How to change a first-time buyer into a loyal client with


Do you want to increase your orders by 84 % as our client More than 50% of our customers get a 10% increase in sales using our platform and best practices, some of them achieve even 30% revenue growth such as

For many digital marketers, the funnel ends with converting a lead into a customer and they invest most of the time and resources to chase after leads. After their first purchase, they just start sending a general newsletter and focus on attracting new customers. But every existing customer can become a long-term client, with significantly lower costs than attracting a new one. Furthermore, repeat customers bring higher average order value compared to first-time customers.

How to measure your success in converting a first-time customer?

There are several metrics that you may find. Repeat purchase rate, re-order rate or customer retention rate but they all describe simple facts if your customers return to purchase more goods or services from you. Depending on your segment, your repeat purchase rate may vary but you may consider a repeat purchase rate from 20-40% good.

Understand your convertion to second purchase rate

You can easily get your actual open rate in Samba business insights. Business insights tells you not only the actual rate of repeated orders made by your customers, but the average number of days between them and also trends showing how successful you are with repeated orders.

For example this client is having only 18.6% of success rate for second purchases. Second purchase is made once per 228 days and in general the rate of repeated purchase is decreasing over time.

How to increase second purchase rates

Successful strategy for increasing second purchases is different for every ecommerce store and usually depends on the product category purchased in the first order.

Let's look at our client mentioned above. In this specific case, our general suggestion would be:

  1. Find top categories with highest business potential for repeated purchase rate
  2. Discover within your data what does your customers bought for second time
  3. Build flow automation campaigns targeting first time buyers in these categories
  4. Build generic flow automation with personalized suggestions for the rest
  5. Analyze if your strategy works

Find top categories with highest business potential for repeated purchase rate

To find categories on your ecommerce, where your customers purchase most for the second time isn't always as straightforward as it might sound. Great helper in this situation is again Samba Business Insights.

First, look for the product category that earns you the most revenue and start over them with second purchase analysis.

Our client is having one product category really dominant and the first four product categories earn him almost 70% of his yearly revenue.

Tip: If you don't have Samba business insights available, you can get quick information about your top performing categories in Samba directly - Audience and filters,  recently purchased products. In this special, compound filter, you can choose your product category, filter all the customers who made purchases and see overall revenue they bring you.  

Discover within your data what does your customers bought for second time

Sometimes, the top performing product categories aren't the best one to start with. That's why you need to know how many customers repeated their purchase in a specific product category and at the same time what revenue it delivers to your business.

The easiest way to get this information in Samba, is again to use  recently purchased products segmentation, but with slightly different conditions.


This filter will select all your customers, who did more than 1 order in the specified category.

Is important to select the analyzed product category, set the number of purchases for more than 1 and change “what to count” to orders. And you can immediately see the overall revenue they generated to your business.

For example, our client will discover that revenue generated from a customer's second purchase is almost the same in the second product category, despite the fact that overall revenue is three times bigger in the first category. That might signal an opportunity to significantly increase second purchase in the first category, but with respect to maximizing earnings over time it's better to develop first flow automation on the most promising product category - the second one and after that, return back to finish automation in the first category.  

Build flow automation campaigns targeting first time buyers in these categories

Let's say the second category in our example is the category with iPhones. You can again look into Samba and find what is the top selling products from iPhones category. Most probably you will find that the most selling product is a mobile phone with a cover and that 15% of your customers also bought wireless headphones in first order.

This is a great business insight which can be used as hypothesis for our first flow automation campaign:

“For all the customers who bought an iPhone, send after 14 days an upsell newsletter and offer an earpod together with other personalized products”.

Let's stop here for a while - how do we discover 14 days is the best time to sell an upsell offer? There are two ways - first, most commonly used - you will guess it on your own. You like the number 14  more than 13 and less than 15 :-)

Second way is to use Samba business insights and discovery.

On the platform, we call those flow campaigns:

Flow campaign can be simple or as complex as you need

Creating a flow campaign

Samba Analytics offers you all the information you need to set up a flow campaign. An important aspect is the time delay - you can find the average time delay before a customer makes a second purchase. We usually recommend targeting your first-time customer a week before the predicted second purchase or after two weeks after their first purchase if you do not find the statistically ideal time to send them. In this campaign, we are going to send an email to all the customers that made only one purchase in the last 30 days.

You simply click on Flow campaigns from the main menu, fill in the name, activation, execution and targeting details. If you are not sure how to create this campaign, find comprehensive information here

Filtering out an audience

  • Segmentation

Creating a separate group of customers is the keystone to relevant and targeted communication. In this case, you just click the filter Recently purchased products and Days since last purchase, setting it up to less than 30. This way, you have filtered customers whose last purchase occurred in the past months. After creating this audience, you can create more relevant communication. You can prepare personalized messages with custom parameters of the purchase, such as suggesting a pink phone case to customers with a pink iPhone.

  • Use case: iPhone and discounted Apple headphones

The best option is to create an even more specific segment of your customers. In this case, we want to upsell our iPhone owner and we are going to offer a discount on Apple's headphones, AirPods. The reasoning behind is quite obvious: an iPhone user will be probably more interested in buying an accessory from the same brand.  

Therefore, we are going to create a segment of customers that bought an iPhone as their first purchase. In order to do so, we select a condition: Recently purchased products within the Products category, we add Product and choose Mobile phones -  iPhone from the drop-down menu. The period from the purchase can be set in the filter Days since purchase.

