Create Relationships With Customers Beyond Sales Transactions
Organizations have more tools than ever to form customer relationships, and these interactions should last beyond the typical sales transactions. Online communication makes it easier for brands to accomplish this goal, but it needs to be completed using the right methodology. This means different things for different industries, but overall, the ability to add value to customers after a sale is made can influence long-term customer relationships. Learn more by reading Alexandra Sheehan’s piece for Shopify.com. You can access the piece by clicking here, or by reading below:
This piece was originally published by Shopify on August 23, 2017.
“Post-purchase communication is an essential facet of any retailer’s marketing and customer retention strategy. 50% of consumers feel buyer’s remorse after a purchase, so this is your opportunity to help rationalize the purchase and ease their worries.
Focusing on and building relationships with your existing customers is a cost-effective way to boost sales:
- Acquiring new customers costs five times as much as it costs to retain existing customers.
- A new customer is 5%–20% likely to make a purchase, while existing customers are 60%–70%.
- Increasing customer retention rates by 5% leads to an increase in profits of at least 25%.
Effective post-purchase communications contribute to higher customer retention rates. It keeps the conversation going with your customers after they leave your store, strengthens the relationship with your brand, and helps inspire brand loyalty.
From email receipts to customer support, here are some post-purchase communication strategies and examples you can steal for your retail business.
What Are Post-Purchase Communications?
Post-purchase communications refer to essentially any interaction your customers have with your brand after they make a purchase. Post-purchase communications can be in person, on the phone, or virtual.
You can use post-purchase communications to influence feelings about their recent purchase, as well as inspire future purchases.
Post-communications take many forms, including but not limited to:
If you capture your customers’ email addresses when they make purchases, you can use this medium to communicate with them after they make a purchase.
The email content itself must be relevant to the customer and to their purchase. You can use it as a cross-sell and upsell opportunity, or as a way to ease the post-purchase anxieties through content on how to make the most of their purchase. Perhaps it’s a free guide on how to waterproof your leather boots, or downloadable stencils for a paint set you sell.
Arguably more important than the content of the email itself is the subject line. Even if you’re not a copywriter, there are a few stats to help write subject lines that will get your emails opened:
- 33% of emails are opened based solely on the subject line
- Emails that contain the word “you” in the subject line have 5% higher open rates than those without
- Subject lines with the word “tomorrow” are opened 10% more than those without
- Stick to 30 or fewer characters, as they have the highest open rates
- Personalization is key: It leads to 20% higher open rates
Like email, you can use direct mail for cross-selling, upselling, and purchase validation. Brochures, coupons, information about their recent purchase, and other content can be sent via physical mail to your customers.
For something more personal, a handwritten thank-you note for the customer’s previous purchase can go a long way. Bonus points if you offer a free gift to show your appreciation.
One area that many retailers overlook as a marketing opportunity is when it comes to receipts and invoices. That leaves the door open to try creative tactics.
Chick-fil-A has an effective way of using receipts to incentivize customer surveys: They often provide the option to take a survey in exchange for a free chicken sandwich. The offer code is on the printed receipt for customers. This is also strategic because many customers will often add to the free chicken sandwich or bring a friend with them when they redeem the coupon.
Beyond the physical receipt, many retailers offer customers the option to receive an email receipt. Emails that contain receipts have an open rate that’s more than 50% higher than the average. Your email receipts offer ways to upsell related products, solicit feedback, promote in-store events, advertise your social media profiles and more.
Dollar Shave Club’s distinct brand voice comes through on their email receipt. The email receipt welcomes customers into the club, reassuring them that they’ll “fit right in.” That directly addresses the buyer’s remorse and associates feelings of positivity with the brand and the product.
Image Credit: Get Vero
Dollar Shave Club also makes it easy for customers to share their purchase on social media and earn some free products in return for promoting their unique referral code.
It’s always essential to ask for feedback from your customers. You can use that information to inform product development, marketing strategy, branding, pricing, and many other aspects of your business.
Giving customers the option to voice their opinions through reviews, surveys, and open-ended feedback does more than just provide you with actionable insights. It also makes customers feel as though their voices are heard and appreciated.
When asking for feedback, make sure you give customers enough time to use the product. If you ask them too soon, they may forget to come back to it. And if you ask too late, the purchase may no longer be top-of-mind.
Best Buy tactfully requests feedback from users via email. You’ll notice the emails are all branded with a similar look, so visual recognition is easy for email recipients. The copy is also conversational and lets customers know that not only does the company value their feedback, so do other customers. Personalization is also at play.
Amazon’s another major player that has made soliciting feedback an artform. They couldn’t make it any easier for customers by providing feedback that’s already written for them:
Image Credit: Really Good Emails
Customer loyalty programs are extremely effective as it relates to customer retention. Many post-purchase communications happen through these loyalty programs.
