Jan 15, 2015

How to Turn First-Timers into Regulars

What pizza, shoes, and dinner mints can teach you about customer retention

Jan 15, 2015

How to Turn First-Timers into Regulars

What pizza, shoes, and dinner mints can teach you about customer retention

How important is customer retention?

According to this study, it's very important: merchants can increase profits by up to 95% by converting just 5% more of their first-time customers.

Given the importance of creating regulars, it's no surprise there's abundant research devoted to the subject. And the results of that research are no surprise, either: the most effective tactics are all customer-focused.

Here are just a few examples:

Surprise and Delight

A call with Rackspace customer service is going long. The customer gets hungry, and mentions this to the rep. The rep briefly pauses the call, then returns to troubleshooting. A half hour later they're still at it when there's a knock on the door. "Go answer it," the rep says. "It's pizza."

This works because surprise creates stronger memories, stronger relationships, and stronger emotions.

There are infinite ways to surprise and delight your Prerelease players. An unexpected taco bar. Store branded t-shirts.

But remember, you have to set expectations before you can outdistance them.

Underpromise, Overdeliver

Wizards of the Coast's Paul Hagan orders shoes from Zappos. Zappos promises a three to five day delivery. Paul tweets about his purchase, and 24 hours later, his new Chuck Taylors arrive. Paul goes to Zappos for all his shoes from then on.

Overdelivering is proven to work, but at a low conversion rate, so make sure you do your research before investing in tactics like this. (Read this article for a great breakdown of marketing investment calculus).

What have your Prerelease players been promised, and how can you deliver more?

It doesn't have to be expensive. In fact, all it takes is a little sweetness . . .


A group of diners finish their meal. The server leaves the check and a few mints. Later, the server returns with their credit cards, their change—and another set of mints. The diners tip 21% more than average customers.

These results, according to researchers who found them, are due to reciprocity: we want to do nice things for people who do nice things for us.

How can you let a first-time Prerelease player know you care? Do they need a d6 for +1/+1 counters? A Morph token? Watch for opportunities to upgrade their experience—even just a little.

Come back tomorrow and see a Canadian store that's finding huge success with these tactics, and get more ideas on how to do the same!

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