With all businesses, there’s a constant battle to get customers to your website, through your doors, or otherwise into your sales funnel.
That alone seems like a full-time job. But there’s an important factor here; to make your business sustainable you need to nurture a solid base of loyal customers who won’t just return to your brand again and again but will actively promote your brand to others.
In the marketing trade, such people are called brand advocates. They get evangelical about your brand and sing its praises. Word of mouth from friends and family is so much more powerful than any poster or banner ad, though of course, you need those sorts of things too.
Studies have shown that attracting a new customer can be up to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one.
But, ironically, the majority of companies put much more effort into customer acquisition than they do for customer retention.
Here we present some tips on how to inspire brand advocates and nurture customers so that they’ll stick with your brand down the years.
Offer something back
To build brand advocates it’s important to show your customers that you value them. A great way to do that is to give them something of value in return. This doesn’t have to be something of literal financial value, it’s about going slightly beyond the call of duty to show your customers that you value them.
This could be a loyalty card to reward return custom, or a weekly newsletter delivering highlights of your product range and offering occasional discounts.
It’s a psychological phenomenon that when people are given something for free they are more likely to feel positive towards the giver and seek to give them back something of value in return (i.e their repeat business).
Market Hero offer an email autoresponder service, but their marketing strategy is based on giving in-depth guidance on how to grow your business.
Free blog posts, free videos, free email courses, free trials… by offering something to his audience first, CEO Alex Becker is maximising the chances people will take the plunge and sign up to a paid plan.
Engage with them
The world of commerce, particularly online, can often be an alienating one.
Your engagements with your customers should demonstrate that you value them as people, and that you appreciate their loyalty and wish to reward it.
By engaging with them in a people-centred way you will give them a positive experience of your business. This is possibly the single most essential element in boosting customer retention: establishing a base level of trust, giving them a smooth and rewarding customer experience and acknowledging that they are the driving force of your brand.
Social media is an essential element of customer engagement. It’s not that uncommon these days to mention a brand in a tweet and have that brand respond to you on a personal level. The brands that do this understand the importance of boosting customer retention through engagement via social media.
Mattress brand Casper are thriving whilst traditional retailers struggle. They are extremely proactive on social media, responding to customers when things go wrong, and using humour to engage with people when things go right.
In a world of instant social media communication, don’t forget the humble email.
A well-rounded emarketing strategy is the bread and butter of customer retention these days. Our emarketing masterclass is essential reading on this.
Optimise your sales funnel
Many businesses have grown up over the years and if something works it’s often not analysed. That can get businesses quite far, but they’ll either hit a growth barrier at some point or they will just be scoring various own goals when it comes to maximising revenue and efficiency. When it comes to the thorny question of customer retention you need to pay careful attention to your sales funnel.
Do you actually have a sales funnel mapped out? What does it look like for your business? Each one is unique.
Study the effective sales funnels of others to get an idea how to create your own. For example, Groupon doesn’t hang around. As soon as you visit their site you’re hit with a popup offering a 15% discount if you sign up to their email list.
Start browsing their site and there are plenty of banners directing you to relevant offers.
There’s also a generous helping of discounts to motivate your journey through their funnel.
And finally they have a well designed purchase form that makes that final step to becoming a customers as streamlined as possible
You’ll want to make sure there are no barriers to entry at the top of your funnel, after all that’s where all your customers first begin their relationship with you.
You should try and get all customers into your email manager at every point in the funnel. This doesn’t just help you build customer retention, it also helps you optimise retention.
Where at all possible, segment your customer lists to correspond with the different stages of your funnel.
Then think about what the customer experience is like at each stage.
Craft emails that can relate to the customer throughout their journey with your brand. Always think about what you can do for them to optimise their experience and win them for the long run.
Some practical ideas for boosting customer retention
If you run a SaaS company, lack of use of your services is the biggest source of churn (customers exiting your sales funnel).
Monitor user usage of your product, and send email reminders to dormant users. Perhaps tell them about some amazing feature that may be of use to them, or offer them customer support.
Customer retention is often about small technical details. For example, credit card expirations are a big driver of churn. You can expect to lose around 3% of your credit card subs per month through expiry. Capture card expiry dates and send automated emails reminding users that their card is going to expire before it does.
Customer retention tips for cafes and restaurants
Customer retention can be trickier in cafes and restaurants as there are fewer opportunities to connect with your customers outside of your premises.
Think about ways to capture customer contact info such as by offering discounts and special offers in exchange for email addresses.
A good trick is to leave a bowl for business cards on the counter. Perhaps send them an email welcoming them to your establishment and offer them a special offer.
Retention tips for eCommerce stores
Get the delivery right. IKEA regularly communicate with consumers to keep them up to date with delivery times.
Delivery can often be a fraught experience for customers, and late delivery is going to make it harder to hold on to customers in the long term. Get the customer care right in the follow up to help retain customers.
And make sure delivery is speedy. Customers want their purchases NOW, especially in the era of Amazon Prime. Make delivery fast and efficient and you’ll keep your customers coming back for more.
If you can find a way for users to register with you before making a purchase do so, but make sure it doesn’t interfere with their customer experience. You’ll then be able to enter them into your emarketing cycle to help keep your brand front of mind.
These are just a few hacks that you can implement right away, to not only nurture a following of loyal customers but actually inspire people to get evangelical about your brand.