Whether you communicate with customers about the loyalty program via email, a mobile app, strictly in store, or a different medium, those communications are integral. They should reward customers and offer relevant incentives.
Instead of trying to upsell men’s sneakers to the customer who bought a women’s sweater, offer a pair of women’s pants or a scarf that matches the sweater. Be conscious of what makes sense to your loyal customers and view every communication through their eyes.
More than half (64%) of consumers are likely to follow you on social media after making a purchase. Make it easy for your customers to find and connect with you — add links to your social profiles on your website and in emails.
After you get your customers to follow you, you need to get them to engage with you. Create easy ways for them to share info about their purchases with pre-populated social posts and a “click-to-share” function in your email receipts. Provide a branded hashtag to track the conversation and keep it in a centralized location.
Create value-add content that shows customers how to maintain and make the most of their recent purchase. Add a link to the social post in the email receipts to drive continual engagement.
Customer support interactions
Treat customer interactions with your customer support team as you would any other post-purchase communication. While you may not be the one doing the talking, it’s important that your brand identity and brand experience remain consistent in this channel.
Digital communications or not, train your team on how the post-purchase experience should be for your customers. Make sure they know the importance of every interaction customers have with your brand.
Benefits of Post-Purchase Communications
Validate the purchase
Emotions drive purchasing behavior and customer loyalty — if a customer associates your brand with positive emotions, they’re more likely to be a repeat customer.
Post-purchase communications offer retailers the opportunity to foster those positive emotions and associate them with your brand and your customer’s purchase.
Be extremely thoughtful and strategic with your communications. Inflicting negative emotions during this phase of the purchase cycle could be a huge detriment to your brand.
Casper inspires feelings of positivity immediately after customers make a purchase. The language they use — “next stop, dreamland!” — promises to deliver on the aspiration the customer hopes their product will bring to their life. It directly addresses customers pain points and reassures them that Casper is the answer to those issues.
Image Credit: Casper
It’s been estimated that consumers see 600 ads every day. Though the number’s up for dispute, there’s one thing that we can all agree on: We see a ton of ads.
With this noisy marketplace, retailers need to find more creative and effective ways to stand out and stay relevant. Post-purchase communications allows you to stay in front of your customer—a much more qualified lead than acquiring a new Facebook follower who’s never made a purchase, for example.
To the two points above, the psychology of the post-purchase process and the differentiation factor allow retailers to use post-purchase communications to build and grow relationships with their customers.
Relationships need to be mutually beneficial to be strong. If you give your customers something in return for their purchases, you’ll help to cultivate a relationship that inspires customer loyalty and future sales. Plus, you’re giving them a reason to care and share about it, and you can benefit from the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
If your post-purchase communications are limited to cross-promotions, that’s not going to be the foundation of a strong relationship. Offer them something in return, such as free gifts, value-adds, stellar customer service, discount codes, or access to secret sales.
Tips for Post-Purchase Communications
There are more ways than a simple “thank you” to show your customers you appreciate their business. After all, you wouldn’t be in business without them.
Give back to your customers to display that appreciation, be it through free gifts, surprise sales, discount codes or something else. Almost half of email recipients will make a purchase based on a promotional email. Those incentives will also help them feel more comfortable making future purchases.
Revolution Tea did just that for to thank customers who filled out their survey. Plus, they used it as a way to provide social proof and reaffirm customers’ decisions to buy from them (“we were delighted to see that 94% would recommend us to a friend!”)
Image Credit: SendLane
Your post-purchase communications need to be balanced between promotional and engaging. The engaging communications are the ones that build relationships and address the potential buyer’s remorse by adding value to the purchase. Here are some ideas to get your wheels turning:
- A technology retailer could send customers a guide to maximizing the battery life on their recently purchased smartphone
- That same retailer could create a list of the top movies to watch, filtered by category, to the customers who recently bought a television
- For retailers in the health and beauty industry, mail customers who purchased nail polish a free nail art stencil
- If you sell pet accessories, send out links to some of your favorite dog treat recipes to customers who bought dog leashes
Personalization is key to making your customer feel valued as an individual, and not as a number. Something as simple as adding their first name to the beginning of an email can go a long way.
Send personalized post-purchase communications to mark milestones, such as your customer’s anniversary of their first purchase or their birthday. Offer incentives that are personalized and relevant to their interests. You could even make a personalized promo code for a discount on their next purchase.
Mind Every Customer Interaction
Just because the examples and tactics described above are more defined post-purchase communications, it doesn’t mean those are the only areas where you need to employ these ideas. Every interaction with a customer has the potential to turn a one-time customer into a lifelong brand advocate.”
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