Q4 is the ideal time to get new customers interested in your products as they go about their holiday shopping. But how can you make sure these customers keep coming back for more?
Why you need to consider customer LTV this Q4
If you’re an e-commerce brand owner, Customer Lifetime Value (LTV) will be a metric you are all too familiar with. Especially if your brand has high Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC) from paid social advertising.
According to Shopify, 64% of e-commerce retailers say that customers acquired during Q4 sales like Black Friday events have a lower LTV than those acquired at any other time of the year. Many e-commerce brands will have ambitious targets that are hyper-focused on new acquisitions and total revenue, yet little thought is given to retaining new customers after holiday sales are over.
If you're a brand thinking about long-term, sustainable revenue growth, customer retention should be a top priority.
The question is, how do you convert your first-time holiday shoppers into long-term, loyal customers? Let's explore some options.
1. Personalise their unboxing experience
Personalisation goes a long way toward cultivating customer relationships.
A really simple but effective way to show customers that you care is to personalise their unboxing experience. Invest in custom packaging, add thank you cards, or something similar to personalise packages.
For example, if a customer has made a purchase from overseas, why not add a thank you message in their native language? Or if they have come from a certain influencer campaign, try adding a thank you sticker with the influencer on it to add that personal touch.
This might sound complicated at first, but by setting certain rules in your packing process you can automate multiple levels of personalisation. Having a tech enabled pick and pack process can help you unlock new marketing opportunities.
Take for example the supplement brand mybacs. They personalise their unboxing experience with tailored flyers based on the products each customer has bought to give them information personalised to their selection of products. Adding tailored flyers like this helps them retain customers and foster brand loyalty.
2. Give your customer something for free
Free gifts are a fantastic way to surprise your first-time buyers, making for a memorable shopping experience. Gifting something for free not only makes customers feel special, they perceive to be getting greater value from their purchase.
Plus, a freebie doesn’t have to cost you – you can use it as an opportunity to shift stock that hasn’t sold and free up space in your fulfilment centre. Or, use a free gift to incentivise higher basket value.
Equally, trendy stickers are an affordable option to increase your brand awareness and keep you top of mind for your new customers. Customers can use your free stickers to personalise things like their phone cases or water bottles, and they are reminded of your brand wherever they go.
3. Give them a flyer with an affiliate code
Word of mouth is a powerful marketing tool. You can encourage buyers to come back by offering discounts via an affiliate code if they 'bring a friend'. For example, 'Friends15 gets you and a friend 15% off next time you buy'.
You could add an expiry date to create a sense of urgency to use the code. Equally, you can share logical reasons to take advantage of an affiliate code, fast - for example, get discounts on great items before Christmas.
4. Make sure delivery experience goes smoothly
Delivery can be the difference between getting your first-time shoppers back or them boycotting your brand. The key to smooth delivery is communication.
Shipping can be unpredictable during Q4 due to demand. However, customers are more lenient if they know what's going on with their packages. According to Modern Retail, 90% of shoppers say that receiving delivery information about a purchase would encourage them to buy from a brand again.
If you can get goods to customers super-fast, they're likely to be wowed by your service and buy from you again. But shipping isn't always that easy. Things can happen that are out of your control.
It's crucial that you don't go silent. If you're aware of potential delays, warn customers when they need to order from you to assure on-time delivery. Give them a deadline by which to order. This puts the ball in the customer's court to order on-time.
If you work with a 3PL partner, you can automate this communication. When certain events in the delivery process are triggered, you can automatically send an email to your customer, keeping them in the loop.
5. Now is the time to invest in email marketing
A shopper's experience should not end after delivery: post-purchase communications make your customers feel valued. It's a great way to get customers to come back.
Increasing marketing spend in Q4 is inevitable for most D2C brands, especially in paid social advertising, but don’t overlook your email marketing potential.
