It’s said that a satisfied customer is often a repeat customer. Use these 9 strategies to not only keep your customers satisfied, but also to keep them returning back for more…!
eCommerce retailers have bad news and good news to contend with out there. The hardest part of any eCommerce store is to convince a first-time customer to click that “Buy Now” button. That’s because you (as an online seller) are an unknown to the first-time buyer. Despite the fact that you might already have an impressive list of satisfied customers, that first-time buyer isn’t one of them – and that gives her/him pause to think: Should I buy from this store, or…?
Strategies for Repeating Success
Now for the good news: The easiest part of selling online is selling to returning customers! That’s because they know and trust you, and because they see value in doing business with you. So, the question is: How do you build that trust and continue to get your first-time customers coming back for more?
Here are nine strategies to help you do precisely that:
1) Cultivate loyalty
The most effective way to spur customer loyalty is to cultivate it. eCommerce store owners can do this by starting a loyalty program that rewards a customer (e.g. first-time buyer) with special privileges that make them feel…well, “special”.
For instance, you could have a “special” aisle in your store to say something like “First-time buyers…”, that might offer special promos for first-time buyers who might register and fill out a form with their contact details. Shoppers that take the time to register and provide such (often personal) details will more than likely have a pre-disposition to return to buy from you again – the next time they want the same/similar product.
2) Reward loyalty
Another eCommerce strategy, to entice shoppers to keep coming back for more, is to reward them for every return-purchase they make. You could offer them redeemable points, returning-customer discounts, or even a chance to enter a monthly draw and win a prize.
The trick here is to make sure your first-time-customer loyalty rewards aren’t better than those offered to returning customers. Otherwise, why would anyone buy from you more than once?
3) Appreciate loyalty
As an eCommerce store owner, you might think that customers (including repeat buyers) already know you appreciate their business – you are wrong! It’s a very competitive eCommerce landscape out there, and any sliver of edge you might enjoy over your competitors, could help you “close the deal”.
One way to keep your customers returning to your store, is to send our “Thank You” notes upon the completion of every sale. It’s human nature to love being appreciated, and that simple gesture of being thanked for shopping at your store will make customers think twice before shopping elsewhere.
In thanking them, make sure you include special “Thank You” promos (e.g. Free Shipping) that they can take advantage of when they make their next purchase.
4) Make buying easy
Some first-time buyers would love to sign-up and create an account on your eCommerce site, so they can keep coming back for more. But often, they are discouraged by the arduous registration process. One strategy to overcome that hesitation is to give first-time customers the opportunity (option) to automatically create a log-in profile (using data already provided from this first sale) to use when they come back.
Another equally popular strategy is to enable shoppers to use their social media profiles, like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn, to log-in on your eCommerce shop. This gives customers flexibility to jump right in and buy something from you, even as they are interacting with friends and family and – maybe – chatting with a social contact about your products/services.
Making it quick and easy to create an account, and then simplifying the process of logging-into that account, will increase the chances that they will return.
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5) Make it worth coming back…soon!
Researchers confirm that online shoppers have a tendency to validate their online shopping habits. Once customers have bought and paid for a purchase at one store, they will usually surf, browse and check out the competition – just to validate if the store they made their purchase from offered them value for money. This usually happens within 30-days of making their purchase.
As an eCommerce retailer therefore, you need to make it worth your shopper’s while to come back for more – within 30-days or less! So, how could you do that? One proven strategy is to offer then time-sensitive promos that they can only take advantage of within, say, the next 30-days or so.
6) Help change their minds
Some first-time customers (and even many repeats!) might go through the product/service selection process. They might add items they like to their carts. They may even get as far as the “Pay Now” button…but then they abandon their carts!
When customers abandon shopping carts, make sure you go back to them and offer “amazing savings” on items they abandoned. Since they already showed “intent to buy”, by filling up their carts with specific items, it will take you less effort to help change their minds and convert them, than say, selling to a brand-new prospect.
7) Use up-selling as a basis for repeat sales
While the offer to come back within 30-days might attract some customers, it might not be enough to convince many first-timers to re-visit your store. One strategy to change their mind into doing so is to use up-selling. The basis of any up-selling strategy is that, customers who buy a certain product/service are more likely to be in the market shortly, to also purchase a complementary or add-on product or service.
So, for instance, if someone buys a Stylus for a Microsoft SurfacePro Tablet device, it is a given that they (or someone they know) own a Microsoft SurfacePro Tablet device. So, why not try and convince them to buy other SurfacePro accessories – like headphones or a stand or carrying case?
Usually, if a customer is made aware that if they buy the said accessories within, say, 15-days of their last purchase, they could qualify for an additional 2% discount – it may just persuade them into stepping back into your store.
A word of caution about up-selling though: Don’t try and up-sell to the point that it feels as though you are harassing or stalking your customer. If your up-selling campaign leaves customers with that impression, chances are that they will never return – even though your eCommerce store carries the best products at the best price!
8) Build communities around your brand
The search for over 90% of purchases these days starts with online research – though not at the seller’s site. Whether it’s a product or service that your eCommerce store offers, chances are that your customer (first-time or repeat) checks online first, to make sure they (continue to) get the best deal possible. One strategy that eCommerce shop owners can use to assure customers and prospects that this is, in fact, the case is to create User Communities.
Building User Communities on reputed social networks, and then promoting them, is the best way to influence consumer choice. You could hire professional companies to do this – but more often than not, just publishing customer satisfaction testimonials, or promoting new products or promos, should be sufficient to tempt customers from returning frequently.
9) Don’t forget online marketing and PR
Any eCommerce store owner who still believes in the old adage: Build it and they will come! – is sadly out of date in their selling philosophy. In order to continually drum-up repeat business, your existing customers must constantly be reminded that your store is still around, and still offers them great value for money.
While not every eCommerce store owner can hire professional marketers, you should certainly consider running the occasional Google AdWords or AdSense marketing campaign. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to publish the occasional Press Release about your store and your brand, serving as a reminder to your customer base that you are still open for business.
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Your Customer and Your Brand
Building loyalty to your brand isn’t solely about offering the lowest price. It isn’t about offering frequent deals or building a great customer loyalty program either. Creating a culture of generating repeat purchases is much more involved than that.
In order to use all of the customer repeat-business strategies that we discussed, effectively, you need to first understand your customer’s profile. Everything else then flows from there. For instance, some customers are wary about re-visiting a store that charged them 10% more than a competitor – even with a 5% discount voucher offered for a revisit! If you are selling to cost-conscious clients (like students or low-income families), then you need to make sure your repeat-customer strategies line-up with their (customer’s) profile.
Another pre-requisite to getting repeat business, is offering the right product/service in the first place. If, for example, your products are of an inferior quality, repeat customers are not likely to buy from you – EVER – again, even at a 50% discounted price!
Also, don’t forget that fresh products breed repeat business. Take the time to continually scour the marketplace for new and exciting spins on your existing product lines – and then tell your customers (Email messages, Social Media alerts, Text notifications) how great the new line-up is. That will definitely draw old customers into the store to check out your new offerings.
And finally, many customers will just prefer to step in again for another purchase, simply because you offer better customer service – compared to a competitor that offers unbelievably discounted prices. Exceptional customer service will draw back satisfied clients like bees drawn to honey – guaranteed!