Customer Retention 101 - Prevailing With Branding Post Purchase Webinar


Curious about our next webinar? Check it out right here!

On January 31st, 2019 our very own Andrew Maff got to sit down with the Cody DeArmond, Director of Sales of ShipStation to talk about customer retention, the post-purchase journey, and how to use your branding to create loyal customers. Listen in as they talk about the ways you can prevail with branding in the post-purchase journey!  Learn more about ShipStation: 










Andrew Maff:  Once again, of course, thank you so much for everyone who started joining us so far. we're going to go over customer retention, branding after purchase, so forth. But first we can kick it off with, we'll kind of introduce ourselves and explain to you guys a little bit who we are. So Cody, I'm happy if you guys would start it off.

Cody DeArmond:  Yeah, for sure. Thanks again everyone. My name's Cody DeArmond. I'm here at ShipStation in Austin, Texas. I've been here about five years or so. I head of the account management team. So my team is really fortunate. We get to work with thousands of businesses every day, anywhere from entrepreneurs to enterprise businesses, help them really refine their eCommerce practices, especially on the shipping side of things. So it gives us a really cool front row seat to all of these growing businesses, hopefully help them along the way, make their lives a little bit easier. Nobody's that excited to spend time shipping. So we try and cut that time down, let them focus on the parts of their business they are excited about.

Andrew Maff:  Perfect. Beautiful. Andrew Maffettone. I put Andrew Maff because the last name is too long and never fits on these slides. I'm director of marketing and operations here at Seller's Choice. We are a full service digital marketing company for eCommerce sellers. We work with sellers of all different sizes. Me personally, I've been in marketing industry for a little over a decade now, so I just love doing this kind of stuff. So this has always, some of my fun times when we get to nerd out a little bit here. So I'm going to do it with Cody today.

So let's kind of go over a little bit, obviously standard webinar stuff. We're going to have a Q&A towards the end. Of course, I like to make this as interactive as possible. So as we're going, please feel free to send over any questions while we're doing this. I'm happy to kind of let people to kind of interject here and go over some stuff.

And then of course for attending, we wanted to thank you guys. So Cody and I have a little, a couple extra free things we wanted to give you. So of course, make sure you guys stick out through the end.

So today, like I mentioned, we're going to be talking about post purchase branding, so everything to keep the customer with you after you purchased. Of course we'll go over extending the lifetime value or customer, building an audience, differentiating from other sellers, providing an experience, providing extra value. We're going to go all over that fun stuff. So you're in the right place if that's what you're looking to learn today.

So I will kick us off here. So one of the first things, so we'll go through the process. What we've really started to learn here at Seller's Choice that a lot of sellers like to focus on, the process of getting the sale. And then once they get the sale they're happy and it's done. Well, doesn't really help you too much with extending the lifetime value of a customer and being able to keep them with you longer.

So when we, this is usually, I wanted to start with this because this tends to be one of the first things that every time I pitch this idea, everyone kind of turned their heads like, why am I running ads to someone who's already purchased with me? One of the best ads we've ever had, that we've run for sellers in the past is actually a thank you ad. It's not asking them to do anything except like the page. It's just simply community building. And the benefit here is you can customize those ads as like a thank you note or in some cases we've done videos directly from the owner of the business or anything like that to actually thank the customer for purchasing.

It really increases the engagement. And of course it grows your followers on social media, which is now allowing you to keep that customer longer and keep your brand in front of them longer as you're posting content and so forth.

Of course, we also have the UGC. So for those of you who don't know, user generated content. So this is something where hey, thanks for purchasing with us. We're looking for the month of January, the best person who can use our product in a funny way. Take a picture and comment below and let us know what you think. Then you're getting a ton of extra content from your customers. You're getting a post that is engaging. And you're keeping that customer involved with your brand after they've made that purchase.

So this is kind of a bunch of different ways that we can actually continue to grow the community on social media post purchase. Obviously this is building your audience. You can keep customers updated. The biggest benefit to keeping a customer with you after a sale is, the largest benefit is obviously new product launches. We launch a new product and you have a community already built in. You don't have to fight for paid advertising or if you guys are selling on Amazon or anything like that, how many reviews did I get, et cetera. You can actually just launch a new product, tell your existing community and it'll start flying off the shelf right away.

