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Buyer-Retention in Your Hood

Buyer-Retention in Your Hood

Tourist season is back, and people are swarming. Congratulations, your new window display is pulling them in by the dozen; it looks like putting that sexy mannequin in the easy-to-see spot was a great idea, and the “Have a Coffee On Us” sign is bringing in almost more traffic than you know what to do with. You’ve got people coming into your shop – now what?

Getting them in is only half the job. It’s time to give them reasons to stick around, buy something, and come back next week - but how? We're going to look at some ideas to increase your buyer-retention rate.

Here’s a few ways to transform your step-in window-ticklers into stop-in grab-buyers.

Market Research – Start With Knowledge

You’re an expert in the things you sell, but do you know your user stories? Have you grouped the type of people who will buy what you've got on offer? What about the competition - summarizing their customer stories may well help write your own as well.

Hood 2

Get to know your customers - that's the first step in turning that drop-by flirt into a lasting love affair.

Hood 3

Let’s think for a moment of your favorite Chinese takeaway spot – yeah, the one with a big yellow sign, funky letters, a name that could start a meme on its own, and a well-priced late-night menu. They don’t have the best food in town, sure, but they’re open when you’re hungry, and they give you what you love. They know their audience – (yep, that's you!) – and they’ve been serving up fried rice for longer than you’ve been on the block.

So, what user stories do they know? They know that you will call in from seven doors down, place an order at 3:00 am, and stumble in 45 minutes later for some of General Tzao’s deliciousness. They know you'll have the phone number on the fridge, and there's only room for one takeout joint. No false pretenses, their regulars want good taste at a fair price, at any hour of the day or night.

What your favorite corner joint has figured out over the years is a set of basic characteristics that differentiate you (namely that you live in the area, like Chinese food at random hours, phone in orders), and at least one unique selling point to distinguish them from their competition – a slammin’ late-night menu.

If the owners of the now-closed Peking restaurant on the opposite corner had done their market research, they would have realized that staying open past midnight was a must, as that keeps their number on your fridge. By not having late-night hours, even though they are open in the day, they have lost you as a daytime customer.

Finding the user story

To get started on your own user-story research, come up with a list of questions. Who’s buying? Where do they come from? How old are they? Why shop here and not next door, etc. Then use this list to think about what makes your clients unique, what separates you from your competition, and how you can get them even more excited about your site. Once you’ve got that list in hand, think about individual use-cases, which can quite often be summed-up by:

"As a {type of user}, I want {some goal} so that {some reason}."

So, in our Chinese Takeaway example, "As a late-night worker, I want some quick food I can eat while watching a screen, so that I can eat and work at the same time."

From that we could say, ok, quick ordering (maybe numbers next to the menu items), add a menu printout that will fit on a fridge with each order, show a box of noodles so it's clear it's easy to use, and a big 24/7 callout.

Keep It Classy, with Optimization

Providing a consistent “brand experience” has been a focal point of marketing and ad agencies since the terms “brand” and “experience” got in to bed together and made the 80s. The idea is simple - you want your customers to have an equally great experience every time they use one of your products. This helps build trust, and keeps them coming back for more of your great thingamejigger. In the current days of online reviews, setting expectations and delivering on them consistently, also help to reduce 1-star feedback.

An important part of delivering a uniform brand experience is keeping your site and products up to date, while also preserving the bits (like color scheme or logo) that make you stand out. As people make the move to mobile, your business needs to move with them. Providing a consistently functional, attractive, and user-friendly website across devices is now every bit as important as maintaining uniformity of color, font, and logo.

Providing your lovely customers with that warm and cozy feeling that says: “I really know (and love) this company”, now requires that you give them the great experience they’re used to, across all of their devices. A Huffington Post article by the well known startup magician Ian Mills points out some great reasons to optimize, while warning of an ominous 30% conversion loss for those that refuse their tablet-savvy consumers.

Hood 4

For those of you who like routine as much as I do, the value of consistent brand experience and mobile optimization should be an easy concept to grasp. For those of you wildcard-wielding-renegades, take a quick walk in my shoes, and see if you can understand where I’m coming from, and why optimizing for mobile is essential.

