How to Retain More of Your Holiday Customers

How to Retain More of Your Holiday Customers

You’ve busted your butt to attract new buyers this season.

But after this weekend, will any of it matter if those buyers don’t turn into customers and never return again?

As RJMetrics puts it:

Acquiring new customers is increasingly expensive. Getting existing customers to purchase again is cheap — costing between ⅓ and ⅛ as much. Companies that excel at turning one-time buyers into repeat purchasers have more profitable, sustainable businesses, with higher lifetime values.

And, according to David Williams of RJMetrics when speaking on customer lifetime value, only 32% of customers will buy from you a second time in their first year as a customer (this is likely much lower during the holiday season).

The kicker, though, is that after someone buys a second time, “the likelihood of a third purchase jumps past 50%. Once a retailer gets a customer to make that second purchase the chance of an additional purchase continues to increase.”

I point this out, because many merchants phone in the effort into earning the second transaction.

They may send emails about sales, or use retargeting ads to varying degrees of success, which is fine, but it doesn’t acknowledge anything about the customer beyond the fact they have a credit card and a social media account.   

So what can you do to earn that second transaction, and every one after it?

Provide An Excellent Experience With Their First Order

Step one for creating repeat customers is making the first order stand out.

Focus on the “micro-interactions” that are normally phoned in by retailers. One oft-missed opportunity is the gap between the “Thank you for your order” email and the moment when the product reaches the customer’s doorstep.

Consider, the standard shipping period lasts anywhere between 5-7 days, giving you plenty of time to build rapport and potentially upsell or cross sell other items. When designing the new customer experience, think of it from a multi-channel perspective:

  • Use email to introduce first time buyers to your brand’s voice
  • Be smart about social ad retargeting to curate more “social friendly” content
  • Allow brand new buyers to feel secure by using various channels to show happy customers  

Resist the urge to go straight for the second sale as well. The shipping period is a wonderful time to introduce your new buyer to your overall brand and create meaningful interactions that aren’t based solely on transacting together.  

As far as the actual shipping is concerned, if you can, you should under-promise and over-deliver. PureFormulas credits their 60-65% customer retention rate in large part to their shipping practices, including:

  • They offer free shipping on all orders (for more about how free shipping affects conversion rates, head here).
  • And they promise delivery within seven days...
  • ...but they’ve optimized their shipping processes to where it typically takes 2-3 days, giving the customer a pleasant surprise.

You can take this a step further. As Dan Virgillito points out in his recent piece on logistics in the holiday season, adding same-day rush shipping in select markets can help your store deliver regular orders 37% faster and 17% less expensively.

Finally, creating a memorable unboxing experience is the last step in making your new buyer’s first purchase stand out.

Because many purchases this season will be given away as gifts, try designing an unboxing experience to surprise and delight the gift-giver. It doesn’t have to be crazy:

  • A note about how thoughtful they are for shopping with your company
  • “A gift for you” (think keychains, stickers, free samples or a personal discount)
  • Complimentary gift-wrapping   

Essentially, yes you’re creating two unboxing experiences in one, but this minor detail is something that acknowledges the reasons why a person is buying, and increases the odds of turning a one time purchase into at least two or more.

Getting the information you need to execute this retention strategy properly starts with a simple checkbox in the checkout letting you know the purchase is being made as a gift.

From Unboxing to Onboarding

In many verticals (from fashion to consumer electronics), there’s a whole lifestyle that supports the reasons why a person might buy a product, and part of your “onboarding” experience is to show your brand understands that lifestyle.

For an example, check out the Urban Beardsman publication from BeardBrand.

What could stop a customer from fully adopting these products into their life? Well, trouble growing a beard, but if that’s the case, the UB article on how to deal with a patchy beard might help. Or maybe you’re struggling with getting started on your envy-worthy beard, or want to grow a fuller beard. Or, heck, just get some inspiration from fellow bearded dudes.

There are many underwhelming ecommerce blogs, but of the few who get it right, they’re demonstrating a quiet but growing trend where the line between media and sales platform become blurrier every day.

In general, the key to successful customer onboarding and getting your customers hooked is to know what their goals are. Once you know the underlying reason people buy your product (they want to have more free time, they want to feel less stressed out), you can provide use cases that get them using the product.  During the holidays, people are usually buying as a gift — which harkens back to our earlier points about providing top-notch gift-wrapping and shipping experiences to make your company stick out.  

Create An Engagement Plan

You’ve wowed the customers and done everything you can to get them using your product — what’s next? Getting them to engage with your brand over and over again.

Mitchell Wright, Director of Marketing Technology at Trafficado, worked with a client who was featured on Shark Tank last year. They wanted to retain as many customers from the new rush of people as possible.

Here’s what they did:

  • Before the episode aired, they set up retargeting pixels on the site to capture audiences after the episode.
  • Instead of having a sale to coincide with the airing of the Shark Tank episode, they set up an email capture on the homepage with a promise to mail a discount within the next two weeks.
  • They sent out a Shark Tank themed discount code a week after the episode aired.
  • For visitors that hadn’t purchased yet, they set up retargeting campaigns on Facebook.

Because the core demographic spends a lot of time on Instagram, they pushed the photo sharing network as their main marketing channel. They actually mentioned their Instagram handle on the show when they were being recorded, and it was featured during their spot on Shark Tank, driving viewers to become followers.  

These statistics might give you some ideas on what social network your core demo enjoys the most. You can add these prompts to follow you on specific social networks to your post-purchase funnel, via a dedicated post-purchase email sequence (make sure to explain the benefits of following on each channel!).

The most important part of Mitchell’s strategy was to capture emails, ensuring that they could use retargeting. Lucky for you, since you’ll be working with people who have already purchased from you, you’ll already have their emails.

To Sum It All Up:

  • Do your best to give customers a great experience with their first purchase from you.
  • Design your new customer experience with onboarding principles in mind, to help the customer get the most value from your product (and in turn, become a repeat customer/avid user).
  • Create a longer-term follow up engagement plan that includes social media, email marketing and retargeting.
  • Keep in mind that, during the holidays, the purchaser is not necessarily the end customer — and design your product inserts accordingly.

About the Author

Michelle Nickolaisen is a freelance writer and business owner based in Austin, TX.