So these are one of the top waYs that we like to start off with immediately, right after the sale, start running an ad to them that is just a thank you or just keeps them engaged.

Newsletters. So this one is standard, right? Everyone does a promotional newsletter. Great. They purchased with me. A month from now I'm going to send them 10% off to see if I can get them to come back. That's kind of standard. And email, although it's not dead and email tends to be one of the top KPIs that we try to focus on, sending promotional newsletters, people get them all the time. They're expecting that kind of stuff. That stuff doesn't really do it too, too much. If it happens to show up at the right time, great. If not, then you have the benefit of other things.

So what if I purchase with you and all of a sudden every week I'm now getting an email for a recipe or a fun joke or 10 ways that someone used your product differently than what you've previously advertised? Or hey, we have an update coming out or anything like that. Anything that you can provide to a customer after they've purchased with a little bit extra value is what gets that word of mouth going.

So if someone is to purchase with you and then all of a sudden they got a little bit extra, that's when they start to talk. That's why when you do these boxes or when you put some extra samples into the package or if you provide them a little bit extra, that's when they start to talk.

The other side of things too is you can partner with other companies and offer discounts to other stuff. So Dollar Shave Club does stuff like this sometimes where they will send out a discount code in their newsletter to a completely different company. It's relevant to their audience, but it's not anything that they're benefiting off of. And the only reason they're doing it to provide that extra value to their existing customers and it's keeping them going. It's keeping their open rates up. And I imagine it's probably also keeping their click rates up.

So then we look at community builders. So I touched on social media a little bit, touched on email, email is your actual community. Social media as you start to build followers is great community as well. Problem with email is, as I mentioned, people start to get a lot of emails. They don't open them as much. Social media, we all know that the algorithms are getting harder and harder and showing to less and less people. So we want to see okay, what are real direct ways that I can contact every single customer?

So one of the things we've suggested to do is doing like exclusive groups. So a Facebook group or if you're B2B, eCommerce seller, you're selling some kind of business product you can do it on LinkedIn. Or any way that you want to set it up. Or even if you have a form on your own website. Setting this kind of stuff up, it really starts to get your community together into the same place. But it makes contacting them a lot easier as well.

So in some cases, I used us as an example. So when we start to work with someone, they get access to our Facebook group, which we still have gated so that it's only e-commerce sellers. We don't let any vendors in there so they're not getting sold stuff. And if someone happens to slip through the cracks, we see it and they get deleted and then they get moved out of the group. So this is something that having that little extra area of community for your customers so that they can talk to each other is great. But then you're keeping them all in one place. So if you launch a new product, you're more likely to touch all of them and respond to all of them if they're in a Facebook group or LinkedIn group or anything like that.

Chatbots, there was one I was really excited to talk about because this one's a newer thing. Some people are doing it, some people aren't. To me, I've finally started to kind of get a little bit more involved with it here. We're starting to do a lot. And what I've realized is that the metrics that you read about where it's like, oh they're getting 70, 80 percent read rate and a 20, 30 percent click rate. And people read that and go there's no way that's happening. It actually is, which blew my mind. I thought they were false to.

But we started to do them and saw ridiculous rates compared to email. And a lot of sellers don't realize it works just like email. You subscribe to a bot and then you can unsubscribe to a bot just like you subscribe to a newsletter and you can unsubscribe from newsletter. So we'll run post purchase adds to say like hey, get involved with a bot. And you can set up little keywords and stuff for them to trigger like hey, thanks. Or you can send order confirmations and things like that.

But it's another area for people to subscribe and you can immediately them a push notification. Everyone's on their phones all the time. Everyone is always getting text messages and messaging each other. But they check their email whenever they feel like checking their email. And then there's so much garbage that they're just deleting a bunch of stuff.

