Improving retention can be one of the biggest value drivers in your business. It’s an important and foundational step of the post-purchase conversion funnel, with a direct impact on overall revenue. Plus, its impact is bigger and more future-thinking than customer acquisition.
But it’s not the only step or goal inside of your post-conversion funnel.
Few conversations about customer experience examine the value beyond retention, but really, it’s just the first step – it’s the foundation of that experience. But there’s even more you can do once you’ve retained a customer. If you truly want to increase the benefits your company enjoys from its customers, look beyond revenue and their wallets when considering CLTV.
Once you’ve retained a customer, what’s your next goal for them?
What other value can a loyal or VIP customer provide for your bottom line?
Outside of the direct impact of remaining a customer, there are additional ways they can influence your business results, such as sending another customer your way. Building tactics that encourage those actions lets you broaden your retention results and build new rewards into your marketing strategy.
Let’s explore how a loyal customer can benefit your business in ways other than spending. This article covers both additional ways to drive sales directly, as well as less direct ways VIPs can help you improve your customer journey.
1. Drive Word-of-Mouth Marketing
Focusing too closely on customer acquisition creates a situation where you’re after the quick win, with little long-term payoff. But even adding retention marketing to the mix only extends a customer’s value potential so much. What if, instead of paying the same amount or slightly more money with each transaction, the revenue from this customer grew exponentially instead of little by little?
As explored in another recent post, referrals, advocacy, and ambassadorship are pivotal components of what Buckley Barlow calls the “bow tie” structure of sustainable growth funnels.Image source: https://beintheknow.co/bow-tie-funnel/
This is, all too frequently, an overlooked opportunity. All the while, trust in brands and media continues to decline in what Edelman’s Trust Barometer calls a state of “stagnant distrust.”
Smart brands will look for innovative ways to introduce themselves to new customers. Influitive and Heinz Marketing found that referrals can have up to a 75% higher conversion rate, as well as faster lead times and higher lifetime customer values. Yet they discovered only 30% of B2B companies have a proper referral program.
By creating an informal referral or formal affiliate program that makes it easy for customers to share your product or service, you’re able to set your VIPs on the road to ambassadorship. And with so many other businesses overlooking the opportunity, it can be a differentiator that helps increase loyalty from existing customers.
2. Boost Your Social Proof
Referrals are a great start, but they’re predicated on your best customers knowing lots of other ideal customers just like them. That may not always be the case. But you can still utilize your most loyal and successful customers to close additional ones like them, even if the two have never met. This is possible through case studies, testimonials, and other content featuring their stories and results.
Social proof is a powerful factor in conversions, which is why conversion expert Joel Klettke told ConversionXL that it’s “one of very few elements I’ve never seen reduce conversion rates in my own tests.” And there are multiple ways to leverage them in your bow tie funnel structure.
For example, say you want to better target and appeal to specific verticals. By specifically featuring case studies and testimonials from successful customers in those categories, you can convey a strong message to potential customers that “this is for people like you.”Image source: https://www.infusionsoft.com/customer-stories
In addition to developing case studies dedicated to your most successful customers, you can also feature their testimonials, quotes, and results in your company content.
You can even keep this momentum going outside of your own website by encouraging your VIPs to review your business on Google, Facebook, or whatever review platform is most frequently used in your industry.
3. Feed Custom Targeting Audiences
Here’s another, albeit somewhat technical, way to find new great customers based on the ones you already have.
Only instead of targeting this audience with ads, you can create a lookalike audience to find other users with similar characteristics.Image source: https://www.facebook.com/business/a/lookalike-audiences
This lets you reach more people than your best customers could ever personally recommend, while still using their commonalities as a targeting factor for new ad campaigns.
It also lets you focus your campaigns to cold audiences in the segments with the highest probabilities to convert, lower your cost per conversion and increase conversion rates.
4. Generate Product and Experience Feedback
Finally, one of the most long-term and forward-thinking ways you can leverage the experience of loyal customers is by simply talking to them. Your long-term and loyal customers are often the most eager and willing to get on the phone, the most honest and open with their opinions, and have lots of experience with your product or service.
There are many ways talking and listening to your customers will better your marketing throughout your entire strategy and funnel:
- Know which features and products to prioritize in development
- Get clued into potential weak spots in your business and fix them before they become bigger problems
- Use parts of conversations as testimonials and social proof (as mentioned above)
- Gain a better understanding of customers’ lives
- Become familiar with their language so you can write marketing copy with their own words
A customer interview may not have the immediate win of a renewed or referred customer, but the insight will provide a bigger picture and last longer.
Don’t Be Afraid to Play Favorites
Customers you’ve retained long-term bring more opportunities to your business than just a recurring purchase. The more you explore and bring them into the conversion funnel, the bigger the impact each customer can have on your business.