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How to Turn First Time Buyers into Loyal Customers


Are sales & revenue from your online store growing as fast as you’d like?

Research shows the best performing online retailers drive over 50% of their revenue from repeat purchases. If you want to grow your online store, getting to this number is critical.

To help you achieve this, we teamed up with Tommy Walker, Editor of the Shopify Plus blog, to show you how to increase repeat purchases by turning first-time buyers into loyal customers.

In this on-demand webinar, you’ll learn:
  • Why repeat purchases are critical to the growth of your store
  • How to optimize your checkout experience to increase conversions and create loyal customers
  • The post-sale emails you should be sending to customers to encourage repeat purchases


Aaron: Hi, everyone and welcome to today’s webinar presented by Campaign Monitor. Throughout the webinar today, we’re gonna be talking about how you can optimize the post-sale customer experience using marketing channels like your website, email, and all those other ones that you have available to you, so that you can ultimately turn first time buyers at your online store into long-term loyal customers.

Joining me on this webinar today is Tommy Walker. Tommy is the Editor in Chief of the “Shopify Plus Blog.” And for those of you who don’t know what Shopify Plus is, it’s essentially the ecommerce platform of choice for high growth merchants, and they are fortunate to count the likes of Kanye West, Procter and Gamble, RadioShack, and General Electric as their customers. So Tommy’s job there at Shopify Plus is to research and write about how ecommerce businesses, like yourself, can grow their customer base, revenues, and profits. So he’s definitely the right person to have here on the call with us today. And, of course…

Tommy: Thanks for having me.

Aaron: No worries. And, of course, my name is Aaron Beashel. I work on the marketing team here at Campaign Monitor. And Campaign Monitor is an elegantly simple email marketing platform that’s loved by over 150,000 businesses worldwide, including retailers like Topshop, Repco, and Sephora. And my role here is really, just to spread the good word about our tool in general,

So a couple of…before I hand over to Tommy, a couple of housekeeping things. First off, this webinar will be recorded and we’ll be sending a link around to it later on. So you can re-watch it whenever you want. Secondly, if you have any questions that you wanna ask us, you’ll notice there’s a little chat box in the bottom right hand corner that you can use. However, we do things a little differently here at Campaign Monitor. So rather than take questions from people and then answer just a handful of them at the end, we’ll respond directly to you in the chat, answering your question directly and then answering any follow-up questions you might have as well. Really giving you that personal experience and that personal help that you might crave.

And finally, if you want to tweet about the webinar and some of the great things Tommy is sharing, or if you just wanna follow along with the conversation in general, then you can use the #CMWebinars. So with all of that out of the way, I’ll hand over to Tommy to start sharing with you his knowledge and expertise on how to turn first time buyers into loyal customers.

Tommy: All right. Thank you so much, Aaron. So there is a concept I want everybody here to sort of internalize, put on Post-it notes, put it on posters around your offices, stick it next to your computer, and put it everywhere you see, put it by the water cooler, put it everywhere, right? Write a memo. Buyers do not equal customers. I wanna repeat that. Buyers do not equal customers. What a buyer is, is one of these people who comes and they discover your site for the first time, they buy something from you, and then you never ever hear from them again, right? We all have a lot of buyers. But the question is how many customers do we really have? And what I mean by customer, a customer is somebody who buys from you again, and again, and again, and takes this another level of investment into your business.

A customer, I believe, is somebody who buys from you not because you offer a thing, but because you speak to a part of who they are and you become a part of their personality. So I’m gonna show you an example of a good customer. His name is Ching. He’s a customer of one of our merchants, Pure Fix Cycles. This is somebody who bought a bike from Pure Fix Cycles and he’s posting photos of himself on Instagram. He probably told his friend over here about another bicycle and he told people about who the brand was and is starting to spread the word here. This is hopefully what you guys are gonna do if you’re on this call, right? Another customer went so far as to tattoo Death Wish Coffee, their logo, onto his body. He uses this product on such a daily basis that it is so important to him, it becomes a part of him quite literally at this point. And another customer, right, over here, m21ellio88, posted this picture of her boyfriend in the shower with this shower curtain that they got from Really great things to say about the company and really is using their products to identify parts of who they are.

