shoppers into repeat customers

Customer Retention: How To Turn Shoppers Into Repeat Customers Of Your Shopify Store

When you ask Shopify store owners what their top marketing goals are, one of the most common answers you’ll receive is acquiring new customers. This isn’t a surprising answer, after all, more customers equal more sales and profit, right? But this focus on acquisition all-too-often causes small businesses to neglect retention. That is, turning one time customers into repeat customers of your store. In this article, we’re talking all about customer retention.

While bringing more potential shoppers to your store is important, especially during the early stages of growth, generating repeat purchases from your customers can prove to be even more profitable. A relatively modest increase of just 5% in customer retention can increase profits by up to 95%! This makes customer retention potentially the easiest marketing growth hack you aren’t currently using.

Turning your existing customers into return customers isn’t easy though. Having a meaningful effect on your customer retention rate requires well thought out marketing activities and campaigns. While this isn’t easy, when you know what to do, it comes much more manageable. That’s what this article is for – to show you multiple ways you can generate more sales with repeat customers.

Email Marketing

You might think of email as an antiquated technology, seeing as it’s been around since the early ‘70s, but you’d be wrong. There’s plenty of powerful email features to take advantage of that’ll not only bring you more sales but also help to turn one time customers into repeat customers.

In addition to these features, email is also one of the most profitable marketing channels for your eCommerce store. The global average return on email marketing is 38 to 1, meaning that for every dollar spent on email, stores make an average of $38 back in sales.

So what email marketing features should you be implementing right away to help retain customers? Here are some of the most important ones.

Win-Back Campaigns

The difference between mediocre and effective email marketing comes down to the use of automations and list segmentation. Simply sending one-off email blasts to your entire email list just doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, the emails you send need to be both timed appropriately and only sent to relevant people on your list.

While there are dozens of different email automations that bring in more sales for your Shopify store, the one that aims to foster customer loyalty and repeat purchases from customers is the win-back campaign.

Win-back emails are automatically sent to subscribers who haven’t made a purchase from your Shopify store within a specified amount of time. These emails often include some type of offer to incentivize the customer. Take this win-back email from Sephora as an example:

sephora customer retention email

This email is a good example of a well-executed win-back campaign. It has only been sent subscribers who haven’t made a purchase for a while, includes an incentive, and has an eye-catching design.

When it comes to setting up your own win-back email campaign, eCommerce focused email apps, like SmartrMail, give you plenty of options.

In addition to controlling the delay between a customer’s last purchase and when they receive your email, you can also create various different win-back emails to send to different types of customers. For example, you might want to offer a bigger discount to customers who have spent more money in your store already. Essentially, if you know that a particular customer is more profitable, you’ll want to spend more money trying to retain them.

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When it comes to how long to wait before sending a win-back email and how big you make the discount, unfortunately, there is no one-size fits all answer. The answer will depend on your Shopify store and what you’re selling.

Instead, take a look at the average time between orders for your existing repeat customers. If you find that people average 30 days before making another purchase, then there’s no sense in sending a win-back email 20 days after someone’s first purchase. 45 days would be more appropriate.

Actionable tip: Don’t just stop at automating a single win-back email. Creating a series will improve your customer retention by win backing customers who didn’t convert with the first email.

Personalized Product Recommendation Emails

Prevention is always better than cure. So instead of waiting until you’re at risk of losing a customer, you can also use email marketing to keep your subscribers engaged.

This is where personalized product recommendation emails come in. These emails recommend products to your subscribers based on their previous purchases and which products they’ve been browsing on your Shopify store.

By recommending these products, not only do these emails have a much better chance of achieving a sale (approximately 30% of ecommerce sites’ revenue can be attributed to personalized recommendations), but they also keep your customers engaged.

yummy yogi's customer retention email
Example of a product recommendation email

Example of a product recommendation email

Sending these emails to previous purchasers on a regular basis is a great way to transition them into repeat customers on your site. Better yet, these emails are literally just set and forget – once you turn them on, you don’t have to worry about them again.

