Don’t turn your back on your customers

Do you stop communicating with your customers after they buy your company’s products or services? If so, you’re missing a big opportunity to boost your bottom line by RETAINING them.

When someone buys your products, it doesn’t mean their customer journey has come to an end. It’s actually just beginning. Now’s the time to rethink how to keep existing customers engaged with your brand.

Effective, ongoing communication with current customers increases the likelihood that they’ll buy from you again. In some cases, it may increase the frequency and value of their future orders. In either case, it significantly increases their lifetime value – and your long-term profitability.

Here are some powerful ways you can creatively use marketing to do a better job of retaining your most valuable customers:

Don’t leave onboarding to chance: When you first acquire a customer, there’s a lot they need to know: For example, how to use your product or get value from your services, where to go to get their questions answered and how to get customer support. Why not create an email “drip” campaign that educates them about each aspect of doing business with you? By proactively teaching them how to interact with your firm, you’ll make them more comfortable, reduce the number of misunderstandings and save your staff a lot of time. In other words, they won’t need to keep answering the same customer questions, over and over again.

Streamline their access to key tools and resources: Identify the needs of your new customers and then design tools and systems that empower them. For example, you could:

  • Create a private customer portal within your website where they can login to get all of the learning, resources and support they need.
  • Create a mobile app that gives them anytime, anywhere access to these services.
  • Can you enable them to order consumable parts ahead of time, so they can pick them up when and where it’s most convenient for them?
  • Set up an online forum where your customers can congregate to ask questions, get answers, share knowledge and network with each other.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Survey says…: A traditional survey is an ideal way to identify existing problems you need to fix as well as to identify additional needs you can meet.

Education is always a winner: Provide your customers with education about your product itself, as well as how to get the most value out of it. This could take the form of self-service e-courses, webinars, workbooks, manuals and other materials that distill what your customers need to know into a skimmable, actionable format.

Create an exclusive “subscription” for customers: Your customers should perceive that they are being treated special, with exclusive training, content, events, discounts and more. Loyalty programs can also make customers feel like they “belong” and benefit from their relationship with your company.

Don’t forget to personalize your communications: Nothing says you care more than addressing your customer contact by name in printed and electronic communications. Today’s sophisticated email and marketing software makes this easy to do. The best marketers even use deeper customer information to offer highly tailored recommendations to them. Think Amazon.com, with its “people who bought X also bought these related products…” recommendations. It’s as if they know your deepest needs! Familiarity breeds loyalty.

Create a customer content calendar: Don’t leave communication with your existing customers to chance. Build relationships with them by creating a rolling schedule of consistent communications with them. This calendar should include all types of communication, both formal and informal: Letters, phone calls, special events, discounts, special offers and personal notes, for example.

Develop a customer newsletter: Newsletters are excellent tools to help you develop and maintain customer relationships over time. This publication should be different than the one you sent to sales leads and prospects. Its content should be tailored to the needs of your existing customers. Be sure to include it in your content calendar, so you remember to publish it on a regular basis.

Connect your communications to your company’s mission and values: Customers like to feel like they’re part of something bigger. They may jump at the opportunity to be part of your company’s mission and values, if you invite them (think Tom’s Shoes, which donates a pair of shoes each time you buy a pair). If they can feel like they’re part of an active and engaged community that’s focused on your values, they will become more committed to your brand.

You need a customer communications strategy

In the same way that you develop a well thought-out strategy for attracting prospective customers, you need to also take a strategic approach to cultivating relationships with your existing ones. This approach has a number of key benefits:

  • By helping customers feel well cared for, you can reduce or eliminate buyer’s remorse
  • It helps your new customers trust you
  • It gives them confidence to do business with you again.

It’s time to get started. We can help you develop a communications strategy with your current customers. Let’s chat.

Motivational Monday: Happy New Year!

“We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the customer experience a little bit better.” –Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com

happy new yearHAPPY NEW YEAR! As you get ready to head to your New Year’s Eve soirees and ring in 2016, work might be the furthest thing from your mind. However, we can all learn a thing or two from the way we interact at cocktail parties.