It’s important to understand this sort of difference between buyers and customers because at the end of the day, customers are going to be the ones that drive the most revenue. And we’ll see what it looks like from an exceptional standpoint. Companies that focus on exceptional customer experiences from a data level, how that works. So there was this study done by a company called RJMetrics. If you guys aren’t familiar, they create these excellent research reports that go out once a year, that show the different industry benchmarks on how top performing companies are doing against everybody else.

And what we’re looking at here is a breakdown of revenue from repeat customers versus new customers for an average company, right? Bottom three core tiles of the data set that they analyze, this is the average company, and you can see over the span of 36 months, right? So the first three years, there is this sort of convergence that happens between new customers, new revenue, and repeat revenue. So we’ll take a look at this a little bit more closely. In month zero, 90% of revenue is from brand new customers. And in month zero, 0% of revenue is from repeat customers. As time goes on, repeat revenue goes up, new revenue goes down, and you sort of find this nice, happy little middle ground. That’s pretty average. When they looked at the top businesses, their best of the best customers, the companies that were making the absolute most money in their ecommerce stores, what they found was that the best customers were getting repeat revenue in the very first month of being in business, right? Month zero. And that the revenue that they were driving from repeat business eventually after the span of three years overtook revenue that came from brand new customers.

Now, this is really cool to look at it on its own and go, “Wow. Over 50% of revenue is coming from repeat business.” But I want you to think about this for a second, you don’t have to spend nearly as much money to market to a repeat customer. Now, there’s some average advice that is out there that says it costs, I think it’s eight times more to retain, or to get a new customer than it is to retain an existing one. I don’t believe in that necessarily because there’s some research that’s an old kind of number. But what is interesting is that it does cost less overall, and that you can start generating this repeat revenue and increasing your average order value and lifetime value of your customers over a longer span of time especially if you’re nailing this first run buying experience, which we’ll talk about it a little bit more.

We’re gonna take a look at another slide from that. The typical online store receives about 43% of revenue from repeat purchases. We saw that in the previous slide. Well, what’s really interesting is when you look over here at the far right, these top, top, top businesses, the 90th percentile, right? They’re getting about 75% of their business or of their revenue from repeat purchases, which is absolutely incredible. When you start breaking that down by a customer lifetime value, you see that it’s about five times higher for these companies that are really focusing on the repeat revenue.

And when you start to look at that all sort of in context together, this is what these top businesses are looking like. You see that after the span of three years, they’re almost completely off the charts. It’s absolutely incredible to see what this looks like. What’s also interesting about these companies that are focusing on getting repeat revenue right away is that RJMetrics found when they were doing this, that when somebody buys from you a second time, the probability of them buying from you a third time goes up, and when they buy from you a third time, the probability of them buying from you a fourth time goes up and so on and so on. And that’s what we’re looking at here. Right? Does that make sense to you, Aaron?

Aaron: Yeah, absolutely. It all looks great so far, Tommy.

Tommy: Fantastic. And what’s really interesting is when you start looking at the revenue from the very tippy top of your customer base, your 1% of customers, it’s found that there’s about a…you can see that this slide right here shows that the 50th percentile or average customers go…this is kind of average revenue. And then when you start looking at the very top 1%, it’s, I believe, 36 times higher than the average customer when you start focusing on your top 1% of your customer base. They drive so much more revenue, these repeat customers. So the question we have to ask is, how do we start increasing repeat purchases immediately? Right? How do we build that right into the beginning of our funnel? And I believe that comes through the first run buying experience.

And to really illustrate this point, and to kind of guide the rest of the conversation, is there’s this quote by an author named Mike Gayle, the book is called “His ‘n’ Hers.” And the quote goes like this, “In a relationship, the details are everything because they remind you just when you need to be reminded the most why you fell in love in the first place.” In my experience looking at lots of ecommerce stores and analyzing lots of funnels being both at Shopify Plus, but also at ConversionXL before I came here, you find that there’s really great emphasis on the top of the funnel, right? People might create these really great images and ads that are out on Facebook, really image rich and they get you to feel something. And it makes it so you wanna buy and you click that “add to cart” button and you’re going, “Oh yes, this is absolutely incredible and I really want this.”

But as soon as you start to get towards that checkout flow, as soon as you get to that process, it starts to break down. Everything starts to feel the same. How you feel about the brand and how the brand is talking to you becomes more depleted. And it really just starts to feel like you’re another number, you’re another customer, and there’s nothing really unique. And what I call this, is called filling the gap, right? So let’s take a look at this from a number standpoint. Right here, you can see on an average store, you can have 2.36% of people adding to cart of the overall traffic, 1.08% or 192 customers in this case actually reached the checkout, and then 0.26% of people purchased.

