Marketers and salespersons are like neanderthal hunters with flint-head spears. In love with the chase. The thrill of the hunt. Of course, when we snag our quarry it is an euphoric feeling. But what happens next? Their business is no longer something you can covet like a salivating hormonal teenage boy. Your relationship is settled. You are Mr and Mrs Existing Customers.
It is at this point many people lose interest. Nurturing an existing customer is nowhere near as exciting as chasing down a hot lead. But it is necessary.
Just because a new customer has bought from you once, that doesn’t mean they are in it for the long term. How you deal with them from this point, may just be the difference between a one-sale-stand and a long-purchasing relationship.
Luckily, nurturing an existing customer doesn’t have to be as time consuming as chasing down a new lead. In fact, you can put certain mechanisms in place to keep your relationship in the honeymoon period for as long as possible.
Here are five of them.
Those important dates
You know how it is. You come home from work one evening to be greeted by a set table, candles, tablecloth, and even place mats. As the flickering candle bounces from the smooth polished surface of the best silver cutlery, you get the distinct feeling that you might have forgotten something.
Whilst you are contemplating the various blankets you could choose from on your overnight stay on the sofa, you realise this could have been avoided.
Dates are important. Anniversaries, birthday’s. Many of us just don’t store that sort of information well in our heads. I kid you not – there is a reason why I have both my children’s birthdays tattooed on my left arm (but shhh…it’s because I am a loving father. Honest!). It is not information we easily retain. Luckily it isn’t information that you need to have written down in your diary. Let your Email Marketing Platform do the hard work here.
Set those auto-responders up to trigger on specific dates. If you can get your customer’s date of birth then set up a nice birthday offer at the beginning of your relationship. When the big day arrives you won’t have forgotten. You will just have forgotten that you remembered.
Pick them out something nice
There never needs to be a reason to choose something nice for the ones you care about. Although, waking up on the sofa after a night of your partner howling, “how could you forget?” is as good a reason as any. Damage control is a good reason. But “just ‘cos” is equally as valid.
When your customers first buy from you, there is a ton of data you could use. Nobody buys something they absolutely hate. Furthermore, if you can get details such as their gender, and their age, you can create some targeted emails based upon their preferences.
The moment you have new stock, before you strafe your contact list with a spray and pray email campaign, target the relevant customers first. If you email them at the moment stock has arrived they might feel a little special. We all like to see something new and pretty.
Never call existing customers by the wrong name!
It’s awkward. You know the moment when you forget someones name. Or worse! There is never a good time to call them by the wrong name either! I have made this horrendous mistake before. You will likely spend more than one night on the sofa. And buying them something sparkly might not serve as a decent apology either. Forgetting their name is also a big no no. Everyone likes to have made an impression. Right?
The relationship you hold with your customer needs to be meaningful. If you are sending out emails that begin with: “Good morning” or “Dear customer”, then you have just put yourself in the business friend zone. Your customer won’t feel as valued, and believe it or not, are less likely to read the rest of your email. If you make sure to use personalisation, even at its most basic level, customers will see that you have crafted this masterpiece with them in mind.
Make your emails about them. Tell them how much you value them, call them by their first name. You might just get them to that all important second sale!
Something for their eyes only
So you have woken up on the sofa for the second consecutive night. Last night you were told that your partner just doesn’t feel important. Like they’re not the only one. They talked all through Great British Bake Off, and you will have to watch that episode of Gotham again. As you wake up in the cold living room, you realise that all it will take is a little attention. Some exclusivity.
Joe Griffin points out that subscribers are “more likely to open exclusive content”. It plays to their ego. If your existing customer believes they are getting insider knowledge ahead of time, or something sent to a very limited group of people, then they are likely to engage.
Create an infographic that will help them, or a checklist they can use. If it is relevant to their needs, and will genuinely impact their lives, then they will feel special. To some degree they may feel indebted to you. This is a very effective way of getting an existing customer back in the mood.
Reward them for their loyalty
As I graphically alluded to in the introduction of this article, we love the chase. But a one-sale-stand is not as rewarding as a loyal returning customer who only has eyes for your products. Whilst a full-bodied desirous romance would be ideal for everyone, the cynic in me recognises that all relationships are transactional. We all want the most out of our relationships whilst giving as little as possible.
But you still need to give something.
When a customer has completed a valuable milestone, such as making their third order, or having been a subscriber for six months, give something back. Just like any relationship, this depends on how much you value their loyalty. Whether it is free delivery, or 30% off of their next order it is at least something that tells your customer that you do not want to lose them.
Wrapping up (together all snuggly)
I have received a lot of emails with the new buzz phrase “leaving money on the table”. It speaks to the idea that if you’re not maximising your repeat orders, then you are literally leaving custom for your competitors to pick up and pocket. Personally I don’t like this analogy. It is cold, unromantic, and reduces your customer relationship to a frigid line of numbers. The customers that I speak with on almost a daily basis aren’t always buying anything. We swap information, and exchange little stories. Today they didn’t put money in my pocket, but they aren’t going anywhere.
Consider the clichéd adage of “seeing everything from your customers perspective”. This is only partially correct. It takes away the importance of half the relationship. Sometimes success can be down to how the customer reacts to, and with, you. Using email marketing you can maintain these relationships. You can keep conversations going, and be the friendly company that everyone wants to talk to. Furthermore, whilst you are talking to them regularly, then there is less chance that they are talking to someone else.
Sure, we can play peacock. We can fan our tail out to show how wonderful our products are and how pretty they look on display. But, at the end of the day this is just feathers. You need to keep their attention for as long as possible. In some sense, I would rather have 50 returning customers than I would 200 one-sale-stands. Email marketing is the perfect tool for this.