Beyond the Sale: Using Targeting to Increase Retention and Social Engagement

  |  June 15, 2011   |  Comments

Three considerations for extending targeting and engagement tactics beyond the sale.

Identify your core customer segments. Reach them via targeted channels - such as display, PPC, ad networks, and email - and deliver optimized content. Repeat. For most marketers, this cycle of targeting, optimizing, and hopefully converting users is the framework for both managing marketing investments and measuring program success. And for programs and companies focused on acquiring new customers, this is a fine starting point.

But what happens after your targets successfully convert? How much attention is your organization paying to user behavior after they convert - and how it may impact future sales? Dedicating too much attention to new customer acquisition at the expense of effectively nurturing existing customers may create missed opportunities and eventually reduce the total lifetime value of your customer.

A few considerations for extending targeting and engagement tactics beyond the sale:

  • Social media: Buyers want to feel good about making a purchase - and giving them an easy channel to acknowledge their smart decision making, whether they got a great deal or the trendiest product, will help create new engagement touchpoints. For some higher end or niche "aspirational" brands, users find perceived value in telling others about their purchase, if only to subtly acknowledge that they are now able to afford the item. This may be the easiest segment to engage in social feedback and sharing. Marketers of all sizes and industries can start by encouraging customers to tell friends, and the rest of the digital planet, about their purchase. But don't rely on the user to make that social connection on their own. Guide them with icons, tools, and automated posts. Make it easy to share on Facebook and Twitter and you will soon find new brand conversations appearing within your customer's social ecosystem. Go further by using these social networks to place display ads, tweets, and commentary that will encourage your customers to become repeat buyers.
  • User ratings/reviews/feedback: Provide user-friendly platforms for users to offer feedback such as ratings and reviews. Not only will this content help from an SEO perspective, but it will provide another connection point with your customer. Customers who take the time to review a product (especially with a positive review) are traditionally more engaged visitors - and have essentially indicated their preference and interest in your brand. Use this insight on brand preference to drive engagement for repeat purchases.

    A second benefit of user-driven ratings is the value it provides new customers. According to a recent Harris Interactive poll, 71 percent claim reviews from family members or friends exert a "great deal" or "fair amount" of influence. Equally as interesting is the data that suggests that reviews drive a higher value sale. Internet Retailer finds that 67 percent of shoppers spend more online after recommendations from their online community of friends.
  • Marketing mix: Understanding what is driving converting customers to your site will not only help target content, but may help reduce overspending on future advertising intended to reach these customers. For example, if you find that a customer segment always responds to email messaging around free shipping, you may consider reducing your paid spend in the same category. The goal is to find the right balance of touchpoints post-sale, without unnecessarily overpaying for users that are known customers who would have come back anyway.

Deepening your awareness of "after the sale" user behavior can not only provide opportunities to strengthen the overall value of your customer relationship, but it can help drive user-generated content and reduce overspending on low-performing channels. Take the time to extend profiles and segmentation strategies to include these touchpoints and you will likely find new ways to optimize the long-term value of your customers.

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Andrea Fishman

Andrea Fishman, VP of strategy and a partner at BGT Partners, leads BGT's Chicago office and has extensive experience in marketing and management consulting. She and her team drive value to BGT's clients through the development of behavioral marketing programs, web analytics, measurement programs, industry benchmarking, competitive assessments, and the design of integrated marketing programs.

Andrea has been with BGT since 2003 and is credited with strengthening partnerships with such clients as ADT, Sony, ADP, and Avaya. Prior to joining BGT, she served as global vice president at divine, inc. She's also held strategic positions within marchFIRST, The Lewin Group, and the office of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.

A graduate of Brandeis University, Fishman was awarded the Wasserman Scholarship for academic achievement and was named a 2010 Stevie Awards Finalist as Best Executive in a Service Business. She is a frequent judge for the eHealthcare Leadership Awards and is involved with the Special Olympics and Chicago Cares, a community service organization.

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