Conversion optimization projects and cart abandonment rates keep marketers busy, but what happens after the customer buys from you? Most companies assume their buyers re-enter the sales funnel and start the shopping process all over again, but this is a costly mistake.
Post-purchase engagement allows customers to skip certain parts of the sales funnel, bringing them back to your website to buy again. When done well, you can connect with those individuals on a deeper level because you know more about their needs and buying habits than of potential new prospects.
Almost any brand can connect with customers after a purchase and provide value in the experience. Here’s why you should focus on post-purchase engagement and how you can do it effectively.
Why Focus on the Post-Purchase Stage?
All customers follow a path-to-purchase called the buying cycle. These are the steps a shopper takes to evaluate your products and brand. For example, a customer booking a cruise will visit the websites of various cruise ship brands, look at the destinations and cabins, and eventually book their trip. However, that purchase doesn’t end their buying cycle. In fact, the end of one purchase signifies the start of the next buying cycle. In the cruise ship example, the next step might be opting for an upsell, booking tickets and making reservations while in port, or choosing transportation to get to the city of departure.
Think of the post-purchase stage as customer support. You wouldn’t push a customer out of your physical location and slam the door after they make a purchase, which is why you don’t want to abandon them after they buy online. There are a variety of engagement strategies out there to make your customers feel welcomed and cared for, increasing the chances that they make another purchase in the future. And on average, repeat customers are nine times more likely to convert than new customers—so if your system is well-designed, the benefits are there for your business to reap.
Focusing on the post-purchase stage can help with customer retention, increase online traffic and revenue, and improve user behavior.
As we discuss some of the post-purchase strategies that other brands use, consider which ones would best apply to your business.
Winning Strategies & Activities
While post-purchase engagement can increase sales and conversion rates, they’re only effective when approached strategically. Use a few of these tactics to make sure your campaigns bring customers back to buy from you.
Nail the Follow-Up Email
The first email after a purchase can set the tone for your relationship with customers. What do you want to get from your customers now that they have completed a purchase? Do you want them to immediately enter the sales funnel again or do you want your customers to become brand ambassadors? Your industry, product, and buying cycle will determine your email campaigns.
Consider the two email campaigns shared below. A grocery store like Lucky’s will want new customers to come back week after week. Offering a compelling coupon will be enough to lure back customers. Compare this to the welcome email by Intrepid. This is a significantly higher-ticket industry. This email wants customers to keep visiting the site and joining the travel community whether they are ready to make a purchase or not.
Set Up Email Drip Campaigns
Email drip campaigns are a series of automated emails that go out to new customers and subscribers. Their purpose is to make new customers aware of the products and services that the brand offers. The customer is already engaged with the brand if they are receiving these emails, and the drip messages can upsell customers to onboard them to the brand goals.
For example, subscribers to Scott’s Cheap Flights can get airline discounts, but the company mainly profits from premium accounts. Also, the more people who open and engage with the content the better. Below, you can see part of the drip campaign they send to new subscribers explaining what their terminology means so readers can better understand the offers.
Ask for Product and Service Reviews
Tapping into post-purchase engagement doesn’t necessarily mean asking customers to buy from you again—at least, not immediately. Consider using your email marketing to collect customer reviews, either on the products themselves or on the customer care experience.
Some brands use these reviews to move customers back into the sales funnel. They will offer coupon codes for people who complete the survey, increasing the chances that they return to the brand within a shorter period of time.
In some cases, you can use product reviews in your marketing. We always recommend adding them to your product pages to convert future customers.
Solicit Feedback from Customers
Along with pulling qualitative feedback in the form of reviews, you can also engage customers in questionnaires and surveys to get quantitative data. This information can be used internally to improve your customer service and overall operations.
Your survey email doesn’t need to be complex. See how Expedia reaches out to its customers in the template below.
