5 Great Ideas for Retaining Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers

Loyal, Enthusiastic Customers
Marketing is SO different than it was just a few years ago. While the Web makes it easier to start a company these days, 9 out of 10 startups still fail.

One way to claim a top 1% spot is to fully engage your customer base. A healthy bunch of repeat customers is one step shy of a wild band of brand advocates who will help you sell your product.

Hear that? Brand advocates are loyal, enthusiastic customers who sell FOR you.

No matter what you do, some percentage of your customers are only one-time opportunities. Others will appreciate your company so much they’ll become long-term customers, and they’ll recommend you to their family and friends. These are your potential brand advocates. It’s up to you to provide them incentive to continue to do business with your company.

Ask yourself right now:

  • What do we offer our customers that outshines our competition?
  • How do we show our customers we care?

Hint: If you can answer those two questions, you’re doing your part to generate a repeat customer base rampant with brand advocacy. Could you do more?

 

Try this:

1. Above ALL: Create Evangelists with Superior Customer Service

Loyal, enthusiastic customers don’t just happen. It starts with product and ends—or continues on and on—with exceptional customer service. Understand that customers don’t necessarily have to love you to continue to do business with you. Some will continue to buy your product or services because you offer something unique, because they’re resistant to change, or because your competition has a worse reputation than you do…but they’ll never advocate your brand.

Brand advocates are crazy about you. They love your products and services and their recommendations don’t come with an attached “but…”. As in, “The product is great, but the customer service is terrible.”

The first step to creating brand evangelists is to remove the “but…” with excellent customer service.

2. Offer Up Relevant, Smart, Emotional, Entertaining Content Marketing

How do your customers feel when they use your products or engage in your services? What are your customers’ interests? How can you help your customers solve even more of their most pressing problems?

Most importantly: What do your customers WANT?

It’s your job to learn these answers and provide the information, authenticity, and powerful storytelling they seek through engaging content marketing. Provide the best content on the Web that meets and exceeds your customers’ expectations—and your customers will love you for it.

Bonus: Great content marketing is great for search engine optimization (SEO)—so not only does content marketing help you cultivate brand loyalty, it also helps you gain new prospects and customers.

3. Reward the Refer-A-Friend

Refer-A-Friend rewards both the person referring AND the new customer. Dropbox is a great example. By offering extra storage on both sides, Dropbox increased signups by 60% and went from 100,000 users to 4 million in just over a year. Bam.

4. Create an Exclusive Club

Asking customers to “buy” a “rewards card” seems like a bad idea, but it works, and it works well. Amazon charges $99 per year for its Prime membership, and the rewards are worth it to both customers and Amazon. Perks include free shipping, movies, music, books, early-access deals, and more.

Here’s the kicker: Prime members spend an average of $1,500 a year, about $900 more than the average amount spent by non-member customers.

5. Give Back

TOMS is a company rooted in social good. The concept is simple: For every pair of shoes purchased, Toms provides a pair of shoes to children around the world most in need. The program has become so popular that Toms has expanded; now they also provide clean water, eyeglasses, training, and kits packed with items to help women more safely give birth.

 

Use these 5 great marketing ideas to inspire your customers to want to share their enthusiasm with others—so they tell others how much they like your products, your services, and the perks you offer to earn their business. This kind of ongoing customer lovin’ creates an emotional connection that’s difficult for your competitors to disrupt.

 
related-resources_01

Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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Romancing the Customer: 5 Ways to Keep Long-Term Customer Relationships Alive

ThinkstockPhotos-491600254
The purpose of content marketing is to attract and retain customers by giving them exactly what they want—when they want it. You romance your prospects by providing the information they need, then building trust over time, so they’re inspired to do business with you. You win them over with your expertise, knowledge and helpfulness.

After putting in all that work to build those long-term customer relationships, don’t spoil it by taking your loyal customers for granted. Here’s how to keep the romance alive…

1. Anticipate Their Needs

The secret to knowing what your customers need before they know they need it is a matter of understanding their buying habits. Tailor your gifts—discounts and special offers—to match what they want, and not what you want them to buy.

It may work to put overstock on sale if you’re a grocery store…you can usually count on impulse buys. But online customers are carefully researching which businesses they engage with. They’re more likely to continue to buy from you if you’re offering exactly what they’re looking for.

How to Know What Your Customers Want and Need:

  • Listen to their questions and comments – ask for feedback. Ask how you can improve, what products they would like you to offer, and what they’d like to see from you. Find out what gives them trouble…and fix it.
  • Analyze buying patterns – it’s no accident Amazon shows you what other customers have purchased alongside the items you’re considering. Suggestive selling works, especially when there’s a social component.
  • Harness social proof – keep an eye on industry information shared on social media. If your customers are mentioning you and sharing your content regularly, you’re doing a great job. If they’re sharing information published by your competitors, they’ve lost interest.

2. Don’t Take Them for Granted

Keeping their interest alive for the long term requires relationship maintenance. Just like any long-term relationship: you need to show you care by doing something special. Remember their birthdays, surprise them with unexpected gifts, and delight them with exclusive offers, upgrades, or new products you know they’ll love.

