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.

 
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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
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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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3 Big Ways Top B2B Companies Retain More Customers

For B2B, nurturing existing customers is even more important than in B2C. Your business depends on recurring business—and oftentimes from fewer clients. You need a revenue stream that flows every month…you’re not just luring in random new customers with “The Biggest Sale of the Year.”

The customer retention danger zone? Complacency.

Assuming your customers are happy is a dangerous. If you’re sitting on the status quo, confident your customers are secure because you’ve been working with them a long time, it’s time to take a look at just how much things have changed…and how these changes have brought us full circle, back to personalized human-to-human customer service.

Excellent customer service isn’t a new concept, but it got lost to technology for a long time. Automation killed the personal touch and with nowhere else to turn, customers put up with it. There are some perks to automation, like reminder triggers and easy ordering, but customers today want more: They want a deeper understanding of your company and the products and services you provide.

Here are 3 ways you can deliver more than expected and retain more customers:

#1: Open the Doors of Communications
Achieving primo customer service starts with communication. Don’t accidentally mistake advertising for communication. Advertising is telling customers why they should buy your product. Communication is asking your customers how you can improve, and then responding with meaningful action.

Bill Gates may have put it best years ago when he said,

Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

Here’s a great B2B example:

Hootsuite is a set of tools for social media monitoring. After launching a new update, they responded to customer complaints about their “terrible” new interface by channeling a Jimmy Kimmel show bit that’s become a cultural meme: “Mean Tweets.” The important thing to understand is Hootsuite’s response. They acknowledged the validity of the criticism (despite the curse words) and redesigned the UI for a cleaner, prettier, and more useable interface.

#2: Encourage Customer Loyalty
Everybody loves swag—and customer loyalty programs are remarkably effective. IBM does B2B customer loyalty exceptionally well, even offering deals you can offer to your customers to help build your business. Their incentives don’t stop at completion of the initial sale, they continue throughout the business relationship. Well done, IBM.

#3: Create Helpful User Tools
Gordon Food Service is a food distributor that goes well beyond its purpose to help business working in the food-service industry. On their website, restaurant owners can find menu planners, cost calculators, a staff scheduler, and much more. By investing in technologies designed to help customers effectively run their business, GFS competes against some very formidable businesses.

3 Big Ways Top B2B Companies Retain More Customers: Great Example of Creating Helpful User Tools

We all know B2B is all about developing long-term relationships, your customers’ expectations go far beyond what’s on sale today. They want to deal with businesses they know and trust. Careful consideration goes into that decision to work with you, and it’s up to you to deliver on that promise of service. These three approaches can help you deliver more than expected helping retain customers and increase sales.

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Additional Resources

Manufacturer’s Guide to Attracting More Customers: How Top Manufacturers Are Driving New Revenue By Attracting More CustomersNo matter what industry you’re in, the competition is heating up, so traditional marketing methods simply aren’t enough anymore.  Check out these five B2B case studies and learn replicable marketing strategies from leading manufacturers. Get this step-by-step guide for creating a workable content and social marketing strategy for your B2B company. Get ahead of the curve.

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Providing Added Value: The Secret “Trick” to Customer Acquisition

Providing Added Value: The Secret “Trick” to Customer AcquisitionConverting a browser to a buyer isn’t an easy task. With virtually unlimited competition and customers always on the lookout for a better deal, how can you convince prospects to buy from you?

One effective way is to provide added value. Offer your website visitors more than they expect—if they act now.

Infomercials are great at this. They start with a live audience coached to ooh and aah at the right time. They expound the benefits of the product with nonstop patter while demonstrating the blender or vacuum or what-have-you, and they ask the audience leading questions.

At some point, the host asks, “How much would you expect to pay? $200? $150? $100? Not even close. Today, we’re offering this amazing miracle thing for only $49.95! But WAIT, that’s not all! If you buy right now, we’ll throw in [insert 4 or 5 other pretty neat things].” By now, the audience has reached a frenzy and hapless viewers at home (who were already interested enough to watch) are practically foaming at the mouth, afraid this great deal will run out before they get in on it.

What Infomercials Can Teach Us About Online Buying

Infomercial sales and shopping channels only work for certain types of products. You won’t see big-ticket luxury items or B2B software being hawked by carnival barkers between midnight reruns of The View. Wrong audience.