Investing in a reliable tool for email marketing means you can automate these processes while still keeping your touchpoints with your customers personalised. Plus it will give you access to plenty of data and A/B testing opportunities that you can leverage to make your campaigns more effective.
Email marketing also works especially well if you sell a product such as cosmetics or supplements that will be used up after a certain amount of days. You can automate your email flows to send out a reminder to repurchase just when the product is due to run out or expire.
Investing more cash in retention marketing rather than just customer acquisition helps your brand grow sustainably and avoid being reliant on peak season.
6. Turn order tracking into a revenue stream
Which emails are your customers most likely to open? Their order tracking. In fact, our partner Hive's brands have seen an 89% open rate on average for order tracking emails.
If you aren’t already using your order tracking emails to upsell to your customers then you are missing out on a huge potential revenue opportunity.
Use order tracking emails to send customers back to your website with buy again options, suggested products, or blog posts related to what they bought.
7. Try using subscriptions
Subscriptions are great for products that are likely to be repurchased at certain intervals because they remove the hassle of having to reorder, a model employed expertly by Uncapped customer Freja Foods and has helped them to achieve a 200%+ CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate).
You can use holiday sales as an opportunity to get new customers signed up to your subscription service by offering them the first three months at a discounted rate. This helps to initially win them over, then you can switch to the regular price after the trial period ends.
However, it's one thing to get customers signed up for a subscription with a juicy entry offer. Keeping them interested once the discount ends is another thing. You need to make customers aware of the value your products bring them.
One tactic you could use to keep people on subscriptions is to have a reward points system. As customers accumulate reward points for sticking with their subscription, they are building up to receiving a free gift. If they cancel, they would lose the opportunity to claim their free gift.
8. Foster community around your brand
In the hustle and bustle of Q4, an effective way to hold the attention of your first-time buyers is to build a community around your brand. Invite them to follow you on your social media channel and engage with them on and offline.
If they share the products they got from your brand on their social channels, be interactive and reshare what they're posted. This is a great way to build community around your brand, while giving you the opportunity to leverage user-generated content.
Creating new content can be time-consuming. Instead, you can curate content that's being created by real customers to circulate on your social media channels and more.
Customers trust each other the most, so sometimes it's best to just let them do the talking. To build sustainable engagement post peak season, why not highlight authentic customer stories?
Similarly, you could engage your community offline through pop-ups or other events where existing customers are invited to try new products and engage with the human face of your brand. This kind of authenticity humanises your brand, helping you to build real connections with your customers - even new ones.
When you demonstrate that you are invested in building a strong bond between your brand and customers, you can convert followers into brand advocates who spread the word about your products, adding more customers to your community.
9. Work with a tech-enabled 3PL partner to ensure a smooth post-purchase experience
During peak season and beyond, the post-purchase experience is key to getting customers to come back for more.
Accurate picking and packing, fast delivery, and automated post-purchase communication are vital ingredients to increasing lifetime value.
Working with a tech-enabled 3PL partner like our partner Hive means peace of mind that your operations can run smoothly, giving you the time back to reinvest in your marketing and product development.
Don’t just take our word for it, request a demo today and find out how Hive can help you increase your customer satisfaction.
In the e-commerce landscape, Q4 often prioritises immediate gains over long-term customer value.
We hope this article has stressed the importance of baking in retention to your Q4 strategies. Actions like personalised unboxing, free gifts, affiliate codes, smooth delivery, and email marketing are vital for transforming seasonal shoppers into loyal and returning customers. And using customer engagement enhancing tools like order tracking emails, subscription models, community-building as well as strategic fulfilment partners like Hive, will have a dramatic effect on how you make the customer feel.
All of this costs so should you need support in financing your working capital needs, get in touch with Uncapped today and let us help fund these activities that can turn your first time buyers into repeat customers.
Remember, emphasising these retention strategies not only ensures sustained growth but also builds brand advocates. So, throughout the year, be sure to integrate these approaches to secure your brand's position well beyond the seasonal rush.