Customer loyalty strategy and the art of continually engaging your best customers has been the subject of significant media airtime recently. A study from IMRG and Capgemini found that while first-time online purchases with a new brand were at a record low between May and July, repeat purchases were at an all-time high and 5% higher than the year before. 

In fact, savvy businesses have been coming up with ways to keep existing customers engaged for many years. Even as far back as 1851, Sweet Home laundry soap encouraged their customers to send in their soap wrapper in exchange for a colour lithograph of a bouquet of flowers ‘that never wilts'. 

Segment your customers to deliver personalised messages

If you’re serious about retaining customers, use segmentation to deliver targeted communications that will resonate with individuals. Segmenting on demographic data, such as gender or location, is an easy way to ensure the content you’re sending is more personal. Segmentation can also enable retailers to identify and target subscribers based on their behaviour. For instance, consider creating and sending a campaign with a discount offer to encourage those who haven’t been opening emails to open and buy.

Tempt customers with product recommendations

How do you re-ignite a shopper’s interest? By using browse, purchase and click data, you can create targeted recommendations that effectively encourage customers to buy again. Automation has made this task rather simple, but you must apply the correct filters to the data so the message remains relevant. For instance, sending a customer multiple recommendations based on one-off browse data is likely to put the customer off. Track the effectiveness of recommendation campaigns to know when to make changes. This will ensure your messages are on track.

It’s not always about the hard sell

Even if the two most important factors for most consumers are cost and fit, racing to the bottom of the price pit might not make sense for your brand. Instead, when competing against cheaper options,  create an experience that’s larger than the product alone. For example, Hudson Shoes offered customers in a Brooklyn coffee shop free coffee for a day and shared the resulting video with their customers. That email generated the brand’s highest revenue that month.

Make the customer feel special

Making the customer feel like a part of a community is a great way to convert a first-time shopper into a repeat customer. Fifty-nine percent of marketers we spoke to in a recent survey said that introducing a VIP/loyalty campaign was the next tactic they had on their wish list. Post-purchase email series were also popular with over half of respondents adding them to their list.

Swedish jeans brand Dr.Denim recently introduced a lapsed purchase and post-purchase campaign, aimed at driving re-engagement. Customers automatically receive an email 10 days after making a purchase, which asks, “Looking smashing in your new clothes?”. Not only does this build on a positive customer experience, but it creates an opportunity to promote new products. For customers who haven’t ordered for 90 days, the brand now has a two-stage lapsed purchase campaign in place. Customers who don’t respond to the first email inviting them to explore new season arrivals receive a 10% discount offer. Both campaigns have achieved open rates of over 45%.

With a seasonal sale like Black Friday, in which so many consumers are actively searching for deals, brands are often able to snap up first-time customers with a well-priced offer or an attractive, responsive website. However, this is not an easily repeated purchasing journey. Retailers looking to bring these customers back to their sites need to think about how they can build a better relationship with their customers by providing valuable content. Whether it’s through exclusive deals, relevant recommendations or a VIP programme, you can encourage the customer to come back to the brand and follow a more traditional, repeatable purchasing journey. Personalisation is core to success here. Getting the offer right for the customer comes down to being able to show they are recognised.

As marketers continue to adapt to a changing consumer landscape it will be interesting to see new and innovative ways in which retailers build their brand communities and attract return customers. With the festive shopping season just around the corner, some of these tactics may prove useful over the coming months in particular.

 

By Saima Alibhai, professional services practice manager at Bronto Software

 

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