Now, in conversion optimization, one of the first places that you should look is your entire checkout flow. And see how that part of the process is working out, and how that feels. Is it congruent with the rest of your buying experience? So here’s kind of what a standard checkout process looks like, right? You’ve already added the product to your cart. Now you have this review cart page. You’re asked to go to your shipping address, fill out your information, you proceed to billing, you fill out your credit card information, you confirm your order, and that’s it, right?

None of this to me…like this is fine, this is standard, and this is kind of what’s out there, but none of this to me feels like the effort that went into getting me to get here in the first place, right? This product information, if you were to take out the name on the top, the logo on the top, there wouldn’t be anything that really starts to feel unique about this, I think. And it’s because the attention to the small little details, order, review, and purchase. Please make sure all the information is right.

Like, all of these little details, they start to feel really templated. So I wanna take a look at a similar experience with one of our customers. I’m not gonna name names on who they were, but it’s a small detail that I made an optimization to that ended up really helping them out in the long run. So here we go. Standard shipping method, right? This is what was existing before I got my hands on it. And it says “shipping method.” Please note the shipping method is in addition to the production timeline outlined on the product page. Then standard shipping, FedEx Today, FedEx Standard Overnight.

Now, because these items are hand-crafted and the timelines are different for each product, if you really look at what this particular piece of microcopy is asking you to do, it’s asking you to go back to the existing product page, right? If you’re buying this as a gift or there’s time sensitivity around how long it takes for you to get it, it’s asking you, you know, in addition to the production timeline outline on the product page, go back and check that out. Right? The problem with that is we have a lot of media being blasted at us at any given point in time of the day and a lot of us forget that our checkout experiences are now…they’re not in a vacuum. It’s not just happening on desktops anymore. We’re not focused anymore.

The stats are now showing that mobile has overtaken desktop in terms of buying and definitely in terms of traffic. So it might be something that a text message or a Facebook update, or an email comes in and completely distracts you from this process. But what you see is an abandoned cart. And that’s it. So I made a little suggestion, just some minor copy tweaks to look at those little details about what this could look like. And this is what we came up with. Please note, because all of our items are hand-crafted, please factor in an average of one to two weeks of production time in addition to the time it takes to ship. We will make every effort to notify you if your order is substantially delayed. Now, standard shipping also has a timeline of four to six weeks and if you were going with the standard shipping route, you now know that at maximum, you could have a six-week timeline on your products being shipped to you. That’s really important for your decision-making process. And it helps give a little bit of extra context to the buying process here, and it’s just one example of a tiny little detail that can be optimized to start bringing more people into your repeat purchase funnel.

So let’s say they go through and the next thing that happens, they finish up this part of the buying process and the next part of what they’ll see in this experience is the thank you page. Right? Here is a thank you page, a standard thank you page. It’s got a template for a website that my team ran for a little while called Hello Matcha. And this is what the standard thank you page says, “Thank you for your purchase. A confirmation email has been sent to your email address. Here’s your order number, return to store.” On its own, there’s nothing bad about this, right? It’s pretty standard. It looks nice. It’s clean, but doesn’t really follow the entire brand experience that’s led up to this point.

Now, think about this for a second too. Your thank you page, if you were selling to someone personally, if I were to sell an item to you one on one and we went through the whole process and I shook your hand at the end and just said, “Thank you. Here’s your receipt. That’s it.” How would that make you feel about the buying experience? And would you wanna come to me again? Maybe, maybe not. Depends on how much of a need there was there. But if we take this copy and tweak it just a little bit. Right? “Welcome to the Hello Matcha family. Our goal is to build a tea business that caters exactly to what you sell. An email confirming your order has been sent to your email address. And also because we love you, we’ve sent you a nice surprise.” There’s a small little detail, but it keeps the brand.

It keeps everything that we’ve been talking about and building up to the thank you page, it keeps that momentum up, which is hugely important if you want people to buy from you a second and third and fourth time, which we know if you get somebody to buy from you a second time, the probability of them buying from you a third time is going to increase. Some other things that we did to this page, right? Instead of just leaving it alone, and now, granted, this is a bit hacky, but we said, “How to make a perfect cup of Matcha tea,” and we just embedded a video here that showed you, you know, how to actually prepare the product that you were buying.

