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Seven Customers Retailers Should Know


Retailers are fighting to engage customers and keep them from going elsewhere. And smart retail marketers know that nurturing existing customers to increase lifetime value is the fastest, highest-ROI route to near-term revenue growth.

The more accurate your predictions -- which individual customers will buy and when, how much they will spend and what products they will buy -- the more effectively your product recommendations and offers in emails and ecommerce sites will stimulate more buying. Segmenting customers by value potential and risk is also a key step to improve targeting of messages, discounts, and incentives appropriate to each customer’s lifecycle stage.

Building from the ground up by scoring each customer individually, you should be able to group customers into loyalty segments representing their lifecycle stage. Marketing to customers according to their stage often makes the difference between success or failure for marketing campaigns.

Here are the seven customer lifecycle stages retailers should look for:

1. Loyalists

High value, low-risk customers. These are the best of the best customers who buy most frequently, most broadly, and spend the most. These customers are usually the best targets for cross-sell items, as they have brand loyalty and numerous transactions.

Also, since many loyalists will make a purchase whether they are marketed to or not, large discounts are not necessary to move these customers. A strategy that some of our subscribers use is to offer a discount only to loyalists if they include a cross-sell item in their purchase, thus increasing their total basket size.

2. Nurturers

Low risk, mid to low-value customers. This group, and underperformers, are usually the most interesting groups of customers. Nurturers are buying consistently and periodically, since they have a low risk score. But they are not high value customers, in that the dollars they spend are low or they may not buy very broadly across categories, or as consistently. Either they are buying at capacity, in which case they will stay where they are, or they are buying other products from competitors. A little investigation and some targeted programs could increase the dollars per order for these customers and increase their value.

3. Underperformers

High value, mid to high-risk customers. These are customers that used to be better customers, but recently have fallen off their expected pattern, either by buying less per order, or buying less frequently, or both. There are many valuable customers in this segment, and reversing their behavior is essential to increasing revenue. Fortunately, these customers typically have an established purchasing history, so making relevant product offers is easy to do. However, these customers may need some additional incentive to get back on track, so deeper discounts are often recommended.

4. Faders

Low value, mid to high-risk customers. These are customers that never really established a significant buying pattern or no longer have one. They make sporadic purchases of low dollar amounts, and they typically buy very narrowly across categories. Other metrics, such as expected value, can be used to determine which customers in this group are worth the cost and effort to save vs. which ones are not profitable in the long run. Deep discounts and rich offers are usually required to move these customers, but may not be cost effective.

5. Win-Backs

High risk customers. These are customers that have not made a purchase in a long time and have a high likelihood of defecting. These customers can almost be considered as acquisitions because of the effort involved in regaining their business. Ordering these customers by Value Rank can give a starting point for a campaign. The advantage of these customers over new acquisitions is that they have some purchasing history, and relevant product offers are possible.

6. One- and Two-Time Buyers

These are customers that have made at most two purchases, where a purchase is defined as a unique transaction date with positive revenue. These customers may not yet have a clear loyalty segment, and may be separately targeted from other customers in re-sell or cross-sell campaigns. Most companies have a significant number of one and two time buyers and motivating them to a third purchase significantly increases the likelihood of future purchases and significant lifetime value. By analyzing the patterns of one and two-time buyers, along with those that went on to make further purchases, loyalty builders enables more effective product recommendations to this group.

7. Inactive Customers

An analysis of the transaction data can be used to determine the most appropriate cut-off point, in terms of number of days since a purchase, to designate a customer as “Inactive.” Inactive customers are generally expensive to pursue, although some customers who formerly were high value at some point before going inactive might be worth the effort.

Peter Moloney is CEO of Loyalty Builders, whose marketing lift service offers a simple, cloud-based predictive analytics service enabling marketers to get revenue lift from more relevant communications to their customers. (@LoyaltyBuilders)

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