important to understand that the entire experience is what drives growth and profits, not products and services alone.
Encourage customer registration
Order registration empowers your customers to track their product shipments, enjoy faster checkout experiences, receive special offers and have 24-hour access to their order history. This can drastically minimize the customer’s frustrations and the need to contact customer service.
While registration should be encouraged, it should not be a barrier to purchase. Newer customers may not be ready to commit to your brand. Sending an email reminder to register after the customer has already made the purchase can be more convenient for the customer. Additionally, offering an incentive (such as a discount on their next purchase) is an excellent way to persuade customers to sign up.
The checkout process
Consider what your customers experience when they check out. Assess each step from the buyer’s standpoint. Is there visual clarity? Is the process easy? Where is the frustration? Rather than asking, “Did I get through process?”, think about what it was like.
Investigate what successful brands in your industry are doing well and how their checkout sequence is laid out. This offers valuable insights that can help you learn from an “outsider’s” standpoint.
No matter how great your products are, people will ditch their shopping carts if the process of checking out is too lengthy or difficult.
Here are just a few examples of common obstacles attributed to cart abandonment:
- Long forms with too many screens
- Customer’s preferred method of payment is not offered
- Lack of convenient customer support
Avoid asking your customers for too much (or unnecessary) information as they’re checking out. Offer a diverse set of payment options such as digital wallets and prepaid debit cards.
Online shoppers don’t wait until “business hours” to shop for the products they want and need. So it goes without saying that your customer service and support team should be within close reach when someone is ready to reach out. Customers should not be expected to wait even 10 minutes to get the help they need.
Mobile optimization is no small thing. M-commerce comprises 30 percent of all e-commerce sales. Trying to make a purchase on a website that’s not mobile-friendly only results in anger and frustration.
Tracking and analyzing your mobile performance metrics should drive your marketing decisions and help you construct a layout that makes the process simple, which will ultimately increase your conversions.
Remember, the shopping process should be created with your customers in mind first. If you have a mobile layout but your cart abandonment rates are high, it may be time to rework the design.
Here are five fundamental elements to keep in mind:
- A clear, visual format
- No clutter on the page
- Plenty of white space
- Large, visible checkout and cart buttons on each page
- Clear shopping details (items, sizes, tax, subtotal, shipping and delivery information, etc.)
Thankfully, email marketing has evolved from the dry, cold and boring promotional blasts that were once so prevalent. Its strength today lies in the ability to segment emails and make them personal and relevant to each unique reader.
When customers need to refill their product, sending a reminder at least one month in advance is a great way to encourage them to buy again.
Abandoned cart notifications
It may seem awkward to remind your customers what they left behind in their shopping cart, but these notifications have a 40.5% open rate.
We already established that random, irrelevant, sporadic email blasts are not part of the smart marketer’s strategy. Let’s have a look at how data-driven marketing can produce far better results.
Leverage technology to help you select and suggest items that a particular customer is likely to buy. What did they buy on their first purchase? Try suggesting similar items. Over time, their buying history will reveal what they’re most interested in, allowing you to strengthen your marketing message toward that customer.
Add value in your emails every time
Promotional emails should be balanced with added value. Let’s say your customer has purchased a really nice pair of suede shoes. Here are three ways you could add value without going in for the hard sell:
- Send a video link on how they can clean their shoes when they get dirty
- Send them a link to a helpful FAQ page
- Have your customer support team reach out to see if they’re satisfied with their purchase and answer any questions they may have
Placing the information they want or need at their fingertips saves time and lets them know you’re committed to the success and enjoyment of their new product.
Deliver outstanding customer service
Strive to create the best experience for each and every customer. People want excellent products and services paired with a personalized buying experience. Focus less on doing more transactions and more on providing your customers with exceptional service.
Juggling a high volume of customer queries from multiple sales platforms is daunting if you don’t have effective tools in place to help you get the job done. An e-commerce help desk consolidates queries from all your sales channels into a central shared resource, so all the data you need to resolve tickets quickly is at your fingertips.
Engage with your customers post-purchase
Don’t just go social—be social! It’s rare to come across a company that does any of the following on their social networks:
- Answers questions
- Asks questions
- Comes across as personable and willing to engage with the “average customer”
- Acknowledges and responds to positive and negative feedback and comments
Every consumer wants to do business with a company they can trust. Being open, friendly, and approachable on social media shows your brand is not robotic. Social media is more than just a way of saying, “Hi, I’m here. Buy from me now.” It’s a great way to learn more about your customers and understand what they really want.
Establish clear methods of communication
Undoubtedly, the fastest way to upset your customer is to challenge him or her in a guessing game when they’re looking to get in touch. You’ll always win; they won’t. If it can’t easily be found on your website or in their email receipts, it puts up a red flag. Assume they haven’t bookmarked the emails you sent and make sure your contact information is on every page of your website.
Most customers dread calling customer service. Offer the fastest and most convenient method of communication (such as online chat or email) as your first point of contact. Fast service is expected. But truthfully, call volume, length and a prompt response are all secondary to making sure the customer’s issue was actually resolved the first time your team responds.
Don’t lose your customers by making them wait. xSellco Helpdesk enables you to send automated, personalized responses to customer queries, especially during peak times, after hours and holidays.
Now that we’ve touched on several basic yet effective ways to convert first-time buyers into long-term customers, implement some of these ideas yourself—and don’t forget to track your performance metrics.
Remember, the overarching goal is to provide your customers with a personalized, high-quality experience that is always predictable. When the foundation of your business is customer-centric, customer retention won’t be nearly as challenging.
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