Customer Retention: 5 Ways to Turn One-Time Holiday Shoppers into Returning Customers
This post was last updated on September 1, 2020.
As holiday shopping moves online due to COVID-19, eCommerce businesses are expected to see a huge spike in holiday sales. But if you want to make the most out of the 2020 holiday season, then it’s time to think beyond the holiday calendar. While your seasonal sales only run for a few days, your potential to continue earning from them can last a lifetime.
How do you keep the momentum alive? Avoid the dreaded churn. Shift your focus from customer acquisition to customer retention and turn those first-time seasonal shoppers into lifelong customers.
Yes, holiday shoppers are wonderful in terms of customer acquisition, but they’re more likely to churn than customers you acquire throughout the rest of the year. After all, holiday shoppers come with a very specific intent—to buy items at the best price for a specific date or event. So once they’ve feasted on your online store, how do you keep them coming back for seconds, thirds and even fourths? You need to have a customer retention plan ready.
What is customer retention?
Customer retention is a range of activities that nurtures new customers into loyal, repeat customers for the long-term.
If you haven’t thought about customer retention before, you’re not alone. Most businesses focus on acquisition, while only 18% focus on retention. But, when you crunch the numbers, retaining customers is a lot more profitable than acquiring them.
Here’s a quick look at the statistics:
It costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.
Existing customers are 50% more likely to buy from you again.
Existing customers spend an average of 31% more than new customers.
Increasing your retention rate by just 5% can boost your profits anywhere between 25-95%.
Convinced it’s time to start converting your holiday shoppers into your most loyal, lifelong customers?
Here’s a quick outline of the five most effective ways to keep them coming back:
Stellar customer service
Customer loyalty programs
Now let’s dive deeper into each tactic.
01. Win them over with email marketing
Email marketing may be the oldest of all digital marketing channels, but it’s still the top performer with a 4400% ROI. Marketing professionals also report email as the most effective tool for customer retention. You can develop a year-long pipeline of email campaigns to win your customers’ loyalty, but let’s focus on the must-haves.
Must-have customer loyalty email campaigns
Welcome email: These have an average open rate of 50-60%, the highest of any email campaign. Take this opportunity to make your shoppers feel seen and appreciated by personalizing their “welcome” based on the customer information you’ve collected. Think beyond the personalized greeting, “Hi Karen”. For example, you can frame the welcome email based on their specific purchase: Congratulate them on choosing the item and offer some tips on how to use and care for it.
Content email: Keep new customers engaged by sending them a selection of relevant content that adds value to their customer experience. For example, if you have a blog, use your email campaign to link to articles that your customers will find helpful or simply entertaining. If you don’t have your own content to share, don’t let that stop you. You can curate content from sources that closely align with your customers’ needs and interests. Also, think of including a variety of content formats like blog posts, videos, podcasts, infographics and more.
Upsell email: Never miss an opportunity to upsell. After all, the probability of selling to an existing customer is a significant 60-70%. They key to successful upselling is personalization. Use demographic information and your shopper’s first-time purchase to suggest the most relevant products for their second purchase. For example, if you sell yoga apparel, and a seasonal shopper bought a purple yoga top as her first purchase, send her a selection of yoga pants that will complement her top. Beyond personalized selections, you can also suggest items that are bestsellers or on sale.
Abandoned cart email: eCommerce businesses lose $18 billion dollars a year to abandoned carts—but don't let it happen to you. If shoppers already started the buying process but backed out, let them know you noticed and gently encourage them to complete their purchase with an abandoned cart email. Make sure to automate it to be sent some time after the event so you'll succeed in bringing the customer back to your store. For example, if a customer left a product in their cart, you can email them a time-sensitive coupon code to help entice them to complete the purchase.
02. Wow them with your customer service
The holidays are a notoriously frenzied time for shoppers and businesses alike. This year, because of COVID-19, eCommerce sales are expected to surge. All of this activity means you need to come extra prepared with stellar customer service. After all, a happy customer is a loyal customer.
Here are some ways to let your customers know how much they mean to you:
Send personalized thank you notes: Exceed your customers’ expectations by including a personalized and branded thank you note with their order. This adds a memorable touch that is especially appropriate for the holiday season. If a handwritten thank you note is too time-consuming, then consider printing them and add your handwritten signature.
