3 Strategies to Turn First-Time Shoppers Into Long-Term Customers

Brands recognize that the spray-and-pray communications tactic is dead and ineffective. In fact, three out of four customers say they’re more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name, offers relevant recommendations or remembers their purchase history, according to a new Accenture study.
It’s time for brands to turn customers from one-time shoppers to loyal brand advocates. Yet many brands have a hard time adapting to these personalized interactions.
Based on our insight working with hundreds of brands, here are three foolproof ways to keep customers engaged — and better yet addicted and coming back for more:
1. Personalize the message
Customers expect brands to send them personalized offers and content based on their purchase history and preferences. From the moment customers interact with your website, app or brick-and-mortar store, you should add any insights to their customer profiles to better understand the customer journey. When retailers capture the styles, product categories and price ranges a user clicks on most, they can send more relevant, customized content, like offers for a product the customer viewed and similar products.
European travel company Secret Escapes personalizes the customer experience based on the user’s search intent. When a user lands on the site from a search engine, Secret Escapes displays different results based on the keyword the user entered. For example, a user who searches “New York” sees relevant results on Secret Escapes’ site for hotels in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Long Island. This personalized approach resulted in a 30.4 percent increase in clicks to purchase pages and a 210 percent increase in completed purchases.
Remember: every customer interaction is an opportunity to gain insights into preferences and send a personalized email or offer.
2. Optimize for mobile
With mobile, brands can make users’ lives easier and more relevant — and it’s a great opportunity to capture their attention and wallets. Forrester estimates that mobile influenced more than $1 trillion in sales last year, the majority of which occur offline.
To drive customer engagement on their devices, keep mobile sites simple and easy to navigate. Ensure links and buttons on your mobile site and app are clickable and large in size. Use whitespace to create a clean, sleek look and to prevent users from getting overwhelmed by a small, crowded screen.
If users can’t act immediately, they’ll leave the page. Make the call-to-action seamless. Take this example from Shyp: to increase app downloads, Shyp created a mobile-optimized page with clear, persuasive copy and included a “Get the App” button front and center. The CTA was highlighted in a bright color on a dark background to make it the central focus on the page.
3. Build a culture of experimentation
Brands need to adapt as customers' expectations change by experimenting and testing new strategies. Experiment with what customers see on a website but also what they experience, like the order of search results and pricing changes. To drive sales, try different value propositions, such as offering free shipping on orders of $50 or more or marketing your easy returns process.
When redesigning its website, Smartwool found that, contrary to their belief, a product category page with more images actually decreased engagement. They tested a more traditional category page and found that it led to higher conversions. Experimenting with different product pages helped the team identify what resonates most with customers and resulted in a 17 percent increase in average revenue per visitor.
The shift from marketing to the masses to one-on-one, personalized interactions is well on its way. With the holidays around the corner, brands that exceed customer expectations will be most successful in winning customers’ loyalty this season and beyond.

Steph Robotham is VP of corporate marketing at Optimizely, which enables teams to deliver the best experience for every customer across websites and mobile apps.