The Best Way to Turn Customers into Repeat Purchasers (or the Magic of the Post-Purchase Email)

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Email marketing is one of the sharpest tools in your lifecycle marketing tool shed. The average return on investment with email marketing is $42 per dollar spent. Or, you know…a whopping 4,100%!

One of the reasons this marketing method is so effective is because it’s often employed with repeat customers who have already jumped that first-time purchase hurdle.

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As noted in previous articles, it’s typically much harder and more expensive to generate the new customer lead and convert it to a paying customer than it is to keep a paying customer. Here are just some reasons people are more likely to purchase with you once they’ve broken the ice:

  • You’ve become a known quantity in a digital sea of unknown online shops. Assuming you followed through with your end of the deal on their first purchase, that makes you safer and reduces potential feelings of risk shoppers may have when making a repeat purchase.
  • They’ve already created an account or entered their payment information with you. Convenience is a mighty factor when shopping online, and every little bit of work that’s shaved off the purchase process makes it more likely to happen.
  • They are more likely to remember you having bought from you to begin with. They’ve seen shipping emails from you, your packaging and anything else related to their original order. Those types of touch points help with brand awareness and recall when a consumer needs something again.
  • Hopefully you wowed them with a positive experience. Fast shipping, affordable prices and easy-to-use websites and customer service options go a long way to securing that second order.

But even if you do everything right, customers may not return to your shop. There’s so much competition and noise online—the buzzing of the bees amidst the flowers can be quite deafening—and people lead busy lives. They simply may forget about you if you don’t do something to stay in their thoughts.

And that’s where the magic of the post-purchase email campaign comes in.

Post-purchase emails are content marketing campaigns designed to encourage someone to return and make another purchase with you. It’s best practice to automate these email campaigns to start after someone has made their first purchase—as long as they’ve opted in for your emails! Consider adding a checkbox in the shopping cart that allows people to easily opt-in or out for such messages.

When you get the go-ahead to send people post-purchase marketing emails, consider trying some of the below.

Second Order Emails

Second order emails specifically ask the customer to return and order again.

A great way to do this is by using the email to thank the person for the purchase, acknowledging their value to your business. Then, segue into the fact that you’re ready to provide that same level of service and customer experience again, and hope that the customer will return soon to make another purchase.

Keep it short and sweet. This email is more about gently reminding someone that you were able to provide for their needs the first time and that you’re still around. Avoid creating a long string of things they might want in your shop or filling the email with enough images and links that it looks like spam.

Back-in-Stock Emails

Items coming back in stock provide a great reason to touch base with previous purchasers. Here are a few times you may want to send out a back-in-stock email:

  • A high-demand item is back in stock. This might be an email you can send to all previous purchasers, especially if the item in question has a lot of general appeal. You can even add a bit of urgency by letting people know that the item is back in stock but that it doesn’t usually last long. Create goodwill by letting previous customers know you’re giving them a heads-up about the item before anyone else.
  • An item previously purchased is back in stock. Send these types of emails to people who previously purchased this specific item. This works best with items that are perishable or consumable. People may be interested to know a certain type of cosmetic is in stock, for example, but not care that much that a cast iron pan is back in stock. If they bought cast iron previously, they’re probably still using it.
  • An item previously abandoned in a cart is back in stock. If someone put an item in a cart but didn’t get around to purchasing it before it was sold out, they may be grateful to know it’s available again.

Related Product Emails

Related product emails are traditional cross-selling. It’s just cross-selling that happens after the original purchase.

Consider sending these product recommendation emails to let someone know about items that are related to something they previously purchased. You can get creative with this concept as long as you remain relevant enough not to be annoying, but here are some related product email ideas:

  • The same item in another color. If someone bought an item that comes in a variety of configurations, you might want to let them know other options are available. This type of email might say something like “We hope you’re loving that green cardigan! It’s the softest. Did you know it comes in four other colors? The brown or black options go with literally anything.”
  • An accessory for the item. Accessories make for great related product emails because you can easily work in feature/benefit marketing language. As noted in our article about acquiring new leads, this type of writing helps the person see themselves using the item in question. When they can visualize the benefits they might get, they’re more likely to make a purchase. Use a related item email to highlight accessories that make something the customer purchased more useful, fun or luxurious.
  • An upgrade or new version of the item. These types of emails play to consumer desires to keep up with the crowd. You might let them know that an upgrade for their electronic device is available or that new products in a fashion line have just been released.

