How to Engage & Retain E-Commerce Customers Through Mobile Messaging

By Elena Kozlova

Is it possible to overestimate the importance of customer engagement and retention for e-commerce businesses? Engaged shoppers are known to participate in shorter purchase cycles. Retained customers are nine times more likely to convert; at that, they’ll pay a 17% price premium for excellent service and spend a 25% extra on holiday shopping.

The only question a marketer may get is, how do I engage and retain customers in my e-commerce app? This is when mobile messaging comes into play.

Keep reading to learn the tried-and-tested tips proven by a long list of Pushwoosh customers.

1. Connect Your Online and Offline Data Sources for Granular Segmentation

In e-commerce, customer data comes from various online and offline sources. A website, an application, and physical stores represent multiple possible touchpoints with a customer. At each of these touchpoints, a customer may receive an offer; if data sources are not in sync, offers may look scattered or contradictory.

For example, a customer may log in to your app and see a “10% off for loyalty program members only” pop-up and then visit your website to see a “10% off for all customers” banner. Which offer should they read?

To avoid any risky situations for your brand credibility,

  • Put together all the data you have on each individual customer.
  • Whenever possible, try to connect individual touchpoints into a brand ecosystem with your customer in its center.
  • Segment your customer base by any essential attributes (demographics, geo, stated preferences) and behavior (in-app and on-site activity and purchase history).  This will save you from one of the most common mistakes of e-commerce businesses.
  • Synchronize your messaging to the chosen segments across the channels.

2. Match Your Messaging Channels with a Customer’s Stage in the Funnel

Needless to say, the ultimate goal of any e-commerce marketing campaign is driving purchases. But before a customer arrives at this point, you may want to follow them along their journey with relevant messaging sent to the matching channels:

  • Push notifications are great for getting a user back to your e-commerce app. You can easily target pushes to your chosen segments; you can even personalize the notification content for a particular customer, based on the products they have viewed recently.

With push notifications, you can hook those at the consideration stage and convert them to purchase a promoted item.

Customer’s Stage in the Funnel
Examples of push notifications sent by ASOS, Wish, and Lamoda e-commerce apps
  • In-app messages are effective when you entice a customer to their first-time conversion: let a promo code or a free delivery offer pop up when a customer hesitates to complete a purchase.
In-app messages
Examples of in-app messages sent by SHEIN, Wish, and Fashion & Friends e-commerce apps

Also, e-commerces love in-apps for cross-selling and upselling capabilities.

In-app messages
Examples of in-app messages sent by La Redoute e-commerce app
  • Emails are classic for any customer engagement and retention campaign. Whenever an e-commerce app user hasn’t opened the application for a while, reach them out with a compilation of new products they are most likely to buy.

Has a customer abandoned a cart and doesn’t react to push reminders? Make your last call with an email.

Examples of emails sent by Zara Home e-commerce app

If you wish to dwell on email marketing, there are some great tips mentioned in this post

  • Message Inbox is where you save non-urgent push notifications to engage the customers who missed them earlier. From this channel, you can expect repeat conversions.

3. Provide for a Seamless Omnichannel Experience

As you may have noticed, mobile messaging channels work best when used in concert. A push notification, when ignored, can be followed up by an email or saved to a Message Inbox; and when opened, the message from a push can be reflected in an in-app.

A simple omnichannel messaging sequence for e-commerce (made with Pushwoosh Customer Journey Builder)

If your goal is to meet your customers where they are and increase their engagement and conversions, omnichannel campaigns will take you to this goal perfectly.

4. Track and Gain Insights from Your Customers’ In-App Behavior

How many times has a customer opened your e-commerce app? Have they actually completed a purchase after adding items to their cart? Is there an abandoned view on their account?
You may want to track these trigger events, set tags, and segment your audience according to them.

Customers’ In-App Behavior
Some of the trigger events e-commerce app should track

From the events that were triggered (or not), you can gain actionable insights for your customer journey optimization. Reveal bottlenecks, test your hypotheses, and fine-tune your mobile messaging.

5. Personalize Your Messaging in the E-Commerce Way

Your e-commerce customers expect personalization to be far more complex than having their surname added to the message.

  • Send relevant product recommendations in push notifications and emails;
  • Suggest alternatives to the just-out-of-stock items via in-app messages;
  • Offer promo codes or free delivery to the segments that, you know, respond better to the one or another bonus.

6. Consider Loyalty-Oriented Campaigns for Their Long-Term Effectiveness

You may have noticed some e-commerces post in-app stories or brand videos. They may look like 100% brand awareness marketing assets, but they’re trickier than that.

At the same time, they promote the presented products, gain the customer’s gratitude by keeping them current on fashion trends, for example, and create an emotional connection to the brand.

In the long run, such loyalty-oriented assets lead to actual conversions.

7. Ensure Smooth Purchase and Delivery Experience with Service Messages 

When the order is placed (but not always paid), the goal of communications is to follow through on the purchase and delivery processes.

Push notifications, emails, and SMS let the customer know of their order status.

At the very least, prompt messaging at each step of the delivery reassures your customer. At max, timely mobile messages can help you increase the number of paid and collected orders.

Apparently, this leads to higher conversions and revenue; besides, this helps to decrease losses from paying the unclaimed delivery services.

Moreover, a short push notification can save your business from some reputational risks. A change in delivery conditions or a pickup point address can result in numerous customers sharing their resentment on the Internet. But if you inform your audience in advance, shoppers may be more forgiving — and actually come to that new address to claim their order.

8. Highlight the Currently Most Precious Values in Your Mobile Content

Creating mobile marketing content is a topic that deserves a dedicated blog post, but here is the main idea. Whatever product you promote and whoever you target, most likely, you will want your content to respond to some general demands.

Currently, it’s the shift to digital, the need for more health-conscious and eco-friendly brand initiatives, more sensitivity towards prices, and the tendency to support local businesses.

Mobile Content
Source: PWC June 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey

9. Focus On Value-Add Messages

As an e-commerce app, you can overspam your customer way too easily. Many e-tailers send record-breaking numbers of pushes daily; and even though these messages gain high CTRs, opt-out rates for e-commerce apps stay high too.

Having worked with many customers from the industry, we can recommend you to pay closer attention to your key engagement and audience metrics, and you’d better track them over a long period of time.

In the short run, engaging customers with dozens of pushes per day may work; but you want to ensure it doesn’t hurt your subscribership in the long term.

The Last Advice to E-Commerce Apps from a Customer Engagement Expert

Best practices are good to know; it is even better to find out what works for driving customer engagement and retention in your particular case. Make and test your hypothesis, experiment with segmentation, time schedules, trigger events, messaging formats, and channels.

Great e-commerce businesses are built around personalized experiences, so listening to your customers and trying to cater their needs in every message will always be a smart idea.

About the Author

Elena Kozlova

Elena Kozlova, Content Marketing Manager @Pushwoosh.Telling stories about #appmarketing and #customerengagement. Happy to listen to yours.


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