Repeat buyers are the holy grail of ecommerce marketing. Research across our hundreds of ecommerce clients found that your best customers spend 30x more than your average customers. You want a big ROI? Keep them coming back. Now, with the obvious stated, let’s look at how you can turn these new holiday shoppers into repeat buyers.

The Two Kinds of Repeat Buyers

Ideally, every new shopper you acquire during the holidays will turn into a happy, year-round customers – unfortunately, that’s unrealistic. Data from our client base shows that 23% of the shoppers in any given ecommerce story are only holiday shoppers. With this in mind, you’re aiming to turn the new shoppers coming to your store for the holidays into a:

  • Repeat holiday shopper
  • A Year-round customer

Both groups are quite valuable, and both want very different things from you.

The Two Kinds of Experiences

Holiday Shoppers Only

Imagine that you’re a 23 year old woman buying a cardigan for your grandmother. The website is great, the shipping is free (and fast), the packaging is tasteful. You’re a happy customer. Then, for the next 11 months you receive a barrage of emails coaxing you to buy more clothing from Grandmother Clothing Store. The offers, the discounts, and the messaging is completely irrelevant – you’re not in the market for your grandmother’s clothing. So you unsubscribe and forget about the store.

Next year comes around and you think, “What should I get grandmother for Christmas this year?” No offers arrive from Grandmother Clothing Store (because you unsubscribed), so you buy her a new cookbook instead.

Year-Round Customers

Now, imagine that you’re 67 years old and you’re buying a cardigan for your best friend. The website is great, the shipping is free (and fast), the packaging is tasteful. You’re a happy customer. When the first 10% off offer arrives in your inbox, you’re delighted! You immediately purchase a cardigan and a new pair of slacks for yourself.

Ok, you can stop imagining. Now you’re an ecommerce marketer again and you need to figure out what kind of customer you’re dealing with.

Telling the Difference

We found three ways to go about finding these two types of repeat buyers:

  • Read the cues: Holiday shoppers exhibit some prominent self-gifting behavior. You can use this to your advantage. Let’s go back to Grandmother Clothing Store. At checkout you could create “A Little Something for You” offer. Allow the shopper to opt-in to receive a free broach, arriving after the holidays of course. If the customer opts-out of receiving the gift, they’re probably not your target market and you should avoid over-communicating throughout the rest of the year. If they fit your target demographic, they’ll snap up the little gift for themselves.

  • Ask them: Plenty of retailers will miss the opportunity to make an impression in their post-purchase followups. You spent a lot of time tailoring your holiday promotion emails, and here’s your chance to continue the festive experience. Acknowledge that they’re first time buyers, thank them for doing their holiday shopping with you (make sure your graphics continue the holiday theme of your promotional emails), and then ask them if they would like to hear about promotions during the year.

  • Product analysis: If you have the bandwidth or business intelligence tools to support it, product analysis is another solid option. Analysis on past holiday purchases can help you identify the products that lead to repeat purchasing throughout the year. Then it’s just a matter of tailoring your promotions accordingly.

Bonus Recommendation

If your ecommerce store is like many others, you have a large pool of customers – up to 23% of your customer base – who only shop with you during the holidays. Don’t miss the opportunity to get their yearly repeat business. Create a custom promotion just for them, remind them that they purchased from you last year. If you have the technology to do it, take it a step further by making tailored recommendations based on what they bought from you last year.