Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2015 and was updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness on Aug 6, 2019.
Have you ever found yourself thinking that “any customer is better than no customer?” Whether you’re just starting a business or trying to grow an existing one, it’s tempting to see every customer you acquire as equally valuable. After all, a sale is a sale, right?
Unfortunately, there’s a huge difference between one-time customers and repeat customers. While one-time shoppers boost sales in the moment, they’re often attracted by expensive ads and have no intention of making another purchase or engaging beyond their initial discount-driven transaction.
Repeat customers, on the other hand, care about your brand and are willing to choose you over the competition because they’re motivated by what you stand for, not just what you sell. These customers are willing to create an account at your store which makes it easier for them to checkout in the future, securing your brand as their first choice every time they want to make another purchase.
So how do you get more one-time customers to become repeat customers? The trick is to understand the five most common types of online shoppers that could be visiting your store:
- Discount seekers
- Wandering customers
- Impulse buyers
- Need-based shoppers
- Loyal customers
No two shoppers are exactly the same and each has a particular way they like to shop. With that in mind, let’s explore who each of these shoppers are and what you can do to turn them into valuable repeat customers.
Discount seekers are focused on the value they save
It’s not hard to understand why discount seekers aren’t valuable to your business. They shop around, searching multiple sites or stores trying to find the best price, and will always base their buying decisions on how much they can save. A whopping 67% of customers shop this way, with no loyalty to the brands they choose to make purchases with.
This transactional mindset is the polar opposite of a repeat customer, who’s interested in building an emotional relationship with your brand that extends beyond how much money they spend with you. As a result, they’re the least loyal type of customer and are least likely to make a repeat purchase.
Encourage repeat purchases by showing them the benefits
Luckily, this type of online customer isn’t as common as you may think. Customers that care exclusively about prices are actually quite rare, and can be persuaded to revisit your store by moving their attention to other aspects of their purchase decision.
An effective and easy way to do this is by showcasing the benefits of your products — not the features. When you start simply listing features, you make it easier for price sensitive customers to compare your offerings to your competitors’. By highlighting the benefits, you shift the focus from what you do compared to your competitors and emphasize what sets your products apart.
oVertone does this beautifully. For every one of their color conditioners, they show off what the product can do for you first. Whether that’s how quickly it starts to work or how much hydration it can give your hair, customers can quickly see that choosing any of their products will improve their hair’s health and vibrancy. From there, they also show their product in action with user-generated content alongside a link to more specific product details.
This hierarchy of information increases the chances that a discount seeker will see and understand the benefits of shopping with them over a competitor. oVertone makes it easier than ever for a customer to self-select the products that speak to their needs, increasing the chances of these customers making their first purchase and being more willing to think of them first in the future.
Wandering shoppers spend a little and cost a lot
If discount seekers are the least loyal type of online customer, wandering shoppers are right behind. With no idea what they want to buy but a desire to make purchases quickly, these customers are easily lost because they simply enjoy the experience of shopping.
This behavior means that they make up the largest percentage of your traffic but the smallest percentage of sales revenue. In other words, they cost a lot to acquire with virtually nothing in it for you — unless you know how to grab their attention!
Make purchases convenient with a simple checkout process
Even though you don’t want to waste much time trying to attract this type of customer, there are things you can do to increase the chances they buy from you and not someone else. Ultimately wandering shoppers are all about convenience, which means the biggest obstacle on your site is the checkout. Slow load times, too many steps, and onerous forms are all ways to complicate the process and ensure they jump ship.
Knowing many wandering shoppers are likely to find them through a quick Google search, RIPT Apparel put a lot of work into streamlining their checkout process. After adding an item to their cart, customers are able to quickly calculate their shipping costs and confirm payment options before completing the checkout process.
These tactics help reduce general cart abandonment and improve their conversion rates as more wandering shoppers can quickly explore their products and checkout. This positive experience will go a long way to persuade customers to shop with them again, proving that not all customers who wander stay lost.
Impulse buyers want to stay informed
Similar to wandering shoppers, impulse buyers don’t have a specific product in mind when they shop. Instead, they simply make purchases when it sounds or feels like a good idea.
With this mentality, impulse buyers are often obsessed with having the latest product. They’re the ones that will replace a perfectly good product with another simply because it is more up to date or trendier. This makes impulse buyers particularly prone to shopping in industries that are rapidly changing, such as fashion, beauty, and technology.
