Published: 30 October 2014
‘One of the biggest complaints customers make about marketing messages is that they’re all about selling something. The best sales pitch is a good customer relationship.’ (siriusdecisions.com). This is very true. Nurturing existing customers and ensuring their ongoing repeat business always represents a far lower cost per sale than a brand new customer acquisition. Of course you have to constantly be growing your new business pipeline, but it is amazing how many companies fail to maximise the value of existing clients or very warm prospective customers – people who may have bought once or have not bought, but who are regularly visiting your site or clicking on your email communications. Maybe a tailored offer or reward is all it would take to keep them coming back and purchasing again?
Build Advocacy and the customers will come
Brand loyalty builds advocacy and advocacy grows your customer base. Look at your relationship with your customers and ensure that you consider the customer lifecycle and apply it to your marketing strategy. Many brands are happy when a consumer reaches the purchase stage as success has been achieved, but a surprising number of companies consider ‘job done’. The next three stages; experience, retention and loyalty and word of mouth are however vital.
Connect…don’t just collect!
When it comes to applying this cycle to social media, one of the biggest misconceptions that companies make is that they collect consumers rather than connecting with them. ‘Having 100 really passionate fans that love your brand or product is exponentially more effective than having 10,000 “fans” who signed up just to win a free iPad from you.’ (forbes.com). Many companies believe that the more fans they have on social media the better and they use lots of different competitions to try and get people to follow or sign up to their pages, however if they are not engaging with them ongoing then it is pointless.
It is similar to advertising in a public space where thousands of people can see your advert and putting no engaging tagline or image on it. People will see it and completely forget about it a few minutes later once they have walked past. You need to make time to engage with your consumers rather than spending all your time marketing to the masses just for most of them to drop away before committing to a purchase or purchasing and forgetting about you.
Odeon does a great job of nurturing its consumers. They offer a loyalty card, which consumers can use to save points each time they spend money on tickets or food. With this card consumers must confirm their email address which Odeon uses to send out monthly newsletters and information on up and coming events. They also offer special deals, early screenings and free merchandise to their members to say thank you for being loyal to their company. This scheme encourages card holders to visit Odeon cinemas over others in order to collect points. By offering complimentary tickets or early screenings they are not only keeping their members happy but are advertising to new consumers through word of mouth.
Nurture – don’t sell
‘The biggest mistake you can make is to turn customer relationship nurturing into an ongoing stream of sales pitches.’ (Siriusdecisions.com). By churning out messages to the masses you are essentially training customers to ignore your messages. By ensuring that you communicate and listen to what your customers have to say and tailoring content exclusively to different customer groups you make them feel valued. A personal approach will help your social media status, and result in customers seeing your messages as worth reading and of value.
A brilliant example of working with customers you have already, is the Walkers ‘Flavour’ campaign. This encourages consumers to recommend new flavours of crisps to the company, the top flavours are then produced as limited edition and another poll is sent out to consumers to pick which flavour they want to make into a permanent one. This campaign encourages people who eat Walkers crisps to choose a new flavour, making them feel valued because they are included in the company’s decision making process.
Maximising the customer lifecycle has multiple benefits. It lowers your cost per sale, it helps create advocates and engaged customers. All this encourages new customers to your brand, which in turn reduces your cost per new customer acquisition. Rather than investing all your time and money in brand new customer acquisition, take time to look after the ones you already have and they will more often than not reward you for it.