Whether you work in sales or marketing, you have to admit, we all have one thing in common: our love of new business. We triumphantly highlight our wins, momentarily admiring our shiny new customers, only to leave them collecting dust while we gear up to convert the next prospect. It’s that fleeting feeling of closed/won, always leaving you chasing the next thrill. But, you can find that same adrenaline rush in a simple tactic you’ve likely been neglecting: customer marketing.
According to Frederick F. Reicheld’s The Loyalty Effect, businesses commonly lose 15-25% of their clients each year, costing them 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep existing ones. Don’t freak out yet – There’s a way to stop this marketing madness!
Customer experience is the new marketing and if you focus on a simple three-point plan of action, you can take customer loyalty and turn it into healthy, sustainable growth.
#1 – Define metrics for retention and growth
These are three metrics you can start with as you work toward increasing retention and decreasing churn with current customers:
#2 – Choose a customer marketing strategy that is unique to your business
Depending on the specifics of your business, there are a wide variety of customer marketing strategies. Take a look at a few of our favorites to help you brainstorm.
37% of marketers think that social media marketing is the most effective medium for customer retention. Are you using your company’s social media to your advantage? One of the biggest ways to gage what’s going on in your customer eco-system is social listening: keeping an ear out to what your customers are saying about their challenges, preferences, and your brand, by prowling around on social sites. Are you noticing when customers tag you, re-tweet your content, or like your posts? If not, you’re missing out on a perfect opportunity to engage with a customer and acknowledge or reward them for the positive effect they’re having on your brand.
Remember the little things
A little can go a long way in terms of personalization and showing off your thoughtful side. This is the time to get creative. Here are some simple ideas to get you started:
- Birthdays and important events
- Handwritten thank you notes
- Gifts when a key stakeholder receives a promotion
- Scheduling dinner when a customer is in town
- Rewards programs aren’t just for B2C smoothie chains! Try a gift-giving partner like Alyce.
Host a customer event
With most aspects of business happening over the internet, it’s refreshing to connect with customers in person. You’ll build rapport, put faces to names, and forge deeper bonds than email allows.
A great example is SAP’s Sapphire Now event, attended by nearly 30,000 SAP partners. They use it to showcase the latest in SAP innovation while creating a networking and appreciation hotspot.
You don’t have to do something as grandiose –a small happy-hour meet-up with customers in your area is a great place to start.
Offer incentives for referrals
Your biggest fans are a prime source of new quality customers, not to mention one of the lowest-cost methods. Plus, think about the amount of effort it takes to track your customers’ buyers journey…eliminate that headache with referrals.
Many of your customers are probably doing this on their own without an incentive, but it doesn’t hurt to provide a discount, offer a complimentary service, or surprise them with a gift-card.
You’ll be surprised how easy and affordable this method is to grow your business.
#3 – Pay attention to the softer side of customer marketing
When you lose sight of the customer experience, you take away the human element that led your customers to choose you in the first place. An advantage small businesses have is that they can create personal bonds with their customers much easier than large B2B enterprises. Knowing this, you have to be conscious of opportunities to personalize interactions with your customers. The larger your customer base becomes, the easier it is to neglect the small things that keep them coming back. Think about what makes you a loyal customer to the brands you love. They genuinely value you and make your experience with their company a priority and one that you enjoy – through every conversation, email, and support call.
It’s an easy enough concept but one that tends to fall to the wayside. According to Strativity, frequent interaction with customers is the key to building loyalty and advocacy. Ongoing, transparent communication with your customers gains their trust.
When customers know you’re all about open communication, you’ll resolve issues quicker when they do arise, and you’ll gain the positive effect of being able to celebrate their wins together.
If you approach every interaction with this in mind, you’ll be putting your customers’ needs first without even trying.
Strong products, but stronger bonds
Yes, it’s important to have a great product, but that’s only half of the battle. If you can set your business apart by the unparalleled interactions they’ll experience working with you, while at the same time living up to your value proposition, you’ll build unbreakable bonds with your customers. It might not seem as exciting as hunting down hot prospects, but try it and you’ll experience a new thrill – one that gives you sustainable growth.
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