Much of the specialized engagement tactics for first-time shoppers stops the moment they hit checkout. Which, on paper, makes some kind of sense: Most brands generally need to do some extra lifting to convince a shopper that their business is legitimate, their products are beloved, and their policies are sound.
But we’d suggest there’s plenty of value in giving first-time customers the VIP treatment all the way through their purchase experience, including into the post-purchase phase. The ‘jobs to be done’ of building trust and earning loyalty has only just begun, even if you’ve managed to convince a shopper to buy something.
The more your new customers feel the love, the more likely they are to be satisfied with their purchase when it arrives, make a repeat purchase, and talk up your brand to everyone around them.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up 9 smart ways to engage first-time shoppers and keep them coming back for more.
#1: Provide a personalized experience from start to finish
Pop up offers, loyalty program sign-ups, and special welcome promos are just a few of the tactics merchants regularly deploy to onboard new shoppers. Leveraging segmentation allows you to go beyond that initial handshake or greeting. For example, new customers should:
- Be pointed more frequently toward bestsellers and top-rated items to build trust and interest
- See repeated mentions for loyalty program sign-ups throughout their journey, including at checkout
- Receive offers for support to help them understand how to use a product (ex: product demos or tutorials, or drop-in sessions)
Understand the barriers or objections to purchase through surveys, heat map monitoring, or customer service interactions, and build a unique buyer journey for first-time customers that specifically addresses them. The more support they have along the way, the more likely you’ll have conversions.
#2: Expand understanding of product relationships through automation
Product catalogs are built for coordination (all the better to drive AOV, after all). But to a new shopper, they can be overwhelming and sometimes confusing. Automated personalized recommendations can help shoppers understand what products are frequently bought together, related, or simply work well together. Offer upsells and cross-sells in the cart and at checkout to give first-time shoppers as many opportunities as possible to buy complementary items. The idea behind upsells and cross-sells isn’t just to make more money (although that’s certainly a perk). It’s to give shoppers the best experience possible by acquiring items that work together and give them a more well-rounded product experience.
#3: Upsell services to boost long-time customer satisfaction
For many businesses, it’s not enough to simply buy a product and be done with the transaction. Warranties, installation, and white glove delivery are just a few examples of upsells that can not only boost the bottom line, but seriously enhance the customer experience. When everything goes right the first time – no frustrating hours spent putting something together! No calls to customer service about a missing piece! – then you’re way more likely to have a repeat customer on your hands.
#4: Provide supporting content to go with their purchase
It’s not always about upselling or cross-selling more products. Sometimes it’s about ensuring a customer is going to get the max use out of what they’ve bought. Syncing product data to content is a great way to round out the customer experience. Push blog articles, videos, or podcasts related to the product they bought and your customer will instantly feel more connected (and ready to use their new purchase).
#5: Promote auto-replenishment offers
One of the best ways to boost LTV for any brand is to offer subscriptions. It can be hard to convince a first-time shopper to commit to a subscription, but it’s still worth doing so with a heady incentive off the hop, and targeted messaging and offers after their initial order is received. Consider including messaging like, “Was it love at first sight? Get a whole year’s worth for 30% less than you paid – that’s like getting more than 2 months free!”
#6: Connect with customers on a local level
Even DTC brands can earn some real facetime with their customers. Invite shoppers to stop by a brick and mortar location if you have one, or pop up, or even consider going the experiential route. Host a special private event and invite new shoppers from the area to attend. Bonus points if it’s helmed by a local influencer to drive even more awareness and incentive to attend.
#7: Make the unboxing experience one to remember
Roll out the virtual red carpet when it comes to new customers, all the way till the moment they open their package. Consider including a special welcome gift to sweeten the unboxing experience, or invite the shopper to make a repeat visit by including a special offer with a coupon code that’s unique to them.
#8: Add a touch of personalization to the post-purchase phase
Transactional emails have an open rate that’s up to 20-40x higher than a typical promotional email. This is a great opportunity to queue up your first-time shopper’s next purchase by incorporating personalized recommendations into emails like order confirmations, shipping notifications, and delivery notices. You can even offer recommendations when asking shoppers for recommendations – assuming they’re happy based on everything else you’ve delivered up to this point, they’ll be more primed to make another purchase.
#9: Take extra TLC during the delivery phase
New customers are always going to pay extra close attention to delivery times – how soon can they get their precious new pick? Go above and beyond with delivery updates at this stage – let customers know when it’s being packed, shipped, and estimate delivery. The more transparency, the more trust you’ll build.
First-time customers are the best customers
Think of your first-time customers like the beginning of a new relationship: There are endless possibilities for where to go from here, but only if you nurture them.
Treat customers well on their first interaction with your store and they’ll be more willing to come back for a second round. Keep up the engagement by staying in touch, personalizing their experience, providing customized product recommendations, and giving incentives to stay loyal to your brand.