Web Push Notifications

Unlike emails, web push notifications are a much newer technology but have also proven their worth when it comes to engaging your customers. They are essentially notifications you receive from a website (such as a Shopify store) that appear on your desktop or device even if you’re no longer on the site.

This gives them several advantages over emails.

Most marketing emails you send will never be opened by the subscriber, and even when they are, they are usually opened hours after you’ve sent the message. Compare this to web push notifications where 84% of people will respond to the notification instantly. This also means that web push notifications have a much better open rate than emails.

So how do you utilize them to convert shoppers into repeat customers for your Shopify store? Well there are several ways web push notifications can achieve this:

Personalized Product Recommendations

Just like with email marketing, you can also use web push notifications to recommend products to individual customers based on their past purchase history and browsing behavior on your Shopify store.

Setting up these recommendations will bring all the same customer retention benefits to your store as with their email counterparts, but also comes with the advantages web push notifications have over email.

With the integration with you can easily automate product recommendation web push notifications, just like the one below, with PushOwl.


Timely Notifications

The fact that most people read web push notifications instantly makes them the ideal choice to provide timely notifications to your customers. These notifications can be anything from sales announcements to shipping updates and everything in between.

Keeping your customers up to date and in the loop is essential to keeping them engaged and wanting to keep purchasing from your store. However, when it comes to fostering return customers, the notifications you’ll want to be focusing on are the post-purchase ones.

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Just as too many marketers focus exclusively on customer acquisition and not retention, don’t make the same mistake by neglecting your post-purchase notifications. These are the ones that will have the biggest effect on customer retention. Examples of post-purchase web push notifications you can automate include:

  • Shipping notifications
  • Delivery
  • Product review request after delivery
  • Follow up to ensure that your customer is happy with their purchase
  • Offer special discounts to past customers
  • Sales notifications
  • Win-back campaigns

While you don’t want to overload your customers with too many notifications, you also want to keep them engaged. By automating the above types of notifications after someone has purchased from your store, you’ll dramatically increase the chances they’ll become a repeat customer of your store.

Actionable tip: Create a flowchart showing what kinds of notifications you’ll send to customers along with their triggers and content. That way you’ll be able to easily see if there’s any gaps or opportunities during the customer journey.

Loyalty or Rewards Program

Probably the most popular way to keep customers purchasing from your store is setting up a customer loyalty program. These programs simply reward customers with points in exchange for making multiple purchases.

There’s also plenty of Shopify apps that let you easily set up your own customer loyalty program. You will easily be able to find one on the Shopify app store that fits your needs and budget.

Don’t be dissuaded by the prospect of having to offer a discount on your products for repeat customers though. Remember that it’s much more expensive to try to acquire a brand new customer!

Actionable tip: Research the best customer loyalty program option for your store’s needs and budget on the Shopify app store and then implement a generous program to retain customers.

Social Media

As you’re running an online shop, you’re probably already running social media ad campaigns to attract new customers (if you’re not, you need to get started asap). Why not also run ads to your existing customers too? Doing so keeps your customers engaged with your store and increases the likelihood of them coming back to make another purchase.

For example, you could easily run an ad similar to the example below to your customers using Facebook custom audiences.

customer retention social media

Targeting ads on Facebook and Instagram exclusively to your customers will require you to upload lists of their email addresses to Facebook Custom Audiences. Alternatively, there are Shopify apps that handle this process automatically for you, some are even free.

If you’re technically minded, you can get even more advanced with Facebook dynamic ads to incorporate campaigns such as personalized product recommendations.

Actionable tip: Don’t just run the same ads to all your previous customers. Segment your list and run targeted campaigns to different types of customers, such as win-back ads to those who are slipping away.

It’s Showtime!

Now it’s time to put your new knowledge and insight into practice.

You’ll be amazed at how beneficial even a modest increase in customer retention can be for your Shopify store. By implementing the above suggestions, you’ll be able to realize more than just a modest improvement though. You’ll be turning shoppers into repeat customers in their droves!

. . .

This guest post was written by Aaron Wiseman. Aaron Wiseman is a marketing assistant at SmartrMail, an email marketing app for Shopify, BigCommerce, WooCommerce and Neto stores. You can read more of his blogs here.

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