With chatbots, you're sending them a notification, you're almost forcing them to respond or at least to acknowledge the message. So it's something that we've definitely started to see is helping on the community builder.

Then for membership, so what I meant here was some sellers what we set up is like a warranty program where it's a warranty "program". So essentially we'll send you your product. Inside there is something that says hey, register on our website for a warranty and you'll join our exclusive members group that gets exclusive discounts.

So now you've set up a completely different audience, but you're getting a little bit more of an engaged audience. So you can provide them with hey, here's your warranty information. You can send it to them in an email. But now you're sending them in a different list so you know that they're a little more engaged and they took that extra step. So you can offer them other discounts and a little bit extra to give them that incentive to be involved in a little bit more than your other average customers.

So loyalty programs, referral programs, these are always really interesting. These tend to be things where like this is kind of like the last thing that people talk about. It's usually like oh, I've set up a referral program, it's really not doing much or I've set up a loyalty program. It's really not doing much. And people tend to like set these and forget them.

This is a great way to keep people coming back and to be able to keep them engaged. So the thing that I like about the loyalty programs is depending on your audience, these work very, very well. Millennials love this stuff. Something about being able to get extra points and being able to level up and become a gold member or a premium member or however you want to call it, it really starts to resonate with them and it starts to move a lot. So when we have a brand that's with a slightly younger audience, we always tend to do these. I use Dunkin Donuts just because it's the one I always, even I get sucked into that one. So I use stuff like that all the time.

So having the loyalty programs is helping a lot with a lot of sellers. We've used different platforms. There's a bunch out there. There's Referral Candy. And then for Lead Dyno and Get Ambassador and all these other ones. And there's a ton out there. They all work really well. It's definitely something that we've seen helps with continuing the process because you can send them notifications of hey, you're 15 points away from getting $20 off next time you shop or something like that. It really starts to get them to come back.

And then of course the referral program, you're encouraging that word of mouth. So you're encouraging them to share and to actually start speaking about your brand outside of the purchase that they already made. So this is keeping that conversation going and allowing them to start bringing in friends and bringing in like minded people.

What a lot of sellers may not realize is that your average customer, their profile, chances are their friends match that same profile or are pretty close to it. So having a referral program in place, even if it's not a massive revenue driver, it's that little extra to encourage people to spread word of mouth and start talking about your brand after they purchase.

Box stuffers. So  when I put this picture in here, I thought it would be funny because it's stuffing. I knew I was going to come to this slide and as and be like, you know what? That's not that funny. So box stuffers, no, I don't mean putting stuffing into your box. So having a 10% off, having something after that to encourage the UGC, so your user generated content. Having something to encourage them to become part of your audience, part of your community after they've purchased.

So there's a wider range of stuff. We've done chatbot, ads on these things, we've done Facebook groups, we've done the warranty, we've done UGC requests like this. We've done 10% off. There's a ton of different stuff you can do. I know that a lot of people with, so every time I mention Amazon, everyone cringes a little bit. And when I mentioned doing stuff that may be against TOS, everyone cringed a little bit.

But for Amazon, what we've started to utilize is we've actually started to treat it almost like a lead generator. So if I'm getting sales on Amazon, great, but I want to keep that customer and Amazon won't let me do that. So you are not allowed to have any kind of advertisement or anything inside your box in Amazon. But if you have the product and then you have a box stuffer or anything inside your package that is against Amazon's TOS.

If you have your product and inside the packaging of that product is a box stuffer, then it's not against TOS. It's considered part of the product because they're not going to open up the product to make sure you're not doing that. So it is a way around TOS. It's a gray area. Maybe one day Amazon will do something about it. We've never had an issue with it.

So what we've done is we'll help sellers in that beginning stage when they're building a newer brand to drive traffic to Amazon and let those box stuffers drive people back to the site so that they can start to keep the customer and start to have them coming back. So we're actually using Amazon like a lead generator to get them to come back to the site and shop there.

Then you have your packages itself. So I gave some credit to a company we've worked with for called Company Box. I love all their packaging, their concept's really cool. This is if you have BarkBox or if you have, even if you've ever ordered anything from Amazon, you see that box and you go, oh, that's BarkBox. Oh, that's Amazon. That's standard classic branding.