Promotional Emails

Promotional emails work the same with repeat customers as they do with first-time buyers. The idea is to send the customer something of value to entice them to return to your site and make a purchase.

Here are some ideas for promo emails that help turn one-time purchasers into repeat buyers:

  • Coupon codes or discounts. Offer a limited-time-only discount code to entice people back to your Shopify store. Some popular ways of doing this include offering coupon codes that only work during the current week or month or requiring people to spend a certain amount before the discount kicks in.
  • Create a flash sale. A flash sale is one that lasts a short period of time, such as a few hours or a day or two. While some people will stumble into your flash sale by sheer luck, because it’s only held for a limited amount of time, most people need to be told about it. Limiting who you tell to your email list or loyalty program members creates some exclusivity. That makes people feel good to receive the special offer and can create some customer loyalty and goodwill.
  • Limited stock emails. This type of email promotes your ecommerce store and products and doesn’t even have to include a discount. Simply let previous customers know that you’re down to the last five of a popular product and that you appreciate their patronage and wanted to give them the first chance at grabbing those items. You can, of course, sweeten the message with a deal such as “put one of these items in your cart and finalize the purchase today for 10% off.”

Informational Newsletters

Every email you send doesn’t need to be strong on the sales tactics. In fact, providing something of value to your existing customers without always asking for something in return can improve customer loyalty for your ecommerce business. One way of doing this is with informational newsletters.

These types of emails are typically sent periodically, such as once a week or month. How often you send newsletters depends on a variety of factors, including:

  • The needs of your target audience. Test various newsletter schedules to find out what your audience will tolerate. Gather data about open rates, click-through rates and unsubscribe rates to find the frequency of newsletter that gets you the most views without alienating your audience.
  • Your own ability to send quality emails. Quality is essential here. You can’t just kick off mediocre newsletters every Thursday and cross your fingers. It’s better to go to a monthly publishing schedule if you simply don’t have the resources to create high-quality emails more often.
  • What other emails you send. If you’re also sending cart abandonment emails, second-purchase emails and back-in-stock emails, for example, you probably don’t need to send a weekly newsletter. You’ll be inundating inboxes with too many messages, and that’s how you get moved to someone’s spam folder.

If you do decide to offer an informational newsletter, here are some tips to keep top of mind:

  • Provide an opt-in form for the newsletter that’s separate from the opt-in that you include in the shopping cart. People may sign up for your newsletter before they even make a purchase.
  • Make the newsletter about the customer, not about your store. Yes, you can highlight or link to a product or two. But provide information that could be useful to your audience even if they don’t make a purchase. For example, a Shopify store that sells jewelry could provide tips for cleaning or storing accessories or a rundown of the biggest trends in accessory fashion.
  • Create emails with mobile devices in mind. Remember that most people check emails on their smartphones or other mobile devices. Content should be scannable and include short paragraphs, subheadings and bulleted lists to make it easy to view on smaller screens.

Seasonal Emails

Seasonal emails can be a great idea if you don’t want to manage a monthly or weekly newsletter. They can also be a way to make your newsletter different throughout the year.

To come up with ideas for seasonal emails, consider the needs and lifestyle of your audience and how an upcoming season might impact their needs. Do you sell something that could be useful during the back-to-school season? How do your products fit into summer activities or winter routines? Holidays, weather or even fun days such as National Umbrella Day are all potential inspirations. (Umbrella Day is February 10 annually, if you’re wondering).

With Great Power…

Spider-Man fans know that great power comes with great responsibility. The same is true here. When wielded correctly, email is a powerful marketing tool. Just remember to be responsible in how you use your customer’s contact information.

Don’t sell it or share it. Don’t fill their inboxes with low-value messaging. Don’t overdo it. And don’t expect that people will stick around if you’re not doing the work to offer them relevant information and promotions they can put to use in their lives.

If you do provide those things, though, know that you’re stepping toward creating a loyal customer base.

Let’s find out how to close the deal on repeat business from loyal customers in the next article.