Repeat Purchase Strategies for eCommerce: Keep Them Coming Back and Buying More

Repeat customers are the goal of every business. Acquiring a new customer can cost up to six times as much as retaining an existing customer. However, the big payoff can come in the amount that repeat customers spend. Recent studies indicate that a second-time buyer spends up to three times as much as a first-time buyer, and customers making three or more purchases spend as much as five times as much as a new customer. When you consider the revenue that loyal shoppers may generate by mentioning your company or brand in their social media posts, it is easy to see that turning customers into repeat buyers is a valuable strategy. What is not as easy to see, however, is how to accomplish this task. The following suggestions can help you achieve your goal of keeping customers coming back and spending more.

  • Be convenient. Shoppers who visit online sites want the experience to be easy, seamless and convenient. They dislike having to fill out an extensive form every time they check out. Provide them with customer accounts in which basic information such as their shipping and billing addresses, email address and phone number is automatically entered into the form when the customer logs in and makes a purchase. You might also consider allowing shoppers to log in using their credentials from Google+, Twitter or Facebook.
  • Discount shipping instead of products. Research has shown that shoppers react more favorably to a shipping discount that is offered for meeting a purchase threshold than they do to discount on a specific product. You could offer free standard shipping on orders over $50, for example, and free Priority Mail shipping on orders over $100. You could also offer first-time buyers reduced shipping on their next order.
  • Plan your communications around clusters. Although your data may show that the average customer makes a second purchase every 45 days, this number is probably not going to provide you with the best timing to send a personalized email or text an offer. When you analyze your data, you may find groups of customers who made a second purchase in 10, 30 or 90 days. Target your communications to arrive just before these customers are ready to buy.
  • Include incentives to make another purchase in the original purchase. This method can be especially effective for consumable items. For example, suppose a first-time customer is purchasing a bag of gourmet coffee. Offer a discount on a second bag that will be shipped at a later date, but make the discount contingent upon the customer paying for the second bag with the first. You could also offer them the opportunity to subscribe for an automatic shipment at discounted prices if they pay a one-time membership fee.
  • Master the art of retargeting campaigns. Marketing technology has advanced to the point that it is now possible to target customers at a very granular level. Once a customer has made his or her first purchase, you can use your retargeting strategies to convert them into lifetime customers.
  • Build hype around specific days. Cyber Monday is typically the biggest shopping day that online retailers see all year. Expand on that idea by offering regular “sale days” on a weekly or monthly basis. You could use the same concept to promote specific days on which new products will be introduced. Customers will know that they can visit on specific days to find great deals or new products.
  • Customize your offerings. If you know a customer’s birthday, send an electronic card that includes a special offer that is only valid on that date. If you know his shirt size and style preference, notify him when you receive a new shipment of shirts that meet the proper criteria. If you know that the customer has young children at home, send a back-to-school offer. Mine your data to send personalized, relevant offers.

Sending out newsletters or broadcasting offers in the hope that existing customers will return to make another purchase is no longer an effective strategy. The key is to be creative and give them good reasons to return to your site.

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