During Recession, Retain Best Customers Online

Originally published in Target Marketing’s Tipline E-Newsletter
by Britt Brouse
May 7, 2008

During economic downturns, marketers should focus first on their current customers to protect market share and keep generating sales. In its whitepaper, How to Beat the Bear: Seven Secrets to Recession-Proof Marketing, e-mail marketing firm Silverpop advises targeting current customers online.

Silverpop recommends incorporating behavioral targeting systems within e-commerce, Web analytics and other online platforms in order to boost revenue and improve brand loyalty and positioning. Two prime examples of online customer behavior that warrant targeted messaging are unpurchased shopping cart items and abandoned sign-up processes; finding out why customers abandoned a shopping cart or a registration form can improve loyalty and encourage a purchase.

For e-commerce platforms, recommended behaviors to target include last product purchased, amount purchased in last 90 days, amount purchased last year and amount purchased to date. You can create unique messaging for each circumstance, Silverpop explains, offering rewards such as a complimentary item offer, an incentive for moderate buyers to purchase more, a percentage discount for more purchases this year and loyalty incentives to the top customers.

Within Web analytics, if you know when a customer last visited your homepage, you can alert her to new items available since her last visit. If a customer visits your support page, you then have the opportunity to follow up to see if his needs were met. When you see a customer revisiting a particular product online, create a rule to tailor future offers to that product. Finally, when you see a customer has clicked-through from an e-mail to your site, be sure to repeat a similar call to action in future campaigns.

Sending a survey to current customers will also generate more triggers for one-to-one digital messaging. Birthdays and addresses can be used for birthday greetings and new store openings, while a customer satisfaction survey can serve as an acquisition platform whereby happy customers click to forward your offer to friends.

Once it is clear which customer behaviors to isolate and act on, marketers can collect relevant information in their databases from each online source and follow up with relevant messaging like clockwork.

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