There’s a number of things that you could do with the thank you page, which could range from this sort of personal brand-building, and getting people to be more endeared to your brand, to something like what we see here on the Jigsaw website where you get an upsell for returning customers only. You can get an add on to your order. This is a perfect opportunity to do that. You might also see people do referral programs, right? Thank you page, we’ve already built up this sort of really strong brand affinity. We know this person has bought, so why not get somebody to sign up and get their friends to buy from you too, right? Really good opportunity here and you can connect. You see here, you’ve got people connecting over social media. And then another one is just this, what happens next, right? Thank you. Now, here’s how you can track your order, right? And you can do your overall rating. You can talk about your shopping experience and start to building feedback loops. I love this one. Even though it’s a really basic looking site, over here on the right-hand side, you’ve got this rate your shopping experience, and you can build in a feedback loop where you’re grabbing qualitative feedback from your customers to learn about how they perceived your shopping experience, which can be used in further optimizations across the board.

Another one that’s really interesting to me is this really interesting ways of getting people into other parts of your website, right? You know, the first part here, your order confirmation is, and the number and your summary email, that’s all pretty standard, but these extra, you know, 20-in-1 wonder balm and this merchandising that’s happening here, this is really interesting. They’re kind of compelling and they make it so I wanna come back into the site. So here’s something I want you to think about is, on the thank you page, what are some of the small details that you can start to include to really get people to be more engaged with your brand and more interactive with your brand beyond just the, “Hey, thanks for buying from us.” Right?

And what’s also really kind of interesting here, sign up here and get a free gift, right? A lot of people do the pop up at the very beginning of the buying experience. This email capture form here is at the very end of the experience, which I would love to see what a test looks like between retention rates of people who sign up before they shop or after they shop. So something you guys can really start to think about there.

And speaking of email, and this is, you know, Campaign Monitor being an email service, this is really where it starts to get interesting to me, right? The order confirmation in the shipping confirmation email, these all are the same. This is extremely boring to me most of the time because they start to lose all personality, right? Somebody just bought from you, right? Think about this for a second. Somebody just bought from you and you’re telling them, “Hey, your order…” Like, “We’ve received your order.” And then the next one is, “We’re shipping your order.” There’s some really fascinating stuff here and yet, even big companies miss the mark on this.

Here’s one from Adobe. “Thanks. We received your payment. If you’d like to print your invoice, sign in and view your Billing History under Manage Account. Here’s how much you spent.” Right? Okay, cool. Glad I bought from you. Right? Here’s another one, right? Subject line, “Shipping Confirmation for Order 1272.” Granted. This is one of ours. This is a store that we have internally, so where we just ship products to our merchants or people that we work with. So we don’t really put a whole lot into this, but still, if this were a bigger part of the experience, right? All of the items from order 1272 have now been shipped. “Here’s your order. You know, they’re being shipped to your address. Thanks for ordering.” Right?

Another example here, you know, “Thank you for placing your order with Urban Professor. This email has been to confirm your recent order.” Like, it goes back to what we were talking about here. In a relationship, the details are everything because they remind you just when you needed to be reminded the most why you fell in love in the first place. Like, this is the point where somebody is actually committed to you. It’s massive, right?

Some other research out here, right? Traditional emails like email receipts are frequently neglected. However, 64% of consumers consider transactional confirmation the most valuable messages in their inbox. In addition, they have significantly higher open, click, and conversion rates than bulk emails. And let’s just take a look at that, right? Massive, 114.3% open rate versus a bulk email. This was a study done by Litmus. So, you can have some context here, click-through rates, 12.5%, people clicking through their transaction emails. Like, they’ve already got the order confirmation. They’re still clicking through and they’re looking at the additional stuff that you’re sending through. Bulk emails, 3%. Transaction rates, 0.76%. People actually buying things from an order confirmation email versus a bulk email, which is 0.09%. This is huge and everybody is neglecting it. This is a huge opportunity for you to be looking at.

Here’s a quote from the founder of Receiptful. Purchasing something and receiving a receipt is an age-old interaction. It has become a habitual thing that we don’t even think about. When someone buys something online, they still expect to receive a receipt. To me, because this is a habitual thing that people don’t even think about, it’s prime for disruption where you can really easily stand out here and get somebody to want to buy from you a second or third, or fourth time because this experience is so personalized, right?

