Once you’ve got the sale, the work has just begun. Businesses can retain more customers and save money in the process by focusing not just on getting the sale, but creating an experience that makes your customer want to come back and even refer more business to you as well.

Post-purchase engagement is an important part of inbound marketing, and we’ll take a look at some cool ways you can interact with your customers after they’ve made a purchase in this post.

The Importance of Post-Purchase Engagement

Companies put a lot of time, effort, and money behind the acquisition of a new customer. A LinkedIn article written by Colin Shaw noted that it costs a company 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. The same article also mentions that, according to Marketing Metrics, the probability of selling a product or service to an existing client is in the neighborhood of 60-70 percent, while the probability of selling to a new client is only 5-20 percent.

Considering this data, as well as the heaps of studies and statistics that show customer retention is a more economically sound business strategy than customer acquisition, you would think that companies would place more emphasis on keeping current clients happy. According to Econsultancy, however, the exact opposite is true: “Both companies and agency clients are significantly more likely to be focused on acquisition than retention (44% vs. 16% for companies and 58% vs. 12% for agency clients).”

The 4 Steps of Customer Engagement

Essentially, even though the data overwhelmingly suggests that companies and agencies should be focusing on customer retention (an important part of the inbound marketing methodology) rather than new customer acquisition, many are not doing so. Why is that? Well, for starters, client retention hinges on genuine, well-executed client engagement, which is not easy, as anyone who has worked in customer service will tell you. It can take a long time to cultivate a level of understanding that allows for effective customer engagement. This process of customer engagement, as described by Customer Engagement Strategies, involves four basic stages:

  1. Initiation – Welcoming (onboarding) a new customer and starting the professional relationship.
  2. Integration – After the onboarding stage, it’s time to start the work. The planning is finished, so now it’s time to produce.
  3. Intelligence – This phase consists of taking everything you’ve learned from the initiation and integration phases, assessing performance, and gaining a better understanding of your customer’s goals.
  4. Value Creation – Now you’re developing a stronger partnership with the customer to become an inextricable part of their life. This is when you find opportunities to drive innovation, create new value, and gain recommendations from the customer for new business because they’ve enjoyed working with you so much.

Each of these stages is aimed at improving the customer experience to a level that builds loyalty and leads to repeat business. But even for companies who place a high degree of emphasis on creating the best possible customer experience, there still remains a widely ignored step in the customer engagement cycle: post-purchase or post-conversion engagement.

Post-Purchase Engagement

When you consider the effort expended in actually getting a customer successfully through the conversion process, it isn’t hard to understand why post-conversion engagement is still a relatively untapped area. However, making the effort to follow through after a conversion has been made and personalize the post-purchase experience can help companies tap into the benefits of client retention.

Basic post-conversion engagement strategies are usually automated processes or messages that include:

  • Order confirmations
  • Shipping notifications
  • Discount offers
  • Thank you messages

Each of these post-conversion message strategies presents an opportunity to create a more personalized experience for customers, which often leads to repeat business.

Strategic Post-Purchase Emails

In addition to letting customers know that their online purchase was successful or that their product has shipped, businesses that engage clients with strategic post-purchase emails send the message that they care about more than just making the sale. Email marketing software provider SilverPop mentions seven frequently used post-purchase email messages:

  1. Service satisfaction survey – Ask your customers to complete a quick survey about their experience. This not only engages your customer but gives you valuable feedback about ways you can improve customer service even further.
  2. Product/service review request – Similarly, you can ask your customer to provide a review of the product or service they received from you. Not only does this engage your customer and give you valuable feedback, but it also can be used to generate more interest and leads.
  3. Review posted notification – If your customer provides a review, email them to let them know their review has been posted and provide a link. It can also be helpful to enable social sharing so they can spread the word if they choose.
  4. Cross-sell/recommendation – Recommend a product or service related to what your customer has already purchased. Show them that you appreciate their purchase and are looking out for other ways to help them.
  5. Replenish reminder/short-supply notice – Whether your product should be replenished on a regular basis or you offer a service that should occur routinely, help your customers out by sending them reminders. In heavily packed schedules of the modern day, this thoughtful engagement tactic will be appreciated.
  6. Bounceback – Send a special offer or incentive to customers who have recently purchased something from you so that they’ll come back again soon.
  7. Purchase anniversary – A purchase anniversary email acknowledges your customer in a personalized way and can include any of the above engagement tactics.

With each of these post-purchase messages, the basic strategy is to create additional touch points to keep customer engagement fresh while encouraging feedback and incentivizing future purchases.

A Note on Thank-You Pages

Usually, the thank-you pages we come across after signing up for a newsletter or completing an online purchase are anything but engaging. However, smart marketers know that to ignore the opportunity presented by a thank-you page is to leave money on the table. A “thank you” is nice, but a “thank you” with some engaging content is even better.

Whether the goal is to build brand awareness, increase sales, or encourage customer feedback, thank-you pages provide the chance to further personalize post-purchase engagement by:

  1. Asking them to follow your business on social media
  2. Customizing the thank you page with a video or other personalized messaging system
  3. Including links to infographics, popular blog posts, press releases, or other content you’ve created
  4. Displaying testimonials and promotions

The importance of customer engagement is clear. By focusing on and personalizing customer engagement after a conversion has occurred, you can build brand loyalty among customers and set your company apart from the competition. After all, the relationship has only begun with the first purchase.

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