Forget new business, keep your customers happy first

Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

The marketing world is topsy-turvy sometimes, like when all the best offers go to new customers. From magazine subscriptions to mobile phone contracts, it’s the new customers that scoop the incentives and irresistible offers, while existing customers are left to feed off the scraps – if anything at all.

Oh and don’t even get me started on banks and their blasted interest rates.

If, like me, you have a particularly negative view of this, you might say that it’s the existing customers that are paying for the newcomers to save. But shouldn’t it be the loyal, existing customers that get the rewards? You know, on account of helping that business turn a profit and all. Keep your current customers happy and you’re onto a winner, assuming you’re a business that likes making money.

Here are 4 reasons why retaining customers rocks:

1. Happy customers make repeat purchases

Of course they do. Why would they waste time looking elsewhere when they are happy with the service or products you provide?

2. It’s cost-effective. Cost-effective is good.

You know all of that energy you have to expend on selling to a new customer? Attracting their attention, explaining what you offer, overcoming barriers to purchase; forget about it. With existing customers those time-consuming processes are already complete. Your customer knows who you are, what you stand for and what you sell.

And they like it. So much so that they want to give you their money.

It’s why that old business maxim about marketing to new customers being five times more expensive than marketing to existing ones still stands up. It’s just that apparently most businesses didn’t get the memo.

3. The lifetime value of your customers increases

We’re guessing you want your business to be around this time next year. Perhaps even to be successful. For that to happen you need repeat business. It’s all well and good constantly chasing your next big sale, but a customer who spends £100 every six months with you is worth more than someone who spends £250 once and then never comes back. Yes you need to make money today, but don’t forget about making money tomorrow.

4. You build your tribe. And tribes are good at talking.

When you keep your customers happy, they keep purchasing. When they keep purchasing, they become loyal to your business. You build a community, a fanbase that feels deeply engaged with you and will sing your name to their networks (friends, family, followers). People talk, after all. So not only are these heroes giving you regular income, they are helping with your marketing too – for free.

So how do you become a master at customer retention?

On paper, customer retention sounds great. In practice, things get a bit more difficult.

Here are some tips that will set you on the right path:

Convert

Obviously before you can retain a customer, you need to convert them in the first place. In many ways this is the most difficult step. From a content marketing perspective, remember to always consider your reader and what his or her fears, problems, needs and desires are. Create compelling content around those themes and engage as many channels as are relevant to your brand (email, Instagram, Twitter and so on).

Keep doing what you’re doing

Successfully selling to a new customer is a sure sign that you’re doing something right. Enjoy the ego massage and keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working!

Look at where people exit your funnel

Another tricky component of improving client retention is figuring out why people are not buying from you – especially when it comes to repeat purchases. (And remember your problems may not be digital. If your e-shop is full of customers that never seem to come back, maybe your delivery process needs some work.)

Dive into your analytics to find out which pages most people leave your website from. What are the links in your emails that don’t get any attention? This is no time for sensitivity. You need to look honestly and objectively at what’s not working. Then you can figure out what does work. And remember – every business can do things better, so don’t get disheartened.

Flatter your existing customers

Make people feel good and rewarded for being part of your community. Give them actual value, rather than just empty thank yous. That could be through members-only offers or spontaneous discounts landing in their email inbox. Advanced notice of upcoming deals or even special events. You are limited only by your imagination, but thoughtful, well-timed content always goes down well.

Make it enjoyable to buy from you

In a world of over-complicated sales processes, getting it right will really help you to stand out. Simplicity is key. The buying process should be dead easy. Fun. Enjoyable, even. And remember, an imaginative thank you email is just one more way to cement the blossoming relationship between you and your customer.

Got any tips of your own? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Have questions? Ask us in comments below. 

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