Here’s what we got, “Adobe Stock. Thanks. We received your payment.” And let’s see what it looks like when it actually, you know, there’s a little bit of effort involved. Harry’s is a great example of this, right? “Thank you for your order. Your order number is this. It’s estimated to be arriving around this time. And please note, this may change…you know, this can change your life. Okay. Maybe not your life, but definitely your face,” right? They’re keeping up with that brand interaction that’s been happening all the way around. There’s also an upsell here, right? “Harry’s Shave Plans deliver the right goods automatically. Unfortunately, we don’t also deliver pizza.” This is an upsell, really stealthy one to their subscription plan. And then there’s the order summary underneath. And it all looks very, very nice, right? Also inside here, you’ve got the brand story. You’ve got to give a shave which is the referral program, and then, you know, links back to the products.

There’s some more data behind this. Why this is important. Transactional emails have a substantially higher revenue per email. Transactional emails can make you about 75 cents on the email versus a bulk mailing, which is, you know, 13 cents, right? The order emails there. The shipping confirmation emails are on 80 cents per email versus 26 for bulk mailing, and 53 cents on a return and exchange email versus 19 cents for just standard bulk mailing.

Here’s another great example of what this could look like, right? You know, put a little bit of effort in here. Check out related products. Here’s an opportunity for more upselling in the transactional email. You see this over with Crate & Barrel, right? They also have the recommended products that are over here, something that you can take a look at. And one that I really, really enjoy. This is my favorite of all of them is what Loot Crate does when you’ve received your product. So they tell you that you’ve received the product, and you are also able to review the product and they’re telling you one, right? You plus the survey plus their research means that they can improve their products. They tell you about a contest that’s been going on and that you can share that. They have a digital magazine which will get you really involved. They have a bigger, better version of the product that they have and at the very bottom here, something that really gets people involved is their Instagram photos of people wearing the products that they’ve shipped in their particular subscription box.

This isn’t just things that are happening in the email, right? This isn’t just people buying stuff. This is social proof. This is content marketing. This is contest marketing. This is all happening. This is customer feedback boost, and this is all happening in the, you know, “thank you for buying” email or “your order has been received” email. So a big area that you could be looking at in your whole transactional process to start driving that repeat revenue and getting that person to buy from you a second and third and fourth time. But something that’s even cooler to me is the post shipping sequence. So what’s it look like when you buy something? Right? You get the order confirmation email. “Thanks. Your order has been received.” You get the shipping confirmation email. “Thanks. Your order’s on its way.” And then you’ll wait, right? There’s just this big gap in between when your order has been shipped and when it actually arrives on your doorstep. And in some cases, you completely forget that you even ordered anything.

I can’t tell you how many times I opened up the mailbox and I’m like, “Oh yeah, I totally forgot and I’m glad that it’s here, but I totally forgot.” And like there’s this big opportunity. There’s this huge missed opportunity in that gap of time. So I’m gonna go back to the Loot Crate sequence, right? Loot Crate does a great job of this. One day after you’ve received your shipping confirmation email, you have a invite friends and earn free loot. They start talking about the referral program. Two days after, they tell you about some other products that are related to the box that you may have ordered which is kinda neat. Four days after, they share with you some content marketing stuff that they do and they’d have these really well-produced videos that they do every single month that are with the theme of the thing that they’re sending out. This is not hard to replicate, especially if you are in fashion or any sort of lifestyle brand. Five days after the product has been shipped, they do another send for the refer a friend program, this time with a slightly different approach.

And then the day after the product arrives is when they send you the thing that I was showing you before, where it shows you everything that they were doing. They’ve got the review, they’ve got the digital magazine, they’ve got the Instagram stuff, and they do some of their referral marketing and contest marketing as well. Another really great example of this, if you wanna get out of the subscription, if you wanna an example that’s not subscription, Warby Parker does a wonderful job of this, right? Email one, “We’ve received your home try-on order number…” You know, and then there’s that. And it shows you the different things that you’ve purchased in the email itself. Right? Good news, right? This is all branded and this all looks really nice and it’s really consistent with everything else that they’ve done up until that point.

