Rethink Commerce Blog

5 Best Practices for Growing Customer Lifetime Value with Email

Posted on November 29th, 2016 by

Increasing engagement continues to be the top focus of marketing divisions in companies of all sizes, along with boosting conversion and retention metrics. Here are five best practices for growing your customer conversion rates and customer lifetime value (CLTV) with email marketing.

1.    Bring back lost customers

Some seven out of every ten shoppers abandon the cart during a purchase, but this doesn’t always mean that you’ve lost your investment in acquiring that customer, or the ability to build a relationship over time. You can employ any number of tactics to recover abandoned carts. Just be sure to make it easy for customers to return to checkout without having to go back through the purchase process. As a rule of thumb, the first follow-up email should reach potential customers within one hour of cart abandonment to be as efficient as possible. Approximately four out of every ten customers open messages related to abandoned carts (eMarketer).

We’ve tested different strategies and invite you to do the same, starting with the best practice below. Companies using Avangate’s lead management functionality consistently recover 5 to 10% of lost customers due to cart abandonment by engaging them through email. Strategies might include convincing customers to go back to the checkout page and finalize the ordering process, or enticing them to return to the website, read more and rethink their previous decision.

Best practice
Type When Why?
1.Basic follow-up 20 minutes after abandonment Win your shoppers over with the right words. Speed is of the essence here. Short attention spans plague online shoppers, so the sooner the lead management system can send a follow-up message, the better.
2.Basic follow-up 3 hours after abandonment
3.Promotional follow-up 2 days after abandonment If the right wording is not enough, a little incentive goes a long way. Offer discounts that an interested customer can’t pass up.
We’ve created guidance for this scenario

 

2.    Cross-sell to uplift revenue

Acquire. Engage. Convert. While you only need to do acquisition right once, the latter two efforts should be continuous. Monetizing your existing customer base is a best practice for growing CLTV. Just as upsells and upgrades remain options for customers throughout their journey, post-purchase cross-sell through transactional emails (which have up to eight times higher open and click rates than marketing emails) can also help you collect additional revenue.

Best practice
Include cross-sell offers in the transactional emails customers receive after they complete a payment. Leverage your existing customer data to engage customers with post-purchase cross-sell offers, making it clear how the new products you’re recommending have benefited others like them.

 

And since customers have already provided their payment information, there’s no need to make them go through the process again. A single click or prefilled data review is the fastest way to go, so customers see that you already have their information and know they can trust you with it.

 

3.    Help your customers complete unfinished payments

Unfinished payments don’t just cut into your conversion rate. They also impact retention. And they’re by no means limited to credit cards. You need to go beyond conversion and tackle revenue loss at every transactional point in the purchase process. Pay special attention to recurring charges, but also look at other payment methods, especially in markets like Brazil and Japan where domestic shoppers can finalize payments for online purchases offline at a bank or convenience store.

Keep in mind that your shoppers are genuinely interested in notifications about unfinished payments. You’re following up with them about an educated and voluntary action, communicating essential transaction-related information.

Transactional emails are a customer favorite compared with other types of notifications, getting a lot more love in terms of opens and clicks (for reasons mentioned above). In fact, transactional emails can drive up to six times more revenue than marketing emails. We’ve also monitored engagement, and as long as we’re dealing with soft decline (recoverable) error messages, these emails alone can recover from 5 to 25% of lost payments.

Best practice
Type When Why?
1. Instant payment methods 1 hour

1 day

3 days

Configure follow-up messages for unfinished payments and increase order recovery rate as much as 25% from all transaction failures.

 

2. Offline payment methods 7 days

13 days

3. Direct Debit 3 days

7 days

We’ve created guidance for this scenario

 

4.    Notify shoppers about subscription renewals

Churn is the silent CLTV killer, be it voluntary or involuntary, so turn subscription renewal events into opportunities to reach out to customers. Engagement plays a major role in consistently demonstrating the value of your products and offering proactive assistance to customers. And be personal: 74% of marketers agree that there’s a direct correlation between personalization and customer engagement.

Best practice
Integrated communication is a great way to cut voluntary churn, so don’t be shy when reminding your customers of upcoming recurring charges, to avoid any unnecessary chargebacks or refunds.

Target customers who opted out of recurring billing with new offers designed to retain them. At least 5 to 10% of customers can decide to renew via email.

5.    Recover hard declines through instant emails

There are some scenarios where all of the preemptive involuntary churn measures you can take just won’t do the trick. These include failover processors, account updaters or multiple retries. If payment attempts fail with a hard decline error message, this essentially moves the ball into the customer’s court. Hard declines recovery with Dunning management can lead to a 15% recovery rate, but you need to consistently follow up with customers in such scenarios.

Best practice
Type When Why?
Dunning management Instantaneous Avangate sends out email notifications to subscribers in danger of churning out because their recurring charge failed with a hard decline.
We’ve created guidance for this scenario

 

Conclusion

If you want to maximize the potential value of your customers, email is one of the most important tools you have at hand. When evaluating the best time to communicate with your shoppers, make good use of their every activity. Triggers related to in-cart behavior, payment outcome and order placement are so specific and effective that it would be a pity not to make the most of the moment and use all of the information that you have available.

We’ve gone through just five scenarios where triggered events, best practices notifications and quick customizations will help increase your sales and improve customer relationships over time. But there are many more opportunities to improve acquisition and retention, so use the information your shoppers provide you, experiment as much as you can and measure your results to see what works.

 

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Adriana Iordan

Sr. Director, Product Management

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