Online customers: Easy come, easy go

You might not agree that it was easy to acquire your customers, but as an online retailer you most likely agree that they are too easily lost.

Purchasing behavior differs a lot between online and offline. Think about your own shopping habits; where do you go to buy your furniture, food and clothes? Yes, you usually go back to the same stores, and you keep this habit over time. Perhaps you shift some of the stores when you move to a new place, enter another stage in life etc, but overall you have some first choices that you stick to and some second choices used as complement. But online you behave differently; you buy your holiday trip based on a Google search and if you are looking for a new armchair online, you shop around until you find the one you like most, independently of who is selling it.

There is an important implication of this: When you acquire a new customer online, you need to keep track of her from day one, because the first purchase is no strong implication for a second purchase. But, that being said, it still opens up a great opportunity to create that second (and third) purchase. Simply put; it´s absolutely vital to have a CRM-strategy in place if you are doing business online. The aim of that CRM-strategy is to increase the frequency and the recency of your customers and this in turn is the building blocks of retaining your customers and increasing their monetary value over time.

So… do you have a CRM-strategy in place? And do you have the tools to realize it? For many online retailers the answer is likely to be something like “yes, we segment the customer database and send out targeted e-mails regularly”. Well, that is a start.

The key components in your CRM is time and relevance. So, how lucky that the online world provides such good opportunities to act in time and to act with relevance.

Time: The more time passing by since the last purchase or visit, the less likely it is that there will be another purchase or visit. Anyone who have worked with CRM knows that it is much easier to get a new action from an already active customer, than it is to reactivate someone who did her last purchase 2 years ago. So keep track of the recency and target your customers and prospects before you disappear from their radar.

Relevance: This is about what you say, how you say it, when you say it and how you deliver the message. If you send monthly emails from a manually segmented database, you might be to late, with the wrong message, in an in-optimal channel for many of the ones targeted. Being relevant is always a trial and error process, but you need a high degree of flexibility in your tool-box in order to get it right for as many recipients as possible over time. Flexibility is about two things:

1. Being able to easily set up rules for an automatic segmentation of your customers/visitors, based on as many attributes and behaviors as possible.
2. Being able to target the customer/visitor in as many channels as possible; automatically in real-time or at later occasions.

So let´s make this happen for your business. Give me a call if you have a serious interest in extending your online customers life time and value.

Andreas Franson, andreas[@]internetintelligence.se, +46 733 56 41 51

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