5 Ways to Keep Your Top Ecommerce Customers (Whales) Happy

Posted February 22, 2017 by   in Digital Marketing, eCommerce Website, User Experience


Your ecommerce store probably sells a lot of products and processes hundreds, if not thousands of orders a day. If you look a little closer at those numbers though, you’ll realize that some customers are “worth” more than others.

How to Identify Your Ecommerce Whales
If you haven’t already, take a peek at your sales data, look for the customers that purchased large orders from your store and figure out your top 10% transaction threshold. Those are your top customers, also sometimes referred to as your “whales”. A whale can also be defined as a customer that spends at least 10 times more than your average order value. Ultimately, you can set the parameters on whom you consider your whales to be. The point is: they deserve some serious attention.

How to Learn More About Your Whales
Whales will typically shop less and more sporadically than other customers. However, these sales are so much bigger, that a single whale can be the equivalent of a dozen other orders–making them very important and definitely worth the time it takes to keep them happy. A customer like this needs to be thanked, nurtured and marketed to with intentionality. Think of it like dating.

Getting to know your whales will take time, but here are some things you can look at initially that will help you understand them better.

  • Channel Acquisition – learn how your whales found you
  • Device Analysis – understand the devices your whales are using
  • Conversion Pages – identify the pages or products that convert the highest with your whales

With these insights, you can begin to craft strategic marketing campaigns that target them more effectively. However, a highly successful approach to keeping whales happy is to simply let them know exactly how special they are to you.

5 Ways to Keep Your Ecommerce Whales Happy

  1. Send Personalized Offer Emails
    Whether it’s to wish them a Happy Birthday or to personally invite them to an exclusive shopping event, an email that comes from a real person at your store can go a long way. The trick is to surprise them with something special that seemingly no one else received. For example, a coupon code with their first name in it will communicate just how important they are. Unexpected rewards are a tremendously powerful marketing tactic that works to thank your whales while also enticing them to come back and shop. Everyone loves to feel important, and in eCommerce, it pays to pamper your whales.
  2. Encourage Feedback from Them
    As we’ve learned, whales are incredibly important to your business. Show them that  you value their opinion by encouraging feedback. Again, this can be mutually beneficial. You make them feel special by asking for their respected opinions while you reap the rewards of learning how to better your business in ways that will likely attract more whales. Framing your questions to them with that end in mind can make the exercise that much more valuable. Best of all, your top customers will know that you appreciate them and are taking their evaluations to heart.
  3. Send an Unexpected Gift
    Consider sending a surprise gift to your whales. It doesn’t even need to be sent in conjunction with an order they placed. In fact, the more random the better. Even as adults, receiving a gift for no apparent reason can elicit a sense of joy and excitement that goes a long way. Treat your whales to an unexpected package (bonus points for wrapping it up like a tasteful present) and it’s a safe bet that your whales will smile that day because of you. Their connection with you will strengthen because they know you care about making them happy.
  4. Hand-Write a Letter
    In such a technology-driven world, a small, hand-written thank you letter is a personal gesture that can go a long way with your whales. Sure, this can be a time-consuming and hand-cramping activity, but the effort speaks volumes. A really good thank you note will address the customer by name and have a short but personalized message that may even reference their purchase. Resist the temptation to provide an offer or coupon with your note. This gesture should remain pure and the message should stick to simply letting them know how much you appreciate them.
  5. Provide Early Access to New Products
    Give early, exclusive access to your most valued customers in order to keep them happy. In addition to making them feel special (who doesn’t love to get their hands on something first), this tactic gives you a chance to test and refine a new product or sale strategy before it is unveiled to the entire audience base.

Implementing Your Whale Appreciation Strategy
Building a strategy for identifying and appreciating your whales is a great first step, however unless your team knows why they are doing it and how to do it effectively, your efforts could be met with lackluster results. Be sure to spell out when these activities occur. Does one tactic occur after a purchase? Does another trigger after so many weeks or months have lapsed? Defining these workflows will ensure consistency with your team delivering on them. As you continue to nurture your whales year over year, you will find that these efforts will yield a healthy return on investment.