From the ancient Greek markets of Agora through to our Sunday trip around the supermarket, humans invariably seek out the best deals and discounts when shopping. In the digital era, things are no different: communities of ‘super-savers’ have set up websites, forums and message boards to share the latest tricks and tips so that their members can beat the system – your system.

Indeed, our research has already found that many customers will go a long way to getting the best deals – with well over a third (39%) deliberately signing up to mailing lists for discount offers. As you might expect, many consumers will wait specifically for online sales days – Cyber Monday, for example – for a bargain while 80% conduct “extensive” research to secure their products at the best possible price point.

Some shoppers go even further, with 13% admitting to abandoning their carts in the hopes of the retailer sending over a discount code. An additional 17% abandon carts across several different websites to compare the deals offered to tempt them into completing the transaction.  

Finally, we come to the savviest – or perhaps most ruthless – customers. We discovered that 6% of shoppers had set up different customer accounts using alternative email addresses on the same website to get multiple deals while 8% confessed to creating an account to get a discount, and then cancelling it instantly after a purchase.

What all of this shows us is that organisations cannot afford to be naïve when it comes to customer intentions. Understanding these motivations is crucial and by anticipating the behaviours they are likely to demonstrate, marketers can integrate smarter tactics into engagement plans.

Here are three key tips to help you deal with savvy customers looking to beat the system:

1. Listen, analyse, learn

Getting to know your customer is step one. How are they engaging with your brand? And how did they arrive here in the first place? Even with the intention to try and beat the system, something had to alert them to your products or services in the first place. With this kind of insight, you can find out how to engage them in the future.

Ideally, you would be able to use advanced analytics tools but if that is not an option use the data you have to hand to see the areas of your marketing strategy that attracts your customers and keeps them engaged. This information can then be used in refining and optimising your next engagement plan.

2. Get personal

Once you know what makes your customers tick, you can start sharing more of the content they like and less of the stuff they ignore. In other words, send them more content that they find useful and less content that they think is marketing.

When it comes to engaging with the savviest customers, it is important to recognise that they want to control the relationship and they want to be recognised as an individual – so sending a blitz of irrelevant emails is going to be a turn-off. Instead, share your messages only when the content is highly relevant to the recipient.

3. Don’t just resort to a discount when it comes addressing abandoned cart

Helping to tempt customers back to finish their transaction, ‘abandoned cart’ emails are a crucial tool for any online provider. In the case of usual customers, cart recovery programs offer tracking conversion metrics, meaning you will be able to pinpoint obstacles and trouble spots on your website over time.

As our research shows only 13% of shoppers are abandoning your basket for a better deal. Figures from SeeWhy found that 75% of shoppers who have abandoned shopping carts say they plan to return to the retailer's website or store to make a purchase. Pushing out a blanket discount is not the best option – you are leaving money on the table for 87% of your recovered baskets. Instead, make this an upsell opportunity, with a suggestion to add another related item to the basket.

Ultimately, the call to action for brands is clear: as consumers are becoming increasingly savvy, businesses must respond in kind. Email remains the most effective tool, however ensuring emails are relevant and personalised will ensure consumers do not disregard the emails or the brands that send them.

People will always try and game the system, and it is up to businesses to face the challenge by providing incentives and communications that will keep the customer engaged. The prevalence of email throughout our lives shows how crucial it is as a channel, but brands need to understand how to make the most of it to glean the best results.


By Skip Fidura, service client director at dotmailer

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