Both B2C and B2B marketers know by now that nurturing a shopper into a true loyal customer is about more than getting them to their first purchase. It’s about understanding the buyer’s journey/buying process and optimize the customer experience. In fact, the second purchase is the key to putting them on the path to a long-term relationship, and it’s not until a shopper has made 3 or more purchases that most companies classify a customer as loyal. It makes sense, then, that marketers would want to do as much as they can during those early stages to nurture the customer relationship right away and get shoppers from purchase 1 to purchase 2, from 2 to 3, and so on.

But what happens once a shopper crosses that 3+ purchase loyalty benchmark? Unfortunately in most cases, nothing. While many brands will do everything in their power to convert one-time shoppers into loyal customers, once they cross the loyalty threshold, most will stop engaging them with the same level of care and attention that they once had.

The rationale is that loyal customers aren’t as likely to churn or walk away as new customers are. But that doesn’t mean that a loyal customer can’t and won’t switch loyalty if they feel like they’re not being valued. According to Zendesk, 82% of shoppers have stopped doing business with a company entirely because of poor customer experience, and that includes first-time shoppers and loyal customers alike. Marketers need to understand that there’s no end date on nurturing a customer relationship – just because a shopper is proven to be loyal doesn’t mean that they don’t need to feel that their business is appreciated.

How can marketers drive customer engagement after each additional purchase?

Offer loyalty discounts thanking them for their continued business

68% of shoppers believe that coupons generate loyalty, even (and perhaps especially!) among the already-loyal. And any message you send thanking shoppers for their ongoing engagement and offering a discount on their next purchase is not only a way to drive purchases, but is one of the best way to demonstrate that you value and appreciate your loyal customers.

Suggest new products that they’ll love

One of the best thing about engaging with loyal shoppers is that with each new purchase on their end, your brand acquires new information about their preferences and needs. This makes it possible to send highly-personalized messages with suggestions for other products and product categories they might be interested in exploring, based on what you already know about them. (And if you can kill two birds with one stone and turn your suggestions into a cross-category upsell campaign, all the better for your relationship with your shopper – especially since true brand loyalty is defined as a customer that purchases from multiple categories.)

Influence their buyer behavior by inviting them to take part in exclusive offers like product releases and flash sales

One of the retailers we shopped with during the holiday season used our newfound engagement to invite us to an exclusive, members-only holiday sale, in an attempt to drive purchases and to create a feeling of exclusivity around our relationship with them. When you’re seeking to thank your loyal shoppers for their business at every possible juncture, offering them special loyalty-only perks like exclusive product releases and flash sales is a great way to keep engaging with loyal shoppers in a creative way.

Marketers cannot ignore customers just because they’ve proven to be loyal. The key is use personalized marketing campaigns to continuously ensure that your customers feel appreciated, while reminding yourself that customer experience doesn’t end at loyalty. The upside is that while it’s not a guarantee that your loyal customers will stick around forever, they are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new product than their first-purchaser counterparts. Essentially, it’s a win-win – you’ll be creating strong relationships with your shoppers, while seeing increases in purchases and revenue.

Sruthi Narayanan

When Sruthi's not writing and editing marketing content, Sruthi spends her time volunteering for a Cambridge-based arts organization, singing in a post-collegiate a cappella group, and reading novels to her cat, Monty.