Increase Profitability by Boosting Customer Retention
You’ve heard it before. It’s cheaper to keep your current customers than it is to find new customers. It’s true for many businesses, especially in the services business where the cost to generate a lead and nurture a relationship always seem to be increasing in cost.
Marketing to your current customers, or to customers after the sale is the bottom half of the Marketing Hourglass. Turn those customers into Repeat buyers, and to sources of Postive Reviews and Referrals for your business.
If you've never considered marketing to current customers after the sale, now is a good time to build a cohesive strategy for customer retention.
Let's look at how to get started.
What is customer retention?
The activities a business uses to increase the number of repeat customers and to increase the profitability of each existing customer.
Customer retention strategies enable you to both provide and benefit from more value from your existing customer base. You want to ensure the customers you worked so hard to acquire stay with you and continue to get value from your products and services, and the relationship with your firm.
In general, the higher the value of each sale or the frequency of purchase, the more the effort you should spend on customer retention marketing. Ideally, you are able to increase both.
Customer Value = Average Sale x Purchase Frequency
Once you compare your CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) for new customers with the value of your current customers, it should become apparent how much you should be investing in your customers to retain them.
Why you should care about existing customers.
- Higher profits. Since your existing customers trust you already, it gets easier to convince them to become interested in even more of your products or services through up-selling and cross-selling. In fact, Gartner Group statistics tell us that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
- Better conversion rates. Existing customers have already bought from you, and if you keep them satisfied they are more likely to buy from you again. You’ve already established trust, and built a relationship with them, which makes it easier to identify their needs and predict their moves.
- Less expensive marketing. You’ll spend less time and effort finding new customers and convincing them that you are the one they should buy from, which means – less expenses.
How Can You Boost Customer Retention?
Now that we've confirmed the value of retaining your customers, what strategies and tactics can you employ to do so?
Deliver incredible service and ensure your customers are satisfied
This goes without saying, but an unsatisfied customer is unlikely to purchase from you again.
Nurture the relationship with the customer after the sale
Schedule regular touch points with the customer in your CRM or marketing database. Use a variety of mediums from telephone calls, in person visits (if appropriate), emails, and traditional mailings. Depending on the value of the customer, invest in hosting opportunities, or send them company-branded promotional items.
- Trusted Advisor - The classic book by David Maister and Charles Green. Develop such a deep relationship with the customer that they implicity trust you as the go-to source.
Introduce your other products and services
Probe your customers needs and find ways to expose them to your other products and services. A long-term customer should be aware of the range of products and services you provide. Depending on your business, consider bundling products and services together (that make sense for the customer).
Keep top-of-mind awareness with the customer
Add the customer to an email or newsletter distribution so that they regularly see your firms name, and information about your industry and services. Follow the customers' businesses on social media, and encourage them to do so with you in return.
Look for ways to add value to the relationship
This can vary from industry to industry, but a significant way to deepen the relationship with the customer is to provide value added beyond the products and services you sell. This could be related to your recognized expertise, or information from your industry or suppliers.
If there is a renewal or repurchase time frame, make sure to begin reaching out to the customer well in advance
When it comes time for renewal, there should be no effort for the customer to do so. You've already confirmed with them the value of your services and the relationship you have with them, and so there is no effort for the customer to consider whether or not they should renew with you, or even to consider a competitor.
Feature the customer and the work that you’ve done for them, or ask them to be a client reference
Ask the customer for permission to feature their business in a case study. Most customers will feel flattered by the gesture, and very few will mind the additional exposure for their business.
Make it easy for the customer to refer you additional business
A satisfied customer is much more likely to send you referals. Look for ways to make it easy for them to do so. Come straight out and ask them, or give them loyalty or repeat purchase discounts if they do so.
TIP: Your customer referrals can also be a strong contributor to your strategy to become a recognized expert. Read more about it here: 7-Steps to Becoming a Recognized Expert
Even if you implement just a few of these strategies properly, you can expect to deepen relationships with your customers, increase their retention rates, and ultimately make them more profitable for your business.