According to the book “Marketing Metrics: The Definitive Guide to Marketing Performance,” selling something to an existing happy customer is 14 times more likely to buy your products than trying to sell it to a new customer.
Still, it seems that many businesses are making the mistake of closing a sale and then forgetting their existing customers. Instead, they should be making an effort to stay in touch with the existing customers and to engage them in ways that will reveal their preferences and buying habits.
Here are five simple tips that can help you engage with your existing customers on a day-to-day basis:
1. Be Sociable Online
Have you leveraged the power of the Internet to engage your customers in their homes or on their smartphones? Social media makes it easy to develop one-on-one connections easily. Take these actions to be more sociable:
Listen – Monitor the conversations going on online, especially on your social media profiles and use them as free market research.
Create Two-Way Communication – Comment and like other people’s posts and updates to show that there is an actual human being behind your company profile.
Address Negative Reviews – Make an effort to convert hecklers into fans. It can be as simple as offering an apology or finding new solutions to problems you weren’t aware of until someone brought them up.
2. Give Customers a Say
By giving your customers a say, you not only show that their opinions are important to you, but that you are a business that listens and takes action. Here are two tips how to give customers a say:
Let Your Customers Design Your Products – Use surveys, online polls or email to solicit opinions about what should be included as new product features to an existing line or what the next offering should be. This way you can find out what your customers exact needs are and play to those strengths.
Take Pre-orders – Put up a registration site for those who want to pre-order a product that is under development and establish a channel through which they can supply feedback. If you notice your product isn’t getting enough interest, you will be able to make necessary adjustments on time.
3. Create Contests and Giveaways
There is nothing like a contest or a giveaway to create excitement for an event or a product line. Contests can be a great way to show all the capabilities of a new product, if you include the usage of it as part of the contest rules.
Giveaways have less to do with talent and more with product promotion and anyone can be a part of the fun. Here are a few examples of good contests and giveaways to try:
Social Media Contests – These can be done online on Facebook, Instagram, or most any other social media site. They will require some sort of contest management application to manage the voting and keep fraud out. You may want to give points for comments, sharing, and likes. Add easy buttons for the major social network sites to your contest content and social media profiles to make it easy to share your contest.
Talent Contests – This type of contest also requires that the entrant creates something, like a photo or a video, showing creative ways to use your product. Have them tag your business name with the entry. Give points for tagging and sharing.
Easy Giveaways – If you’re trying to involve as many people as possible in your customer engagement, then nothing beats a simple giveaway. You can give away a discount coupon to everyone who registers their email address, either through an online form or in-store. You can later use acquired addresses to send updates and product promotions.
4. Reward Loyalty
There is a saying: “Membership has its perks.” You want to encourage your customers to become part of an exclusive group of people who will be rewarded for their loyalty. Here are a few different ways how you can do it:
Create a Loyalty Card – This is fairly easy to do these days with many online businesses offering a service to track loyalty points on a card for you. Whether you are selling lattes or T-shirts, you can offer perks to volume buyers based on a points system. The more they buy, the more points they earn, and eventually they get a freebie.
Publish Exclusive Content to Members Only – If you want to create loyalty on an email list, make sure your emails contain information that is not available on your website. Try sending out results of a case study or a special coupon promotion only to your newsletter subscribers.
Reward Your Biggest Fans – There will always be a few voices that will stand out in a crowd. These are your mega-supporters. Make sure to reach out to them personally and reward them for their loyalty. You may even want to thank them publicly by honoring them with a title ‘Customer of the month’.
5. Build Community
As much as it is important to engage people in a personal, one-on-one, manner, it is as equally important to work on building a brand community that will foster a sense of belonging. Here are some ideas how to do it:
Create a Membership Site – Having a membership site will not only help you build a community, but it will also establish an easy way to reward loyalty. You can publish information there that only members can see, comment on and share.
Host Online Events – Online events like webinars are a great way to connect with existing and prospective customers. They go a long way in reaching a wide audience and at the same time maintain a personal touch as participants can communicate with the host via chat and have their questions answered during the session.
Attend Offline Events – If you decide not to deal with the expenses of organizing an event, your business can still make an appearance at local or industry events. Once you’re there, make sure to mingle with customers and promote all the channels through which your business can be reached – your brick-and-mortar location, official business website and social network profiles.
Why One-on-One Engagement is Crucial
The time and attention put into building closer bonds with customers are long-term investments into customer retention, which has perhaps the highest impact on a business’s bottom line. It’s also a convenient strategy by means of which businesses can obtain input on how to market their offerings in a way that will appeal to customers and meet their needs. This way they can reduce the potential for failures and at the same time work towards building a loyal band of buyers who can support their business year after year.