There is a lot of focus in marketing on reaching new audiences and attracting new customers. Of course, it is important to keep raising your brand profile and attracting new customers – but if all of your focus is on bringing in new people, you’re neglecting a vital resource: your existing customers.
Existing customers can be a huge asset for your business. As well as returning to buy from you again and again, they frequently also bring in new customers through word of mouth.
So, it’s important to lock in your existing customers and build lasting loyalty. Here, we’ll teach you to gain lasting relationships with your existing customers, and reap the benefits of a loyal customer community.
Why should you focus on existing customers?
There are some very good statistical reasons for locking in your existing customers:
- It costs, on average, five times more to get a brand new customer to convert than an existing customer.
- A 5% increase in customer retention can boost your profits by up to 95%
- Existing customers are more likely to try new products from you.
- Existing customers are great for word-of-mouth recommendation (which can save you lots on marketing!)
Existing customers are a valuable resource. They are not only inclined to keep coming back to purchase from you, they are also likely to recommend you to their friends and family. So, they not only boost your profits directly, they can also play a crucial role in customer acquisition.
All in all, boosting customer loyalty and retention is a very good strategy. But how can you do this?
Here are some ideas:
Offer incentives for loyalty
Incentives are one of the most common (and most popular) ways of encouraging loyalty. Things like discounts for repeat customers, loyalty schemes, free gifts, entries into prize draws and so on make your customers feel valued. And a customer who feels valued will come back.
Incentives don’t have to come in the form of material gifts. For example, hospitality brand The Green Room offers VIP experiences for repeat customers – a tactic which has drawn celebrities to its community of regulars (something which, in itself, further benefits the brand).
It may feel counterintuitive to give away good products, services, and experiences for free, but it will pay off in the long run. As we’ve said, repeat customers are quicker and more likely to convert than brand-new customers. So, it is very much worth putting out some loss leaders to cultivate their loyalty.
Personalise your communications
To truly build a relationship with your customers, you need to communicate with them on a relevant and personal level. Generic communications won’t cut it. Modern inboxes are full of bland, generic, impersonal emails – and they’re usually deleted with barely a glance.
Today’s customers don’t just appreciate personalised communication. They demand it. If you want to build lasting, loyal relationships with your customers, personalisation is an absolute must.
Personalisation can involve:
- Talking to the customer by name
- Sending them a ‘Happy birthday’ email on their birthday
- Sending offers based on their interests and past order history
- Tailoring your communications for relevance based on things like the customer’s location, demographic, interests, purchase patterns etc
It may sound like a huge task to personalise every single message for every single customer, but modern technology makes things a lot easier. If you have the right customer data, automations and dynamic templates can do the majority of the hard work for you.
With the right technology, you can produce perfectly personalised communications that make your customers feel valued, heard, and respected. And you can do it all without having to waste hours individually writing to each and every person on your email list.
To properly personalise your communications, you need to understand your customers. You need to know who they are, where they are, what they like, what they need, the kind of content they enjoy, and more.
This brings us to our final tip: listen to your customers.
Always listen to your customers
Building loyalty is all about building relationships. You can’t build a relationship with someone you know nothing about.
So, in order to gain a loyal community of repeat customers, you need to know who they are. That means listening to them, researching them, and asking them about themselves.
Data gathering of this kind can happen in a number of ways, including:
- Feedback requests
- Online forms (for example, checkout and subscription forms)
- Behavioural analytics (for example, patterns gleaned from things like social media interactions, website activity, and email metrics)
- Social listening (i.e. keeping an eye on interactions with your brand and noting any common topics, concerns, behavioural patterns, and themes)
Gathering customer data isn’t always easy. In the wake of events like the Cambridge Analytica Scandal, people are wary of disclosing their information to brands. In order to gain the kind of information you need in order to make your customers feel heard and understood, you will have to be respectful and prove yourself trustworthy.
When gathering data, always:
- Be transparent about the data you want and what you will be using it for
- Explain how sharing data can benefit the customer
- Provide incentives for data sharing
- Make sure that the customer is in control at all times
The more you know about your customer, the more able you will be to personalise your communications and provide them the kind of incentives that will encourage loyalty.
Boost your profits and build your business by nurturing your existing customers
Existing customers are a fantastic resource. If they like what you do, they will buy from you again and again. What’s more, they may also recommend you to their friends and family.
However, you can’t assume that they’ll keep coming back of their own volition once they’ve bought from you. Even your most avid repeat customers need nurturing to maintain their loyalty.
Through incentives, listening, research, and personalisation, you can build strong, lasting relationships with your customers that result in a great brand reputation and a loyal community of repeat customers.