So what I wanted to mention here is this is something that, I've always said when something cool starts to happen, marketers will ruin it in two to three years. I'm sure this will happen too where all of a sudden everyone's going to have branded boxes and then we're going to have to find another way to stand out. But until then you can still kind of be a first mover on this.

So it's that little extra of having a box and stands out. I have an apartment. I live in an apartment building. Whenever I go into our mail room, it's this big old room with a ton of different boxes and all of the ones that stand out aren't that standard brown UPS box. It's the one that is bright yellow or has a picture on or anything like that.

Company Box, they had a bunch of stuff. We did a webinar with them a little while ago and they kind of explained to me some of the things that people are doing. Some people stick to that same branding week, every time you place an order, obviously for subscription boxes this worked great. Some of them change it every month and some of them actually use it as a contest. They've actually had a seller who sold, I want to say it was like children's school supplies or something like that, and what they did is they would have a contest every month where they would have kids submit pictures and the winner would get put on the box. So every month they would change their boxes, but it would be like crayon drawings of something that a child put together and it was really cool. It really resonated obviously with the audience and it was awesome to just see like how many more people are just shopping with that because they thought the box was really cool.

Obviously they're very social media friendly. They're visually appealing, which, of course, we always have those classic videos of when something new comes out, you have the unboxing, which I will let Cody talk on.

Cody DeArmond:  Perfect. Thanks Andrew. You guys are probably thinking what is the shipping guy possibly have to tell me about customer retention and marketing tips? I want to turn this around. Think about yourself as the consumer. Think about you as your customer. And the last time you bought something online, I bet you were just like me. I bet you checked that email three times to see where your tracking was along the way. I bet when you pulled into your driveway, you looked for that package on your front step or you went straight to the mailbox. And if you're anything like me, you probably had it open before you even got in your front door.

So this means that this is all guaranteed traffic, right? A really common example here that we see with our employees or even my friends, somebody gets cool packaging. They get a cool box. They got a new pair of sneakers that they know everybody's been looking at. They send around with snaps of it. They put it on their Instagram. I know that seems maybe a little over the top but as a merchant, that's what you want. That's guaranteed referral traffic. Guess what happens when I got that snap of my buddy's new sneakers, now I want to go check that site out.

So those a guaranteed eyeballs for you. I know it can seem like an afterthought. I know shipping seems like a really boring part of the process. But you really have to start to think about this as a way of driving guaranteed traffic because, not to one up him, but Andrew touched on that 70 to 80 percent open rate. We're going to look at some data here in just a second. It's actually going to show you how you can send some emails are going to have over 100% open rates. We'll take a look at that here in a second.

And really easy ways to do a lot of this stuff too. So example you see on the screen here. FedEx has a really cool ecom label. That's what you see where where it actually folds out into a full blown a flyer for your company. So that's really cool option. But short of that you can even do little things like adding your logo to the actual shipping label itself. So it stops becoming such an anonymous process that was just sent out by some unnamed company. It really starts to come tailored to you.And over time those small touch points, that really consistency of brand is going to add up and it's going to drive repeat sales over the long run.

So great point. Yeah, couldn't agree more and we'll move on to touch on a few other things that are going to tie in with everything that Andrew had to look at here.

So this part is something I'm really passionate about. So I mentioned the over 100% open rate, right? We ran the data on this. On average your customers are opening that tracking email that you send them more than once, up three times actually. So when you send this email out, think of all the cool email campaigns, all the marketing strategies that you have. All of those are leading up to this point because you know people are going to click on this.

So what we oftentimes see is that merchants, as they're growing, maybe shipping was a bit of an afterthought and so their traditional track email goes out, says hey, your order has shipped, here's your tracking information. Maybe there you can do a really good job of personalizing that or having some message there. But then you click on that link and what happens? A new tab in your browser opens up, takes them over to or or, which is fine. It gives the customer the information that they're looking for, but it really doesn't do anything for you. You really just threw away some guaranteed eyeballs here.

