Four tips for engaging return visitors

When devising a testing strategy, it is important to think about how to segment visitors in a functional way which is both scalable and allows for continuously optimised personalisation.

A simple way to break this down is to think about the customer lifecycle. Many businesses lose focus on returning purchasers, choosing instead to devote large portions of their budgets on new customer acquisition. The Harvard Business Review noted that the cost of acquiring a new customer can be up to 25 times more expensive than retaining one.

Yet, research done by Frederick Reichheld of Bain & Company (the inventor of the net promoter score) shows increasing customer retention rates by 5 percent increases profits by a metric somewhere in the range of 25 to 95 percent. With that in mind, here are four ways in which you can personalise the online experience for your returning visitors.

1) Welcome them back

Highlighting to return visitors that you are happy to see them again is a key way to differentiate your website. Build upon this message by prompting them to view your “new in” categories; you are now tailoring their shopping experiences by providing relevant, targeted content based on what they’ve previously viewed and bought. This kind of personalization is especially crucial if visitors have come via a specific email campaign, as you don't want to lose momentum by causing a return visitor to forget why they came back.

2) Test navigation changes

Campaign mirroring is a really important concept: if you send visitors a highly personalised email or text that prompts them to return to your website, you want to make sure the site they see is not the same generic one. You could reorganise your navigation bar to draw attention to specific categories that are relevant to them. Or if a visitor has a wish list or filled basket, you can encourage them to re-view these products and inform them if any are on sale or running out.

3) Incentivize the next purchase

Many ecommerce managers seek to drive the average lifetime value of their website visitors. Incentivising returning visitors to make another purchase is a great way to realize this goal. These can often incur a cost if the incentive is something like free next day delivery or a hefty discount. A more frugal incentive could be a free gift voucher on orders over a specified amount. The key is to engender greater lifetime brand affinity.

Booking.com delivered an incentive around low-cost holidays by witholding some of their better deals until visitors had logged in. While risky, this strategy makes the return visit all the more rewarding for users who have taken the time to create an account.

4) Complement their choices

Once you have an idea of the content visitors have selected, you can personalise their choices by suggesting complementary products. These can be targeted to items in their shopping bag or items they have already bought. Travel companies do this well by encouraging visitors to add ancillary items such as travel insurance or rental cars to their packages.

Personalising is no easy task, but once the hard work is done, retailers have a golden opportunity to continuously engage with their customers throughout their lifecycles. The possibilities for re-engagement are endless.

To find out more about how personalisation can transform online customer experiences, check out our research.