One of the things that has always mystified me about internet marketers is that they seem to think that once they have found a customer, they don’t need to do anything in order to keep them. All too often, I see people who should know better deliberately destroying their e-mail lists either because they don’t know or don’t care what it takes to retain customers.
The fact is that while many people think they should just keep pumping out new products, your existing customers are going to be your bread and butter. This does not mean by the way that you spam them endlessly with one offer after another once they’ve purchased something from you. You need to cultivate them in order to make them into lifelong customers. Here are 6 strategies that the experts use in order to keep their customers happy:
Don’t Treat Them Like Lemmings
When you have a very large mailing list, it often seems as if you can just send out an e-mail to them and walk away with a pretty decent return. Even if you just get 1% of your customers to place an order, doing that with a very large mailing list means you still make a decent amount of money.
However, a smart Internet marketer realizes that his or her mailing list is made of actual, real people. These are all individuals and they are busy and have to balance budgets just the same way you do. Why not treat them as individuals? Get to know some of the people on your mailing list and find out what it is that they want from your company. Ask questions and listen to the feedback.
Often, you’ll find that your customers will reward that kind of attention with extra purchases and with referrals to their friends. This means more money for you without having to work so hard to constantly keep your list fresh.
It also helps to provide your customers with more than a barrage of spam e-mails. Even if you never get to know the people on your list, if you send them an occasional freebie they’re more likely to think of you as someone they want to listen to in the future.
Supply Your Customers with What They Need
I’m a big advocate of not trying to recreate Amazon.com or Walmart. Sure you could do that but you would need millions of dollars in venture capital funding and tons of advertising to even make a dent in the business of either of these entrenched companies. That said, you can be all things to your customers in your own niche.
What I mean by this is that within whatever niche you work, you could supply all the services your customers need. If you don’t do it, someone else will. A good example of this would be SEO. Sure an SEO company could provide nothing but automated backlinks and many people do that. However, that’s a business model based on a race to the bottom.
In essence, when you are so narrowly focused and do not provide a full service shop so to speak, you are competing against others who also want to do it and who will do it cheaper just to steal market share from you.
On the other hand, an SEO company which can provide you with automated backlinks, hand made backlinks, consulting on your website and pretty much everything to do with the world of SEO can cultivate customers who get to know the people they work with and actually build a relationship.
That’s actually our approach here at QuantumSEO Labs and I believe it’s the right approach — to ensure that our customers feel they have someone to talk with instead of just paying a fee without really seeing someone reporting to them and providing them with information.
Reward Your Best Customers
Ever notice how airlines often allow their most frequent flyers to use the lounge at the airport for free? They also often give these frequent flyers free upgrades to first or business class and or other extra perks. This is in spite of the fact that the airline industry is going through all kinds of shakeups these days.
The reason that the airlines do this for those who have their top frequent flyer accounts and not for everyone else is that they want to keep these customers happy. People who fly hundreds of thousands of miles a year often will have preferred airlines and they will try to fly with them whenever possible. A smart airline will try to cultivate these people.
You can do the same. Your best customers might rate a personal phone call to check and see how they’re doing. Or maybe even a Christmas basket or some other unexpected perk just so that they know that you appreciate them. This sort of thing goes a long way toward ensuring that your customers will remain loyal and not jump ship because someone else offered a slightly better deal.
By the way, by the same token, it’s important to ensure that those same customers will have someone to talk with if they are offered a better deal elsewhere. Customer retention is important and should be treated seriously by your company.
Be a Follow Up Type of Person
Regardless of whether a customer is brand new or one of your best, they’ll almost invariably keep coming if you go the extra mile for them. This means that if you tell them you’ll look into something for them, you actually take the time to get back to them in a timely manner.
You should also remember that if you are going to be late on supplying something the customer ordered, they need to hear from you that this is an issue. Be prepared to offer them a little something extra as a perk to make up for being late by the way.
Stop Taking Your Existing Customers for a Ride
A while back, Sprint ran a series of commercials where a school teacher would give a nice big pack of brand new crayons to a new child in the class while everyone else had to make do with broken bits of crayon. When the other kids looked at her as if she was being unfair, she explained that this child was new and they were already here.
Yes, we all know that you need to give extra incentives to your new customers in order to get them to sign up with you. You need to provide them with a freebie or some extra special deal in order to get them in the door. However, you should not completely ignore your existing customers.
Remember that your competitors are lusting after your existing customers and they want to steal them from you. What’s going to stop them from jumping ship because someone else offered them a nice perk for signing up as a new customer there?
The answer is that you also reward your existing customers. You provide these people with something extra that will make them more likely to want to stick with you so that they’re not going to bolt and head elsewhere at the first good deal. This means offering them an occasional special just for being loyal customers who have stuck with you.
Oh and don’t think that everyone is going to take the time to call and say that they’re leaving unless you give them a better deal. Often, people just take the deal offered elsewhere and then leave.
Your customers are much more likely to stick with you if you have something to offer them that they can’t easily find elsewhere. Maybe it’s your unique style of writing (I know several of my writing clients stick with me because they really enjoy my writing). Maybe it’s the fact that you have some special feature in your product that others don’t have.
The important thing here is that you want to ensure that whatever it is you have for sale is not going to end up being a commodity. Once there is essentially no difference between your offerings and those of the competition, you are competing exclusively on price and there’s nothing worse than that because there will inevitably be someone willing to be cheaper than you.
This was actually the genius of Apple Inc. under Steve Jobs. Sure there are other smartphones available and PC Magazine even recently declared Samsung’s Galaxy phone as the best on the market. However, Apple continues to succeed because they have a unique offering which simply is not matched by their competition.
Bottom line, give your customers a reason to stick with you and they likely will do so. Don’t do that and watch your customer base disappear.