Return business: how to turn customers into brand advocates
Is it cheaper to sell to new customers or existing customers? A recent Harvard Business Review report suggests the latter, stating that a boost in customer retention rate of even 5% can mean a 95% increase in profits. With statistics like that, as a business owner, you simply cannot afford to ignore the people that have already bought into your product and will continue to in the future.
But how do you retain customers in the digital age? Between the rising acquisition cost of customers as well as the potential to turn those one-off customers into evangelists for your company, identifying ways to create ambassadors for your brand should be at the core of your marketing strategy.
Overdeliver and Undersell
This may sound counter-intuitive, but instead of hyping up your products and services, state what the customer can experience in a matter-of-fact way and then overdeliver on their expectations. Not only are customers more likely to be blown away by what they received, but they’re more likely to tell other people about it as well.
This applies especially in the realm of customer service. Train your employees to listen and respond to consumer complaints and stay with the customer until the issue is solved. Offer quicker delivery than your competitors and arrive when you say you will. Every interaction you have with your customers is a way to cement your brand in their mind.
Meet the Customer Where They Are
In this day and age, there’s no excuse for a company not to have a social media presence. The advertising opportunities are there – customers expect it. And if you don’t embrace it, you’re missing out on a great way to interact with your target demographic in a casual and fun way.
Look at your presence on social media as a way to market your brand. By posting relevant content on your page, you’ll be able to respond to comments or questions and help them better understand who you are (just remember to respond in 24 hours or your effect will be reduced).
To truly make this an effortless experience, automate as much of this process as you can by using schedulers that auto-post content as well as applications that interface with each other directly. Some WordPress plugins will auto post to your social media profiles as soon as you finish a blog, while other apps (like Hootsuite) will allow you to curate and share content on the go.
Institute a Rewards Program
The concept is simple: when people feel like their loyalty is rewarded, they’re more likely to spend money at your location. In fact, the average lifetime value of a customer that is actively engaged in a loyalty program is around $1,200.
Not only does this help the consumer, but a strong loyalty program can also aggregate data about your customers to help you better target future customers that will also be loyal. Allowing a customer to create a member profile on your site will not only create more customized suggestions for them, but it will also help identify future high-value customers by examining their specific attributes.
Upcoming technology is making this process easier to implement. Businesses can now employ non-traditional forms of engagement, such as using “social listening” tools that prompt the customer to re-engage the brand by observing their patterns. Furthermore, by harnessing the power of the customer’s GPS, apps can trigger a notification once the device is detected to be within a certain range of the store.
Allow Customers to Contribute
One of the best ways for customers to feel connected to your brand is by actively contributing to the operations, whether this is by running contests that they can submit ideas for or soliciting feedback through focus groups and beta testing.
Another way that customers can not only contribute to a business but also feel valued is by acting on their suggestions.
As a business owner, you want a high level of feedback from your customers – since the ones that are reaching out are the ones most likely to buy from you – but also respond appropriately. By fostering more participation from your customers, you’ll also create a stronger sense of loyalty to your company since they’re not only representing you but themselves as well.
Try implementing an automated e-mail sequence that is connected to your POS system (if they give you their e-mail) that asks for feedback or requests a review. Encourage them to leave feedback on multiple review sites such as Yelp, but also to engage on social media if possible.
No matter how much technology is changing the way businesses operate, at the core of every company are people that genuinely care about the end customer. By highlighting what makes you unique, your customers will identify with your brand and become ambassadors, believing that they are not only supporting a business but a cause also.
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