A great conversationalist at a party isn’t just a good talker, they’re a good listener. They keep things easygoing and they show interest in the person they’re speaking to. Treat your marketing like a great conversation—frame your message around what’s interesting to your customers!

Keep your message easy to follow and add some fun! As you go into the New Year, steer your content toward your customer and show them all the ways your brand is cool and exciting, makes a difference, or appeals to their unique needs. Help raise their intrigue and interest and you’ll be the most popular brand at the party!

As you’re having fun at your New Year’s Eve festivities, take a few mental notes and get ready to apply them in the New Year. For more ideas on how to ring in 2016 with a bang, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.

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8 Great SEO Basics For Small Business Owners

SEO BasicsWant to learn to DIY SEO? Well, turns out SEO is a complicated subject. Figuring out how each new Google algorithm impacts search and how to deal with all the new changes are subjects of endless debate.

However, SEO Basics are well within your reach—even if you’re new to SEO.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of strategically tweaking all the elements of your website to earn the highest possible placement in search engine results. Higher search results = more customers = money for you.

Searchers tend to click on websites that show up on page one, so that’s where you need to be.

Check out these SEO Basics to help you capture and keep that top slot.

1. Avoid Duplicate Content

Copying content is a fairly common practice, but it’s bad for SEO. You can avoid getting penalized by using special tags that identify the content as duplicate. But, for non-experts, a better answer is: don’t do it. Your website should be bursting with your own unique content. Multiple websites? Even if you own other domains, each one needs unique content. To play it safe, ensure each page and every post is different.

2. Gather Intelligence

Monitor social media and document customer service calls to learn what your customers are asking, what they’re complaining about, and what they like most. Your customers are your key to SEO success.

3. Focus Your Content

Unless you’re running a pet blog, you should probably keep your Pomeranian off your website, no matter how adorable he is. Keep your content industry and product focused—but don’t oversell it. Provide informational, helpful and relevant website content for best results. It’s not only great for SEO, it’s a great way to turn your site visitors into customers.

4. Include Keywords

Semantic search has taken the place of simpler keyword search, but keywords still have a place. Instead of using the same keywords repeatedly, make a list of words and phrases your customers might be searching for. To get started, write down your top 5 customer FAQs. Write content that answers those questions, using your keywords and phrases naturally throughout the content.

5. Understand What Your Audience Wants

When your content answers questions asked by your customers, you’ll naturally earn more traffic. If you’re not seeing more site traffic, it’s time to get back to brand basics. Create buyer personas to get to know your audience better. (Check out this free buyer persona template from Hubspot!) Consider how your products or services make your customers feel. After all, even B2B customers respond to emotional connection.

6. Change Up Your Content Delivery Method

Don’t stop at what your customers want to know, discover how they want it delivered. Trying to deliver complicated technical knowledge or dense statistics to a general audience may serve only to alienate them…unless you present it in a way they can understand. Kick-ass infographics and fun, yet informative videos are great ways to show complex information in an easily digestible form. Step-by-step photos are a great way to walk even a novice through a recipe or repair project. When you find a way to help your customer be successful, they’ll come back for more.

7. Go Mobile

Mobile search is becoming more important every year. Did you know that if your website isn’t mobile friendly, it won’t show up in mobile search? Yikes. That’s a huge chunk of business you could be missing out on. Your website content must be optimized for mobile.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Use the free and easy Google Mobile-Friendly Test tool to find out. Now’s the time to go mobile, but how? Check out this handy and comprehensive FREE guide to making your website mobile friendly.

Download: The Smart Marketer's Guide To Making Your Website Mobile Friendly

8. Build Authority

How do you outrank your competition? You produce all the information your customers need to rank you as the leading authority in your field. No matter how crowded the field, a voice speaking from a new perspective can shine through. Find gaps in knowledge and fill the holes. Talk about what every other expert isn’t talking about. Make it personal and always about the customer. Build out your authoritative content over time for even more SEO juice.

Today, SEO is more about content and customer relationships than about tricks and shortcuts. You can’t game the system, you just have to be that good. These tips are low-tech ways to bump your SEO by improving your content and building your audience.

