Why the ‘after’ matters for marketing communications — driving post-purchase value

Most of the times, marketers and communicators alike (asking permission for the literary licence here as addressing all of who proudly practice marcomms, digital marketing, PR, social media, public affairs, and a long etcetera) put our heart in preparing the consumer for consumption.

Everything we do, from scoping the work to finding the right persona is oriented towards the achievement of a single goal: making someone buy something. Once we reach the coveted purchase (replace with transaction if /when applicable), we tend to forget, often times for once and all, that ‘persona’.

In today’s world, where an increasing number of players compete for the favour of a rather flat number of consumers with a set discretionary income, forgetting about those who have already purchased our product or services is a BM(yes, you got it right — Big Mistake).

Consumers want to be treated as individuals, valued as consumers and taken care of before, during, and after they purchase. A recent report commissioned by Ricoh Europe reveals that 70% of consumers say the best brands are those that treat them as individuals. It doesn’t stop here: 57% of them would spend more with brands that make them feel valued as a customer. Leaving the most interesting finding to the end: while consumers believe brands care most about them before a purchase (50%), what they really want is that brands focus on them more during and after a purchase. In other words, that brands accompany them along the entire buyer’s journey, not just the prolegomena.

Borrowing some concepts from behavioural theory can help to understand the importance of post-purchase communications: “Post-purchase behaviour is the final stage in the consumer decision process when the customer assesses whether he is satisfied or dissatisfied with a purchase. How the customer feels about a purchase will significantly influence whether he will purchase the product again or consider other products within the brand repertoire.” Since past actions will surely condition future decisions, communicating with customers in a timely, personalised, and relevant manner after they go past the purchase stage becomes acutely important to lead on this new consumer decision journey. In other words, post-purchase communications done right help brands drive consumers down the less travelled road, that of a mutually satisfactory and long-lasting relationship.

The ‘how’ of successful post-purchase marcomms

Customer’s loyalty is difficult to obtain, but even more difficult to sustain. Unless customers stay because they benefit from the journey itself. Redefined journeys go past the ‘your order in on its way’ or ‘how did we do?’ email; they attract and keep buyers in through customised experiences that make consumers permanently engaged. And they pay off: “Customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more compared to those who had the poorest past experience,” ‘Harvard Business Review’ dixit.

But, how to deliver these satisfactory experiences with a view to increase post-purchase engagement, loyalty and value? By being grateful, thoughtful and helpful for your customers.