3. Be Unpredictably Predictable

Consistency is great customer service. Delivering the excellent service your customers expect is essential to keeping their attention, but you also need to surprise them now and then with something unexpected.

Flowers and candy on every birthday or anniversary are nice, don’t get me wrong, but knowing exactly what’s going to happen can get pretty dull. Don’t fall into an advertising rut. Shake things up with something entirely new, like a contest with a big prize or a 10-year anniversary dinner for your biggest customers.

4. Show Them a Different Side of You

You’re cultivating a nice reputation: you’re knowledgeable, reliable, and consistent; a good provider. Use your social media and your blog to invite your customers into your processes. Show them your innovative side, your creative ideas, and your vision for the future.

5. Value Their Opinions

A partnership should never be a one-way conversation. Ask your customers for their opinions and act on their suggestions. Everyone hates being ignored. Ask for honest opinions and ideas, and incorporate the smartest and most popular answers into new offerings, customer service protocols, and service updates.

It’s always good to remember that, whether you’re dealing with consumers or business buyers, you’re in a relationship with a human being. Like every long-term relationship partner, your customers need to be nurtured, wined, and dined with appreciation, fresh content, and new ideas. Your ability to please depends heavily on how well you really know your customers.

 

Want to learn more about nurturing your customer relationships over the long term? Download this FREE guide: Side Door Thinking for more information about how you can use content marketing to build customer loyalty.

related-resources_01

Side Door Thinking: Learn the smart marketing tactics you need to truly engage with more customers.Stop banging on the front door of your customer’s mind …when the side door is wide open! Want to learn more about effective content marketing? Whether you decide to outsource content marketing or not, this eBook is chock-full of great information on content marketing. Download this FREE guide, Side Door Thinking, to discover how content marketing can help you ramp up your website and complete your marketing strategy.

You’ll learn how to:
  • Increase Your Referral Rate
  • Increase Your Social Media Reach
  • Leverage New Product Lines & Revenue Streams
  • Earn Your Customer’s Loyalty & Business
  • Position Yourself As An Industry Leader & Trusted Resource
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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Shiny Happy People: 9 Reasons Repeat Customers are Your Hidden Goldmine

Gaining new customers is like panning for gold: you can spend hours of back-breaking labor panning for just a few occasional nuggets. Your existing customers are the real mother lode—thick veins of gold you can mine for years on end.

So why do most businesses spend just 12% of their marketing budget on customer retention?

Shiny Happy People: 9 Reasons Repeat Customers are Your Hidden Goldmine

Is it possible they don’t know about the hidden goldmine in their existing customer base? If you’re spending all your time panning for new customers and ignoring the mine, here are 9 reasons to reconsider…

  1. Repeat customers are cheaper. The White House Office of Consumer Affairs says it costs at least six times as much to make the first sale as it does to make the second (or third, or fourth…). When you figure the total cost of attracting a new customer, your profit margin for a first-time sale goes way down.
  1. You’ll build brand recognition AND brand loyalty. Making a name for your brand isn’t easy in a crowded marketplace, but when you build a legion of customers who love your brand, you’ll gain new ground via (the oh-SO-coveted) word-of-mouth. Your customers are also your fans, your influencers, and your evangelists. A satisfied fan base will spread word of your product or service in an honest, organic way by recommending you to their friends and followers.
  1. You’ll boost your bottom line. Most businesses lose 15% to 20% of their customers each year. What if you could cut those losses by half? You’d more than double your company’s growth rate. When you add up the value of a customer, it’s not about a single sale, it’s about total sales over the life of your relationship.
  1. Shiny Happy People: 9 Reasons Repeat Customers are Your Hidden GoldmineRepeat customers spend more than new customers. You haven’t yet established a trust relationship with a first-time buyer. They don’t know if you or your product will deliver the quality and customer service they expect. By the third or fourth sale, they’ll be spending nearly twice as much as a first-time purchaser—and the amount they spend typically keeps growing over time.
  1. Loyal customers are loyal. They’re simply less sensitive to price changes and less likely to abandon you when a better deal comes along. They already know and love your company, so if you focus on customer appreciation, they won’t be eager to jump ship to an unknown just to save a few bucks.
  1. Marketing to existing customers is less expensive. Your customers are already a captive audience. You don’t have to lure them in or chase them down. You know where they are, who they are, and what they want. You can easily use your customer data to deliver offers they can’t resist without spending big bucks.
  1. Your customers really appreciate loyalty rewards. When you offer your existing customers incentives, you strengthen your relationship and entice even more sales.
  1. You can easily encourage loyal customers to rope in their friends. DIRECTV, for example, offers a referral program that rewards both the existing customer and the referral. Each party gets a $10 reduction on their monthly bills for a full year. By stretching the reward out over time, the company assumes less risk of losing money on short-time customers and gives both customers a nice incentive to stay on board.
  1. Existing customers will answer your questions. You want to know what customers want, right? With an existing customer base, you can ask and they’ll tell you. It’s like magic. Shiny happy customers will give you advice, tell you what’s bugging them, and let you and everybody else know what you’re doing right.

Treating your customers like the gold they are pays off in a BIG way. Your Growth Cycle Marketing strategy should include tactics for attracting new customers AND rewarding existing customers. Keep panning for new customers, but never forget where the mother lode is.