By now, we’re all familiar with the following marketing principle: if you’re not retaining the customers you’re acquiring, then your acquisition efforts are going down the drain.
Retention isn’t like cleaning out your refrigerator—something you (okay, I) disregard for the most part until it’s apparent the lettuce has been left alone a little too long and is suffering from blatant neglect.
Don’t turn your customers into the sad-looking lettuce. Know what’s going on with your refrigera… um, clients, at all times, and pay attention to where they are in their (customer) life cycle. The following six tactics may take more effort, but the payoff is stronger brand awareness, happier customers, and more customer insights: more than worth the extra diligence.
#1 Take Life’s Lemons and Make a Lemon Tart Instead
Customer complaints are a chance to grow amongst the sometimes-hard-to-swallow critiques, receive honest feedback that ultimately helps your company provide better customer service, and inspire brands to build a better product.
Although your inner voice may be saying, “F%ck Y*# @$^h&!&”, criticism is actually a chance to deliver a satisfying win-win… as long as you’re open to suggestions, willing to act on the constructive criticism, and committed to making your customers happier.
Those lemons are also a chance for you to show off your company’s personality and crisis management skills. If you’re able to handle reviews with grace—or better yet, show a sense of humor— you’re proving that you (as a brand) are committed to serving others, which is kind of why you even exist, am I right?
There’s another bonus to making that lemon tart; you’re also handing customers an opportunity to change their mind about you. If you need some examples to see how customer service is done, check out these exceptional responses.
A well-thought out, helpful reply leaves the customer with a positive impression of the brand, and that sticks around a lot longer than any complaint. Customers who receive a memorable reply will continue their loyalty towards the brand and maybe even spread the word about their amazing customer service experience.
#2 Offer Sweet Rewards
Aside from those individuals who hate any and all surprises, everyone (else) likes a birthday surprise that comes in the form of freebies, free samples, or discounts. If you have a loyalty program, give your members what they want: special discounts. It’s why they joined the club and it’s why they’ll stay a member.
Taking the extra step and offering those sweet, sweet rewards shows that you care about your customers. Rewards also function like a game and make the shopping experience more exciting. ‘Spend your points on these giveaways now, or save up for an even bigger prize’ is the most thrilling thing an employee at the checkout can say, aside from, ‘congratulations, you qualify for a 100% discount on your entire purchase.’
The rewards also serve as a thank you, and the power of appreciation doesn’t go unnoticed.
#3 Automation is the Topping on a Retention Strategy Pizza
Marketing automation software takes your strategy to the next level, especially when you’re using multiple channels of communication.
Automation makes sense of all your customer data, provides key insights, enables you to create personalized campaigns for a “segment-of-one,” and makes sending emails and other website actions easier and more effective.
Take advantage of the software and utilize various channels to get your message across in a non-evasive manner. Marketing automation software can help you plan, execute, and analyze an individualized marketing plan, and collect insights from customers so you know exactly who they are and what they like, which makes predicting their behavior a whole lot easier.
And if money’s tight? There are plenty of useful free tools to help you out.
Automation takes the guess work out of campaigns, especially with fast and efficient A/B testing. Another perk of automation software is that it avoids customers receiving completely irrelevant mail or promotions, something that turns customers off from the brand and leaves them disappointed, like expecting a make-your-own-wood-fired pizza, and getting a square of bland cafeteria pizza, instead.
#4 Multi-channel Provides Customers with a Variety of Flavors
Think of multi-channel like an ice cream store. It’s lame and unheard of to open an ice cream parlor and only serve one flavor, so if you only use one platform, you’re missing out on all the customers who would prefer another “flavor” or channel. Customers want options. If this is brand new information, see here.
Reach customers where they want to be reached. Don’t miss out on connecting with consumers because they don’t regularly check their email, but are active on social media.
#5 Satiate the Customer’s Need for a Positive Experience by Publishing Valuable Content
Ask yourself this: are you educating or just selling? If the answer is selling, take a step back and rework your strategy, because the latter doesn’t qualify as valuable. Why the need for valuable content?
Content is the backbone of your social campaigns. It’s an effective way to garner more newsletter subscription signups. It draws more customers to your product or website. If you’re not sold yet, there are plenty more benefits where that came from.
Consumers are hungry for knowledge. Content marketing leaders experience 7.8 times more site traffic than non-leaders, and you can bet they’re not the ones pushing their products in consumer’s faces. Satisfy your customers’ appetite for value by letting your content do the talking.
Building a brand is impossible without content. A wise man by name of Gary Vaynerchuk once said, building a brand helps you more in the long run than selling, and you build a brand byt providing an experience, which is more memorable than a sales pitch.
#6: A (Catered) Event Keeps Customers Content
Events are a chance for customers and your brand to meet face to face. A 2013 global study by Momentum Worldwide compared 23 types of brand experiences, such as TV commercials, visiting a website, and attending branded music, sports, or other events, and found that branded live events inspire 65% of attendees to recommend the brand and 59% to make a purchase—more than any other type of brand experience.
During an event, customers can test products and give instant feedback. Just remember to take any lemons—if there are any—and bake yourself a nice dessert.
During an event, your company can show off your product while controlling the branding and the environment. Need some inspiration? These brands nailed their events and these tips guide you on how to create a memorable show of your own.
#7 Serve Up Some Trust for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
How to build trust 101:
- Be transparent and open with customers
- Consistently deliver above average customer service
- Use the Edelman Trust Barometer as a guide
An additional way to gain trust is by adopting a cause. Consumers will happily serve as brand advocates for brands who give back and maintain ethical business strategies. It’s nice to have a decent product or service and all, but a good deal of creating value is about how a brand behaves (both internally and externally), aka the overall customer experience.
Harvard Business Review found that “with more consumers, more ‘noise’ from brand messaging… there is greater transparency to these elements. It is easy to see how a trust deficit will ultimately slow long-term growth prospects, regardless of favorable macro indicators.”
A slightly less eloquent way to put it; brands are growing louder and the number of customers invested in a brand’s overall DNA is increasing, so there’s a greater need for transparency within a company. A lack of trust in brands will damage sales and a brand’s overall reputation.
Excuse the Cliché, But the Proof is In The Pudding
Here’s the thing, retention takes work, but the rewards make the effort worthwhile. It’s important to connect with your customers and see them as individuals with different interests and preferences so your marketing efforts towards them are stronger and encourage more loyalty. Keep track of which tactics are working and which ones aren’t and tweak if necessary. And for goodness sake, don’t neglect your lettuce.