4 Steps to Solving the One-Time Buyer Problem, Part III

August 6, 2019 Sam Malissa

In parts one and two of this series, we laid the groundwork on a methodology to tackle the one-time buyer problem in retail. Now comes the implementation phase, followed by measurement & optimization. It’s time to put your plan into action.

Into the Breach, All Together Now

You've quantified the size of the prize, set goals, and aligned as a company on where the biggest opportunity is in your customer base. You've sequenced the genome of your customer base to understand who your personas are, and you've drilled into strategic opportunities across teams to improve the experience for each persona. You're ready for launch.

In the implementation phase, a key tool for increasing one-to-two-time buyer conversion is a personalized post-purchase series. This should talk to individual customers about the products, the value proposition, and the brand vision in a way that's customized to each persona (and ideally to each customer). 

You can do this if you have all your data unified and stitched together so that you know what customers are buying, whether it's online or in-store. Once a customer makes their very first purchase, predictive analytics can help to identify what segment of which persona they likely fall into, based on lookalike customers within the customer base.

Having these insights readily available is obviously a benefit for the marketing team as they determine how to communicate with the customers: What matters to each segment? What products are most likely to resonate with them? What price points and value propositions? What models should appear in the post-purchase series? Which channels are the best for reaching them?

There’s also the question of the optimal sequence of those messages. Is it three emails and a direct mailer? Two emails and a targeted display ad? This is a question that no amount of analysis can answer without actually getting things out in the market and testing. Having a capability to do some A/B or multivariate testing around different post-purchase cadences is essential.

But as we’ve been saying, this is not just an effort for the marketing team. Rather than thinking of it as a post-purchase marketing series, think of it as a post-purchase customer experience. This means it’s just as important for other teams to have access to the customer insights that the marketing team sees.

For example, imagine if one of our new customers calls up customer care to find out about the status of her order or report an issue. How different of a conversation would it be if the customer care representative had at their fingertips every insight about that customer? How to talk to her, what product is likely to resonate with her next, what price point is best for her. That would significantly increase the likelihood of the customer making a second purchase.

Same goes for site personalization. A one-time buyer comes back to the site for a second time. We should roll out the carpet with personalized messaging that reflects what we know about them. We might even use display advertising when we retarget these customers. Or for store customers, target them on the open web using what we know about who they are, and what's likely to drive them to that second purchase has a very significant impact outside of the triggered welcome series and driving one to two-time buyer conversion.  

This Thing Doesn’t Fly Itself

The plan is in action, the campaign is launched! But the work isn’t done because you’ll need to watch what’s happening and keep course-correcting for best results. 

This may seem like common sense, but it’s worth re-emphasizing since retail is tough and there is no shortage of technological solutions promising quick fixes: You know, way deep down, that there is no silver bullet. Marketing is a blend of art and science. The good news is that with advanced analytics tools you can power-up your science and fine-tune your art. 

And there will inevitably be fine-tuning. Strategy and planning at the beginning of the process will let you know where your biggest opportunities are and how to approach them, and then you’ll have the chance to see what works best: What's the right sequencing of messaging and the right channels to reach out to you as you put in place a post-purchase welcome series? Which channels are most effective at increasing one-to-two-time buyer conversion? How much money should you reduce from low-performing channels? Which products are performing the best with your most valuable segments?

These are all things that require a strong testing mindset and continuous measurement and optimization. One key element is reporting back regularly in a way that's visible throughout the organization. Everyone needs to be able to see how these efforts are laddering up to the goal you set and socialized across the company at the outset. 

We gave the example in part II of wanting to increase the one-to-two-time buyer rate from 10% and aiming for the industry benchmark of 15%. Rigorous measurement lets you know that, for example, marketing emails are getting you from 10% to 10.5%. Overall personalization is getting you from 10.5% to 10.9%. Merchant Service is getting you from 10.9 to 11.3, and so forth. 

Having that level of granular visibility into the contribution of each of these different strategic workstreams is essential for continuous optimizing. Marketing is in a great position to lead the charge as the team that sits closest to the customer insights and owns the customer relationship, advocating for change throughout the organization for how other experiences ladder up to customer loyalty. 

But at the end of the day, customer loyalty is complicated and it hinges on a lot more than just marketing. It involves product, pricing, channel, and customer service, and how these can be optimized around your most likely repeat buyers. It's a team effort that requires coordination and a shared view of where you’re going. 

The Four-Step Do-Si-Do, One More time…!

To recap what we covered: We talked about using customer insights to root cause where you're seeing drop-offs, then quantifying the opportunity and spreading the message throughout the organization. 

We talked about identifying who your key customer personas are and heat mapping where you're seeing drop-off through the lens of those customer segments. 

We covered how a post-purchase welcome series should involve multiple teams drawing on insights to personalize the experience. 

And, lastly we reviewed the importance of a commitment to experimentation and improvement. 

Or to restate the four steps we first outlined: Organizational mobilization, strategic formulation, implementation, measurement & optimization. This is a rinse and repeat process that drives focus and get your teams working together to help your customers decide they want to come back and shop again. 

For other ideas on how customer loyalty can involve teams beyond marketing, check out a playback of our recent webinar on the CMO as customer advocate in the organization. 



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