Let's make sure we send our email to customers that only purchased an iPhone (and avoid the common mistake of pushing an already owned product to your customers) and set the Number of purchases to equal 1. We add another criterion What to count: orders so we ensure that only the orders fulfilling the above criteria will be filtered. And by filtering the number of purchases, we select customers with only one order, i. e. first-time customers.

Intuitive interface for creating your flow and choosing a new action for your nodes

Product filter will therefore look like this:

  1. Category​- Mobile phones - iPhone
  2. Days since purchase​- Equal - 14
  3. Total order value​- More than - 0 (this condition remains the same)
  4. Number of purchases​- Equal - 1
  5. What to count​- Orders

We have carefully chosen the audience and in order to have the highest success of reactivating those first-time customers, we want to make this email the most enticing possible. We are going to test the Open rate. We therefore prepare two versions of the subject, send it to a sample of your audience and see which one performs better, i. E. is more often open. If you need help in choosing the size of test groups, use this tool

You add this test to the flow as a new node by clicking the small blue dot under the Flow activation. You add a Split action and create two segments set to 50%.

Creating the email

  • Product filtering for upselling

After selecting a target group of customers that bought an iPhone as their first purchase within the last 30 days, we can prepare the offer for them. We add an Email from the action menu, fill the Basic settings and we do not forget to choose the A/B test option, when filling the subject.

And we let Samba do its AI magic when applying a product filter.

You have successfully chosen the target group of first-time customers who bought an iPhone. Add an Email from the action menu. When creating an email, you can choose from two message types: static and personalized.

A static message is beneficial if you want to input information that is valid over a longer time period but you need to monitor product disponibility. Benefits of personalized: adapting to the products, every client gets a different recommendation and relevant information: pink iphone with pink headphones

  1. Category​- Mobile phones - iPhone - Accessories - Headphones
  2. Brand​- Exact - Apple
  3. Sale (%)​- More than - 0
  4. Maximum number of products from 1 subcategory - Unlimited

  • Creating the template

To save time, we are going to use a prepared template First purchase welcome series from the Flow editor, with two containers for products. Just fill it with relevant brand information, info texts and other content.

Congratulations, you have just created a flow campaign! You just need to launch it. And of course, come back in a week to analyze the results.

iPhone upsell flow campaign

Evaluation and next steps

It is always a good idea to get feedback and provides it efficiently. Just navigate to the Campaign results and check the statistics.

  • The number of opened emails measures the first important aspect: do your clients engage in a conversation with you? A low number of opened emails may be due to the wrong or unenticing subject. Ditto for the preheader text that is shown next to the subject by most email clients. Try to summarize the benefits and reasons why the client should care - this should be your mantra. It can be a thank you gift, such as a discount code or VIP access.
  • Let's take a look at the conversion rate that tells you how successful this conversation was. We can look at this as binary data. Have they completed an order? Great. The last value, revenue, lets you know the quality of this conversation you held with your customer. Have they bought the promoted AirPods, an AirPods case and several other accessories, or a single USB cable?
  • Under the eye icon, you get additional information about the email itself and assisted order. Those help you evaluate your conversation in great detail.

There are several steps you may take to get even better results from our emailing campaigns.

  • A/B testing. Do your customers respond better to a subject promoting a discount, or an additional service? What wording of the subject or CTA works better? Until now, you were dependent on your gut feeling, or industry best practices to decide. Now you can use data to improve your decisions -- and your bottom line.
  • Extended segmentation. Imagine you just bought a new iPhone. Two days later, you receive an email with tips on how to save your battery life, how to clean the screen or how to extend the warranty and a discount for the case. That is the beauty of extended segmentation that can drill down to the smallest details of your previous order. Have you ordered a bag of food for your puppy? You would definitely appreciate an offer of other puppy paraphernalia and a reminder to re-order the food.
  • Follow-up email helps you target several interesting groups of customers, according to their (in)actions. Again, you would be sending communication highly relevant to every customer, but on scale. For those who opened the email and spent some time reading it… maybe drop them a quick note. Still don't know what color of our new capri pants you should choose? Just fill this online questionnaire and you'll learn what color suits you the best. Didn't they open the email at all? Create a sense of urgency. Do you remember the discount we sent you two days ago? Hurry up, it's valid till tomorrow only!

There is a third group you may target as well -- those who have opened the email and did nothing more.

You simply create the appropriate groups in Campaign activity, apply relevant actions to those groups and continue with this segmentation.

  • What content should I send them? That is a very common question and the answer is simple though very difficult to implement. What your clients want to receive, learn, discuss, think about. Let's think for a moment what questions they are asking themselves.
  • Can I trust this online shop? Provide them with testimonials of other clients.
  • But what if the parcel gets lost? Assure them about your logistics, parcel insurance.
  • Can they help me choose the right product for me? Show them your expertise, provide them with interesting materials.
  • Do they care about me as an individual? Of course! Create interactive content, from surveys to questionnaires, try to understand them and don't be afraid of asking questions. “What can we do to be better?” “How are you happy with your new iPhone?” Everybody loves to express their opinion and give advice.

And last, but not least. Be consistent with your communication, create a structure for your newsletters and try to stick to it. Use your claims or USP repeatedly so your customer always associates you with “the most animal-friendly shop in the Czech Republic” or “order by noon, get your goods the next business day”.

Do you want to bring the magic to your customers, too? Register for a demo here. Because every online shop deserves first-class online marketing.

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