The second email that they send you right after you’ve purchased, right? This is the shipping confirmation email, “Here it comes. Your home try-on order has been shipped.” And then you’ve got the tracking number. All very, very clear here too, right? I love how big the tracking number is here because a lot of times, there’s a lot of research that supports that people will end up returning their products once they receive them because there wasn’t a clear insight as to where their products were. And there’s a big customer service that happens as well when it’s in tiny little text, which you saw in a bunch of the other emails. You could barely see what any tracking numbers were. This is huge. It’s right there. It’s easy to see and you are gonna minimize, I believe, anyways, your customer support that that might happen from, “I ordered this a few days ago. Where is it now?” Right?

Email three. This happens a few days after that the product has been shipped. This talks about, you know, 954 customers asked us what our favorite frames were. And now they can start getting into particular upsells, they get people thinking about other things that they might have involved. But what’s even more interesting to me about this is that it’s showing that there are real people behind the scenes, right? You have an opportunity here. If you have people within your company, you can introduce your customers to the real people behind the scenes here and really get to endear people not just to the brand itself, but to the people who were running the show. At the end of the day, we all know that we’re just doing business with another person. So why not introduce that here? And, again, it’s subtle, but it’s one of those things that I believe makes it so your customer support that will go down and it will humanize the brand itself because when you know that you’re talking to a real person versus somebody just doing a job, it really changes the way you interact with them.

The fourth email that they send before you receive the product, right? Oh no, this is the day that the products actually show up. “We’re thrilled that your home try-on box has arrived. Here’s how to put on your amazing pair in three steps.” This is a great example of like if you’re at work and you receive this email and the product shows up at your home, now you have something to look forward to for the rest of the day, right? Every single one of our days is full of these interactions. It’s just a lot of our days are just kind of full of the same stuff over and over and over again. And now that we’ve been building up this rapport with Warby Parker during this email funnel, or this email process, now that the product is here, it’s kinda like, “Oh man, I really can’t wait to get home to try these on.”

It brings me back and I think of this in a very different kind of way. It brings me back to when I was probably eight years old and I knew that I had rented a video game, and I could not play that video game until I was done with school. Right? All day you’re at school, then you’re doing that thing, and you have that thing to look forward to when you get home and like you do your chores in order to play your game. This is kind of that same sort of primal like thought process that’s going on here. And it really gives people something to look forward to. Because Warby Parker, his whole business model is built on, you know, buying things and then sending back the things that don’t work. You have to make sure that people actually return the products. So they have an email that goes out the day after you’ve received the product, says, “How are those frames treating you? We hope you found a great looking pair. Want to get those frames into your life? Shipping’s on us. Free returns.” Right?

This, again, it communicates this whole value proposition of what Warby Parker is all about, but it also makes it so people aren’t sitting on their orders for too long, and it also helps to solidify that shipping and return policy, which a lot of people get really nervous about when they buy products. You know, is it okay for me to return these things? This just keeps reiterating that point. Yes, please return this. We’ve got it covered. You’re in good hands, right? Big Part of the Warby Parker value proposition. Something else that’s really interesting, right? Next email that goes out. “First Impressions and second opinions.” That’s the title of the email, right? “We can help with style, fit, and any other questions you might have. Snap some pics and, you know, send them our way using this particular hashtag.” This gives them a really nice way to deal with the customer service interaction, but also connect to social media, right?

So much we’re asking people, “Hey, connect with us on Facebook or connect with us on Twitter,” or wherever, but we’re not giving people any reasons to do that. And here we go. We’re saying, “Hey, there are real people here. We are willing to put in our opinions on this and you also have the ability to do that with your friends by connecting with us here. So really, you know, utilize this.”

And this is all happening through email, right? This is a super personalized channel. So this is a really great way to do that. Once the trial is over for Warby Parker, they give you all of the information you need in order to send the product back. So, again, like you can just…there’s a lot of clarity behind this returns process, which I think everybody could benefit from especially if you’re offering free returns. And then, if you can’t decide, if they start to find that you’re not sending the stuff back right away, they decided that that’s probably an indication that you are having trouble figuring out what you wanna do. So there’s another sort of touch point that says, “Get in touch with us. We’re here to help you. We want you to look good and feel good.” And then once you ship things back, they let you know, “Hey, we got them.” So you’re not going to accidentally get charged, right? This is the behind the scenes sort of meta part of this message. “We received your product. You’re not going to get charged because we received all the stuff that you didn’t like. I’m glad that you liked this.” Right?