Set Up a Replenishment Program
Brands with a strong knowledge of their customers can tap into replenishment marketing strategies and sell to customers when the products they bought are likely to run out or wear out.
Chewy has mastered this example. The online pet store will resend food or cat litter weekly or monthly, depending on when you set the frequency. This way customers never need to shop anywhere else and Chewy can guarantee a certain amount of income in the future.
Every business has its own buying cycle. Knowing when your customers need to return can help you target them with post-purchase email engagement or coupons to keep them loyal to your brand.
Grow Your Profit Margins With Upsells
Once a customer completes a purchase, look for upsells or add-ons that they may find useful. These could be additional accessories, services, or improvements to the experience that they just purchased.
Delta encourages customers to upgrade their tickets to First Class or Comfort+. When a customer checks their departure time or flight information, they see this upsell promotion. Instead of selling a new product, Delta is promoting an add-on that gives more value to the customer while making the company more money than a free upgrade would.
Tap Into Social Media Engagement
Brands that are looking to grow their customer loyalty can use social media to continue discussions around product use. This tactic is especially valuable for lifestyle brands that are marketing to specific hobbyists or users.
There are two strong examples of this you can tweak to fit your own brand. The first is Barrel Bag, which creates bags to collect ocean waste and other litter. Customers are encouraged to show off their haul using the hashtag #barrelbaghaul, creating a community of people who won’t walk past trash. You might not think you’re doing much by picking up a candy wrapper, but together with the social media community, participants become part of a greater cause.
The second example is Misfits Market, which “rescues” ugly produce and ships it to consumers as a subscription box. Several Misfits groups have popped up on Facebook where people show off the product they received and ask for recipes or ideas. This ensures the product stays at the top of their minds.
If you can engage customers on social media after they purchase, you can set them up for future purchases and brand loyalty.
Improve Your Refund and Return Policies
Your return policy can make or break customer loyalty. If your customers feel like your refund policy is restrictive or difficult to navigate, then they are less likely to risk buying a product from you again.
In 2019, Kohl’s showed that setting up a good return policy can also be a smart marketing tactic. Customers can return Amazon items to Kohl’s and the retailer will pack and ship the item. This saves people time while bringing more customers through the door. If you need shoes for a job interview but the ones you ordered on Amazon don’t fit, you can pick up a pair at Kohl’s when you return your Amazon order.
Consider the barriers you can remove from your return policies to engage customers and maintain a positive brand experience.
Help Customers Through Content Marketing
If you have a large buying cycle or offer quality, big-ticket items, then your post-purchase activity might focus on maintenance and care. How should customers care for the item they just bought from you? What are the additional ways they can use it? If your patrons are in need of this information, isn’t it better that they find the answers to their questions from you?
Whether through email, blog posts or social media posts, share answers to FAQs and invaluable tips to nurture goodwill amongst your audience. The more value your customers get from your business, the more likely they are to use and recommend you to others in the future.
Reward Shoppers Through Loyalty Programs
If you want to engage new customers and increase the chances that they return, consider marketing your loyalty program. Loyal customers visit your business more and spend more on average. In fact, repeat customers spend an average of 67% more when they have more than two years of loyalty with the brand.
Look for ways to build loyalty through personal connections or rewards points. You may offer gifts to loyal customers or remember birthdays to show your appreciation.
If your loyal customers haven’t visited your business in a while, you can also use your email campaigns to bring them back with a discount or reminder email.
Use Post-Purchase Marketing to Improve Your Brand Engagement
If your brand doesn’t have a post-purchase marketing strategy, even to solicit feedback from customers, then your eCommerce business is missing out on huge opportunities. You can use post-purchase engagement to bring customers back to buy or to grow the community of people who love your brand. Repeat customers are often necessary to achieve your brand goals and vision, and the activities listed here are a great place to start.
To learn more about lifecycle marketing within eCommerce and how it can drive growth in your business, contact Trinity for a free 30-minute strategy session.