Seal the deal with one-time customers using these techniques.
In previous blog posts, we’ve discussed the one-time buyer problem and how you can adjust your marketing efforts to address it, but we have yet to get into the nitty-gritty of what exactly to do once you’ve attracted a new customer. When your customer acquisition efforts have paid off, you’ve officially entered “the honeymoon phase,” which is the most crucial time to cement a strong customer relationship.
Turning these one-time buyers into loyal customers requires smart, customer-centric tactics. Customers have endless choices and high expectations for their purchases, so their preferences and behavior should be your first consideration if you want to convert one-time buyers into lifetime customers and drive long-term, sustainable growth. These five marketing techniques are designed to help you do just that:
1. Set Goals
Before your marketing team can formulate a plan, you need to benchmark your current performance and set goals for both the short- and long-term.
At the early part of the customer lifecycle, there are two important metrics to watch: early repeat rate (ERR) and predictive customer lifetime value ((P)CLV). Early repeat rate is the percentage of new shoppers who make their second purchase within 60 days of their first. Of course, not all second purchases will fall within the 60-day window, but measuring ERR will provide timely — and thus, useful — data that can inform future decision-making.
(P)CLV, on the other hand, predicts the total amount of revenue a single customer will generate throughout their entire relationship with your brand. New advancements in technology and methodology have made it possible to accurately predict this number (when it comes to your romantic relationships, though, we’re not quite there yet — maybe hold off on adopting that puppy together just yet).
Marketers should aim for a perfect balance between these two metrics — which means refraining from offering too many promotions after the first purchase that may boost your ERR but decrease (P)CLV. ERR and (P)CLV are better when they’re together.
Now we’re feeling gushy. Maybe you should go for that puppy after all.
Now that we have the right metrics in mind, we can shift gears to address the opportunity at hand. This requires uncovering a few unique customer segments, with the ultimate goal of creating a marketing plan for each segment.
Use your existing data to uncover groups of consumers who buy in a similar manner. Then, round out the profiles of each of these segments, layering on descriptive, qualitative information that you’ve gathered from surveys and focus groups. Don’t try to reverse this process; a qualitative-first approach is how you end up with the segments that you wish existed instead of the segments that actually do. Data is that one friend who always tells it like it is. Data keeps you grounded.
We recommend creating these segments through a method known as Predictive Affinity Clustering, in which algorithms are used to uncover hidden patterns and group customers by shared interests or product affinities. Then you can dig deeper, defining the value propositions that will appeal to them and allow you to connect on an intuitive, emotional level.
Now that you have segments and value propositions in hand, you’re ready to start thinking about your one-time buyer program (otherwise known as the welcome email series). Creating your program begins with building customer journeys and triggers for each segment.
Start with a basic welcome messaging series for all segments. For example, your series may begin with a generic welcome message and a more in-depth brand history email, but from there, it will diverge into creative content tailored to each segment. Your athletes may get a notification about your new spring sneakers, while your trendsetters will receive an email about your designer collaboration.
This series will form the basis of your one-time buyer program, but you can also kick things up a notch by adding triggers. Triggers add an extra pinch of personalization to your one-time buyer program in a low-maintenance kind of way: they’re automated, and they can be recycled, because each customer will only go through the trigger once.
Triggers fall into two categories: promotional and cross-sell. For each type of trigger, the important variables at play are timing (when to send the trigger) and content (what offers or products it will include). Promotional triggers offer the right promotion at the right time to the right customer, so they don’t give away unnecessary discounts or create an unsustainable spike in sales. Cross-sell triggers similarly rely on existing data to predict when and what type of purchase a new customer is likely to make, but instead of offering promotions, they make product recommendations based on the first purchase.
As you shift into operational mode, your focus should be on three things: prioritization, hold-out groups, and keeping segments up to date.
First, prioritization: once you’ve set up your welcome series and triggers, you’re going to have to make some decisions about sequencing and frequency. One option is to make your core series and triggers incremental, so customers begin to receive both your standard daily emails and your welcome emails after their first purchase. If you decide to this, make sure that you set up the different mailings to go out at different times.
If you’re trying to reduce the number of emails that you send, you may want to avoid this approach and ensure that customers receiving your welcome series won’t also be sent your standard daily emails. That means that you’ll need to keep these lists updated in order to smoothly transition new customers into your regular emails once the welcome series is completed.
As you’re deploying your welcome series, you should also reserve a hold-out group, or a control group of one-time buyers who do not receive your welcome series. We know, that sounds crazy, but it’s the only surefire way to ensure that your welcome series is actually doing what it’s intended to do. Comparing the purchasing behavior of the hold-out group against that of the group receiving your welcome series can help you gauge the true impact of your efforts.
Finally, you should periodically revisit your segments to make sure they’re up-to-date. As consumer trends change, the same rules won’t always apply. For example, sneakers are wildly trendy for everyday wear right now, so if you created a rule-based segment two years ago that said sneakers = athletes, you’d be off-base now. Build in mechanisms that will allow for flexibility down the road.
Of course, no matter how well we plan, some of our email campaigns are going to perform better than others. No predictive analytics can fully capture the complex interplay between art, science, and consumer preference that determines whether a marketing effort is going to take off or fall flat. That’s why you need to establish a test-and-learn foundation for your one-time buyer strategy.
Before implementing any new marketing initiative, retailers should test with tactical and strategic goals in mind. Tactical questions consider which message is the most effective at driving post-purchase conversion for a particular segment, while strategic questions determine the overall impact of your programs and how much incremental benefit a particular program is creating.
Most marketing professionals are more familiar with tactical questions. A/B testing is a commonly used tool for addressing tactical questions like which font to use for emails or where on the page an image should be. However, strategic testing can help answer questions with far broader organizational implications. Rather than simply gauging channel engagement metrics, strategic testing attempts to measure the incremental, multi-channel impact of a particular marketing initiative.
That’s powerful. And that’s how you curate the optimal experience for each customer.
To learn more about these techniques, you can download our ebook, One and (Not) Done: Leveraging Customer Analytics to Address the One-Time Buyer Problem, here.