This post received a much-needed update from the original information posted in December 2008. Enjoy my new tips!
I ran some very scientific and fancy tests here at the Etsy Labs and found out a few things about customer loyalty:
- It costs a whole lot more to gain a new buyer than to retain your current buyers. (I’ve heard reports which vary from 5 to 8 times more.)
- When those buyers come back, they spend more! This is because, when they do come back, they feel they know you and they have become fans.
- Return customers are also more likely to chat up your shop to friends, follow you on Twitter, or fan your Facebook page, leading to exponential growth!
So the seller education team and I put our heads together to come up with a formula to help boost your group of loyal clients.
Before the Sale
Label your work. Branding is important. Not the plastering-a-giant-logo on the front of a T-shirt kind of branding, but how about a simple tag with your Etsy shop name sewn under the collar? Do your art prints have your Etsy shop name on the back? Branding and labeling will help your buyers know where to return!
- Customer service is the key to fostering repeat business, and this starts with setting up the right expectations. Be sure to have up-to-date and thorough Shop Policies. (If you are in the EU, you’ll be happy to see we’ve added a Seller Information field for you to comply with customer protection laws. More info here.)
- Include shipping information in your Message to Buyer. (Do you ship on Tuesdays? First Class mail? Is there a way the buyer can contact you for a shipping upgrade?)
- Entice loyalty before the sale by encouraging fans of your work to participate in your business without even making a purchase. Can they fan your Facebook page? Donate to a Kickstarter campaign? Sign up for your MailChimp newsletter? (All of these tools will give you access to contact these fans again!)
After the Sale
Check the Notes to Seller area on your Etsy and PayPal invoices to avoid missing a request from your buyer.
- Try to ship slightly faster than your policies and Note to Buyer state. Quote a slightly long shipping timeframe and drop that package off a day before. Your buyer will be thrilled!
- Creative packaging and a handwritten note is just enough to turn that casual buyer into a fan. If this item could be a gift, think about including something fun for the buyer that they can keep for themselves. (Be creative and try not to eat into your profits with this one!)
- Create and share coupon codes to reward and track repeat sales. Find more coupon code tips here.
- Utilize the Shipping Notification tool. Here are some great pointers.
Stay Connected With Your Fans
Think of your core group of customers as your fan base. Here are some ways to keep in touch:
- Leave thoughtful feedback instead of a generic, “Great buyer!” Look for clues in your buyer’s profile, the Note to Seller or other communications.
- Be sure you connect your Twitter and Facebook accounts to allow your buyers to easily follow your updates.
- Ask your buyers to sign up for your mailing list. (Many mailing list providers offer a landing page where you can direct your new buyers to sign up.)
- “Shout out” return buyers on your blog, Facebook page or via Twitter. (This can even be anonymous: “Just wanted to send a big ‘Thank you!’ to my lovely buyer from Hawaii. I know she’s going to rock these handprinted leggings!”)
- Ask your customers for their help getting the word out! You’d be surprised how willing they are to support you! (And reward those who do.)
- Unveiling a new line? Let your past buyers, blog readers and followers in on the secret first. Update: I clarified this point here.
- Team up! Work out a cross-promotion with a complementary Etsy seller, small business or your Etsy team. Supporting handmade, vintage and other small businesses in general will keep us all thriving!
There you have it: my tips to keeping buyers “tuned in” to your Etsy channel. So, sellers, how do you keep your buyers coming back? I’d love to hear it in the comments below!
Don’t forget to check out the Seller Handbook — all of our how-to’s for running your Etsy business!