So what we came up with is a process, what we call branded tracking. So you just upload a logo, include links to your social media, and now when your customers click on that link, they're going to be taken to a page that looks like this. Gives them the same information as if they went directly to the carrier, but it's going to be much more advantageous for you, the merchant, right? So it's gonna have your brand, again, consistent experience throughout this process. It's going to have links direct to your social media and website and it still gives the customer a great, maybe even an improved experience here.

So they know where their shipment is on the way, they know when they can expect it. They can see exactly where things stand. But then along the way as opposed to them just being sent to an archaic carrier website, they're getting exposed to your brand and linking back to your social media as well. This has been a really big driver of repeat sales for our merchants that we've seen put it in place. And with tools like ShipStation this takes probably 30 seconds or so to set up. So really, really easy way. Should be a no brainer.

Think about how you're leveraging this part of the process because you know that your customers are going to be engaging with this part, right? And then as part of that again, you can think about this holistically as a customer experience as well. So you can also, you can take this one step further, provide an easy return policy on this as well. We'll look at it a little bit more around how that can drive repeat sales over the long run.

But big picture, just don't throw away this part of the process because it might be the stickiest of the entire ecosystem. You've done all this work to drive the traffic to your site. You won the sale, you got the cart conversion. Now make sure that you're leveraging this because you worked hard to get to this point.

Andrew had some really good points on this. We definitely see the rise of multichannel when it comes to eCommerce with our merchants. That's why the tools like ShipStation are useful, because you can bring all of these into one place. I love what Andrew mentioned there about using Amazon as a source of leads and then driving that traffic to your other channels. So he touched on some great ways to do this. I see some merchants getting really creative around this as well. For our merchants that run several dIfferent websites, oftentimes I'll see them using a tool like ShipStation to include automated but seemingly customizable messaging that says hey, thanks for your order. We really appreciate it. You're now eligible for the discount off your next purchase. Again, you can work these promotional strategies into the tracking itself so you know that people are going to see it. So it really ties in nicely with what everything Andrew was saying. It's just that you can guarantee eyeballs on all of this as well.

With Amazon itself, of course, you can automate packing slips themselves. Part of the unboxing experience with a merchant, excuse me, what the customer actually sees when they opened the box, you're driving traffic to where it's the most profitable for you as well.

And then also not just the tracking email, but there are followup emails. Of course you can thank them for the purchase as part of the order confirmation process. You can direct them to where you want them to be. And then also at the tail end of the process, even an email confirming that their order has been delivered. That can all be automated. Again, these are all nice touch points to keep a consistency of brand throughout the process, driving eyeballs back to you so that you worked hard for this particular sale. And now you can drive it to the next one.

Real quick on this as well. We also see that for growing businesses, oftentimes the returns process that I touched on seems really scary, right? It seems like it's just a sunk cost. We actually ran some data on this as well. And the merchants have a really good returns process for their end customers actually see an uptick in sales over a one to two year period, up to as much as 58% on that front. So even though it seems scary, we really encourage the merchants that we work with to look into that. Depending on whether or not it makes sense for your product line, there are tools that are out there to make it a really self service process so you don't necessarily have to bring on headcount just to handle customer service. It can all be automated, streamlined and make it a really good experience for the customer so that they feel good about coming back. Even if that particular item didn't work out for them, they know they're dealing with a great reputable company and so they're excited to come back and purchase from them again.

So again, I know shipping oftentimes it feels like just something that you have to do as part of this process, but really encourage you to think about it holistically here because you have worked hard to get them to this point. You might as well use everything at your disposal to drive that next sale and the next one after that.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. And to touch on the followup emails thing as well, obviously a great point. The thank you emails, you can do a new customer email if they're brand new, sending them a different email than you would if it was a repeat customer and things like that. But on the what we kind of call the standard emails, right? Like your order confirmation or your shipment's on its way or anything along those lines, I've seen those emails go viral more than I have others. And those are always really, really well written and they're like a story. It's not so much hey, your order's on the way and here's a cool picture. It's more of so and so went and found out that you've placed an order. So he came in the room and kicked in the door and the door swung open. He said we got an order. So we all ran around and gathered everything together. And it's like a ... I've seen several of them where it's like almost like a paragraph, but it's a funny story about your order's on its way.

