We all know that a repeat customer is more valuable than a single-time purchaser, right? What’s surprising, however, is just how much more valuable a repeat purchaser can be for an online fashion retailer.
Facts and figures
Across a range of retailers we surveyed in this sector, as much as 60 to 75 per cent of total revenue comes from returning customers who, within a 12 month period, will typically generate 2.5 to 3 times the revenue of a new one-time purchaser.
What’s interesting is the correlation with some form of automated marketing. When we looked at the top end of the range, more often than not these retailers were running some type of triggered messaging campaign, while at the bottom end they were doing the bare minimum of a monthly email newsletter.
So what’s clear is that automated marketing, when done well, boosts repeat customer rates.
Sure, some of these retailers are sending abandoned basket emails - the simplest of all triggered messaging strategies. But even then, out of 62 retailers we surveyed, less than 25 per cent (16) were sending these emails. So what’s going on?
It’s partly cost. Nearly every retailer we spoke to is ‘considering’ automated marketing strategies, but they all mentioned the cost - because it’s a step-up from Mailchimp, with many of the larger ESPs who can handle triggered messages charging sizeable set-up fees. It’s also a real learning curve for these retailers, who are bombarded with strategies and options, all of which come with costs and complexities.
So here’s a really simple way to get started. It’s a proven strategy that every retailer - and especially fashion retailers - should be employing. It does not have to be complicated. The key message is: start simple.
Putting marketing automation into action
There are three types of reactivation email that every retailer should use:
1) Incentivising repurchase
These automated messages will generally be set to go out a set period after a first purchase has been completed, and if no repeat purchase has been made. The interval will be determined with reference to the average time it takes for a first purchaser to make their second purchase.
So start by doing some basic order gap analysis to determine the optimum time to send these emails. A further refinement is to alter the messaging slightly depending on whether the customer has been seen to browse on the site or not, but this of course depends on whether you can also segment for engagement. If you can, it certainly boosts performance.
Down the line, once you’ve tested these in action, you can also start to segment by Average Order Value or product interest - for example you might want to bucket your customers into men and women, or those who like casual clothes against those who bought suits. But to start with, keep it simple until you are comfortable with the process and have a benchmark of results you can optimise against.
2) Winning back ‘at risk’ customers
What happens if the incentivising purchase strategy fails? After a second interval, you can send them a stronger offer to avoid losing them altogether. This strategy can also be used to try and win back ALL customers who have not purchased for a while - whether for 5 or 6 months or more will depend on the sales cycle of each retailer.
Key here is to be able to customise the messaging depending on whether these customers have been seen on the site in the intervening period, or not seen at all. You will have a much better chance of converting those who have been actively browsing, and are still ‘warm’ (but have for one reason or another not bought anything) than those who have not visited at all and gone completely cold. As well as altering the messaging, it’s important you track these two types of at-risk customer, as different offers will work for each group, and results need tracking properly.
3) Transactional Messages
Finally, don’t forget your transactional messaging. Often these are rather boring, functional automated messages - in which case you are missing an opportunity to warm the customer to your brand. Marketing automation does not have to mean bland. As well as making sure the ‘tone’ of these transactional messages is consistent with your brand values, they are also a good opportunity to upsell, cross sell and incentivise these customers to make their next purchase - with a free shipping offer, for example, or a discount voucher (see this blog post for some great examples).
Companies with the highest growth rates are those that best look after their customers – whether they have 50 or 50,000.
Overwhelmingly, customers prefer doing business with a brand that manages to personalise the shopping experience. Personalised email campaigns and customer lifecycle marketing should not be seen simply as some kind of faceless marketing automation effort to drive clicks, but as a way to nurture and retain customers with really excellent customer service. Nor should it be just about offers and promotions – though these have their place. They should be about the great products that makes your brand what it is.
In short, companies that want to succeed should, above all, be making their customers felt wanted, valued and appreciated – so they will come back for more!