Retaining Those Customers Starts With Knowing Who They Are!
- Know who your customers are: their demographics, cohort groupings and life stages.
- What do you know about why they signed up? Does your database keep track of that?
- One way to think about your customer’s demographic is to understand what search engines they prefer
- If you receive an opt-out, look for patterns. Why did they sign up originally and from what source. If one source or offer repeatedly generates the highest drop-out rate, then that marketing channel and message needs to be reconsidered or adjusted.
Nurture your Customers with Tactics Tailored to What You Know About Them
- Unexpected delights, e.g. new offers or surprise giveaways or premiums, can help improve retention. Consider testing new offers on an A/B split basis to see which ones improve retention, increase ROI, improve Lifetime Value, etc. One caveat: don’t appear to being gratuitous or condescending and make sure what you give is relevant to each customer segment.
- Test the timing of any nurturing tactics. At what point in a customer’s tenure on your list should you offer those unexpected items? What engages the customer for both the short- and long-term? Test varying offers against each other during key times.
- Engage with your customers on a regular basis via one (or more) of the many Social Media tools at your disposal. These platforms give you even more individualized insights into who they are, what they want, how happy they are with your company and its products or services.
- Based on past results and/or anecdotal information as to what has worked and what might work to keep them in the fold, develop a plan or matrix of possibilities going forward.
- Try surveys to identify build your knowledge base:
- Surveying canceled clients can help you learn what went wrong
- Surveying active customers helps identify the greatest opportunities for payback
- Assign targeted deliverable options to each of these segments.
One of the advantages of email and web-based communications is that it can create strong customer loyalty by reassuring the customer every step of the way. Before the customer even has time to wonder whether something has been taken care of properly, send an email notification that it has. You will find this step especially important when marketing to the many segments of the boomer and senior demographic.
Bottom line: Test, test, test. Until you try variations on each marketing tactic in a systematic way, you won’t know what to do with the demographic information you’ve gathered. You need the demographics to segment your tactics, and you need the tests to impact your ROI.
Not long ago a business owner attempted to control a portion of their reputation by deciding where & how to spend their advertising & public relation dollars. This is now only a small part of the reputation management picture–social networking sites and blogs provide your customer with many opportunities to comment on their experiences with you, both positively and negatively. And, because of the nature of the internet, reputation management is a much larger part of a company’s profit & loss picture than ever before!
One of the most important places to manage your reputation: your Google Local business account
Online reputation management, often referred to as SERM for Search Engine Reputation Management, should be part of every company’s business plan. Online comments and content by competitors or angry customers (and admit it, everyone has had a few) can severely impact your business if you are not staying on top of your online reputation. Your profits and sales can change for better or worse in a very short period of time, yet you can be part of this change–for the better–if you know what and how to do so.
At Evergreen Consulting Group, we realize that all businesses will have a mixture of customer experiences posted on the Internet. Our approach to managing your Internet Reputation is to make your positive results move up in the search engines while letting the negative results fall back to the second and third pages (often well beyond). Since the majority of people only view the first page of search results, these negative results just tend to fade away. Again, when done properly, this means that YOU can control this part of your overall profit picture better than ever before!
We use various reputation management techniques to accomplish our clients’ goals. Our techniques may including claiming company profiles on important sites, creation of blog posts, articles, press releases, corporate site content, or using social media for reputation management. In addition, we have tactics to improve the relevance of third-party sites that carry positive information.
We encourage all our clients to design a plan to enter and engage in the social networking arenaâ€“ Twitter, FaceBook, and LinkedIn to name a few. These new marketing channel(s) capture an ever-growing percentage of your audience’s attention. These new platforms can’t be ignored and require more than a half-hearted effort. Contact us to learn how we can help you plan and enter this new marketing arena!
Demographics are only part of the segmentation picture for successful marketing. More important is understanding the key life-stages for your customer & prospect.
Put emphasis on life-stage & cohort marketing
Your customers often have life-stage issues in common that do not totally line up with traditional age-based demographics, since age-related life-stage events have evolved over the past couple of decades.
- One of the best examples of this is the “grandparent segment”. This is no longerÂ the sole province of people in their 60s, 70s or 80s. It often includes both single and married people in their 40s and 50s.
- In contrast, another life-stage change is the large increase in the number of people delaying parenthood into their late 30s and 40s, adopting children into their 50s, or raising their grandchildren as their own.
Screenshot of an eBook published by and available at Grandparents.com
- Each cohort brings its own unique, characteristic approach to purchasing & consuming.
Pay attention to appropriate visuals
There is a common visual message that engages and interests life-stage connected consumers.
- Lifestyle photos beat product photos for all but the oldest, most highly educated cohort.
- A clearly defined, single image is more appealing to those over 60, whereas younger consumers are intrigued by cropped and collage images.
- Older adults are more persuaded by emotional, and not rational, advertisements regardless of their product categoryâ€ according to leading researcher at the Wharton School of Business, Patti Williams.
- Show multi-aged grandparents engaging in activitiesÂ with their grandchildren.
- Make sure your images represent nearly every older cohort engaging in active, vibrant activities.
Stay on top of the Research (or trust us to do it for you)
What was true 10 years ago just isn’t true today. You need to stay on top of the research about this older demographic. One of the more current publications that makes use of solid data is The Grandparent Economy: A Study of the Population, Spending Habits and Economic Impact of Grandparents in the United States.
Source: Estimated spending by 2009 grandparent households on selected items calculated from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics annual Consumer Expenditure Surveys (2007).
Source: U.S. Census Bureau estimates & projections and 2004 Survey of Income & Program Participation.
What have YOU learned about your older audience segments lately? We’d love to open up this discussion — share your experiences in the Comments section below, or get in touch for coaching about the challenges you’re facing.