So I've seen a lot of really cool branding where you can make those more commonly boring and standard emails really stand out and kind of give your brand much more of a voice. And those have always been the ones where you can share them a lot more so you can fight for that more than 100% open rate because they're sharing it with all their friends. Which again, is kind of spreading out the word of mouth.

So that was everything we were able to touch on. Cody, did you have anything else you wanted to touch on before I, I don't know if I went through that slide to fast for you or not, sorry.

Cody DeArmond:  Yeah, you nailed it. I was just going to piggyback on that last thing you said. I even see merchants successfully maybe drafting up two or three different versions of their tracking emails and then automatically sending those based on maybe the product line or even the channel that the sale came through. So you can get really creative on a lot of these fronts without having to do much manual work at all.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah. That whole personalization side, I know and if you're a seller with thousands and thousands of products, that can be a bit of a pain to do one for each individual product. But instead think of it more on like a higher level of having like okay, maybe I'll just stick to a category. So if you ordered a shirt as opposed to pants, I'm going to rewrite the way this email is set up. Having that slight level of personalization, don't get too too crazy with personalization because it does still kind of freak some people out if you're like, hey Mark, I see that you're in Atlanta at this zip code, at this address. I see you in the bushes. You don't want to do any of that.

It's more of hey, I saw you ordered pants. Thanks so much. If you have any questions, please let us know. Like something where you can still personalize it based on what they ordered so they feel a little bit more special than just every other customer that's ever shopped with them.

All right. So love these kind of webinars where we speed through them. So not whoa, what happened here. So we're a little, weird. I don't know how this got all broken a little bit here.

so this is, obviously if you have any questions feel free to let us know. We have some free stuff to give away. I will send out an email after this and kind of rewrite some of this stuff. I'm not sure why this is all broken right now. But we here at Seller's Choice, we're giving away a free marketing audit. It's not a sales pitch promise. I'm not going to sit there and try to sell you guys on 500 things. We'll just dig through some stuff, look at high level strategy, explain some different things that you may be able to want to try.

If you go over to, I made the password baboon. I thought it was a funny word so I did. And then we have a free eBook for everyone to download as well just in case you guys don't want to deal with talking to anyone. Of course we set up a whole automated emails eBook on a lot of the top ones that we suggest setting up, which we've touched on a little bit today. But you guys can go over to that. We set it up as a bitly. so it's Again, I'll make sure all that stuff goes out in an email after this as well with Cody's. And I apologize for the broken links here.

Cody DeArmond:  Yeah, no worries. On the ShipStation side, I would just note that if you're spending more time on this entire process than you want to be, There'll be willing to talk to try it for free for a month. It just takes an email address. So feel free to check that out. My team can walk you through the entire process. Or if you already have a solution in place for maybe you're actually even already using ShipStation, definitely encourage you to check out that eBook around branding your shipping. Our team has done a really good job of putting together all these resources. They'll spell it out much more clearly than I probably just did.

But either way I definitely encourage you to check that part out, see how you can leverage to the tail end of this process to hopefully start the whole cycle over again.

Andrew Maff:  Perfect. Appreciate it. Thank you everyone. Really really appreciate it. We will send out an email. I'll make sure everyone gets all those links again. I'll leave them up here too. I will also make sure that we send out a replay if you guys ever needed to come back to it. And we'll put these up on SlideShare as well so anyone can access the slides if you ever need to.

Of course, If you have any questions or comments or concerns or if you love the webinar or even if you hated it, I'd love to hear from you guys so you can reach out to me on social or of course my email is But really appreciate it. Cody, again, thank you so much buddy. Closing remarks, anything you'd like to leave everybody with?

Cody DeArmond:  No. Thanks for having us. Thanks again everyone.

Andrew Maff:  Great. Thanks buddy. Have a good night and good luck out there guys.

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