For the purpose of increasing order frequency, email marketing and retargeting tactics are implemented rather similarly.
That is, you’ll want to approach each differently depending on the context of a customer’s last engagement, as well as the timing of such. To be sure, these two factors typically go hand-in-hand with one another.
At any rate, let’s break this section down a bit more.
1. “Micro-Moment” Emails
Whether sending an individual email to a specific customer based on their engagement history, or sending a mass email to an entire segment (or your entire customer base), you can use moments as an opportunity to generate more – and more frequent – sales from your current customers.
On an individual level, there are three crucial moments that a well-timed email could spur them to make a subsequent purchase:
- Immediately after a purchase
- Once they’ve nearly gotten full value from their initial purchase
- After a predetermined period of inactivity
Hopefully, when a customer purchases an item from your store, you immediately send them an email confirming the transaction.
We say “hopefully” for a reason, here. According to data collected by Omnisend, the modern consumer expects to receive confirmation emails – and usually opens them and double-checks them multiple times while their order is being processed. Because of this, order confirmation emails offer the perfect opportunity to provide additional offers, such as recommendations for accessories and other products your customer may be interested in.
Additionally, confirmation emails give you an opportunity to offer services and support to your customers, as well. While this doesn’t directly affect your purchase frequency, per se, it definitely doesn’t hurt in terms of building trust – especially among first-time customers. In turn, they’ll be that much more likely to continue doing business with you in the future.
Your second opportunity to use email with the hope of increasing order frequency is a bit more subjective.
It revolves around the length of time it typically takes for your customers to “use” your product. When we say “use,” here, we’re talking about the time it usually takes:
- To “use up” a consumable product
- For wear and tear to decrease the value of the product
- For the user to get full value out of the product
Again, this depends on the product you sell, as well as your customers’ typical usage habits.
For customers who purchase a consumable product, you can send a well-timed reminder to replenish their stock via email:
You can send similar reminders for products that degrade over time:
Even if a subsequent purchase isn’t necessary (as in, the initial product still works fine), that doesn’t mean your customers might not want to make an upgrade. In that case, you’d do well to shoot them some recommendations for more valuable products that align with their previous needs:
In each of these cases, your goal is to send these emails right before your customers tend to do so on their own volition. For example, if a customer tends to purchase new toothbrush heads once every two months, you’d want to send a replenishment reminder around the 6-7 week mark. Wait any longer, and they might end up replenishing their supply elsewhere; remind them any sooner, and they won’t feel the need to engage with your offer at the current time.
Finally, for customers who seem to be “on their way out” – that is, their purchase frequency has diminished substantially – you’d want to send an email as a last-ditch effort to re-engage them:
If you do manage to win back an at-risk customer, you still have your work cut out for you in terms of increasing their order frequency; but it’s certainly better than losing them altogether.
One final email tactic to mention is the newsletter and/or announcement blast campaign. With these emails, you can make announcements regarding new products, upgrades to current products, and any other offer that might get your current customers to take immediate action regardless of their usual purchase frequency.
In the example above, Need Supply showcases its seasonal product line to its entire customer base. Again, while not specifically targeting individual customers, any purchases that can be attributed to this newsletter are inherently evidence that the newsletter did, in fact, positively affect the company’s overall purchase frequency.
2. “Right Product, Right Time” Retargeting Strategy
While retargeting is typically used to target prospects pre-purchase or after cart abandonment, it’s certainly possible to use this tactic in much the same way as email marketing.
Like email marketing, using retargeting to increase your customers’ order frequency revolves around getting the right message and offer in front of the right person at the right time. This involves using retargeting ads to promote:
- Accessories and complementary items to those who have made a recent purchase
- Upgraded versions of products to customers who previously purchased the baseline product
- Repeat purchases of consumable products
- New releases and other such products after a period of dormancy
Since the approaches to retargeting are essentially the same as for email marketing, we don’t really need to go over them again.
It’s worth mentioning, though, that you definitely want to carefully consider where you focus your ad spend, here. Basically, you want to be sure that you’re advertising on the right platforms – that is, where your target customers are known to “hang out” online.
Taking this a step further, you want to focus your advertising efforts on platforms where your customers are known to be in “buying mode.” Whether it be social media channels like Instagram and Facebook, or Google and its affiliated websites, the goal is to get your ads in front of your customers at a time when their propensity to make a purchase is at its highest.
