Customer Account Reactivation & Migration with Shopify & Shopify Plus

By Liam Quinn - 17 August, 2020
Liam Quinn 2021

Customer reactivation forms a central part of any replatforming project, and this guide explains how the process works in Shopify and Shopify Plus.

We have been working on an increasing number of Shopify Plus replatforming projects recently, with lots of brands and retailers making the move to benefit from the various selling points of Shopify. In this guide, we’re focusing on the process and considerations around migrating your existing customer data into Shopify / Shopify Plus - which is a key part of these migrations. Regardless of which platform you’re migrating from, migrating customer data over is really important - with key reasons to do so including:

  • Allowing customers to retain their account - along with their addresses, order history, subscription data, marketing preferences etc

  • Allowing eCommerce teams to retain key data for CRM

  • Retaining order info against customers for segmentation and to add things like reporting, personalisation, etc

What is Customer Reactivation in Shopify?

By customer reactivation, we are referring to the process of existing customers resetting their passwords, so that they can login to Shopify for the first time and access their historic orders etc. This process is required, because customer passwords cannot be imported into Shopify, without going down the highly complex route of doing something like single-sign-on etc. So while all the customer and related order data will hopefully be migrated across by your team or agency, the new password needs to be set for a user to get access to their account.

The assumption from the above is that customer and order data is going to be migrated as part of the replatforming project. Often extracting this data and reformatting it into the required structure is an overwhelming prospect, especially when the number of rows can run into the hundreds of thousands and higher.

It can also be a bit of a grey area in terms of responsibility through the project - however, with clarity around who and how it should be delivered, and approached early on in the project - there is no reason for this to be a hugely complex activity. The effort involved will be worth it, providing a better customer experience and more data to then drive automation, loyalty and personalisation pieces further down the line.

How best to approach

By this point, you have now got the customer and order data setup in Shopify ready for launch. These are the steps that should then be followed for the most successful reactivation strategy and importantly achieve the highest conversion rate of your existing customer base reactivating:

1. Login page template needs clear messaging, in line with your brand guidelines, to inform the user that they will need to reset their password because of the new site launch. This would usually stay active for the first couple of months after the site launch. You can also use a notification bar at the top of the site to guide users here too - this is more relevant if you have a lot of existing customers using their account functionality and you’d probably do it for the first few days whilst pushing reactivation.

David Austin

2. As you can see from that messaging above, it will contain a call to action for the user to start the reactivation. You should install the Wotio Account Invites Plus app which will provide a snippet of JS to be added into the theme code - on the account login template. On the frontend, users clicking through to the account page would then be presented with a request for their email address (as below), which after being populated will then be sent the Shopify reactivation email.

David Austin

3. Those first two steps should lead to the capture of a good proportion of existing customers that have been active on the new site. But we want to communicate with them directly, without relying on them seeing the new store, in order to convert as highly as possible. For this, we want to send an email to each customer, informing them of the new site and exactly what they need to do - this will include a unique link for them to follow straight from the email. This email can be automated and sent directly through the app, but we’d suggest not doing that and making full use of your ESP to do this instead. The benefits of doing this are:

  • Complete flexibility over design, to make sure it looks as appealing and on-brand as possible and maximise chances of conversion.

  • More comprehensive monitoring of open rates & engagement.

  • Following that, more flexibility in changing subject lines & content before re-sending to non-readers or unsuccessful opens.

  • Utilising segmentation techniques to make sure they’re optimised to the target senders, e.g. having focused send timings & content for different locations if reactivating on a multistore Shopify setup.

Finally, adding a good reason to complete the process - such as a discount code - will help increase the number of conversions. What we are looking to achieve is along the lines of this:

this works

After putting together the email template, the next step is populating your ESP (Mailchimp/Klaviyo/Ometria) with your batch of inactive customers to send. This should be done using Excelify (https://excelify.io/) - which may well already be installed as part of the import of all of the data initially. To avoid a couple of gotchas:

  • This needs to be installed per store, if you are running across multiple stores for international.

  • It’s a good idea to bump up to the enterprise price tier for this piece. You will be exporting a potentially large amount of customers which can take several hours, and if you hit the threshold, the export will simply stop with no warning. You can reduce the plan again, immediately after this reactivation process is complete.

Within Excelify, set up a new export of just customers and ensure that at least first name, last name, email address & activation url are all checked. Include any bits of additional data that will be used as dynamic content in the email. Set the export running.

excel export

This will result in a CSV of all target customers, which can then be uploaded as a new list/segment within your ESP. Using the template created above, and populated with the dynamic data - this can then be sent as soon as the site is live and you are confident the DNS has propagated and it’s bug free. A final point would be to plan a second email in this series the following week, and repeat the process with just the customer accounts that remain inactive. Tailor the content slightly, and increase the discount code to again maximise conversion.

If something does not go to plan, and these emails are not ready to go immediately after launch - don’t fear. Have a contingency plan to make the account messaging more focused around informing customers that the new site is live but historic data migration is in progress to avoid leaving loyal customers feeling like their data has been discarded.

Summary

The whole data migration process is always an important part of replatforming, and more often than not is very overwhelming. Customer reactivation is often ignored as it’s not project critical, but with some thought upfront, it doesn’t have to be a hassle. Other than for specific scenarios, it is usually worth putting the effort in to migrate customers & all of their historic orders - and then encouraging as many as possible to become active on the new store.

You can also read Paul’s Shopify Plus launch checklist for more information on this.

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