Not Clickthrough Rates. Not Open Rates. Not even the size of your list. Those are all important metrics for ecommerce. But for stores looking to expand their borders, these statistics are not the dominant one. It’s the repeat purchases that the ecommerce stores are really after. After all, it’s the LTV or the Lifetime Value of a customer, and not just one purchase that moves the needle in the ROI’s favour.
“It’s not about the first sale. It’s about the second sale,” says Ezra Firestone, the founder of Boom By Cindy Joseph, a “pro-age” cosmetics company. Boom also happens to be the most successful Shopify store with $60 million in annual earnings. An even more impressive number is that 37% of his customers return. Typically, 5-6% buy again from e-stores.
Such a high repeat-purchase rate means that every one of Boom’s campaigns doesn’t stop at just double duty. They each get a multiplier effect. But how do you get there, especially if your store doesn’t have the resources of a $60 million global phenomenon?
Well, it’s actually not all battlefield might. What really matters is the fellowship you have along the way, the relationships with your customers and prospects. The pen is mightier than the sword, especially when you’re penning well-crafted emails.
So we set out on an experiment. We brainstormed everything we could think of to boost ecommerce repeat-purchase rates. And the rates are climbing. For example, one collectibles store has since doubled its repeat-purchase rate.
Here’s how we built a virtual community with frequent return visits through email:
1. Journeying Side-by-Side: We employed sophisticated automation in the form of email flows. These focus on upselling existing customers by treating each unique segment separately. For example, a post-purchase flow sends a different series of emails than an upsell flow, which is often product-specific. Flows leverage email’s personalized, even intimate, conversations with customers. This can happen at all stages of the customer journey.
2. Glad Tidings: We implemented other flows designed to help one-time shoppers convert to repeat customers. Examples include our re-engagement flow, VIP flow and win-back flows. Behavior-triggered and lifecycle flows have higher open and conversion rates than regular nurture campaigns.
3. Miles On Foot: Each of these flows have extensive nurturing elements. They also have extended time frames. These accommodate the longer sales funnels now common in today’s marketplace. Such sales funnels now often last weeks instead of days.
4. Campfire Stories: Besides flows, we set up granular segments based on engagement for our email campaigns. Then, we developed a soft-selling newsletter series to provide genuine content. This is real information, not mere discounts. This story-based approach added a dimension to the emails. It also distances the brand from the competitors’ more transactional approaches. ”Story is almost as important, if not more important than the product,“ says Ezra Firestone.
- Gardening in the Shire: This nurtured the list, growing it by nearly three times. Repeat buyers grew at a similar rate. Based on the newly improved open and clickthrough rates, we expanded each of these segments. We traded a dip in engagement for a broader audience that contained many one-time buyers. Then we converted them into repeat customers.
- Returning Home: We used congruent template and element design that match the store’s imagery and website. This presented a cohesive look and feel supporting the brand promise.
- Bundle Up Out There: Robust automation and a well nurtured list helped us promote product bundles and volume discounts. This created the opportunity to build second- and third-time buyer post-purchase flows.
Adding more flows has also developed momentum to harness User-Generated Content (UGC). This includes video testimonials. We can also now write articles. We test them with the customer base. Then we turn the most successful ones into pre-sales pieces targeting prospects.
We’re at double repeat purchases and are marching onward toward triple. To complete our quest, we’ll keep our sites set on this most important trail maker of repeat purchases and the mission of relationship marketing it inspires.