How to Lose a Customer in 3 Ways

Something about her caught your eye. She was a keeper.

So you wooed her (ever so cleverly, of course, lest she get creeped out). You sent her a few messages, revealing your interest. You showed up in times of need, even offered suggestions she may have never considered. Eventually, you invited her to your place, where you pulled out all the stops to prove you cared more than the rest.

And then it happened: She clicked “buy.”

A conversion! A boost in KPIs! A sexy quarterly report!

But now what?

A purchase is not the end of the consumer journey. It’s the beginning of the customer relationship. Where that relationship goes after that first transaction depends on what a brand does next. Too often, marketers don’t do enough. Sometimes, it even seems like they’re deliberately sabotaging the relationship, a la Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. And today, there’s no excuse for this.

Look, she’s given you her data. She’s proven her interest. This is the time to make your next move and take this relationship to the next level. Customer identity solutions make this possible. By continually connecting an individual’s digital data with offline sources, such as CRM, POS or contact centers, brands can build a persistent identity asset that informs the best way to reach and engage her at each stage of the relationship and win brand loyalty.

But maybe you’re not ready for a relationship. Maybe you like the chase. A lot of brands seem to. In our own research, nearly 75% of marketing leaders still claim acquisition is their top priority, despite being most unhappy with customer retention rates, lifetime value and Net Promoter Scores. And they continue investing huge amounts of money into acquisition strategies that, if successful, will still cost them 16 times more to bring a new customer up to the level of profitability of the one they just lost.

If you’d rather play the field than commit to a long-term relationship, here are three surefire ways to make sure you never see a first-time purchaser again.

1.Check out on her when she checks out with you.

Remember, today’s buyer journey is no longer linear. It’s cyclical. Brands that want to establish high-value relationships are building off that first transaction by creating seamless and connected 1:1 interactions across all channels and distribution points.

Consider, for instance, a beauty brand. When a shopper buys new cosmetics online, she receives a customized tracking experience, where she can see what’s going on, find information, even sign up for SMS notifications. This not only makes her better-informed, it opens up new opportunities for the brand to engage her with recommendations, deals or educational content to get her excited about her purchase. Or say she purchases in store: the retailer offers her online tutorials on how to use her new product and directs her to its app, where an augmented reality feature allows her to view herself trying on digital makeup.

On the other hand, if that’s not the kind of long-term, lucrative relationship your brand wants, then whatever you do, don’t engage a new customer post-purchase with any helpful or convenient experiences that may entice her to do business with you a second time.

2. Treat her like a stranger.

This is a real deal-breaker. She’s just purchased from you, so now she’s more receptive to your communications, especially if they are personalized promotions based on her shopping patterns or alerts for special sales or events that may be right up her alley.

If you don’t want her sticking with your brand, then bombarding her with irrelevant messages is the way to go. Without continuous identity resolution, this is super-easy to do. Some suggestions for turning her off forever: Retarget her with ads for the product she just purchased. Being followed around the web with the same ad for weeks, maybe months, is sure to annoy. Or, equally irksome, send her generic, blanketed communications.

3. Bug her incessantly.

One of the hallmarks of a good relationship is knowing when to leave someone alone. This means not hounding her with messages when she shows up online. It’s also what consumers hope to see happen more in the real world: Sixty-two percent of shoppers worldwide say that by 2020, they want to be able to find what they are looking for in a store without engaging a salesperson.

This future is a real possibility if marketers are connecting their online and offline data to make the in-store experience more simple and convenient. That could mean using shoppers’ web-browsing patterns to organize the physical store as a showroom so people can easily view and test offerings, or pairing in-app shopping lists with floor maps for quick product location. One-buy brands should stubbornly ignore these types of golden opportunities.

All sarcasm aside, the bottom line is this: Customers aren’t playing hard to get. They’re simply hard to get — and keep. While snagging someone’s first purchase is a huge milestone in her buyer journey, it’s just one step toward building a long-lasting brand relationship. And if marketers don’t strategize the post-purchase experience, it may be her last, too.

Originally published May 30, 2017

Kathy Menis

Kathy is an expert in technology marketing, with 20 years of experience creating and leading strategic, results-driven marketing programs. She was formerly the CMO at Signal.

Subscribe for Updates