Convert Those 1x Buyers

For circulation planners, the 2017 holiday season has begun. If you’re interested in FREE options using a few tricks to improve catalog productivity of your 1-time (1x) buyers, keep reading.

Determine how many 1x buyers you have. My guess is 50% of the customers on your database have only made one purchase in their lifetime from you. If you’re thinking about mailing all them, or if you are testing a random percentage to mail…don’t. You’re smarter than that.

If the 1x buyer purchased in the most recent 12 months, parse the data into the calendar quarter of when they purchased. Since the holiday season is in the 4th Quarter, the best place to start is anyone who purchased during Q4 of last year. Assume 5,000 records in Q4. Of those 5,000 look at dollars spent. Since this group has only one purchase, there’s no calculation—just total dollars. Select those who purchased at, or above, your average order value. Don’t mail to anyone who spent below your average order value. Assume of the 5,000 there are 3,000. Now you’ve narrowed down the selection and by doing so, you’ve increased the odds of selecting the customers who are likely to buy again.

Keep data mining. Another way to look at the data is by merchandise category. Of your 12-month (or 24-month or 36-month) 1x buyers, separate the buyers by their merchandise category (aka product category.) Immediately eliminate those who bought from outlier categories. You’re trying to figure out who is likely to buy again. Only choose the buyers who purchased from your Top 20% of categories. Notice I didn’t say Top 20. Some of you sell 5 or 10 categories while others of you sell hundreds of categories. Use Top 20% of your merchandise categories.

If you are a 4th Quarter (or better yet, a 5th Quarter business for anyone who makes or breaks their business between Thanksgiving and Christmas) evaluate if the 1x buyer sent the order to a Ship To address with a different name and different address than the Billing Address. This 1x buyer may have purchased a gift and it’s a good idea to mail them again this year. Watch for the Ship To address with the same name at a different address—that assumption is the buyer is delivering to themselves perhaps at the office. You’re trying to find gift recipients (and if you have a field on your database to indicate gift recipient, then you have an immediate short cut!)

While you’re combing through your 1x buyers, sort them buy how many items were purchased with their order. Many times, 1x buyers with multiple items convert higher than 1x buyers with only one purchase.

And if you do have a few extra budget dollars, you can have the 1x buyers statistically modeled by a co-op or other vendor who mathematically models records with online or offline behavioral attributes. This is a great option. Doing so usually increases the conversion of these 1x buyers.

Of course, not everything works for everyone. You must keep cultivating and developing your customer file. In circulation planning, our first line of defense is knowing that it is less expensive to convert a 1x buyer than it is to prospect to acquire a new customer. It’s all Dollar and Cents. Do what makes sense for you!


Gina Valentino
Dean of Marketing,