Baby, Come Back! How to Encourage Return Customers

After spending a large portion of your marketing budget to secure new customers, you see conversions rise and start to celebrate.

Converting prospects to paying customers can be tricky, and there’s no doubt that congratulations are in order.

But it doesn’t mean that it’s time to put your feet up.

Unfortunately, too many businesses make the mistake of focusing exclusively on securing first-time customers.

Since the barrier to get a customer to buy a second time lowers after they make the first purchase, it’s important to nurture your business’ relationship with the customer and provide more reasons to return.

To sustain and scale a business successfully, you need to chart various return paths for customers to continue to buy from you.

Here are four ways to encourage customers to return to your store for more…

Post-Purchase Emails

As a child, learning to say “thank you” is an essential skill that helps you go far in life.

If you’re a business owner, it’s especially handy and useful to practice this societal ritual on a regular basis.

Post-purchase emails are an effective way to express your gratitude and continue sowing the seeds you’ve planted.

In fact, research has found that customers are most receptive to additional marketing messages immediately after completing a purchase.

For example, according to ReMarkety, post-purchase thank-you emails have…

  • An average open rate of 42.51% (2.5 times better than the industry average).
  • Click-through rate (CTR) of 18.27% (7.9 times better than the industry average).
  • Conversion rate (CVR) of 10.34%.

These emails are a way to not only thank customers that have made a recent purchase, but also…

  • Help encourage repeat purchases and cross-sells.
  • Provide incentives for a referral program.
  • Ask for customer feedback.

Grab hold of this opportunity and, if you haven’t already, and create a dynamic sequence of post-purchase emails for your customers.

Excellent Customer Service

We’ve all had those terrible shopping experiences or instances of being put on hold for way too long with customer service (you can only take listening to bad muzak for so long).

A common misconception is that price is the biggest reason why customers disassociate from a business.

In reality, overall poor quality of customer service is the biggest cause.

In fact, a customer is four times more likely to bring business to a competitor if the problem is service related, as compared to price or product related (source).

Here are a few suggestions for providing top-notch customer service…

  • Although hiring live humans to assist customers by phone is a lot pricier than automated customer service robots, it’s usually worth the cost. Shoe and apparel retailer Zappos knows firsthand the impact a human touch can have, and having live service agents assisting customers is a contributing factor to their success.
  • Utilize social media to do more than simply post product photos and giveaways. Younger consumers often turn to social channels when they have a question or issue with a purchase, and tools like Zendesk can integrate with your channels to help you provide a stellar service experience.

Happy customers mean a higher chance of return purchases–so finding ways to keep their spirits high and favorable toward your brand is totally worth your time and money as a business.

Social Media Engagement

Several years ago, when social media was still in its infancy, the concept of utilizing emerging platforms for marketing was scoffed at by businesses small and large that saw it as a passing social trend.

Now that time has passed and these platforms have proved themselves worthy of incorporation into marketing and engagement plans, we know better.

Utilizing these platforms and encouraging your customers to follow and connect with your business through these platforms is essential.

Your social channels can be used to…

  • Showcase product images.
  • Educate consumers on your products.
  • Share customer reviews.
  • Announce giveaways, discounts, and other promotions.

Essentially, your social media channels are a way to stay in contact with your customers, and not let them forget about you.

Customer Loyalty Programs

Anyone who’s shopped at large retail stores has probably heard the overly joyful voice call out over the speaker system to “use your loyalty reward card today!”

Though they can seem annoying at times, businesses are smart if they implement loyalty and rewards programs like these.

The format of loyalty programs can vary from one store to the next.

For example, your business could either offer 50% off a second purchase, or reward each purchase on an incremental basis, and once a certain amount of “points” have been reached, you provide the customer with a free gift.

Encouraging these return purchases truly pays off over time–and we’ve got the evidence to back up these claims.

One study found that customers who shop once have a 27% chance of making a second purchase, while someone who has purchased a fourth time has a 59% chance of coming back.

Return customers can be considered the low-hanging fruit when it comes to sales, and simply allowing them to ripen and drop from a tree without using them to make a pie would be a shame.

Cheesy metaphor, I know, but it’s true and important to understand if you want to be a successful online business.

For a deeper understanding of post-purchase email sequences, check out this article.


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