That doesn’t mean you can’t use the same methods in a different way—even on your B2B website. Try this:

Incentivize on-the-fence prospects by restructuring your tiered offers to include added value.

For example, take a look at these New York Times subscription offers. You can get all-access digital for $8.75/week OR the print edition delivered to your home PLUS all-access digital for $8.90/week for the first 12 weeks.

Providing Added Value: The Secret “Trick” to Customer Acquisition

Are people really getting additional value by adding digital access to the print version? Prospective NYT customers surely think so.

Think about it: If you’re considering returning to the nostalgic feel of newspaper (or the privacy screen newspaper provides to shield you from other commuters), you’re thinking, “Well I might as well pay an extra 15 cents because I get SO much more.”—even though you’ve actually been moved into the higher-priced tier long-term, as the price will increase after 12 weeks.

What matters here is that the customer feels they’re getting more for their money.

But you don’t have to be sneaky about it. The point is, that little extra incentive goes a long way. Providing added value entices your prospects. Try offering up extra onsite privileges, access to webinars if you sign up, special deals in advance, and other perks (like “if you act now”). This approach can drive sales on any kind of goods or services website—even B2B.

The Value of Extra Value

Adding incentives at the start of the Growth Cycle Marketing process helps turn a curious visitor into a motivated customer. A study by Shopify revealed that 67 of 100 potential customers abandon their shopping carts without purchase, and 56% of them gave unexpected costs as the reason. Other reasons cited included “found a better deal elsewhere,” “just browsing,” and “overall price too expensive.”

Growth Cycle Marketing: A proven process for growing and attracting more customersImagine what would happen if, instead of unexpected costs, consumers were met with a better value than expected. Would your business benefit from selling to people who might have walked away due to pricing issues? You bet. (…and who knew that guy on television selling overpriced blenders at the top of his lungs could show you the way?)

Get buyers excited by demonstrating the benefits of your product, then close the deal by throwing in added value. Your customers will love you for it.

For more ideas on how to convert and nurture customer relationships, download our free Growth Cycle Marketing guide.

5 Content Marketing Tips: How to Add *ZING* to Dull Subjects

"Stop Boring Me." How to add *ZING* to Dull Subjects Using Content MarketingSome topics seem SO inherently boring. Content marketing is all well and good if you’re working in an exciting field with endless subjects to explore, but what if you sell life insurance or manufacture Teflon? Jazzing up a seemingly dull subject isn’t as hard as it sounds.

Stop boring your target audience by following these five content marketing tips:

1. Share your Passion
You love what you do, right? Show your customers the beauty of your industry by sharing your passion. It’s not all about selling. Tell them why you believe in your product or service and how it makes your life better. Provide case studies featuring people like just your customers (businesses, individuals or families, whatever is appropriate) to demonstrate how you solved their problems or improved their lives, their bottom line, or their business.

2. Offer Solutions
Compelling content answers questions—but the key is to answer the right questions. Do people want a detailed explanation about actuarial tables? No. Really, they don’t.

What do potential customers really want to know? Keyword research and social listening will help you determine that, but there’s also something to be said for your own instincts. People are interested in how your product relates to them and their lives. Find their pain points, address their fears, or find a way to make their lives easier.

3. Walk on the Wild Side
It’s human nature to be fascinated by the strange and unusual. Add some pizazz to your content by finding the angles that add interest to your product or service. People may not want to hear about actuarial tables, but they DO want to know if they’re at risk for ebola. (Nope. You’re far more likely to die from your jammies catching fire.) Find creative ways to tie topics together.

4. Add Images
Visuals carry tremendous weight. Research shows that 80% – 90% of the information our brains process is visual and that related images help us process information. Brain science aside, visuals are simply more appealing.

Research shows that 80% - 90% of the information our brains process is visual and that related images help us process information. Brain science aside, visuals are simply more appealing.

5. Understand the WHY
The New York Times teamed up with Latitude Research to study the psychology behind sharing. Digging into social media motivations, they found that customers share to connect with each other. They share to motivate, advocate and interest their peers. The takeaway is to address your customers’ desire to connect with their friends…not just with your brand.

Providing answers is not only a great way to make your content more interesting, it’s also a great way to nurture your customer relationships throughout the buy cycle. Download our FREE Growth Cycle Marketing white paper to better connect with your prospects before, during and after the sale.

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In the end, the most important takeaway is to be sure to make your marketing about your audience.

 

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