Repeat Customers Are the Holy Grail of Ecommerce

Do You Appreciate the True Value of Repeat Customers?

••• Georgijevic / Getty Images

Converting existing customers to repeat customers is easier than winning over new customers. That is why your ecommerce business must do its best to ensure that existing customers keep coming back. Of course existing customers present the additional function of referring new customers.

Several studies have attempted to figure out how much it costs to convert a new customer compared to converting a sale from an existing customer.

The research results are all over the map, and there is no unanimous metric. But most ecommerce professionals would not bat an eyelid if you told them that it is five times more expensive to convert a new customer. That is a compelling metric about the value of repeat customers.

Does Encouraging Repeat Customers Mean Showering Existing Customers With Discounts?

Wooing back customers is an art. Discounts sound like the easiest method to encourage loyalty, but experienced ecommerce professionals know that is not the case. Many companies use blitzkrieg campaigns, without segmenting and targeting. These companies are poisoning the waters for the rest of us who conscientiously target our marketing to truly meet the specific needs of the individual. Once the customer gets into the habit of indiscriminately deleting commercial email, it is tough to get them to listen to any marketing message, however valuable.

This Above All: Free Shipping

There are many deals that you can brainstorm. But with over a decade of ecommerce experience under my belt, let me share a secret. When customers go shopping at a retail outlet, they do not pay for shipping. That habit spills over to online purchases, and most customers forget to factor in shipping costs.

At checkout, they tend to be disappointed by the price hike owing to shipping.

Addition of shipping costs is a major contributor to shopping cart abandonment. Find out a way to work your economics such that you can offer free shipping. One way to offset shipping costs is to apply promotional pricing only after the purchase value has reached a certain threshold. That will also encourage people to increase their order size.

Avoid Shouting Spammy Phrases From Rooftops

I wish we were living in a rational world where all people could read through sales copy and avoid getting taken in by smooth marketing messages. As most sales copywriters know, there are many people who fall for advertising messages. But, I have also found that customers who have already purchased from you are much less likely to respond to hollow sales talk. Now that they have experienced you once, they are likely to be heavily influenced by their previous experience with you.

Email Should Not Smell Like Spam

All of us delete many email messages each day without reading them. We are sure that those deleted emails do not contain anything valuable. What makes us so sure? How do we know they are spam? Why does some email smell like spam even before we read it.

Once you figure out the answers to those probing questions you will avoid triggering email blasts with unbelievable offers in the subject line. Of course, as spammers as well as users get smarter, you will have to keep refining your understanding of what it takes to avoid the fearful "delete" key.

Unique Call to Action Triggers

Customers have become so accustomed to call to action buttons that they are developing blindness to such buttons. If you make the button bigger it looks like a banner, and customers may note realize that you expect them to click it. Experiment with some unusual shapes, and color combinations. However, imposters are known for their atrocious colors, so try to avoid being completely over the top.

Simple Logins, Cookies, Facebook Logins, Twitter Logins

Since we are talking about a repeat customer, we already have their registration information.

It is best if you can use cookies to remember their login information. Make sure that you have the customer's permission to do so. Also, keep the login form intuitive and conveniently located.

Facebook and Twitter have become so popular that many people are logged into them all the time. As a result permitting users to log in with Facebook or Twitter makes life very easy for them. The basic idea is quite simple. Make it easy for the customer to buy from you again.

Final Words

It is the fly-by-night operator that moves from one new customer to another one. Such a scammer does not present anything of value and hopes to fool people into making a purchase. At the other end of the spectrum is the serious and respectable ecommerce business that adds value to the customer. Such a business has the potential to garner repeated sales from a customer.

A serious ecommerce business banks on branding, customer service, reputation management, effective email marketing, effective logistics and reverse logistics, easy navigation, helpful product descriptions, compelling images, visual marketing, and customer engagement to retain customers. And if it gets those right, it cultivates an army of loyal customers, who keep coming back to buy some more.