As we are in the thick of the holiday retail season, it is important merchants think beyond the immediate surge of sales to the relationship-building opportunities that arise post-purchase. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the holiday season can account for anywhere from 20-40 percent of a retailer's annual sales, and accounts for approximately 20 percent of total industry annual sales. Retailers have tremendous opportunities to make the most out of these purchases by asking customers for their marketing preferences, in order to build foundations for future interactions.
Think of a sale as a first date. If it is an enjoyable experience and the brand maintains positive communication after the date, a second date is likely. After and even during the transaction, brands need to let customers know how important they are by clearly showing that they value their opinions, interests and preferences and would like to continue communication.
Here are nine ways retailers can look beyond initial sales and start building lucrative, long-term relationships right away.
1. Recommend Complementary Products: Feature products that the customer could benefit from immediately based on their purchase. Consider recommending socks on a shoe purchase, cables on a TV, cases on a camera, etc.
2. Make Discovery Easy: Leverage each merchandising area of Web pages to show different recommendation scenarios. Consider adding a scrolling bar for even more visibility.
3. Remind Them One More Time: Recommend products that the shopper viewed but did not buy during the checkout session to encourage engagement and repeat sales.
4. Extend Interactions: Strive to connect with a consumer regardless of where a purchase is made - in store, online or via mobile device - by finding out if the purchase is a gift and what his or her communication preferences are.
5. Transactional Emails: Thank customers for purchasing and include personalized product recommendations based on their transactions. According to in-house research, typical transactional emails are opened 70-80 percent of the time, and sales conversion rates can increase up to 25 percent when these messages are personalized.
6. Multi-Faceted Content: Look at marketing emails to see which drive the most engagement - most likely these will be transactional emails. These messages will be opened multiple times, so it is important to use brand elements, tailored content and recommendations to drive traffic back to a website.
7. Re-Engagement Triggers: Pay attention to a customer's interests and then present offers, similar products or related content, and re-market based on interest to drive him or her back to a website or store.
8. Abandoned Carts: Trigger personalized emails in real-time when a customer abandons their online shopping cart. Feature product reviews or additional offers that will help a customer in their purchasing decision.
9. Dynamic Subject Lines:Display the name of the product abandoned, personalized recommendations or any other pre-determined item of interest in email subject lines. According to iGoDigital benchmark data, dynamic subject lines can increase open rates by an additional 10 percent.
By taking that extra step to provide tailored, personalized content based on insights and preferences as identified by the customer, brands can create relationships with buyers that extend well beyond the first sale. When a customer knows they will receive outstanding service and a personalized experience, they will return again and again. By prioritizing the shopper experience, you will be in the best position to earn customer interest and respect.
About the Author: Eric Tobias is the Vice President of Web Products at ExactTarget, a Salesforce company.