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Benjamin K. Glaser
December 8th, 2020

10 Secrets to Growing Repeat Customers

Acquiring new customers may seem like a big win for online businesses, but repeat customers are superior by just about any measure.

Table Of Contents

A frequently-cited report from Bain & Co. stated that “increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.” A more recent study by SailThru found that increased spending on retention by companies produced a “near 200% higher likelihood of increasing their market share in the last year over those spending more on acquisition [of new customers].”

Moreover, according to a 2020 Yotpo survey, 68% of respondents said they’d join the loyalty or VIP program of a brand they’re loyal to, while 56% said they’d be willing to spend more on a brand they’re loyal to, even if cheaper options existed elsewhere.

The bottom line: growing repeat, loyal customers is just good business. Read on for the 10 secrets we’ve compiled to help you create repeat business and drive LTV.

1. Help guide shoppers to the perfect product the first time around with reviews and UGC

The best way to ensure a second, third, and fourth interaction with a customer is an outstanding first interaction. And one of the most effective ways to close a deal is with user-generated content (UGC) and product reviews. New potential customers consider your previous customers to be a more objective, reliable source of information than your business itself — in fact, UGC can increase conversion rates by as much as 200%.

Organic beauty brand Green People shows off their UGC in onsite galleries and allows shoppers to filter reviews by topic.

The most simple and straightforward way to display reviews and UGC is on your product pages, alongside the products themselves. You can use a reviews widget to create an experience by which shoppers can filter reviews by the topics most relevant to their needs. User-generated photos and videos, moreover, can be displayed directly on product pages or on your homepage in Instagram-style galleries, showing your products (and satisfied customers) in action, and saying more than a written review could.

Pro tip: Target customers (via email or SMS) who have left positive reviews and encourage them to join your loyalty program.

2. Provide amazing customer service

It bears repeating: customer service is essential to customer retention. Data shows that companies that perform at the top of customer satisfaction in their industries “grow revenues roughly 2.5 times as fast as their industry peers and deliver two to five times the shareholder returns over the next 10 years.” Keep that in mind the next time you’re choosing between short term returns and long term quality.

3. Incentivize your customers to engage with your loyalty program

The key to a successful loyalty program is to offer diverse actions that shoppers can take towards redeeming rewards, as Japanese snack subscription service Bokksu does in the example below:

 

From following the brand on Facebook, to posting about them on Instagram, ordering three boxes in a row, redeeming points for purchase, and much more, Bokksu encourages shoppers to engage with the brand in various different ways in order to earn points. These points can then be applied towards different, high-value rewards, including discounts and exclusive free boxes.

Pro tip: Award points for purchase frequency (i.e. “Get 25 bonus points with your second purchase!”) 

4. Create a novel and unique unboxing experience

Your customers’ first physical interaction with your brand starts when they pick up the box your products were shipped in — don’t sleep on this crucial moment of connection! Create a buyer journey that is engaging from discovery all the way through to delivery by investing in a next-level “unboxing” experience.

By personalizing everything from the box itself, to the bubble wrap and packaging materials, and by including special goodies like a small gift or special card, not only will you be inspiring customers to buy from you again and again, but you’ll also be encouraging them to document their unboxing experience. Combine this with a well-timed review request email, and you’ll be able to collect photos and videos that you can then display on your site and social to influence future sales.

Pro tip: Add a beautifully designed loyalty card insert to your unboxing experience to capture customer attention at a moment of high engagement

5. Offer choices when it comes to your loyalty program

Not everyone wants the same benefits out of a loyalty program. By giving members choices when it comes to rewards — discounts, access to exclusive products, early access to sales, special members-only gifts and more — you’ll not only help your customers feel more “seen” by your brand, you’ll also collect valuable data about what members want. For example, are your customers more likely to save up their points to work towards less frequent but bigger rewards, or are they happy to redeem their points in exchange for smaller but more frequent rewards? Looking at these simple statistics can help you make decisions about the most effective loyalty strategy for your business.

6. Engage with customers through well-timed and personalized messages


51% of customers are interested in being able to text with their favorite brands. When combined with the average SMS open rate — a whopping 98% — a thoughtfully-tailored message sent at a critical moment can re-capture a potentially lapsed customer’s attention, bringing them back to buy again. Take the example above where a dissatisfied buyer has returned their purchase. By sending a text message apologizing for the below-optimal experience and then offering a discount towards their next purchase, your brand has the ability to create a satisfied, repeat customer out of one who might have never purchased again. 

7. Reward customers with exclusive membership.

Highly motivated shoppers will go above and beyond loyalty programs. With a paid membership program (think Amazon Prime), they will further strengthen the connection between themselves and your brand, and find even more reasons to shop. The model, designed to drive LTV, works like this: you’ll receive their membership fees upfront plus ongoing repeat business. In exchange, you offer them, among many other options, frequent and even more compelling discounts, at a greater rate than what they’d get through your loyalty program alone.

Pro tip: Incentivize customers to join your membership program by offering them 15% off for the rest of the year in exchange for signing up. 

8. Support causes related to your company identity and values

In a recent Yotpo survey, we asked respondents if they were more inclined to be loyal to a brand whose values aligned with theirs. An incredible 82.0% of respondents said yes.

Showing your support for different causes or displaying your brand values can take on a variety of different forms — creating a page on your site dedicated to your brand’s commitment to sustainability, for example, or sharing a list of charities your brand supports with concrete ways for your customers to get involved. You can also promote dialogue around important social issues on your company blog, or even directly enable your loyalty program members to donate to a given charity with eCommerce donation solution ShoppingGives.

9. Create a VIP community for loyal shoppers

Nothing motivates people like exclusivity. Offer shoppers 10% off their next purchase, and they might shrug. But tell them that the 10% discount is only available for VIPs, and you’ve got their attention. 

Lingerie disruptor ThirdLove capitalized on this strategy by creating a tiered VIP loyalty program, “Hooked,” with the entry level free to join and future levels based on lifetime spending. As a result, their loyalty program account creation increased by 400%.

10. Offer a subscription service

While many think subscription services are only useful for items purchased in bulk, like food and beverages, brands across all industries can still take advantage of the recurring revenue model of a subscription service by offering benefits like free and/or express shipping, access to exclusive or members-only products, recurring store credit, or personalized offerings. Incentivize shoppers to sign up by offering discounts in exchange for joining, and make sure to clearly emphasize all the benefits they’ll receive and potential money they’ll save by joining.


In today’s churn-and-burn corporate world, customers can sometimes seem like any other resource to be used up and replaced through growth. But before you focus entirely on acquisition, consider these practices to grow a more satisfied, more profitable repeat customer base. Your customers — and your bottom line — will thank you.

Learn more about how Yotpo can help you grow repeat customers here

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