[Ecommerce] A Marketer’s Guide to Convert One-time Shoppers into Loyal Customers

This Diwali, I wanted to gift a new smartphone to my dad. I opened my favorite shopping app and began searching for the best phone within my budget.

That’s when I realized that I have become a brand loyalist. Instead of searching for products in Google, I look them up directly in the brand’s web/app search bar.

What does it take for a customer to stick with a brand?

Certainly, not just discounts.

Today’s customers look for many more reasons to stay with a brand, than just low prices.

If I was asked what makes me stay with one over others, I would say this:

Excellent customer support. Easy returns policies. Assured and timely delivery. Authentic quality products. Easy to use website/app interface. Prompt feedback collection. Relevant recommendations. Exclusive benefits. Competitive pricing. Overall, a hassle free shopping experience.

This report by KPMG talks about the multiple factors apart from price, that determine whether a customer will make repeat purchase from your brand or not.

The market size for India’s e-commerce industry was already over 50 billion U.S. dollars in 2017, and it is forecasted to be worth 188 billion dollars in 2025. At the global level, the retail e-commerce sales worldwide amounted to 3.53 trillion US dollars in 2019, and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 6.54 trillion US dollars in 2022. I am stating these numbers just to highlight the fact that e-commerce as an industry is growing by the day, and so is the competition.

Why bother about converting one-time customers to loyal customers?

I wouldn’t be telling you anything new if I said that it costs almost five times more attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one. But did you know that repeat purchasers generate revenue that’s 3-7 times higher than first-time shoppers. And that, there is a great chance that a user who has already become your customer will shop with you again?

As per “Marketing Metrics” by Paul Farris, there is a 60-70% chance that your repeat customers will convert again. This makes it all the more important for you to drive your first time shoppers become repeat buyers, and eventually lifelong customers.

How to convert one-time shoppers to loyal customers?

As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of factors that determine whether a first-time buyer will come to your brand again or not. You as a marketer do not really have a significant role to play in the kind & quality of the products your brand sells, the delivery & return policies, the kind of customer support that is offered, etc. Buy, you do play a significant role in customer acquisition and retention. A well-thought out marketing strategy can very well determine if the one-time holiday sale buyer will come back to you again.

Here are 4 points that outline what you as a marketer can do to guide the user in his journey from being a first-time shopper to a loyal customer.

  1. Know your customers

    Building long-term relationships with customers does not happen by chance. It requires you to implement a solid customer engagement & retention strategy which in turn needs you to understand them well.

    • Collect customer data: Data is important to ecommerce businesses. A customer’s first purchase with you leaves you with a big opportunity to get to know him better. Collect the demographic, geographic, social media behaviour, and whatever other information you get. The more you know about their interests, hobbies, and lifestyles, the better you will know what to sell them next.

    • Identify trends & behavior patterns:

      Collecting data is just the first step. Utilise the right tools to analyze the data and derive insights. Did they check other products/product categories? Did they take too long to check out? Did they have trouble finding a product? Did they have enough information on the things they bought or wanted to buy? Right analysis can give you answers to these questions and the answers in turn can pave the way for your next steps.

      If you knew that the customer who bought a refrigerator also spent considerable amount of time checking washing machines, you would know how to bring him back to the website again.

  2. Related read: Customer Data Platforms vs. Data Management Platforms – A Definitive Guide

  3. Keep in touch with your customers

    Out of sight could be out of mind, at least until a strong bond is formed. So, keep in touch with your new customers through relevant, optimized, and engaging content.

    • Personalise each message:

      Utilise the insights you draw from the data to personalize the messages you are going to send to your new custoemrs. Create targeted offers and earn their attention. Show them rewards they can get if they buy items from you again. We as online customers, ourselves keep falling for the coupons and discounts, it surely works!

      With my first purchase from Lenskart, I received a lucrative discount coupon that I could use for my next purchase.

      Interesting read: 19 Ways to Use Offers, Coupons, Discounts and Deals to Generate More Sales

    • Leverage the power of cross-channel marketing:

      The 4R’s of marketing. Right message to the right user at the right time through the right channel. While ensuring you do not overwhelm the first time shoppers with too much marketing content, you can launch a single promotional campaign via multiple avenues to engage with them through their preferred platform.

      Related Read: Using Data: Steps to Implement Personalized Marketing Strategy

  4. Encourage conversations with your customers

    Conversations are important for any relationship to flourish. Take the effort and time to make your customers express what they feel about their shopping experience. Here are two ways to strike a conversation with your customers:

    • Conduct surveys:

      Surveys are the best way to get data from your customers because you can tailor the questions that you want the answers to. The best times to send surveys to your customers are right after they made a purchase, or received their products. Ask them what they liked and didn’t like about their experience, why they would or wouldn’t buy again, and what you could do to improve their experience.

    • Ask for feedback & rating:

      The importance of customer feedback in the growth of ecommerce business is a topic of discussion in itself. But asking your first-time customers to share their feedback is actually a great way to make them feel empowered and valued. When you ask them about their experience, they feel that your primary goal is to solve their problems, not to sell them products.

      Ask for feedback on their first purchase, request product reviews, feedback on support interaction, and experience with delivery, packaging feedback, and experience with the exchange/returns process. Make it easy for them to give their feedback from any touch-point – email, website, app, or even SMS. And do not dismiss, delete or exclude negative feedback. Acknowledging the negative rating not only conveys that you care about the customer, but also gives you insights about the points that need improvement.

  5. Cross-sell to your customers

    There is this e-commerce brand that sells customised smartphone cases. I bought one for my new phone. And the next day I get an email for a matching specs case and a wallet. I might not have considered going to that website again if not for these emails that lured me into buying those stuff.

    Cross-selling is evergreen technique to get the customers to buy again. Analyse the first time purchase of your customers and predict what they could buy next. Show them how can the product benefit them, and complement their original purchase. You can turn your customers into loyal shoppers by always providing them with solutions.

Your customers are humans first, then consumers of your products. Any relationship thrives and grows when the ones involved feel valued. Take the effort to engage with your one-time shoppers before they drift away to your competition. It is not as difficult as it sounds. There is tremendous amount of data available to you, amazing marketing tools in the market, and huge number of customers coming to your website and app. Play your part as a marketer. All you need to do is adopt the right mix of technology to execute your marketing plan.

To understand how a cross-channel marketing automation platform like Smartech can be your growth partner in scaling your business, get in touch with us today!

Category - Marketing Automation

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Ritu Poddar

Ritu Poddar

Ritu is a Technical Writer & Content Developer by profession, and a Poet & Creative Writer by passion. She works as Assistant Manager, Content Development at Netcore.