Acquiring a new customer is not cheap.

You can spend months nurturing potential buyers through the different funnel stages; engaging with them in a personalized and relevant way across channels and devices; sending them discounts to encourage a purchase; and serving up content to make your brand seem fantastic.

Then, finally, you get a new customer over the finish line to buy your product or service. Phew, you think, that time and marketing budget we used paid off!

But did it? Can you really describe it as a job well done if that particular consumer shopped with you once and never comes back? A one-time purchase simply isn’t as valuable to your business as a repeat purchase.

Repeat customers are truly the lifeblood of any ecommerce store. In fact, repeat customers are responsible for generating 40% of a brand’s revenue. That’s why when they shop with you once, you need a strategy to bring them back and make a second purchase.

After one purchase, there is a 27% chance of an existing customer returning to make another purchase. But there is a 54% chance of them making another purchase after the second or third time they’ve shopped with your brand.

Getting your customers to make that second purchase is crucial. Here’s how you can engineer the repeat purchase, as well as some brands that are knocking it out of the park in terms of customer retention.

1. Post-purchase engagement

One way to drive the second purchase in ecommerce is by engaging with your customers in a relevant and fun way right after they make their first purchase. A great way to do this is with a welcome series. This could be anything from a simple thank you to an email asking for a social follow to sharing a video about how other people use the exact product the buyer has purchased. Not only will that keep your brand top of mind, but it will also encourage them to visit your website again.

This email marketing example from Peloton is great because it not only welcomes the new customer, it also pushes them to engage actively in the community with a quiz.

Make sure to keep the action you want them to take easy and relevant, instead of spamming your customers. And don’t bombard them with emails! Give them enough time to enjoy their purchase before you ask them to buy again. But just staying on their radar will make it more likely they buy from you again.

2. Second purchase incentive

It may seem like a simple thing, but the easiest way to drive a repeat purchase is with a coupon. Simply giving new customers 20% off discount code on their next purchase can be enough to increase your conversion rates. You should, of course, think carefully about how and why you offer coupons and have a solid discount strategy in place. But in this case, it often works like a charm.

This example from fashion brand Zalando shows exactly how that’s done. All you need is a simple email with a discount and you can drive that second purchase with ease.

These types of second purchase coupons generally perform extremely well and make the probability of a second purchase far higher.

3. Abandonment emails

Since your new customers are visiting your site again and perhaps taking a quiz or browsing new products, they may put something in a cart and then leave. If a customer abandons a cart or leaves after browsing a specific product line, you should treat them just like a first-time customer. Just because a customer has already purchased something from you doesn’t mean you should ignore the signals they are sending. Something has gone wrong, and you need to follow up to drive that second purchase.

Adidas created a cart abandonment email that is more interesting than the usual “you still have x items left in your cart, please please buy from us” missive. The company used humor in its cart abandonment email, suggesting that maybe it was the customer’s wifi that was the reason behind them not completing their purchase. Adidas also give reasons to back up why you should buy from them, namely user reviews and the ability to customize your sneakers.

Cart abandonment and browse abandonment emails are popular because they work! If you know who is browsing your site, and which products they are looking at, sending an automated and personalized abandonment email can seriously increase repeat purchase rates.

4. Loyalty programs

Loyalty programs are a tried-and-true method for driving long-term customer engagement and repeat business. If you want to keep your existing customers coming back for more, you need a loyalty program that makes it worth their while to come back. Whether you offer discounts, special access, or some kind of points-based gamification, loyalty programs can help a one-time buyer see the benefits of becoming a loyal customer.

Offering tiered loyalty programs is a great way to encourage customers to keep shopping with you, knowing that they will unlock better benefits the more they spend with your brand. That’s exactly what HotelTonight conveys with its loyalty email which explains how, by spending $250 more, you’ll receive extra discounts on your purchases.

There are many ways to create a loyalty program, so don’t restrict yourself! You can use points, referrals, and so much more. All of these programs will be sure to help your drive a repeat purchase.

It’s simply a fact: if you want your ecommerce business to thrive, you can’t focus all your marketing efforts on lead generation and customer acquisition. Customer retention — especially the hurdle of the difficult second purchase — is crucial to building a healthy average order value and customer lifetime value. It’s time to refocus on the repeat purchase.

Big thanks to ReallyGoodEmails for all the great examples featured in this post!

Karen McCandless

Karen McCandless is a content strategist, digital analyst, and researcher, specializing in business communications, and technology. Her work has appeared on The Next Web, Softonic, Business2Community, GetApp.com, Business.com, and Microsoft Europe.