When it comes to marketing, there is a lot of emphasis on gaining new attention. That is, in attracting brand new customers.
That means that customer retention – the act of nurturing, reactivating and retaining your existing customer base – is often put on the back burner.
But retaining customers gives access to a readily available source of ongoing business. Customer retention requires less effort and resources to gain the same conversions we often seek from brand new audiences.
It might seem completely obvious, but it’s worth noting: customers who are familiar with your brand are easier to convert than brand new cold leads.
Essentially, customer retention should be part of your overall marketing strategy – if not a main feature of it.
If you currently don’t have any customer retention campaigns in your marketing and sales pipeline, check out our suggestions below for some inspiration.
Build a journey with rewards along the way
As a marketer, you know that gaining attention is important – but have you thought about how to hold that attention for the long term?
Whenever you design marketing campaigns to lure in new customers, you should also have designed a long term journey for your customer base once you’ve got them on your mailing list.
The journey should hold the attention of your customers, and reward them for ongoing participation and conversions.
Consider adding them to a work flow of ongoing monthly communications, perhaps with peaks in the experience where they are seemingly rewarded for continuing to give attention to your communications.
For example, you may send existing customers a regular e-newsletter with insider tips and information on your brand’s niche topic, and every now and then send special offers and promos to existing customers who’ve interacted with your previous communications.
This gives your existing customers a reason to continue giving your brand attention, and participating in a relationship with your business.
Use personalised, dynamic content
Make your customers feel special, by making sure you target them as unique individuals, rather than part of an impersonal mass audience.
Use personalisations, and dynamic content, to send communications to your customers that feel specifically catered to them.
For example, instead of sending an email introducing a whole list of new products on offer to your entire mailing list, personalise the email so that it addresses each customer personally, and simply promotes the new products that are relevant to them.
If your favorite fashion brand sent you an email specifically about their new winter boots in store (because you previously bought boots from them) vs. a generic email that lists every new product in store like a novel-length catalogue, which would you more likely spend time reading?
Create a VIP program
Making customers feel special for having done business with you is imperative to keeping them warmed up, nurtured, and happy to continue the customer relationship.
One way of making your customers feel special, is by entering them into a VIP communications flow.
Perhaps special members, or VIP customers get premier-access to your new products, or perhaps they get special discounts on services.
Maybe VIP customers get free tickets to your regular events, or are invited to network privately with the guest speakers and influencers at your events.
Other VIP treatment includes sending important customers gifts, entering them into raffles for prizes, and sending them free long-form educational material.
Build a community with events, forums, and other interactive spaces
A great way of retaining customers is by utilising community management strategy.
By turning your relationships with customers into a full blown community, you can further nurture your customers, and build up commitment with them – ensuring long term retention.
Building community always involves interaction, and the building of real life relationships.
Whether you hold events, or encourage your customer community to speak directly with staff in online interactive spaces (forums, chat rooms, Facebook groups), by recognising your customers as people, and having them recognise the real people behind your brand, you can ensure customer loyalty for the long run.
Deploy Wake the Dead campaigns
Customer retention is one thing, but how much of your existing customer base is actually active?
If you’ve collected customers over a long period of time, you’ve probably noticed a large chunk of your existing mailing list is inactive – as in, they simply don’t open any of your communications, click on anything, or convert.
Don’t throw in the towel so soon!
Inactive customers can be spurred into activity once more, breathing life back into your existing recipient lists.
A great way for cleaning up your mailing list to weed out truly inactive customers, and bring some customers ‘back to life’ is by building and sending a ‘Wake The Dead’ campaign.
A ‘Wake The Dead’ campaign is a communications flow which sends out at least 3 emails in succession.
The first email is a sort of ‘are you there?’ email. You can create a sense of urgency by explaining you’ll be cleaning up your lists, and anyone who doesn’t click to opt-in, will be eventually unsubscribed from further communications.
The second email is a follow up, and may include inbound-marketing content to grab attention, and refresh the customer’s relationship with the brand.
For example, you may create content that explains what exciting new updates, products, or services your ongoing customer base can look forward to.
The third email is a goodbye email, giving the recipient a final chance to opt-in.
Obviously you can get a lot more creative, and include many more emails in this flow if you’re working towards reactivating most of your ‘dead’ recipients.
Send free, educational content
A great way of looking after your existing customers is by adding them to a consistent, long term communications flow – with an emphasis on free education.
Your brand should have a niche topic of which it positions itself as an industry thought leader on. You should be giving tips, and news in relation to this topic in an ongoing e-newsletter, or e-digest.
This keeps your brand fresh in your customers’ inboxes, and minds. Free education helps to nurture your customer list, so that they come to trust your brand more, and more – keeping them warm for future retention, and conversion.
Incentivise social sharing
Your customers can also rope in new leads, and you won’t have to lift a finger.
Social sharing, when leveraged, can help your brand gain widespread attention by online word of mouth. Your existing customers are the best place to start.
Try incentivising social sharing of your blog posts, email content, and event invites so that you can utilise the audiences of each of your existing customers; covering a base you would have otherwise not had access to.
You may want to enter every event registrant into a raffle for a prize, as long as they share the event details on their Facebook, for example.
At your events, you could promise attendees that if they take a selfie and post it on their Instagram with the appropriate hashtag, they get a free drink.
You get the idea!
Keeping your existing customer base active, happy, and pampered will help take the stress out of solely relying on new leads for sales.
Customer retention not only gives you ongoing, long-term access to useful feedback, community, and easy conversions – but it also helps you gain new attention via word of mouth.
Satisfied, nurtured customers keep your brand on the tops of their minds – making them powerful marketing tools in and of themselves.
All you have to do is keep on the tops of their inboxes.