Why do all this? Right? This is a lot of effort. This is a lot of extra steps to the entire process. And it takes a lot of resources, right? And it takes a lot of thought and careful planning. And it comes back to this slide, right? If people buy from you a second time, they’re willing to buy from you a third time or fourth time and a fifth time. And that number keeps going up. That probability of people buying from you more throughout the course of that first year, goes up. Now, one of the last times I gave this presentation, somebody asked, “What if you only have a product that, you know, they only need to buy it from you once? Something like furniture?”

And I don’t know if I quite knew the answer to that then, but I do have a better understanding of what that answer might be now. And it wouldn’t be optimizing for the repeat purchase at that point, it’s optimizing for the social referral, right? Something like furniture and that sort of customization experience or the experience of buying furniture, if you’ve made…if you’ve gone through this whole first run buying experience, letting people know throughout, “Hey, you’re in good hands. You’re safe. Here’s our personality. You’re gonna like us.” They’re gonna refer you to other people along the way and if you’re baking into that email process, you know, your referral programs and in other parts of the communication that you want, you know, people to be engaging with, there’s a big gap there that most people aren’t filling and now you’re taking the time to say, “Hey, we’re just trying to get to know you,” and start moving people towards your second goal. Or the next goal of, you know, either buying a second time or referring a friend.

But we’re not done, right? The next thing and probably the most important thing to me is the unboxing experience. So many times I get a product in the mail, I’m looking forward to it. You get excited and you get hyped up about this thing that you’ve ordered. “Men, I just got this new shirt.” Or there was this style service that I subscribed to a while back and I was super excited about what it was going to look like and feel like once I open up that package. And then it ended up in just like this plain white bubble wrap package and it was really disappointing. The unboxing experience is the first tangible experience that a lot of people are going to have with your brand. It’s the first time they’re gonna touch your brand, right? We don’t think of it that way. We think about unboxing as the sort of cost and, you know, “How do we get things to people more efficiently?”

But when we kind of switch our thinking around and go, “This is the first time they’re gonna have a physical interaction with our brand. How do we physically show what we’re all about?” It really starts to change your perception of what that’s gonna be like. So here’s an example from a Shopify customer, that’s me. They send out axes, right? One of their products is an axe. And they could send this out in just any sort of standard box. But what do they do? They send the felling axe in a box made of wood with wood shavings in this really quality tag on the inside that shows, “Hey, this thing is yours, right?” The company, the brand values itself on this sort of handmade quality. And if they were to send these in just any standard shipping envelope, then you would lose some of that stuff that got you interested in the brand in the first place.

So this is something that you really can focus on and really drive that tactile experience home for your existing customers. And the cool part about it is, two, is that when you’re focusing on this sort of unboxing experience, it’s not just a way to make your customers feel good, which is sometimes, you know, I understand that it’s hard to justify to the bosses and everybody who’s going to help make these decisions and sign off. It actually is a marketing channel as well. Take a look at YouTube. You type in unboxing, there are 39 million results for the…now, this slide was taken a long time ago. I imagine that’s actually going to be significantly higher now. But this is a real sort of marketing channel for people because your existing customers are going to, some of them, not all of them, you know, it’s not everybody, but there’s a big group of people who like to bank these types of videos.

This is something from Trunk Club, right? First Trunk Club back in 2013. When this was taken, it reached 126,000 views. And this was just from a regular person, right? This was just an average customer who was doing this unboxing video and because other people were searching for either a Trunk Club unboxing or reviews on Trunk Club itself because they were in the consideration part of the process, this is the stuff that shows up and you are doing something here. You’ve got that built-in social proof, but you’re also giving people a sneak peek into the experience that they’re gonna have when you were building out these sort of interactions. Here’s another example. Bevel is a company that makes razor specifically for African-American faces, right? And facial hair because it is a different kind of facial hair. They have this really quality unboxing experience.

It shows, “Hey, we’re not just sending you a razor and some stuff. You’ve got this hand-written note here.” And you can see people are excited, right? Wow. Unboxing bevel. Wow. You can feel the care put into this product all the way down to the packaging. It’s a good look. And look what I got today. I’m excited for my next shave, right? Like, there’s huge network effect possibilities here. If you’re really just focusing on this tactile experience that your brand is delivering. And you don’t have to stop at just the unboxing, right? The packaging itself. Some things you can do, some really simple things you can do to make this better, right? You can do inserts, right? Very standard stuff, right? Ten dollars off your next order of $20 or more, right? Julep does this, right? Thirty percent off your next order? Right? Just neat little custom inserts really help to drive that experience home.

