If I stop acquiring customers right now, will I have a business in 2 months?

Kind of a scary question, but one that every ecommerce business owner should ask themselves.

If you’re already acquiring customers through a strong marketing strategy, you should be focusing on customer retention. It is the single biggest way to set your business up for long-term success:

 Companies focus on acquisition more than customer retention, even though it can cost 7x more to acquire  new customers. (KissMetrics)

So how do you get customers to re-purchase? There’s a bunch of great ways, including:

  • Great customer service
  • Customer loyalty programmes
  • Incentives
  • Remarketing
  • Email marketing

All of the above are important and very valid, and should play a strong part in your customer retention strategy.

For this post, let’s look at some simple ways that email marketing can boost your loyalty:

1. High value customers

Some customers purchase, that’s great. You don’t want to lose these guys.

Some customers purchase A LOT, that’s fantastic. You really don’t want to lose these guys!

The marketing term for customers who purchase a lot is “high value customers”. If you’re using Shopify, it’s really easy to find out who these customers are using your Sales by Customer report. A quick CSV export, an upload to your favourite email marketing tool, and you’ve got a list of your most important customers, ready to email.

High value customers love to receive exclusive offers. They’re already in love with your brand, and sending them a neat surprise to their inbox can go a long way. If your brand isn’t big on discounting, send them links to your latest blog posts, or some of your more exclusive or featured products. The most important thing is that you treat them like royalty.

2. New range promotion

You might sell products in a number of different categories. However, there’s a good chance that many of your customers love your brand for just a specific set of products.

A simple example, let’s say you have two main categories:

  • Shirts
  • Shorts

40% of your customers only buy shirts. 40% only buy shorts. 20% buy both. 

When you release a new range of shirts, do you really want to tell the customers who only buy shorts Surely it’d be more beneficial not to email them, and instead to send them a different and relevant campaign of their own about shorts? You’ll have to write two emails instead of one - but the effort will pay off.

Getting the customers who’ve purchased into a certain category can get a little tricky with Shopify, but tools such as Klaviyo can make this process super easy.

3. Lapsed customers

As we saw in the quote at the start, it is significantly cheaper to retain customers than it is to acquire new customers.

“Lapsed customer” can mean different things to different brands, but for now let’s say that a lapsed customer is one that has not purchased in the last 90 days. While it might take a bit of an incentive to bring lapsed customers back on site, it’ll still be significantly cheaper than acquiring a totally new customer.

4. Replenishment

This one is an old one but a good ‘un. Let’s say for a second that you’re Soylent. If you haven’t heard of them, they sell a food product that is basically a smoothie containing everything the body needs. When you buy from them, you purchase ~2 months supply. It’s kinda weird and kinda cool (we’ve just ordered some for the Sauce office).

If a customer purchases a 2 month supply, you’ll want to send them an email when their supply is almost finished, right? By using customer purchase dates, you can set up an automated email to message customers when their supply is almost finished.

Different email providers work in different ways, but generally the way it works is that you’ll want to use segmentation to create a segment of users who purchased 45-55 days ago, and automatically trigger the email when the user “enters” the segment.

Bonus points: linking in with #1, you might want give your high value customers a surprise discount too?

5. Go multi-channel

This is where things start to get a bit clever. This “hack” doesn’t even involve sending an email - it involves connecting up your advertising campaigns with your email campaigns. “Multi-channel marketing” can be a pretty daunting phrase, but really all it means is - marketing to customers across multiple channels. (e.g. Advertising and email)

Using UTM parameters, you can build up lists of customers using Facebook Custom Audiences or another retargeting tool to work out who is clicking on your emails.

All of the 1-4 hacks above are really valuable, but what if only 10% of people actually click? What about the other 90%? Maybe they were busy when you sent the message?

That’s exactly what you should do!

Customer loyalty can make or break a business. Just a small % increase in retention rate can have a monumental impact on your long-term sales.

If you haven’t got a solid strategy in place - now’s the time! Email is an incredibly powerful tool in your arsenal, use it.

This is a guest post by Chris Houghton at Sauce, the easiest way to understand and target your customers based on who they are and what they do on your site.

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