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3 Must-Haves to Convert One-Time Shoppers to Loyal Customers

The first quarter feels like a safe time to put things into a lower gear—crunching holiday stats and forecasting the upcoming year allows us time reorient marketing efforts. Part of that reflection needs to focus on leveraging 2015’s data (especially the customer information gleaned in the holiday bustle) and using it to convert one-time Christmas buyers to all-the-time customers.

According to Marketing Metrics, the likelihood of selling to existing customers is 60-70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20 percent. So it’s a no-brainer to create loyal customers out of those that have recently engaged with your company. That conversion multiples your marketing return on investment many times over. Moreover, Retention Science found that existing customers spent 30 percent more than newer shoppers in the time period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Are you engaging consumers on all the right fronts to ensure that this year’s one-time customer is next season’s returning, loyal customer? To convert holiday shoppers to constant customers, marketers should:

1. Collect and Honor Preferences Everywhere

‘Tis the season for returns, exchanges and frantic calls for product support. You’re likely to see an uptick of communications this time of year. That makes it a critical period to demonstrate that you know your customers and respect their preferences.

That’s why preference management – the active collection, maintenance and distribution of unique consumer characteristics, such as product interest, communication channel preference and frequency of communication – should be accessible throughout the company. Without centralized data for all customer service operators and other points of contact, a single interaction can prove inefficient and frustrating, making it less likely that your customer returns.

2. Ensure Cross Channel is in Order

While holiday headlines tended to position e-commerce as a detriment to brick-and-mortar shopping, the truth is that in 2016 savvy marketers know that cross channel experiences can capture a full view of the customer that includes varying shopping preferences—online, in-store and more.

Previously, naysayers warned against “showrooming,” when customers browse items in-store before buying online. But in fact, marketers should embrace showrooming as well as its more modern corollary, “webrooming,” when consumers research products online and then head to stores to make final purchases.

If you’re providing a cross channel experience, the company maintains a single view of the customer across every platform, as well as in-person. That valuable cross channel initiative meets customers where they are and can anticipate their needs by making suggestions based on their channel of choice, past purchases and even search history.

First-time visitors won’t get lost when they change channels. They’ll reappear and be able to engage seamlessly.

3. Reset and Correct the Conversation

Despite best efforts to target and segment customers or personalize messages, company communications tend to be reactive and based on your company’s calendar, not the customers’ needs.

Using preferences provided by the customers themselves empowers marketers to act on stated expectations. Self-reported customer data, paired with proactive communications, allows customers to correct the conversation – responding, guiding, and ultimately asking for more brand-driven conversations on their terms.

Breakthrough customer loyalty is driven by conversations, not campaigns. The faster your company reacts to data gleaned over the holidays and tunes communications to respect your customer’s 2016 needs, the better.

The first quarter is prime time to act on new customer data – ensuring your future loyalists can opt-in for more information, engage on their terms and share their preferences to customize the conversation.

Learn more about building these experiences with your customers both in-store and online with the Modern Marketing Essentials Guide to Cross Channel Marketing.

Author Bio: Eric Tejeda is the Director of Product Marketing for PossibleNOW. Eric supports the organization’s growth objectives by productizing and launching innovative new products and services that fill critical needs in the marketplace. With 25 years of experience, Eric firmly believes that permission-based marketing and preference management is a mega trend and the path to success for marketers today.

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