How to Convert the Returning into Repeat Customers

6 Min. Read

Running a Shopify store sometimes feels like being on a hamster wheel that never stops, a never ending loop of advertising, customer acquisition sales and loss.  Getting repeat customers is key, these are returning customers that keep buying time and time again. 

The effort involved in getting repeat sales from returning customers is equal parts retention science, and art.  Below we answer common questions and provide some growth ideas, to help you to convert visitors into repeat customers.

How to Convert Returning Customers

What is a Repeat Customer

Are your buyers return customers or repeat customers?  Here you might be thinking that the terms are interchangeable.  Not so.

There is a big difference. 

With repeat customers you have earned the customers trust and loyalty, whereas for returning customers, – while they will have purchased from your store previously, they are not likely to be loyal to you. You basically got lucky.

Repeat Customers are higher converting because they are loyal. 

returning customers

Why Repeat Customers are SO important.

Sometimes you just have to take stock and appreciate what you have, and consider how hard you had to work to get what you have.

How difficult it is to win customers becomes all too clear when you consider that 

  • Getting to the top of Google organic search is getting more difficult each and every year. 
  • At the same time webpage engagement rates are at an all time low and falling, meaning the average bounce rate back to Google is at an all time high, a reflection mobile now being the greatest source of traffic.  
  • Organic reach on social media is all but gone, so its paid traffic or nothing.
  • ECommerce is increasingly competitive and so advertising is increasingly costly.

Potential customers are spending less and less time on websites.  Therefore the cost of obtaining each new customer is getting higher each year.

When you consider that on average, 97% of all visitors to your website will leave, – never to return, it really puts it into perspective how valuable each customer really is.  In addition:

  • A repeat customer is likely to buy again and again. Over and over. 
  • A repeat customer is easier to upsell, cross sell to.
  • Repeat customers are willing to spend more for products, even for items available elsewhere for less.
  • Trust in branding results in higher spend at key times like traditional holidays.
  • Repeat customers share your store more often.
  • Customer advocates are your happy customers, – repeat customers
  • Repeat customers are less costly to convert than new customers

Repeat Customer Statistics

One common question we come across is: –

“What percentage of customers should be repeat purchases?”

The answer to this question is that your repeat purchase rate should be between 20-40% depending upon your industry niche.  According to Shopify, a good average figure is 27%. Therefore we recommend using this figure is a good place to start when benchmarking your progress.

How to Get Repeat Customers

The rest of this article will look at what you could/should be doing to achieve the above mentioned figures.  It is important to note that not all suggestions will work for all stores, and as always we recommend you measure your results.

15 Ways to Gain Repeat Customers

  1. Use onsite retargeting to provide personalized offers. (many examples on the OptiMonk blog)
  2. Provide great customer service (live chat partner/chat bot ie like TomBot, Tidio or Live Agent,  or for dealing with sms delivery message mate).  Answer questions on all channels quickly.
  3. Incentivize your customers with points 
  4. Grow your customer base through referral programs – partner?
  5. Improve customer retention with Customer Loyalty programs (ie. Stamped app). Create exclusive discounts for loyal customers
  6. Use the channels of communication customers prefer (cover as many as possible)
  7. Build trust in your Brand by personalizing your content to persona interest, terms + refunds etc, trust seals.
  8. Boost repeat purchases through personalized social + email campaigns
  9. Leverage user-generated content in your marketing strategy
  10. Give back to a cause using CSR campaign that fits brand targeting
  11. Be an experience innovator, use video in new ways, and new technologies, – AR for example, apps like Virtooal or Zakeke Product Customizer, to improve the customer experience, go beyond what your competitors offer.
  12. Always be eliciting feedback for the sake of store improvement.
  13. Leverage your Thankyou page to upsell and cross-sell (ReConvert app)
  14. Go Mobile first by creating a native app for your Shopify store (takes only 5 minutes if you use Plobal).  Your app on their phone dashboard is a constant reminder of your store.
  15. Add pre-ordering as an option and incentivise it (ie Shopify app Timesact)
As you can see above, there are many different ways to improve your store, features that are not found in the default Shopfy eCommerce platform.  The challenge is to determine what additional features work best for your particular audience.

What is a Repeat Sales Model

A repeat sales model is any method that puts brand building at the heart of the sales model with the goal of building loyalty to that brand.  Typically this requires additional investment in building an ideal customer persona for the brand, one that reflects customers identity.  Looking like, and sounding like your preferred consumer group is one strategy, even though it is one of the oldest tricks in the book, it is still highly effective. 

In addition, loyalty features that incentivise/reward behaviour are extremely effective in the long term, for example loyalty schemes where points are earned for sharing, referring or repeat business.

Applying a Repeat Sales Model to Shopify

A successful repeat sales model is one that is consistent.  Unfortunately cutting edge features that excite are usually only found in 3rd party Shopify apps that come at a premium.  So any new Shopify app you test, needs to be tested with KPI’s to be benchmarked against (reliable before and after analytics data).

returning customer benchmark

Measurement is key to success when building a feature set that drives repeat sales, and an Analytics platform like Conversific, leveraging both Shopify and GA data is one way monitor effectiveness of the different apps.  In addition Conversific provides insights based on your Customer data, assisting you to improve your Shopify store, or by adding value.

Understanding where you can do better is half the battle when trying to get repeat sales, Conversific enables you to benchmark your store performance against the industry average and it supplies insights that help with improvement.

Conversific’ Customer Report enables the comparison of customer data from any period to any prior period (data kept for 5 years).

returning customer report

Conclusion

One of the best things about Shopify is the Shopify App store, which enables the addition of cutting edge features such as those mentioned above, any feature that makes the visitor go wow, is going to be shared with visitors friends and family.

However, just by adding great sounding features may not be worth the ROI, they need to be evaluated and their implementation optimized.

Assign KPI, Test/benchmark, learn and then optimize, this is retention science, otherwise known as the iterative process of conversion rate optimization.  Leveraging your data is key to success.

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