Don’t Let the World Fall on It’s Head

Once a week, I put on my lucky pair of loafers, the rest of my Sunday best, and stroll down to Library – my favorite neighborhood coffee shop. They serve up stout espresso in a cozy environment, and they treat all of their caffeineies well. It took me a while to find the place (since it’s tucked away from my normal walking route), but from the moment I stepped in, they had found themselves a new regular.

Now, if one Sunday down the line, I were to walk in with my backpack and early-morning frown, only to find that all of the furniture had been swapped-out with inflatable rubber ducks, I’m pretty sure I’d be disappointed - my brand expectations would have been different. If I managed to hold my balance, it would only be for long enough to barrel down the road and find the next-best coffee shop. It might be impossible to find an atmosphere as good as Library’s but the random furniture change might just scare me away for good. Starbucks is a good example of this - they have different types of seating to cater for different user stories. There's the couch for the couple, the single table for the guy catching up on email, the armchairs with a shared table for a business catch-up, and the window stool for the drop-in crowd-watcher. If you're one of those user stories then you know that any Starbucks will be able to satisfy your user-need, as they have such good brand expectations.

Hood 5

Tip: Get Pros on the Case

You're always going to be better at growing your business than learning a new one - it might be an idea to hire someone with experience.

Content People with Good Content

Alright, so, you’ve gotten to know your users, you’ve figured out what they like, and why they like it; now it’s time to make sure they want to stick around.

Why do they keep coming back for more? We need to create a reason, and these days it will quite often be a combination of your great product that you're selling, but also whatever you're using to generate the brand 'feel', for example, in writing articles related to your area of expertise.

Hood 6

Since we’ve been thinking about some of the neighborhood’s best drop-in spots, I should probably give you a side-slapping story about the mustachio’d barber who once sat on my corner, and whose stories were good enough to bring beardless adolescents in for strait-razor shaves, right? But, I’m not going to do that.


Because good content has tremendous force - so much force, in fact, that it may be the cause of our nameless barber’s middle-aged retirement. Neighborhood barber in absentia, let’s take a look at one of my all time favorite ad campaigns, produced (and starred in) by one of the internet's content kings – Michael Dubin.

I’ve highlighted this video because it does everything good content needs to do. Sure, it covers all of the basics: it tells me what he’s selling, why I want it, and how to get it. But, it also pushes the envelope, and shows that he knows me (ie. my user story). He uses knowledge of me and my story to provide content that’s funny and engaging enough to get a Thumbs-up or a Share, (and even to get his own special shout-out in places like ...right here).

Content that Sings and Dances is More Fun than Straight Text

Research shows that people engage more with combinations of text, image, video, and sound (such as spontaneous opera singing) than they do with text alone. Give your visitors the occasional mixed-media lagniappe to keep them engaged.

With all this in mind, take a trip to the dollar shave club and see why I’ve decided to leave my barber shop story out this post. (The secret is, he just can’t compete with such awesome content) AND if you still think I should have kept Mustachio in the article, add a comment below, and I’ll write the story out and send it to you personally!

Pro-Tip - Make Your Happy Reader an Active Writer

Comments are great - unless they're hate mail, comments on your blog posts, pictures, and videos let you know that your audience is engaged. The responses are also great to help you better understand the people who visit your site.

Make Your Window Shopper Feel at Home

So, you’ve got awesome products (well done there), a good number of window shoppers (congrats), a killer plan to land them on your page (you're welcome), and now, you’ve also got the chutzpa to keep them excited about your store.

Don’t forget to combine different strategies and see what works best for you. Do Your Market Research and get to know your great customers better through better user stories. Then, with that knowledge of what they like and lust for, tailor-fit your website, and optimize to keep it classy across platforms.

Once you’ve got that sweet look and feel consistent, take a 30,000 foot view, and make sure that all of your stop-in shoppers have every reason to stick around and come back next week.

What user stories have you set up for your own brand? Let us know in the comments below.

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