3. Loyalty Schemes and Membership Programs That Are Focused on Users’ Behavior
Another proven way to get your eCommerce customers to increase their purchase frequency is to offer membership and loyalty programs through your website.
(Note: These methods work best for companies that aren’t based around subscription services. We’ll get to those in a bit.)
Membership and loyalty programs are similar in that they provide additional value to your members in some way or another. But, they differ in that membership programs provide this additional value in exchange for additional payments, while loyalty programs allow customers to earn this additional value by increasing the amount of business they do with your company.
By allowing your customers to enter your company’s membership program, you’ll all but certainly get them “on the hook” throughout the duration of their membership. From a purely logical standpoint, it stands to reason that those who are willing to become members of your site’s program are more likely to engage with your brand more often than those who are not.
Typically, you’ll want to offer members a variety of incentives – either ongoing or sporadic – so that they actually want to become members in the first place. This might mean special deals on certain products, sneak peeks of upcoming items, or additional, more complementary services.
You might even consider offering multiple membership tiers, allowing your customers to pay more for additional benefits; again, you can be nearly certain that your highest-tier members are intent on making rather frequent purchases from your eCommerce site.
As we mentioned above, entrance into loyalty programs is earned by the customer rather than bought. Typically, this involves accumulating “points,” making a certain amount of purchases in a specific period of time, or taking additional action that increases engagement with your brand.
For example, The Elephant Pants provides a variety of ways to earn points, which can, in turn, be redeemed for discounts and other such incentives:
It’s also worth mentioning that, if you have the bandwidth to do so, you might consider providing personal “challenges” to your loyalty club members based on their individual purchase history.
For example, Starbucks will challenge customers to make x amount of purchases in y number of days; these numbers are based on the individual customer’s purchasing habits.
(For example, if you typically buy five coffees every seven days, the app might challenge you to make six purchases over the next week.)
You can also implement this gamified “challenge” strategy by incentivizing your customers to expand their horizons, so to speak. Again, going back to Starbucks’ reward program, the company also often challenges customers to purchase recommended food and drink items they don’t typically order; the goal, of course, is to get them into the habit of trying out something different – and increasing their purchase frequency in the process.
Since loyalty programs are specifically meant to reward customers for increased engagement – and membership can’t be “bought” – those who reach the highest tiers of your program will inherently be contributing to an increased overall purchase frequency. In other words, successful implementation of your loyalty program goes hand-in-hand with an increased purchase frequency.
4. Get Your Customers Committed to Future Purchases
As we’ve mentioned a few times throughout this article, your long-time customers are valuable to your company not just because of the business they’ve already provided you, but also for the business they almost definitely will provide you in the future.
However, you don’t want to just leave these potential future purchases up to chance; you want to make them a certainty.
For companies that offer subscription services, the goal is simple:
Get your customers to commit to longer subscription periods up front. While subscription services, by nature, have a maximum purchase frequency amount (i.e., whatever the shortest time span between deliveries is), you should always be aiming to get as many customers up to this maximum point as you can.
For example, if you offer monthly, tri-monthly, and bi-annual deliveries, your goal should be to get as many of your customers up to monthly status as possible.
Or, if you deliver on a month-by-month basis, you want to get as many customers to commit to a long-term subscription as you can. Meowbox incentivizes a long-term commitment by decreasing the price-per-month for a six-month subscription:
Non subscription-based eCommerce stores can also take a page from this playbook by offering layaway as a purchasing option. While this is more related to increasing average order value than purchase frequency, allowing your customers to pay off larger purchases over elongated periods of time (rather than forcing them to pay up front) will go a long way in terms of gaining their trust. And, since they’ll have essentially opened a line of credit specifically with your store, there’s a pretty good chance they’ll continue doing business with you more frequently in the near future.
To wrap this article up, let’s quick reiterate that increasing your customers’ purchase frequency is all about:
- Providing products and services that enhance the value they get from their initial purchase
- Reaching out to them at the right moment, with the right offer
- Making them more than comfortable with committing to an ongoing relationship with your brand
If you can do all this for as many of your customers as possible, you should have no trouble getting them to increase the amount of business they provide you over time.