Another company, Beardbrand, love these guys, yeah. They send out samples of other products, right? Pretty simple, straightforward stuff, but you give somebody the facial scrub and the beard oil and a little sample of cologne and who knows? They might buy from you again, especially if you’re combining that with an offer that was, you know, in the other side. And then there’s another company, they make these remotes or these mounts that fit onto a PlayStation controller that allow you to control your iPhone and Samsung Games through a regular PlayStation controller. They don’t even do anything that’s on brand. They send box to smarties. Or they add little smarties into the packaging so you get candy.

Johnny Cupcakes is another company that does this well. You know, an old school power ranger card, right? Some really well-designed inserts here that are just kind of neat and little temporary tattoo stickers, right? Just really, really simple stuff. But it makes somebody feel special when they open this up, and really drives that experience on that. Like, “Hey, we care. You’re not just a number.” Again, this is the stuff that gets people to want to buy from you a second time, right? Another thing, really simple, Jawbone does this. It’s great. Hand-written notes, pretty straightforward. Hand-written notes. “Thanks for getting in touch. We hope you continue to enjoy your up band from the customer care department. And look at what their Erin is saying here or the person who tweeted this out, “Dear every company that cares about its customer service, this is how you do it. A hundred and sixteen retweets, 69 favorites, right? Simple, simple, simple stuff.

Another company, 2BigFit does this, right? They send you the customer discount and a hand-written note, and, you know, you see over here, I tried to cover the first trunk as much as possible. Trunk Club does this as well. You have interactions with Trunk Club in particular. You interact with your stylists. So now there’s this handwritten note that really just starts to drive that offline and online experience together. Starts to show that there are real people behind the scenes, and you really have that, you know? This really starts to drive home that this is people doing business with other people. Now, I know what you’re thinking when it comes to this, hand-written notes might not be scalable for my business. It’s fair, right? Don’t wanna ask your customer service reps all the time to be writing stuff and that’s not what their job is. So why would they do that? There was a company called Bond out there that actually, you do a handwriting sample and then it turns your handwriting into a font, and then a robot writes these cards for you.

And you can see just from this little bit of an interaction or from this little bit of a slide here, it actually looks like handwriting because of the way that the technology works, it’s absolutely incredible. And just one more, you know, way to show you can use these if you don’t wanna give discounts or hand-written notes or any of this other stuff. Here’s something that a company called Frank does, their coffee scrub. They just use an insert to showcase personality, right? To be frank, I’m a simple coffee scrub and I can’t wait to be on you. Get naked, get dirty, get rough, get clean. Here I am, the original frank. Soak up all my essential oils, minerals, and my special coffee blend.” Right? People, this ask them, “Hey, take pictures of us on Instagram and take pictures, you know, share us on Facebook and Twitter. Share your experience.” They’re not even offering anything in exchange for that, but people are so excited and so endeared to the brand that they’re totally willing to do it.

Frank, their Instagram account, last time I checked it had around 83,000 followers. There’s some real value to that and it starts to close up some of those repeat buying loops and getting people too endeared to you over, and over, and over again.

And that’s the end of my presentation. Thank you so much. And if you have any questions, please feel free to either enter them in the chat box here, or hit me up on Twitter. Tommy is my name and I’ll give it back to Aaron just to do the rest of the housekeeping stuff.

Aaron: Perfect, Tommy. That was absolutely awesome. I think some of those are statistics that you shared with us around, like the importance of repeat purchases, that was super eye-opening for me. That one graph that you had about the probability of like further repeat purchases and how it increases with each repeat purchase made, that was something I’d never even thought about before, and obviously, that has such a significant effect on like, the lifetime value of a customer and subsequently the overall revenue of your ecommerce store. So, I really, really thank you for being on here today, Tommy. And just to wrap everything up, guys, as I mentioned at the start, we’ll be sending out a link to the recording of the webinar. So keep an eye on your inbox for that and feel free to watch it at any time. Share it with people that you think might get some value out of it, whatever you wanna do. So, again, a huge thanks to everyone for attending. Hope you got a huge amount of value out of it and have a great day.

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