How to Encourage Repeat Business Based on Your Buyer Cycle

Beyond time to initial purchase, understanding your customer buyer cycle and figuring out how to drive repeat business can seem like a guessing game.

As a marketing automation tool, Klaviyo is–quite frankly–sitting on mountains of data. From click through rates to customer calls, we have a deep understanding of the struggles ecommerce marketers are facing. Recently, we have been talking more about how we can take all of that data and turn it into valuable learnings for our customers.

Demystifying what we’ve learned about setting up emails around buying cycles seemed like a great place to start. 

1.  Establish Goals

Beyond, “I want to make more money”, determining specific goals for your repeat customers is critical for business. Goals hold your marketing efforts accountable.

Where to begin? Your initial goals don’t have to be lofty.

A goal might be as a simple as deciding, “I want to increase the number of repeat customers by (%) by (month)(year).”

Remember, these goals are just a place to start and not a number to live or die by. Use them to drive your strategies and tactics, not as an ultimate measure of failure or success.

Once you’ve documented your goals then you can dive into the tactical plan of how to get there.

2. Identify Your Buyer Cycle

One of the critical mistakes marketers make is not recognizing the natural buyer’s cycle that has developed within their customer base. The first thing you will want to determine is the frequency at which you can expect customers to buy.

We’ve bucketed three major types of buying cycles:

Replenishable Goods

Anything that is consumable or could be considered a subscription would fall under this category. You could be selling anything from cat litter to wine to shampoo.

Let’s look at fictional company, Somerville Sommelier. They sell curated wines. Somerville Sommelier knows that it takes the average consumer thirty days to consume an average order of wine.

How do they know this? Each order they sell contains three bottles, they could look at the purchase behaviors by repeat buyers to better understand when and how frequently people buy.

With this information in mind, Somerville Sommelier sends an email reminder out to everyone who has placed an order before they run out of wine. They send the reminder when they know someone is about to run out– by staying slightly ahead of your known buying cycle, you can make sure your reminders are timely.

They could also added filters to segment out anyone who has an auto-renewing subscription or has purchased a three or six month order, preventing over communication or sending irrelevant messages.

Seasonal Goods

Unlike replenishable or subscription goods, seasonal goods typically follow a longer break between purchases. This can make it a little harder to forecast, but it’s still achievable!

Apparel is a great example of a seasonal good. Apparel retailers know a lot about their customers based on when they see spikes in revenue.

Let’s take the example of a children’s apparel store. One of the benefits of children’s apparel is that kids are always growing, so they’ll need new clothes regularly. But sending the emails at the right time with the right message is crucial; parents and caretakers are busy, so you want to be ensure your messages are helpful.

If someone makes a purchase in August for three pairs of navy pants and three white shirts for their child, it would likely be an indication that the purchase is a part of back to school shopping (and in this case, for a school uniform). A flow could be built to trigger a year from that initial purchase date for navy pants and white shirts. That’s a no-brainer–easy and relevant!

If your goals are focused on having a customer order a new item, you might set up a flow to cross-sell. If a number of purchasers of navy pants and white shirts went on to order black shoes, you might setup a cross sell flow for anyone who purchased navy pants and a white shirt to receive an email about your black shoe selection.

Big Ticket & Unique Purchase

Finally, we get into the buying cycle that might seem the hardest: unique or big ticket items. Some examples would include: a musical instrument, sporting equipment, and a wedding ring.

Let’s examine the wedding ring. Buying a ring can often be a very emotional and expensive sale for consumers. Maintaining a good brand experience while also trying to cross-sell other products could seem to be at odds. But there are thoughtful yet tactful ways to accomplish this.

It all comes down to how you can be helpful to the situation at large.

A purchaser of a wedding ring would likely also be interested in:

  • Wedding band
  • Jewelry cleaner
  • Jewelry box

If the wedding date was requested at the time of purchase, the vendor could send out a flow a month before the customer’s wedding anniversary with some gift ideas for the upcoming date.

Anniversaries can be tough to 1) remember and 2) shop for, so this flow could come off as helpful and relevant.

This type of cycle comes down to understanding when another product could assist the original product in a timely fashion.

3. Dig into Your Data

Your business is likely brimming with fascinating data points about customers and subscribers. Deciding how you want to slice and dice that data really should go back to the goals you’ve set.

Marketers should ask, “what data points would help me better understand my customers?”

For a replenishment buying cycle, a great way to start is by observing the purchasing habits that loyal customers already have – by understanding how existing customers engage with your store, you can figure out the best time to nudge those that might have fallen off your natural buying cycle.

For seasonal goods and unique purchases, marketers can look for cross-selling opportunities by grouping similar orders.

4. Look for Improvements

Once you’ve established one or more autoresponders based on your goals and buying cycle, you’ll want to take some time to look at the results of your hard work.

Dig deeper than “did we meet our goal” to find meaning.

If you missed your goal, try to determine why.

A few questions to ask are:

  • Were the constraints of my goal realistic?

Ex: Looking to achieve 2x in sales in a week is not exactly a sound constraint.

  • Did I have any other issues outside of email that might have affected the results of this test?

Ex: If your website crashed for a few hours or if you ran out of a certain product.

If you achieved your goal, congratulations! You should also dig into why it was successful.

  • Did anything unusual (such as PR) drive attention or traffic to your business during this time period?
  • Do you think the goal was aggressive enough?
  • How can you build out your segmentation to get even more targeted?

This could be location-based segmentation or targeting based on other demographic information.

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