If the ‘birds of a feather’ theory is true, then using your valued customers to help you find new customers is a great idea. A happy customer is the most convincing salesperson you’ll ever find. And, if you take the time to reward your customers properly for their support, everyone will come out a winner.
Psst… Pass It On… and Get a New Customer for Less!
How many of us can resist sharing a good deal with friends? That’s the premise behind pass-along offers and discounts. Quite simply, you offer current owners of your product a pass-along discount that the owner can use or pass along to friends, neighbors, relatives or good social marketing contacts. If the discount is greater than anything offered to the general public, your customer will be doing friends a favor by passing on the discount. And, you’ll have a delighted new customer at significantly less acquisition cost than you would normally incur.
There are other advantages to this strategy as well. Friends of the customer are able to see your product in use or hear firsthand from someone they trust about, say, the great job the new mower does on their lawn. As long as you’ve taken the time to build a good relationship with your customer, the only added incentive (read: marketing cost) it takes is a special pass-along discount cost.
This is not the time to cut back on costs. Make the offer a worthwhile proposition for both the existing and new customer. When you consider that your customer is doing all the advertising and selling work for you, and that your promotional costs are slashed as a result, you can afford a significant discount.
Where Do I Do This?
Choose just about any channel or vehicle for your pass-along offer. Your web site, a letter or postcard, newsletter, blog, Facebook or Twitter … all are good choices. Just be sure to explain the concept of your program in clear and honest copy and repeat this concept often! Results seem to improve when you give some believable reason for any discounts, premiums or incentive.
To add further believability to your pass-alongs, provide a space for the owner to endorse the discount on behalf of a friend. And don’t forget to let your customer know that the discount may be kept for personal use. Just be sure to time your pass-along offers correctly, e.g. you don’t want to send a customer an offer for a discount on a product that he or she just purchased!
Tell ‘Em Joe Sent Ya — or Getting More (Qualified Leads)
It’s crucial to maintain good relations with your current customers, but list-building is still a vital part of any marketing plan. One of the most effective ways to gain qualified leads is through member-get-a-member and friend-get-friend referral offers.
In a future post we will discuss more about how this is best done — for low cost and without alienating your customers. If you’d like some immediate coaching, get in touch for a quick consult.
In this, our first Blog Moment TM, you’ll see a snapshot of a successful Evergreen Direct marketing effort of the past, transposed and transformed with today’s best practices.
For most of the 20th Century it was very difficult — even traumatic — to switch from one professional service provider to another. People were (and often still are) incredibly loyal to the personal services provided by their doctors, lawyers, and accountants. Companies in every industry have sought to build that same kind of relationship with their customers. Personal loyalty and referral-driven business was the gold standard of the day.
THEN: What Worked in ’80s & ’90s
One of our favorite client success stories is with Mantis Manufacturing, makers of a small tiller/cultivator (sold for $289) that was perfect for suburbanites & rural gardeners. Their customer base was mostly female, an average age of about 54, who had average-size gardens.
When this client came to us, their target audience really did not know about the product. Even the name–AGCO (short for Agricultural Company) — meant nothing to the marketplace. Sales were about $1.5 million and marketing materials lacked any core message(s).
Three and a half years later, sales jumped to $20 million; we had renamed the company – Mantis -, re-shaped all marketing materials and efforts based on a new benefits-oriented campaign.
At the heart of this success story: the development of a Unique Selling Proposition – USP – that emphasized the benefits of owning a Mantis:
- Ease & convenience of use: lightweight, small.
- Become a more successful gardener.
- Price: about 40% to 60% less than similar products on the market.
As part of the brand and business building, we developed some personal & relationship â€œtoolsâ€ and tactics that permeated the entire company:
- Newsletter that was interactive & helpful.
- Customer service reps who provided gardening knowledge.
- Local gardening groups who fostered better gardening.
- Personal visits to Mantis customers to learn about how their Mantis tiller was making their gardening easier and more successful.
- A database of personal-use testimonials
- Conversational copy throughout all touch points that resonated with what gardeners wanted.
- Friend-get-a-friend offers for Mantis buyers & their friends.
NOW: Marketing that Works for 2010
Consumers today are seeking the same level of quality and service. They’re connected in a whole new way, 24/7 via smart phones, Facebook and Twitter. Businesses are either â€œout there in traffic — participating in that connectivity — or they’re simply repeating the same old strategies hoping for the same results.
For 2010, you simply need to implement those same strategies using new technology:
- Make sure your USP is consistent across all your marketing channels. Every touch-point via every platform is an opportunity for brand stewardship.
- Transition from a newsletter to a blog - keyword rich content that helps your SEO AND engages your customers with useful, helpful, and â€œcommunityâ€ oriented information. For an example of a company who’s striking a great balance, check out the Dollhouse Chronicles, the blog of a Vermont dollhouse manufacturer.
- Use Twitter to talk to and about your customers not about you. Make sure you’re “listening” to Twitter so that you respond to what your customers have to say about your product or services.
- Establish your community of customers on Facebook.
- Display your customer testimonials throughout your site and blog – not just on a testimonials page. If you have great feedback about a product, display that on the product page. If it’s feedback about service, display it near your customer service contact information or even on an employee profile.
- Take advantage of your site’s analytics data to understand more about what brought people to your site, what interested them while they were there, and what messages and tactics actually convert.
- Rather than just focusing on the volume of traffic and how you rank as a result of your SEO effort, take things to the next level: Conversion Optimization. This brings you to a new level of understanding and relating to your customers so that you can serve them better — and improve your bottom line. (Read more information about this rather new concept.)
The Bottom Line for Marketing in 2010:
- Define your USP
- Get out in traffic
- Build the relationship
- Use every interaction to learn
- Optimize conversions