Brands lose an average of $29 for each new customer they acquire — according to a 2022 report.1 So while customer acquisition has long been the focus of eCommerce marketing efforts, more businesses are now turning towards customer retention to increase their profitability.
By encouraging one-time customers to continue to shop with your business, you can build a loyal customer base that will help you achieve ROI on your marketing investments.
Plus, you can ensure a steady stream of customers to support your business through periods of lower demand.
In this article, we’ll explain why repeat customers are critical to eCommerce success, outline 5 ways you can encourage repeat purchases, and provide you with examples of these strategies in action. Let’s get started!
Suggested reading: Read our free eBook, ‘Do You Need a Promotion Engine?’, to learn more about the importance of an effective promotion engine in eCommerce marketing.
Why is encouraging repeat purchases important?
Your repeat purchase rate is important because it impacts all areas of your business — and in particular customer retention. With 59% of eCommerce websites voting retention as a top priority, finding new ways to reach and engage with existing customers is essential.2
Having higher repeat purchase rates can:
Reduce acquisition costs: With more customers purchasing from you multiple times, acquisition costs will reduce and you can focus more on building a base of loyal customers.
Boost profit margins: You will be able to spend less on costly acquisition marketing methods and potentially increase the baseline prices of your products or services.
Strengthen customer retention: Tactics that boost repeat purchases often simultaneously boost eCommerce customer retention, loyalty, and customer satisfaction.
Improve social proof: Encouraging repeat purchases works in a cycle. The more loyalty grows, the more positive social proof you will acquire. And the more social proof you have, the more likely you are to appeal to first-time customers too — improving your promotion performance.
Calculating your repeat purchase rate
Your repeat purchase rate is the proportion of customers that make more than one purchase on your site. To calculate it, divide the total number of customers who purchased more than once (repeat purchasers) by the total number of customers.
You should use quantities from over a set time period, such as 6 months or one year. The longer the time period, the more accurate your results are likely to be. Written out, the calculation looks something like this:
Repeat purchase rate = repeat purchasers (over X time) ÷ total customers (over X time)
How to encourage repeat purchases for your eCommerce business
Ready to kickstart your repeat purchase campaign? Here are our top tips for success:
1. Run audience segmentation
Segmenting your audience is a great way to understand who your buyers are and what they’re looking for in terms of products and shopping experiences. You can do this by analysing the following information from Google Analytics:
How people are finding your site
Where your customers are based
What your most popular web pages are
But audience segmentation is not just about identifying and targeting your generic website viewers. It’s about locating your specific audiences of interest, particularly:
These groups will already be more predisposed to purchase with you, and will also be more likely to make future purchases.
Try reaching out to them with personalised promotions or on-site messaging that display product recommendations to give them an additional incentive to buy. Something as simple as a time-sensitive discount can transform your eCommerce conversions and repeat purchase rates when shared with the right audience.
2. Tailor your messaging
Whether you’re an established eCommerce site or a growing small business, it’s crucial to tailor your messaging to individual customer groups and audiences.
Segmenting your audience will have put you in a great position to start doing this — but what does tailored messaging look like in practice? Here are a few examples:
Interactive exit-intent messages: Just because a shopper is about to leave your page, it doesn’t mean you should give up on them as a buyer. They have gone to the effort to seek out your site and products, and displaying a relevant promotion to them at the last moment could be enough to encourage an impulse purchase.
Personalised email marketing: Personal email marketing is nothing new, but it is effective. And according to recent research, the most impactful email subject lines are ‘personalised, promotional, and engaging’.3 Make sure to keep this in mind as you develop your personalised marketing strategy.
Relevant product promotions: You can use browsing data to promote relevant products to users when it matters most. Use an advanced promotion engine to deliver discounts or reward programs based on the products in a shopper’s cart or previous views.
To ensure your campaign is as effective as possible at encouraging repeat purchases, try running eCommerce a/b testing. Target different audiences with different types of promotions to see what performs best — across your website, email and social media channels.
How Uniqodo increased personalisation and boosted loyalty for Beauty Bay’s exclusive product release
Challenge: Beauty Bay wanted to increase brand loyalty by running a promotional discount for existing customers and their employees.
Solution: Beauty Bay used Uniqodo’s Promotion Experience Platform to strategically target specific subscriber groups. Existing customers received exclusive, short-term discount offers that encouraged them to make repeat purchases and return to the Beauty Bay site.
Result: As a result of this campaign, Beauty Bay was able to eliminate all time-consuming refunds processes, which were automated by Uniqodo’s online ordering system. They saw an increase in positive social proof, as well as engagement and eCommerce customer acquisition.
3. Re-engage shoppers across different channels
Shoppers or customers that are interested in (re)purchasing from your brand will actively engage with you and your customer service team on different channels. The easier you are to find and connect with, the more likely you are to get purchases from them.