Reinforce your resources: Santa needs more elves during the holidays, and every smart business needs more support agents—so make sure to hire some extra help for the season. It’s a good idea to source support agents who reside across different times zones, like Europe, Asia Pacific and the Middle East. Having a global support team will help you extend your support hours and offer 24-hour support without assigning grueling overnight shifts to your agents (it’s important to keep them happy as well!). Now is also the perfect time to add live chat to your support channels. Customers overwhelmingly prefer live chat compared to phone and email support. One of the biggest advantages of live chat is that your customers can receive real-time support and don’t have to stay glued to the chat window. Just like any other chat platform, customers can minimize the chat and get a notification as soon as an agent is available. They can also leave their email addresses and receive a response at a later time.
Be proactive: Providing excellent customer support means being proactive and not just reactive. While it’s important to respond to queries in a friendly and timely manner, it’s equally important to anticipate and address problems before they arise. Take this proactive approach by assessing your support issues from last year’s holiday season. Identify issues that arose most frequently and clearly address them in your store’s FAQ page and store policies.
03. Create a customer loyalty program
Customer loyalty programs reward customers for their continued business. One of the most popular examples of this strategy is the airline industry’s frequent flier program. The more a customer spends, the more points and perks they earn. More than 57% of customers join loyalty programs to save money and nearly 38% join to reap the rewards. You can start your building your own loyalty by adding a Members Area to your store. With a Members Area, shoppers can create their own profile within your store and securely save their information like payment options, billing and shipping addresses, and their order history. This saves them precious time in the checkout flow for the next time they make a purchase. It also gives you the opportunity to recognize your most loyal shoppers and offer them exclusive deals and rewards. If you already have a loyalty program in place, make sure to promote it on your website. Once a shopper signs up as a member, trigger an automatic email to welcome them to your loyalty program and explain the benefits.
Read our article about brand loyalty to learn more.
04. Offer a special discount
Who doesn’t love a discount? Warm up to your first-time holiday shoppers by offering them an exclusive, one-time coupon code for their next purchase. Then, simply add the code to the Welcome email and the Thank You note included in their package.
05. Retarget them on social media
Another way to keep customers coming back is by engaging with them on social media. If you don't have one already, create a social media presence for your business and encourage your holiday shoppers to follow you. Then keep the page active by designing beautiful and eye-catching social posts to showcase special sales, promotions or deals throughout the year.
Besides for organic social posts, you can also retarget your shoppers with paid Facebook ads. Three out of four customers notice retargeting ads and chances are you have as well: One morning, you’re browsing a pair of shoes on Asos, and later that afternoon you see an ad on Facebook for the same pair of shoes from Asos. This magic is powered by something called a Facebook pixel that tracks customers’ activity on a website. Once your customer leaves your site and starts browsing Facebook, the Facebook Pixel kicks in by displaying your ad. It’s an extremely powerful tool for increasing conversions and easy to set up. Simply add a Facebook Pixel to your online store and start a Facebook Ad campaign. The pixel automatically tracks events within your store, such as product views and past purchases, and uses that information to optimize your Facebook ad.
You can also use Wix's Facebook Ads to quickly create promotions from your site's dashboard that'll be seen by your target audience. This way, you won't need to create audiences, A/B test or track sales. Wix’s machine-learning algorithm will automatically optimize your ads for maximize performance.
Read our article to learn 10 best practices for creating Facebook Ads.
When it comes to new holiday shoppers, the hard truth is that they can disappear on you just as quickly as they flocked to you. But, as long as you implement a few of the tactics listed above, you can expect to convert some of them into loyal customers. Remember that this is definitely worth the effort: Even a small amount of customer retention—as little as 5%—can have a huge impact on your profits. So, as you continue to acquire new shoppers throughout the holiday season, make sure to funnel them through to your customer retention plan. You’d be surprised at how much of an impression you can make on your shoppers with even a simple gesture, like a handwritten note.
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Marketing Writer, Wix eCommerce
Geraldine is a marketing writer for Wix eCommerce. She uses her broad experience in journalism, publishing, public relations and marketing to create compelling content and loves hearing user success stories.