Winning new customers is freakin’ expensive. Like, up to seven times more expensive than retaining existing customers. Competing in the content-bloated digital landscape doesn’t help, either. It’s not enough to be the loudest. Your small business needs to be everywhere.
I get it. It’s hard. As a web development company, we have our own set of challenges fine tuning customer service, marketing and infrastructure to set ourselves apart online and off. There is never a day where we get to sit back with our shades on, mojito in hand and sigh, “Ahh yes! We’ve made it!” It’s all gravy now!”
The work never stops, because the Internet never stops. We are feeding an unfathomably hungry machine, albeit an exciting and business game-changing machine.
A 2011 report conducted by the McKinsey Global Institute determined the Internet had accounted for 21 percent of the GDP growth in mature economies over the past five years. By “rejuvenating traditional activities,” the Internet has increased business productivity, job creation and access to a global marketplace. As the report asserts, “even a tiny business today can operate with a dynamically managed supply chain that spans geographies and operates with a global workforce.” So bravo, Internet. You’ve certainly changed things.
Perhaps it’s a love/hate relationship for some of us. Love the new, affordable ways to connect with prospects, hate the maniacal requirement to constantly adapt to more new, new, new ways of connecting with prospects.
I say we must embrace change. Stay hungry. And make it a little bit easier on ourselves by focusing a healthy portion of our attention on retaining our wonderful customers. By doing so, we make it easier to attract newbies, through references and online engagement. A win/win if I do say so myself.
And besides, existing customers are a pleasure to delight! In the digital age, there are brilliant ways to solidify loyalty and rally fans around your products or services. Here are some of my pet strategies for improving customer retention online:
Customer Feedback Surveys
Discover how your services or products are performing in relation to your customers’ expectations. Allow your customers’ voices to be heard. Demonstrate your ongoing commitment to improving your business for them. Feedback surveys provide a simple, powerful platform to gain valuable customer data and strengthen bonds with existing customers. Build one. Build one now!
There are excellent free solutions available for creating and distributing surveys. I recommend SurveyMonkey (the basic account is free) and surveys in Google Forms.
Mobile-Friendly Web Presence
Do your wonderful customers the ultimate favour: make it easy for them to engage with your website on smartphones and tablets. Because who likes to pinch and scroll to find a phone number for a local pizza place? We’re hangry!
If your website is not mobile-friendly, may I punctuate this note with a sense of urgency for you, based largely on this fact alone:
– More people use their mobile devices to access the Internet versus desktop computers.
As Search Engine Watch contributor Rebecca Murtagh says:
“Whether your day-to-day focus is business management, marketing, sales, SEO, social media, advertising, software development, or customer relationship management, the mobile device has increasingly become the preferred tool for work and communication. How quickly and effectively an organization plans, develops, and adapts to deliver quality mobile experiences will likely become a competitive advantage.”
Need more juice to make the change to mobile-friendly? I love this quote from a blog post over at Neurosperience, a Digital Customer Experience (DCX) cloud company based in Italy:
“Customer loyalty building is a process that evolves with the times…If you want to build a long-lasting bridge between your company and clients, what you need to do is focus on your customers’ needs analyzing how priorities change through the years.”
Responsive design provides an affordable strategy for presenting your website with impact and convenience on mobile devices. Another bonus? It’s Google’s recommended mobile approach.
Heaps of Helpful Content
Due to the sheer breadth and volume of content available in the Internet – from videos to articles, slides and images – the digital age has nurtured a hearty breed of do-it-yourselfers. Whether you want to learn how to pickle your own vegetables or choose the right car stereo set, the ol’ World Wide Web has you covered. You might notice your expectations for the brands you trust are shifting; if you research items online before you buy, you’re part of the evolution.
Help your customers use your products and services by providing heaps of helpful content online. FAQ pages, instructional videos on YouTube, and visual demonstrations convenience customers 24/7.
Working with a content writer to develop fresh content for your customers does not have to break the bank; your content writer can help you recycle any current collateral, like brochures, manuals and research documents – you could be sitting on a customer content goldmine already!
Content that is helpful and interesting begs to be shared by customers: think social media posts and links shared across email and messaging platforms. With an easy to use content management system such as WordPress, you can add, edit and post content to your website on the fly.
Exclusive Treats For Being Loyal
We all love a little special treatment now and again. The web gives you great power to make your existing customers feel prized. And it doesn’t have to cost you a thing. Get your brain thinking “exclusive”:
- -Exclusive sneak peaks at new products or service offerings
- -Exclusive content from your blog or video series, mailed to them in an email marketing campaign
- -Exclusive communications; birthday emails, Christmas greetings
Perhaps you have some room to offer a return-customer discount code in your online store, or a printable coupon to use with purchase. That’s great. Do it. It doesn’t have to break your bank, it just has to show you appreciate their patronage.
Love The Heck Out Of Your Existing Customers
The Internet has certainly changed the way we do business, especially the ways we attract and retain customers. Agility is key to meeting your customers where they are online, but this doesn’t have to be something to be scared of.
Digital efforts focused on delighting your loyal fan base typically cost less and reap greater gains than efforts invested in customer acquisition. Turn your attention to customer retention, where you can cultivate your sense of adapting to suit your audience’s ever-evolving digital needs.
As George Bernard Shaw said, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”
Well said, George. Well said.
How to Discover What Your Customers Really Want
Photo credit: Unsplash contributor Anna Dziubinska. Click here for photo.