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Bringing customers back again and again after that first checkout is the key to building a strong e-commerce business: Custora’s research has found that a 1% increase in customer retention leads to a 5% increase in profit per customer.
The challenge? Customer retention can be achieved using a seemingly infinite array of methods. Email campaigns, referral programs, promotions — the list of ways to boost retention goes on and on, and encompasses many integral components of a well-rounded customer communication program.
But the reality is that your customers spend the bulk of their online lives not on your site or reading your emails, and any retention-boosting efforts that do not acknowledge this fact will fall short. Luckily, it’s easier than ever to win back old customers on the web’s most popular destinations.
Start at the Top
As the old real estate adage goes, it’s all about “location, location, location.” To plan a successful strategy for winning back customers, marketers must prioritize the locations where those customers live online. And no matter what you sell, you can probably guess where your customers spend much of their time: Google and Facebook.
According to Alexa’s ranking of the most popular, highest traffic sites on the web, Google comes in at #1 and Facebook at #3. (YouTube, a Google property, is #2.) No big surprises here. It follows that you’d want to include a presence on these sites to re-engage your past customers while they are searching or socializing.
Fortunately, both Google and Facebook have built powerful, native retargeting capabilities into their ad platforms that marketers can use to easily create “win back” moments.
Let’s start with Google. The search giant provides marketers with a multitude of different ad types, ranging from the familiar text ad in search results to call-to-action banners that appear during YouTube videos. For retailers advertising on Google, though, it doesn’t get any better than Shopping ads.
Unlike traditional text ads, Shopping ads feature an image of an actual product, its price, and who’s selling it — right at the top of the SERP. Their scrollable carousel format also makes Shopping ads great for mobile shoppers. Unsurprisingly, e-commerce marketers are seeing revenues from Google Shopping rise every quarter.
To sweeten the deal, two new tools — Customer Match and Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSA) — can help morph Shopping from a pure acquisition channel into a place for nurturing valuable customers at key moments during the purchase journey.
Here’s a quick breakdown of these features: Customer Match uses email addresses from your database to increase (or reduce) CPC bids to serve those consumers Shopping ads when they are searching for relevant products on Google, a strong indication of purchase intent.
RLSA functions like traditional retargeting: Marketers create dynamically updated lists of users based on their on-site actions (such as page views or checkouts), and then adjust CPC bids to surface Shopping ads for these visitors as search results.
Both features are super simple to add to an existing Shopping campaign in AdWords — and the results they can drive are impressive.
Before Google made Customer Match for Shopping publicly available, Sidecar had access to the tool’s early beta program. In our research for one customer, we learned that Shopping ads equipped with Customer Match resulted in a cost/click of $3.57, which was a fraction of their CPA for Shopping ads not using Customer Match.
On the RLSA front, we analyzed 7.7 million Google Shopping user sessions and found that Google Shopping ads served to previous purchasers also outperformed other Google Shopping ads. The conversion rate for these ads was 20.3%, while their return on ad spend (ROAS) clocked in at 15.08. And when you consider that these ads are driving repeat purchases, and that they are kicking off the shopper’s journey to becoming a loyal customer, their value increases substantially.
The best part? Both features, Customer Match and RLSA, can be set up in Google Shopping with no headache. For busy marketers, that’s always a bonus. Sidecar wrote an e-book on turning Google Shopping into a customer retention channel with these tools, which you can grab for yourself here.
Let’s shift gears for a minute and talk about Facebook. For one thing, Facebook’s users are your customers; the world’s largest social network has 1 billion of them, and ranks as the world’s #1 mobile app. Moreover, the average user spends a whopping 50 minutes each day using Facebook, Instagram, or Facebook Messenger.
Like AdWords, Facebook offers e-commerce retailers numerous ad formats to promote their brands and products across its properties. Some are best suited for raising awareness or fostering engagement, while others are intended to drive direct response sales. Facebook dynamic ads fall into the latter category.
If you aren’t familiar, don’t worry. Dynamic ads are a newer ad format, but when it comes to winning back new customers on Facebook, they’re tough to beat.
Here’s the skinny on dynamic ads: Using a Facebook pixel installed on your site, dynamic ads show past site visitors or purchasers relevant products from your catalog, directly in their newsfeeds, with ads that mirror the native look and feel of a Facebook update. Dynamic ads can track and remarket based on user behaviors including page views, cart abandonments, and checkouts to re-engage existing customers and site visitors.
Sidecar looked at 21 million Facebook user sessions and learned that ads served to past purchasers beat other dynamic ad campaigns in terms of ROAS (it was was 243%) and average AOV (28% higher).
Not bad. By combining the scope and scale of Facebook with the power of retargeting, dynamic ads for retail are a powerful tool for bringing customers back after they’ve purchased. And because Facebook dynamic ads were only introduced in February 2015, e-commerce marketers who jump in now can still claim the inside track.
For the full scoop on Facebook dynamic ads, check out Sidecar’s e-book, Facebook Dynamic Ads Deconstructed.
In the time it took you to read this post, hundreds of new websites were launched across the globe. With such a vast ocean of choice, retail marketers need to be smart about the avenues they choose to communicate with customers online.
Adding Facebook dynamic ads and Google Shopping’s RLSA and Customer Match to the marketing mix are simple ways to maintain a presence on the web’s most dominant properties, and reap the benefits of those sites’ popularity.
While it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, these tools can give e-commerce marketers a foothold on two places where your customers are virtually guaranteed to be, and help them turn more one-time buyers into loyal customers.
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