Customer retention is hugely positive for your revenue, however if you manage to win a customer’s loyalty you are not only gaining their custom, you are gaining their services. They will sub-consciously become your volunteer marketing agents, spreading the word of your business’s amaziness whenever the opportunity arises. Here are a few tips for creating the love:
1. Show your human
The internet is an anonymous place, so every effort needs to made to humanize your website. It would be quite strange to go into a restaurant where the staff were wearing balaclavas! Likewise on your website, making it a faceless voiceless space will fail to connect with consumers. Photograph and profile all your staff and put thought into your about section. Go the extra mile to make it as intimate as if your customer was sitting in front of you. Use images, anecdotes, videos and updates that allow customers connect with you on a personal level.
2. Sweeten them Up
Online consumers love free stuff as much as the next person, in fact scratch that, online consumers don’t love it it they expect it. You need to offer your online consumers more than what you’re selling, a free trial, a sample, a weekly tip, a free consultation, or entertaining content. Even the customer with initially low conversion potential will struggle to resist the freeness! If they cave and take in your free offerings, they are 5 times more likely to continue to transaction stage, however even if they don’ t make any transaction you have positioned yourselves positively in their mind, these are the people who are likely to refer you or return to you when circumstances afford it.
3. Provide Support
This could come in the basic form of a F.A.Q. section but really could go further, if you have the resources to manage a customer support forum. This is a page where customers can post questions and comments, that other customers can see and comment on also. It is not only a great avenue for answering customers queries in a direct personal manner but also effective for creating a sense of community between your customers.
4. Ask for feedback
Upon receipt of a product of service, contact your customer asking for feedback on their experience with your business. Be polite, genuine and as far as possible be personal. Use the customers name etc. If the feedback is positive ask the customer for permission to use it as a testimonial on your site. Testimonials are a powerful addition to any website. Make it a goal to collect as many as possible. If the feedback is less then positive, do not feel disheartened, take it as an objective criticism that gives you to the opportunity to make your product or service even better, and thank your customer for the information.
5. Involve the consumer in the product
This works best for business’s who already have established a modest online presence. Put out a public call-out for help, ask customers to give input into what they want most from your business, what they type of service would be of high-value to them. Take stock of your response’s and strategically announce the outcome of the public’s demands. Begin photographing, documenting, filming the process of you as a business making this happen. Consumers are proud vain creatures and like nothing more than seeing their input and advice being taking and being made a success out of. They will more than likely become volunteer marketers for the product or service they have had a hand. Crowd-funding sites like fund-it.ie are founded on this principle, but why not adopt the model directly into your own business. A small cautionary word, projects like this are no small task, they require a lot of organization and strategy but can have a big pay-off.
6. Positive Brand Recognition
This is one of the less tangible points, so tends to get over-looked, but it is hugely important and can have a massive impact on not just retaining customers but attracting new ones. Put effort into making consumers aware of your brand before they seek it out. On a basic level, publicly like, comment and endorse brands similar to yours or that which may share your target market that you admire, you are immediately tapping into your target market and familiarizing them with your name, who knows the business who you publicly appreciate may take time to return the favour, either way it’s a valid exercise. If you are in a position to take it up a level, entertaining video content is proven to increase brand association by 139%. This does not even have to be a professional video, with a bit of imagination, sense of humour and an i-phone, it is very possible to pull together and upload a 20 second video that holds the potential of being shared and spreading awareness. Although possible, be cautious and self-critical with this approach, test out any self created content on friends and family before posting publicly.
7. Be Consistent
This is vitally important. Humans are creatures of habit, we thrive off pattern. It goes without saying consistency throughout your imagery and visual brand is a crucially important aspect of sticking in your consumer’s memory. But this consistency should extend through your consumer experience. If you are going posting a blog, organize yourself to post it at the same time every day/week or month depending on your frequency. Always stay a week ahead of having your content prepared. The same mantra extends through podcasts, special offers and video. In addition your customer service need to be true to what it says. i.e. “We will answer any questions you have within 48hrs” if you are promising this, it will be extremely detrimental not to deliver. Consistency can manifest itself in many ways aim to achieve and allow your website become something your customers can rely on and trust.
Amusingly the thinking behind winning the loyality of a customer is much the same as winning the affections of someone in your personal life! Here’s a quick translation in case you’re in need of the later:
Show you’re human: demonstrate you’ve got friends, (real ones not facebook ones!),good relationships, and have your own mind and personality quirks i.e don’t be a sheep.
Provide Support: You’re such a good listener, you just get them!
Ask for Feedback: On both fronts, don’t be needy about it, think of it more as an add-on to providing support, ask when appropriate, be gentle and don’t hassle.
Get People Started: Someone has to make a move, if don’t push yourself out here a little bit and give some signals, they might never notice.
Involve them in the product: When you ask someone for help or advice it signals trust and respect, ‘do these shoes go with this?!’ when they give it they feel involved, connected and needed, all big loyality boosters.
Positive Brand Recognition: Basically, be a good person, treat people well and be generous with your personality, make it so there is more good to be said about you then bad.
Be Consistent: VITAL! If your behaviour abruptly changes it is 1. Really annoying, 2. Immediate signal of unreliability. Resulting in a breakdown in trust.
Hopefully you find some of the tips above helpful, whether it’s business or pleasure!