Congrats! Your hard work has paid off, and you've converted your prospects into paying customers. Time to break out the champagne and celebrate, right? Unfortunately, as a marketer, your next phase of work is only just beginning.
It's true that acquiring new customers generally poses more challenges than customer retention, but if you offer a subpar post-purchase customer experience, chances are, your customers won't come back to make future purchases.
So how do you improve the post-purchase stage to win loyal customers? Read on to find out.
Why the post-purchase experience matters
On the off chance you're not yet convinced of the virtues of focusing on post-purchase strategy, let's review why the post-purchase experience matters so much, especially to the ecommerce industry.
Retention is cheaper than acquisition
Plain and simple, customer retention costs less in time and resources than customer acquisition. Some sources report that acquisition is as much as 5x more expensive than retention. So if you're an online retailer looking to grow and scale your business, focusing your marketing team on improving the customer experience in the post-purchase phase will be a more cost-effective strategy.
The consumer decision-making process has changed
With the advent of digital marketing channels and the expansion of consumer choice, the traditional marketing funnel in which consumers begin with a selection of brands in mind that they then narrow down until selecting a particular option—that model no longer applies to today's customer journey.
A more accurate representation of the contemporary purchase cycle shows four phases:
- Initial consideration
- Active evaluation (the research phase)
- Closure (purchase phase)
The post-purchase phase sets the customer's expectations of the brand and determines whether they will return to make future purchases. The way the post-purchase phase feeds the closure phase is called the McKinsey Loyalty Loop.
Two types of customer loyalty
McKinsey's research also shows that there are two types of customer loyalty. The first is true brand loyalty, in which a customer is an active champion who promotes a brand's products. The second type of loyalty is passive. These are customers who repeatedly purchase out of laziness or confusion.
If your post-purchase marketing sets misaligned customer expectations, other brands may poach your passively loyal customers.
So how can you make sure you're cultivating active loyalty?
How to improve the post-purchase experience
Not sure what you need to do to improve the post-purchase experience? Here are our recommendations.
1. Enrich Post-Purchase Emails
Because post-purchase emails have both significantly higher open rates and click-through rates than any other type of emails, optimizing post-purchase emails is one of the most effective ways of improving the customer post-purchase experience.
An example of a post-purchase email is an order confirmation email that most online shoppers have come to expect.
Applications like Malomo allow retailers to create beautiful, user-friendly post-purchase emails that also create cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
Other examples of post-purchase emails include shipping tracking emails and product replenishment emails. These emails all enjoy much higher engagement rates and offer perfect opportunities to improve customer experience.
2. Offer Product Care and How-To Content
Once your customer has purchased your product, offering educational and useful content on how to care for your product or how to use it can improve your customer's experience and ensure product use retention.
It can also help keep a customer excited for the product's arrival and allay any possible purchasing regret.
3. Streamline the Return/Exchange Process
Even though processing returns and exchanges and issuing refunds to customers can be difficult for smaller retailers, having flexible refund and return policies helps overcome purchasing objections and contribute to higher customer satisfaction.
View the return process as another way to build customer loyalty. Even something as simple as including a pre-printed return shipping label or allowing returns at a brick-and-mortar store will go miles to build customer loyalty for a millennial who doesn't own a home printer.
4. Increase Rave Customer Reviews
It's no secret that most shoppers rely on customer reviews when deciding which products to purchase. By focusing on delivering excellent customer service and creating a regular customer review cadence, you can bolster this important customer loyalty metric.
5. Invest in stellar customer support
Invest in the proper tools and staff to deliver consistent, high-quality customer support. You don't want one poor experience to tarnish the fantastic experience you've worked so hard to create. Consider subscribing to a helpdesk software to help your staff more easily manage support tickets and respond promptly.
6. Create a Loyalty Program
Consider creating a loyalty program that awards purchase points, which can be redeemed for discount coupons or other products. Loyalty programs have been shown to dramatically promote customer retention.
Happy customers will refer their friends and family to your business, so a loyalty program is not only part of a customer retention strategy, it's also part of a referral program strategy. The social proof of a personal recommendation trumps social proof on social media almost every time.
7. Automate customer reviews
By using marketing automation and email marketing software, you can create a regular customer review collection cadence. Target your customers at the right time after their purchase to grow your collection of rave customer reviews.
8. Collect Feedback and Iterate
Finally, keep an eye on improving your post-purchase experience. Customer behavior never stagnates, so your business processes shouldn't either.
9. Closing the loop and get customers to return
The last part of closing the loyalty loop involves collecting customer feedback and using it to understand what your customers want and implementing iterative improvements to keep them loyal. By optimizing post-purchase communications and smoothing out the overall customer experience, it's possible to turn passively loyal customers into actively loyal ones for the future success of your ecommerce business.
Elevate post-purchase experiences with Malomo
On average, buyers check tracking emails 4.6 times for each purchase. Leveraging this high engagement rate is a breeze with applications like Malomo, which help you elevate ecommerce post-purchase communications through:
Branded tracking pages
Malomo helps you create custom-branded, professional-looking shipment tracking pages that fit your brand's aesthetic—all without coding.
Proactive shipping updates
Improve customer experience by offering proactive shipping updates to notify your customers when delays or exceptions occur. Communication is essential in managing customer expectations when problems arise.
Integrations with leading platforms
Integrate Malomo with leading ecommerce platforms like Shopify. Malomo also allows you to customize your shipment tracking emails directly within your ecommerce email platform.
As consumer choices continue to broaden and the digital landscape fragments the consumer experience, it's more important than ever for marketers to focus on the post-purchase experience to win customer loyalty and drive repeat sales. By focusing on offering flawless customer support, engaging post-purchase communications, and valuable educational content, you can turn first-purchase buyers into repeat customers. If you'd like to continue learning more, here's our complete guide to customer retention all D2C brands should read.
Drive post-purchase sales with automated emails
In this free ebook, learn how to turn automated emails into opportunities to drive sales, acquire customers, and build brand loyalty.