Have a question about SEO Basics? Let us know in the comments!

Motivational Monday: Envision More Repeat Customers

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Chase the vision, not the money; the money will end up following you. –Tony Hsieh, Founder & CEO of Zappos

A clear vision helps you, your team and your company maintain focus. What’s your vision? Are your employees and your customers on board with it? Know what your customers want, define your vision, then define how their vision aligns with yours.

When everyone is working toward that common vision, you’ll be able to keep steering your company toward success. The first step? Getting in your customers’ heads. Next? Working to retain that customer for the long haul. Here’s how…

  • We weren’t kidding about step one. Get. Inside. Their. Heads. Not sure where to start? Try these 12 Books to Read If You Want to Understand Customers Better.
  • Understanding your customers is also one of the most powerful things you can do for retention. This goes beyond simply offering up something shiny to get them in the door. It’s about getting to know your customers SO well you intuitively know what they want. But don’t forget the icing on the cake: you need to continue to deliver what they want—consistently. Read these 5 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid to learn how to get there.
  • What’s all this about retention? Truth is, repeat customers are your goldmine. They’re less expensive than new customers, they spend more, they’re loyal, and if they REALLY love you, they work FOR your business as your brand ambassadors.
  • Still not convinced customer retention should be your focus? Hey, it’s Cheaper to Keep ‘Em—repeat customers literally pay for themselves.
  • If you feel like something is missing in your customer relationships, trust might be the key. Learn all about it here: establishing customer trust, building it, and measuring it.
  • Want to Win the War on Customer Churn? While 55% of current marketing budgets are spent gaining new customers, there’s only a 5-20% chance of making a new sale. Yet there’s a 60% chance of a repeat sale—so WHY does customer retention only account for 12% of most marketing budgets?!
  • How do top B2B companies ensure retention and repeat business? These 3 important ways they wow their customers.
  • Want to learn more about wowing your customers at every stage in the buy cycle? Download this FREE guide: Side Door Thinking for more suggestions on how you can use content marketing to build customer loyalty.

 

For ongoing ideas to help you hold on to more customers, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.

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Motivational Monday: Doubted & Tested

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If you want to be successful, be prepared to be doubted and tested.

How does a brand “prove” itself? Flashy marketing tools? Backing claims with metrics? Customer analytics and retention data? A/B testing every communiqué? Customers who walk around smiling all the time?

Truth be told, it’s a combination of all of the above with a healthy dose of consistency. Customers need to know what to expect and how your value is delivered, plus they should be able to rely on you time and time again…and few good surprises and the occasional wow factor doesn’t hurt either.

So how do you get there? Build your reputation by doing what you do best, time and time again. Offer your customers stability. Grow your brand and company steadily, in a trajectory you can support and maintain. Have an infrastructure to support your needs and keep customers loyal to your brand by monitoring their happiness and satisfaction.

  • Customers can see through buzzwords and jargonese. Show your relatability by avoiding internal language—it drives away customers.
  • Improve your website by monitoring traffic and getting a handle on what’s drawing in customers and what isn’t. Use a heat map to discover what’s working on your site and what’s being ignored.
  • Knowing your customers can help you understand what’s important to them and how to best hold their interest over time. To be successful, pay attention to these 10 customer metrics.
  • Help your customers, and you will stay top of mind. This means sending them information they find relevant, avoiding digital pollution, and being there for each customer when they need your services.
  • Believe it or not, price isn’t necessarily the deciding factor when it comes to brand loyalty. Engage your customers, offer value and keep your reputation for quality. Showing your appreciation to your customers and making personal connections will keep them coming back time and time again.

For ongoing tips for passing your customers’ tests and doubts, be sure to follow Cultivate on LinkedIn or subscribe below to receive Motivational Monday updates in your inbox each week.

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Fertilize Your Mind Weekly Marketing Updates

Marketing creativity is the ability to tap into our mental pool of resources — knowledge, information, insight, stats, examples — and combine them in unique ways. The larger the library of creative building blocks, the more visionary your ideas will grow to be.

Fertilize your mind. Subscribe now to get a weekly digest of our latest blog posts delivered directly to your inbox:

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