Most of us have heard the statistic that it’s five times more expensive to sell your product or service to a new customer than it is to sell it to a current customer. Even worse, providing incredible service while failing to build a lasting connection can result in your brand doing essentially all the legwork to make consumers comfortable with your industry or service, only to have them purchase from your competitor in the future.

Marketers must always understand the importance of engaging and retaining current customers if they want to work for a successful business. Surprisingly, marketers rarely put enough time and effort in soliciting current customers, especially when compared to what they do to find new customers. However, current customers are also more likely to spend more money than the new customers your marketing department spends so much already in trying to attract. 

That’s because building rapport and instilling confidence and loyalty in current customers does more than build loyalty. In many cases, it turns customers into brand evangelists. This article will provide six ways brands and marketers can take the first steps toward building loyal customers, how to engage them and build trust, and the best way to monitor and analyze customer data to encourage retention rates. 

Creating brand evangelists

It’s hard to argue with spending more money on marketing when the results more than offset the cost. In fact, 64% of marketers say their budgets increased this year due primarily to the success of their prior campaigns. Although it’s difficult at first, building brand familiarity and getting people to talk about your product or service can pay huge dividends in the future. 

A customer who has had a great experience with your company is a huge asset to your brand. These people will become brand evangelists, spreading the word about your amazing service or high quality products and continually bring you more business. Of course, building these levels of loyalty takes a lot of time and effort. 

However, with these six tips, you will be well on your way to creating brand evangelists who are more likely to sing your company’s praises whenever they are in contact with a prospective buyer interested in your type of product or service. 

1 – Run promotions

Hopefully, your marketing team initiates regular contact with the former buyers of your product, either through social media ads or email marketing campaigns. Use the information you can glean from these communications to detect patterns in customer’s behaviors and launch promotions specifically tailored to this data. With over 200 million Americans now shopping online, connecting with your current customers via the internet can pay off hugely. 

Did you send an email out featuring an exciting new product or feature that had a higher click-through rate than normal? Consider launching a promotion offering a significant discount on said product, restricted only to established customers and clients who have purchased from you before. 

2 – Encourage feedback

What a waste it would be if you knew you had a happy customer, yet didn’t ask for them to write a review or publicly provide feedback on your brand! Organic discussion about your company has been proven to be one of the most powerful ways of promoting sales. 

Studies show that most people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so devising some way to allow your current customers to voice their experiences is a must. 

3 – Celebrate milestones

We’re all familiar with the effectiveness of combining holiday spirit, strong marketing campaigns, and exciting discounts to power sales conversions. After all, consider that in the United States and beyond there is a whole unofficial holiday called “Black Friday” that encourages consumers to spend more by offering them special deals. By contacting your customers during a time they are most likely to spend – as in before the holidays – your chances of gaining a sale are even higher. 

It’s equally important to reach out to your customers to acknowledge and celebrate their milestones with your brand as well. Whether it’s a one-year anniversary since they bought from your company, or they’ve recently reached their tenth year as your loyal customer, these milestones can be an opportunity to show your customers you are paying attention. 

Birthday communications or promotions are particularly powerful. Studies show that birthday emails in particular have sales conversions rates that are five times higher and click-through rates twice as high as normal marketing emails. 

4 – Showcase your loyal customers

Highlighting specific customers who have helped grow your brand, or showcasing clients with meaningful stories can go a long way towards building brand evangelism. Everyone likes having their voice heard, and this can be especially validating when done by a large company. It makes your loyal customers feel special and shows that your business values human-to-human connections, which is important. 

Consider spotlighting a customer who has had a great experience through a video interview, or by getting their permission to publish their comment as a testimonial. Both existing and new customers will appreciate how your brand takes customer feedback seriously. 

Furthermore, a loyal customer who has been given the chance to participate in marketing material will consider this a memorable experience and will continue to provide word-of-mouth recommendations for years to come. 

5 – Reward loyalty

There are few industries more competitive than the hospitality industry. Major hotel chains have found an excellent way to build loyalty, and thus shut out the competition, is to create powerful loyalty programs that entice return guests. Loyalty programs are a proven way to boost customer engagement and retention time and time again. 

Exclusive content or access to early sales is a great way to recognize loyal customers, build rapport and also boost sales. Offering a free gift for a renewed subscription or a company-wide discount once a certain tier is reached is an excellent way of acknowledging and building customer retention. Always remember to thank your customers for their business and show them that you appreciate them. 

Additionally, you can offer your customers free shipping on certain products. This can actually be highly effective, especially when you consider that over 60% of online shoppers say they are unwilling to pay shipping costs. If your business cannot afford to pay all shipping costs, a good alternative could be to offer free shipping to loyal customers who have already spent a certain amount at your store.

6 – Monitor and analyze customer behavior 

Use an analytics tool to track customers’ behaviors on your website and to notice significant patterns. Track how customers interact with your site and understand the steps they take in order to complete a specific action (whether it’s buying a product or enrolling in your loyalty program). This will enable you to tailor your marketing efforts in a more effective way.

When analyzing customer metrics, don’t focus on which products or services convert at the highest rate alone. You should also pay attention to customer behavior as a whole. For example, a featured product in your social media ad campaign may not have gotten many sales from the campaign. 

However, that same product may have greatly increased organic traffic to your website and caused users to check out and buy other products. Or, conversely, an aspect of one of your ads may have generated a lot of attention but not from the type of people who are well-suited to buy your product or service. 

Conclusion

Existing customers present a wealth of opportunity, yet they are all too often ignored in favor of new customers. By renewing your focus on those who have already had positive interactions with your brand, you can not only boost sales but save money on marketing by converting loyal customers to brand evangelists. 

By admin

Founder, The Internet Crime Fighters Org [ICFO], and Sponsor, ICFO's War On Crimes Against Our Children Author The Internet Users Handbook, 2009-2014

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