Retention Marketing Primer, Part 2

With increased transparency and expansion of social media, retention marketing is no longer just about getting more sales. It’s also about:

  • Keeping existing customers active and purchasing to increase sales while reducing attrition and churn
  • Supporting the buying decision by making customers feel good about their purchases; providing more information to help use the product; and aiding returns if the order doesn’t meet their needs
  • Providing support and an advocacy venue for customers to express their opinions and refer friends
  • Last time, we looked at keeping existing customers active. Today, we’ll cover supporting the buying decision.

    Most marketing focuses on acquiring customers and getting them to buy; the post-purchase process is often an afterthought. With online retailing’s maturing and multichannel merchandisers’ expansion, customer expectations for service and support have increased. Another retailer is a click away, while customer forums and social media make it easy to express one’s experience with a wider group of contacts. So it’s important to provide ways to support the purchase choice. This contributes to satisfied customers, leading to more sales, positive feedback, and referrals.

    Make customers feel good about their purchases from the beginning by thanking them for their business and helping them better enjoy the product. These communications can occur in customer-directed correspondence and on your Web site.

    Four Purchase-Related Communications

    Initiated with the purchase, these messages thank the customer, provide support, build the house file, and sell related products:

  • Thank customers. Customers should get a thank-you page when they complete a transaction. It should provide order-tracking information.
  • Send a follow-up thank-you e-mail. Send the message to the address customers give you in the checkout process. As this may not be an address where customers receive promotional e-mail, it may have a higher likelihood of being opened and read. Make the most of the opportunity by:
  • Confirming purchase information.

  • Providing shipment tracking, optimally with a link to the shipping provider.
  • Including contact information. This means an e-mail address (one that’s answered and trackable), a toll-free number, and a physical address, depending on which are applicable.
  • Cross-selling related product or additional units of the selected product.
  • Requesting permission to send future e-mail. Include a registration box in the event recipients prefer to use another e-mail address.
  • Use the shipment package or other delivery device to send messages:
  • Maximize bill effectiveness since customers read this document. It should contain similar information to the follow up e-mail:
  • Words of appreciation.

  • Shipment tracking numbers and a means for monitoring the shipment.
  • Contact information (e-mail address, toll-free number, and physical address).
  • Information regarding how to return merchandise. This is particularly important if you supply lower-cost shipping labels.
  • A related product that complements the purchased product.
  • Include package inserts, such as another catalog, a flyer, or a third-party insert.
  • Send post-purchase confirmation. Provide additional information or information on other products to help customers utilize the product and make them feel good about purchasing it. This communication should arrive about a week after the purchase’s intended arrival. In the message:
  • Confirm the purchase was received. If the recipient didn’t get the package, provide a means to track it.

  • Provide information to help improve product enjoyment. Options depend on the product and marketing resources, such as:
  • Offer customer support, via a toll-free number, live chat, or links to a product FAQ.

  • Supply special instructions in a pamphlet, on the site, or in an e-book. Offer Webinars or classes where relevant.
  • Create a customer forum or community where users can find more information about the product.
  • Include another cross-sell of a related product.
  • Offer registration for e-mail and related catalogs.
  • Three Ways to Provide Site-Related Purchase Support

    It’s a good idea to incorporate post-purchase information into your site. In addition to creating more satisfied customers, this can reduce customer service inquiries. Areas to cover include:

  • List return policy and customer service information. Make this section easy to find to reduce customer service calls for returns. Include an e-mail address that’s regularly checked to answer return-related questions. If you supply return postage, give customers a link.
  • Highlight information regarding product how-tos. This can be particularly useful for products customers must assemble or install.
  • Offer consumer forums, Webinars, or classes for more complex products. When creating the content, make it keyword rich to aid organic search. Your goal is to help customers better use the product.
  • Post-Purchase Support Metrics

    To assess the success of your post-purchase support, look at a variety of different measures, both quantitative and qualitative, including:

  • Customer service inquiries related to shipment tracking, returns, and product usage. Include requests via your toll-free number, live chat, and e-mail. Calculate the number of interactions and related costs.
  • Returns. Track the number and dollar value of returned merchandise as well as the percentage of gross sales.
  • Visitors. Count the number of unique visitors to the customer service, product-related FAQ section, and community areas of your site.
  • Up-sell sales. Measure sales associated with these post-purchase communications.
  • Customer feedback. Read customer comments that come in via customer service, community forums, other customer touch points or surveys to determine where there are product, return, or usage issues that need further investigation.
  • When developing post-product support, think creatively. Consider what can set your firm apart from your competitors, and keep customers more connected to the company. Remember to take the fun factor into consideration. Ensure you’ve included mechanisms to act on this customer input.

    Stay tuned: part three will cover customer advocacy and how it relates to retention marketing effort.

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