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Customer Retention. Automated

Top 10 Retention Marketing Strategies

Posted by Andrew Pearson on Mar 4, 2013 5:06:00 PM
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 Silverpop is a market leader in email marketing and marketing automation, and so it is a great honor to get to co-host a webinar on March 19th to walk through the 10 Most Effective Retention Marketing Strategies for Digital Marketers.

I'll be presenting with Loren McDonald, Silverpop's Vice President of Industry Relations, and Nathan Decker, Ecommerce Manager at Evolucion Innovations (Evo.com), a joint-client of Silverpop and Windsor Circle.  Nathan, by the way, just gave a great talk at eTail West on how Evo is automating more of their email marketing by leveraging the purchase history data provided by Windsor Circle's platform, and the email capabilities of Silverpop.

It may go without saying that the best customers are the ones you keep.  But many retailer place such a heavy emphasis on acquiring customers that retaining them is an afterthought. For retailers aiming to grow, they must nurture customer relationships.  If done correctly, you can not only encourage repeat purchases and customer loyalty, but you can turn repeat buyers into extensions of your marketing efforts, which is critical in today’s social-network obsessed, peer-review world.

Additionally, you should aim to keep your best customers.  Some customers are likely bargain hunters - they found you via an acquisition channel or comparison shopping engine, but they have no loyalty and are only likely to shop with you again if you offer them margin-killing deals.  Retailers should be mining their purchase history data to identify the customers most likely to generate long-term value, and target their retention efforts around keeping their best customers.

I wanted to share 3 of the 10 strategies we'll be talking about on the webinar:

Thank first-time buyers: Welcoming new customers.

At a recent email marketing conference, we heard from an industry expert that up to 40% of IR1000 retailers do not have an automated new customer "Welcome Series" set up.  The percent is much higher when looking at all online retailers.  When a shopper first makes a purchase on your store, they will likely receive an order confirmation email, and perhaps an additional shipping notice or receipt.  But every new customer should also receive a "Welcome to our store!" email that serves as both thank-you, welcome, and introduction. 

Many shoppers will save welcome emails and refer back to them in the future, particularly if they include things like:

  • Username reminder
  • Link to your order page or account history
  • About the company
  • Personal message from the CEO
  • A Welcome coupon

Manage customer latency: Proper cadence to convert One-Time Buyers to Repeat Buyers.

Windsor Circle's Retention Automation Platform includes a Retail Analytics account. One of the most powerful tools is the Customer Latency chart, which shows the median and average days between a First and Second Purchase.  This metric is incredibly important, and varies widely between retailer and industry.  It represents the "nurture period" required to win over a one-time buyer and convert them to a repeat buyer, who, by definition, is worth 4.8 times the lifetime value of the former.  It also defines the optimal "cadence", or timing, of automated emails that aid in this conversion effort.

Some retailers have a median Latency of 30 or less days, and an average of 60 days, which often means that it is very important to "seal the deal" (or using other terminology, get from first date to second date) in a short period of time.  This requires a well-timed sequence that could look like this:

  • Day 1: New customer Welcome Email #1
  • Day 7: New customer Welcome Email #2
  • Day 12: New customer Product Recommendation
  • Day 17: New customer Welcome Email #3
  • Day 25: New customer special offer
  • Day 30: New customer special offer reminder

Other retailers have a longer median latency (60-120 days), or a much longer average latency (say 90-180 days).  This could either mean that the type of product is seasonal in nature, or does not lend itself to repeat purchasing, or it could spell a clear opportunity for improvement of the overall customer lifecycle management and loyalty programs. 

In sync with the season: mining purchase data to ID seasonal trends.

We see successful online retailers using their purchase history data as a source of marketing inspiration.  For example, one retailer who sells digital and video cameras online found that his repeat buyers tended to start their big-ticket holiday shopping earlier in the year, around Sept 1, than new customers (late October).  He also noticed that video camera purchasers took longer, over multiple visits, and with a number of "abandoned carts", than camera buyers, who were more likely to make single-visit purchases.  Using this information, the retailer can now plan for a more relevant and targeted digital marketing strategy for the 2013 holidays.  We'll talk more about what those kinds of strategies could be on the webinar - I look forward to seeing you there!

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