But that’s not where the story ends. Consider this typical cross-channel customer journey:
A loyal customer follows your social media channels
They see a promotional item they like eg. on your Instagram account
They click the link in your bio to view your site
They follow the promotion and the customer buys the item — boosting your repeat purchase rates
Steps 1-3 are reasonably straightforward, and can be fostered through a strong acquisition and social media marketing strategy. Step 4 is where it gets tricky. If your cross-channel eCommerce promotion strategy is not streamlined, you risk losing customers at the most vital stage of their shopping journey.
Use an intelligent Promotion Experience Platform to ensure customers can view and access promotions seamlessly across different channels. This will ensure maximum exposure to new and existing customers, encouraging customer acquisition as well as retention.
4. Explore creative promotion delivery methods
Creative promotion delivery methods enable you to increase repeat purchases by enhancing the sense of mystery, urgency and excitement associated with making a purchase. Popups with countdown timers, for example, have been shown to improve conversions by as much as 4.37%.4
Some of the most effective promotional delivery methods include:
Gamified promotions: Including mystery discounts, spin-the-wheel discounts, and time-sensitive pop-ups. These engage customers and are also very effective at boosting social proof thanks to their unique and creative applications.
Mixed formats: Use a range of banners, pop-ups, and overlays to create a varied customer experience. Just make sure that the format of the promotion doesn’t get in the way of the customer journey, but adds to it.
Conditional discounts: These only appear when a customer meets certain conditions, improving the online customer experience and increasing the likelihood of promotional engagement.
Getting creative with your promotion delivery methods will keep customers excited about buying and engaging with your site.
When choosing a creative delivery method, think carefully about how it will impact the eCommerce customer journey. Will it increase urgency and help to boost sales? Or will it use mystery/intrigue to draw customers in and guide them through your store?
Challenge: Jacamo was not getting high levels of engagement on their marketing emails, and wanted to boost repeat purchases through an exciting and creative Halloween campaign.
Solution: Uniqodo was used to deliver unique mystery discount codes to each customer. These were applied at checkout to encourage customers to click through to the final stage of purchase, and the code distribution was designed so that the average discount amount stayed the same (10%).
Result: Jacamo saw a large increase in engagement, sales and repeat purchases. The response rate was over 42% for the duration of the campaign, re-engaging their loyal customer and subscriber base.
5. Make it seamless
We’ve already discussed the importance of seamlessness on cross-channel promotions, but this applies just as much to your website and on-site customer journey. Many businesses underestimate just how important simple, engaging website journeys are for boosting sales and encouraging repeat purchases.
If a customer returns to your website and is affronted by numerous intrusive pop-ups that make it difficult to select their desired products, they’re more likely to give up and go to a competitor's site. This will not only impact your sales, but also your loyalty and retention rates.
So how can you make the onsite journey seamless for your customers?
Use an intelligent Promotion Experience Platform. This will allow you to deliver unique, single-use coupon codes in a way that encourages purchases rather than inhibiting them. Some key features of a Promotion Experience Platform include:
It can provide coupon reminders to encourage customers to add it to their order and complete their purchase.
It recognises if a code has expired or is invalid and offers an alternative to keep customers engaged.
It can be used to add pop-ups and website banners at optimal points in the customer journey.
It encourages repeat purchases by providing additional post-purchase features, such as targeted upsells, newsletter sign-ups, or thank-you messages.
How OVO developed a seamless shopping experience with Uniqodo
Challenge: OVO had no promotion capabilities and wanted to increase new and repeat purchase rates by implementing promotional technology.
Solution: Uniqodo was used to add a promo code field to certain sign-up flows, enabling OVO to optimise the on-site journey as well as the cross-channel journey from their social media accounts.
Result: OVO was able to increase customer acquisition and support their existing customers through promotional banners. These enabled customers to follow the path to purchase without any frustrating obstructions, boosting overall sales.
Start your promotion experience journey today
Encouraging repeat purchases is a great way to increase sales without investing in costly customer acquisition processes. However, growing a base of return customers requires careful thought and planning. Randomly distributing discounts without an overarching promotion marketing strategy could end up negatively impacting promotional engagement, purchase rates, and loyalty.
Uniqodo’s Promotion Experience Platform is designed to deliver streamlined promotions that keep customers coming back time and time again. Our platform intelligently recognises returning shoppers and ensures the on-site experience they receive is optimised for a smooth path to purchase.
Uniqodo can support you to reach your marketing objectives — whether that’s encouraging repeat purchases or increasing acquisition. Our software is easy to integrate and run, and can connect to a range of different technology stacks for optimised marketing automation.
To learn more about our platform and how it could help grow your business, contact us today.