Attracting new customers to your ecommerce store is a must if you’re going to make a profit, especially in the early years of running your business. It’s one of the best ways to boost your sales in the short term, and grow your store. But there’s a lot of effort involved in acquiring new customers—it can cost six times as much as retaining your existing customers—so it seems like a shame to let them disappear off the face of the earth after just one purchase.

If you’re looking for long-term, sustainable income for your online store, you’ll want loyal customers, who are worth up to ten times as much as their initial purchase and will spread the word about your business for free. So how do you convert first-time buyers into loyal customers? We call this process customer nurturing: all the things you do to keep your customers coming back time and time again to your humble (or fabulous!) ecommerce store. Here are just a few of them:

1. Make your first impression last

Customers are more likely to come back if you can give them a great experience right from the get-go, so think about the small things you can do to make them feel appreciated. It’s standard practice to show a confirmation screen as soon as someone’s placed an order, so put that screen to good use. You can

  • thank them for their order
  • ask them to create an account for faster purchasing next time
  • invite them to sign up to your mailing list
  • suggest other products that might interest them
  • encourage them to follow your social media pages
  • use social sharing buttons to get them talking about their order
  • give them a way to get in touch with you, if they have any questions
  • provide links to useful information about the products they’ve ordered.

You probably won’t want to do all of those at once, but try a few and then monitor your traffic to see which is most effective. And don’t forget to let your brand personality shine through!

2. Deliver your message when you deliver the order

It costs virtually nothing to slip a handwritten thank-you note in with your customer’s order, but it’s a surefire way to remind them that there’s a real person on the other side of that webpage—someone who will appreciate their feedback and future orders. You can also offer discount vouchers or free shipping deals for future orders, which they can use for themselves or give to a friend.

3. Turn transactional emails into a powerful call to action

Transactional emails are those you automatically send out when a transaction takes place. They’ll usually come from your ecommerce software, and they include order confirmations, invoices, receipts, shipping notices, delivery tracking updates and account creation notices. Like the order confirmation screen customers see after checkout, each of these transactional emails is an opportunity to send your new customer helpful information and a call to come back to your ecommerce store. It’s also a further chance to showcase your brand, so don’t slip into the bleak, formal tone that’s all too common in these emails. Instead, take the opportunity to show your colours and speak authentically. And you can use all the same approaches we’ve mentioned previously, but we prefer

  • photo links to related products
  • links to FAQs, shipping information, and returns policies
  • one-click feedback surveys
  • social sharing buttons.

4. Continue the conversation

The longer you continue the conversation with your customers, the more likely it is you’ll spring to mind when they start thinking about their next purchase. So keep in touch with your first-time customers in a variety of ways—through email marketing, SMS and social media.

Keep in mind that email marketing works best when it’s tailored for your recipients, so create different audience segments in your email marketing software. For example, instead of talking about sporting goods with all your customers, tell your running subscribers about the latest shoes and the best trails, and tell your golfers about new club technology and golf destinations.

When it comes to social media, customers have expectations about how long it will take you to respond, so it’s best not to overcommit. Only sign up to as many platforms as you can comfortably manage. Just choose one or two where you can really add value, and make sure you’re available during the time of day your customers are most active.

5. Keep your ear to the ground

Pay attention to who’s talking about you, not just to you, by setting up a Google alert or running a search on Twitter or Facebook for your business name. When a customer posts positive feedback, jump in and thank them—you’re likely to end up with a new follower. If a customer posts online about a bad experience, see it as an opportunity: they’ve shown a willingness to talk about your business, so give them something good to say by reaching out with an offer of assistance.

The lifetime value of your loyal customers is much higher than their first purchase, so it’s worth nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship with all your first-time buyers. Neto is a leading omni-channel ecommerce platform designed to help your business grow across multiple channels. It offers a wide range of add-on integrations to the platforms you use for shipping, digital marketing, social media, and customer support, giving you ample opportunity to connect with your customers and invite them back again. We’ve also got more information on customer retention and recruitment, and how to nurture your leads.