This means that they’re incredibly easy to upsell to and are very receptive to recommendations. With a desire to buy “when the time is right,” they love to hear about new products and like to be in the know of what’s new and exciting from the brands they love. The trick is making sure you’re able to keep them informed and, subsequently, interested in your brand.
Keep your brand top of mind by encouraging them to subscribe to your newsletter
This type of online shopper can be very profitable if you can keep them informed, which means you need to find a way to keep them in the loop. Offering a valuable reason to subscribe to your newsletter is a fantastic way to ensure these impulsive customers always know what’s going on. By creating an account, they can be added to your ongoing email marketing campaigns and receive regular updates on what you’re up to.
With a wide range of high-end tech at the core of their brand, Steelseries understands that impulsive shoppers are looking for the next opportunity to buy something cool. This understanding of who their customers are prompted them to put clear calls-to-action at the footer of every page of their website, inviting customers to stay connected between purchases through social media or their newsletter. To sweeten the deal, they also offer 10% off their first order, making it a lot harder for customers to say no.
This small incentive packs a powerful punch, especially when combined with the regularity of both their email and social content. Through each of these channels, Steelseries is making it easy for impulsive shoppers to see the value of engaging with them and lays the groundwork for not only their first purchase but the inevitability of additional purchases in the future.
Need-based customers don't want to make the wrong decision
While impulse shoppers don’t have a particular product in mind when they visit your store, need-based customers are on the hunt for something very specific. As a result, they’re a lot harder to upsell. Having done a lot of research on the products they’re looking for, they’re the type of customer most likely to compare products across sites and are terrified of making an uninformed decision.
This makes the relationship they have with your brand (or the one they can develop with you) incredibly powerful. Without a strong emotional connection to your brand, need-based customers are less likely to believe that you can actually help them solve their problem. Without that trust, one purchase (let alone repeat ones) are very unlikely.
Make yourself the expert with value-add marketing
Since need-based shoppers want to ensure they’re buying only the best-suited product for their needs, they’ll undertake extensive research missions in search of expert advice. They’ll compare specs, comb through feature lists, and look for every possible piece of information that could indicate your brand is better equipped to help them than someone else.
This commitment to educating themselves is what makes value-add marketing the perfect tool for turning one purchase into repeat purchases. By investing in content like a blog, video tutorials, or webinars, you help every customer acquire the knowledge and relevant resources they need to help them get started with your products and to feel confident in your expertise.
Glow Recipe took this strategy to the limit with their Glow Edit blog and Glowipedia skincare tutorial portal. Covering everything from beauty routine tutorials to the science behind healthy skin, these resources are both extremely relevant to their products and the customers they’re hoping to sell to. By helping customers get started with a variety of forms of content, they make it easy for new and returning shoppers alike to understand the value of choosing them over someone else, building trust that pays off in dividends and repeat purchases.
Even though loyal customers might be listed last, they are far from least important. Quite the opposite, actually, since loyal customers are the driving force behind not only repeat purchases but also your brand’s overall success and longevity.
While they might make up the minority of your customer base, they generate a significant portion of your sales and are more likely to recommend your brand to other people. This is because they want to be involved with you outside of simply making purchases.
These types of shoppers are common in industries where high value is placed on feeling exclusive and unique, such as fashion, beauty, and luxury goods.
Make every loyal customer feel special with a VIP program
For your loyal customers, it’s all about the experience. They aren’t looking for items based on price or features — they’re looking to buy from brands that make them feel elite. They want to feel like they are a part of something, not like just another customer.
A VIP loyalty program is the best way to cater to this particular need. With VIP tiers, you offer every customer the chance to become a member of an exclusive group of shoppers who get extra benefits. These benefits could include things like special discounts, free products, or even invitations to exclusive events.
SHEFIT has built a four tiered VIP program that gives their best customers early access to sales, early access to new products, gifts, and the chance to be featured in product photoshoots. This extensive array of rewards is not only in line with what their target customers value, but also reflects the nature of their products and brands.
This type of program draws their most loyal customers deeper into their brand story and creates a desire for more first-time customers to pursue these experiences as well. With additional value available at every stage in their customer journey, SHEFIT has made repeat purchases simply irresistible.
Understanding the different types of shoppers is the key to encouraging purchases
When you understand the difference between valuable and not valuable types of customers, you’re in a much better position to deliver a brand experience that generates more repeat purchases.
Once you have an idea of which shoppers are visiting your site, you can begin to tailor your marketing efforts to not only encourage them to not only buy, but also to buy in the future. A marketing strategy built around customer retention is one that’s built to last, and know which types of customers will help you grow over time is the sturdy foundation you need to succeed.