Loyalty from Existing Customers: Why it's the Secret Sauce of Success
“If you build it, they will come.”
It’s true. When you make something great and you promote it well, you should start seeing customers come through your door.
They’re interested in the latest bright and shiny object. They hear the buzz and they want to see what you’re all about.
While it’s important to get them to you, to have a crowd of prospects jumping over to your website and carting some of their top picks… this part of the process isn’t even always where your best marketing takes place.
Yes, you read that right. If you’re looking for ways to boost your sales and to grow your business empire, you can start right here with the people who already do business with you.
You’ve probably heard me talk about The Catch - the time when you transition a prospect over to a customer. Let’s talk about The Continue, how you can keep captivating customers so they’ll stay with you, and why it’s so important.
When you look at the marketing efforts around you, you probably think of billboards, TV ads, social media buys. They’re all big and flashy and effective at attracting new customers.
What else do they have in common? They’re all EXPENSIVE.
Acquiring a new customer can cost 5x more than retaining a customer you already have. Okay, you say, so it costs a lot to bring a new customer on board, but that’s okay if I’m making money, right?
The answer is “yes, but also…”
YES, you should take any opportunity you can to bring good quality customers on board, to increase their interest in your products and services, and to get them to spend money with your business.
BUT ALSO, did you know that your existing customers that you keep happy are far more likely to buy from you again? Research shows that 80 percent of future profits are likely to come from 20 percent of existing customers.
The cost of maintaining a relationship with your existing customers, and the reward that comes from it, is well worth the time and effort you’ll invest in creating that relationship.
Existing customers want to know that you have a quality product and that you care.
First things first - if you have great marketing but your product is horrible, you’re never going to see those customers again.
You don’t want to be the Wish of your industry, do you? Offering something that looks cool, then delivering something laughable. Make sure that you’re giving your customers the best product you can offer, one that meets their needs and fulfills their wants.
Including customers in the product evaluation process can help you create the best offerings to fit your ideal customers. For example, if you are working on a new version of a product, reach out to your existing clients and ask them how they like it or how they’d change it.
I recently made a purchase from a boutique skincare line. A few weeks later, the owner reached out to me and asked if it had made a difference with my skin. She was considering a reformulation and wanted feedback from real users before making changes to the product.
I was utterly impressed and delighted by this interaction because it showed me two things:
The owner took the process of customer relationships, and of providing a high-quality product, seriously.
The owner was working to shape her offerings so that they better fit the people she was doing business with.
When you’re building high-quality products and services, whether it’s skincare or SEO, thinking about what your customers want, then evolving, is a great way to ensure they stay connected with you and that they don’t start shopping elsewhere for services.
Use these tactics to continue ensuring your high-quality products are meeting the needs of your consumers:
Ask customers to complete reviews of your products: This can also boost your online visibility and provide valuable social proof to others considering a purchase (97 percent of consumers look at reviews when making a purchase decision!). And, if you see a negative review come in, take time to address it with the customer and make it right. That transparency is equally valuable in the process.
Conduct surveys of your existing customers: Ask them to let you know what they like among your current offerings, what they’d like to see in the future and where you could improve. Then put those insights to work!
Consider customer service a part of the sales process: When you have a customer service issue, put energy and enthusiasm into resolving it. When you do, you’ll retain the respect and loyalty of that customer, and you’ll feature prominently in their word-of-mouth recommendations to friends. From a practical standpoint, you’ll also avoid the headache of having them post negative reviews about you online, which could affect your potential for connecting with other future customers.
How do you show your customers that you really care, that you want them to think of you as the first and best option in your industry?
You show up on social media and you continue tweaking your content and your messaging until you’ve found the right words to connect with the people who care about your products.
You show that you care by making it easy for them to ask you questions and to weigh in. Your engagement rates on social media can hold the answer as to whether you’re creating those relationships - a high follower count but low engagement may mean you’re creating awareness among the general public but missing something regarding what your existing customers would most like to hear.
Your customers and clients shouldn’t hear from you only when you’re trying to make a sale or when you’re offering a coupon code (although they’ll probably like the discount!).
Your goal should be to serve as a resource to them, to showcase your knowledge in your field to help them make better decisions. Customers report that they prefer tailored products and services and find them even more attractive than discounts alone.
For example, if you’re a jeweler, you should send your customers more than an email letting them know your latest collection has gone on sale. Think about other things that might keep them interested - is it a fun survey or quiz about the gemstone that represents them? Is it information about your sustainable sourcing process? Is it collecting their anniversary date when they make a purchase, then sending them a congratulations card, a reminder email, or a gift idea via text when that date rolls around again?
Consider ways that you can stay connected with existing customers, including:
Evergreen email campaigns that share useful information and aren’t necessarily product promotion
Social media messaging targeting engagement and sharing useful info, in addition to promo messages or ads
Blog posts or a free monthly download they can access online and that keeps them coming back to your site
Reaching out personally to a few customers each month to see what feedback they have for you. It can make a big positive impression on them, and you’ll learn some actionable things too.
Last but not least, keep your customers connected and happy by giving them those little moments of delight - the tiny things that set you apart and push your company over the top. A hand-written thank you note, a one-on-one conversation with you or another senior leader from your team, a little sticker or compliment card or treat added into their order packages.
Those little extras don’t have to cost a lot; many of them cost nothing. But what they do is show your clients that they’re not just another number to you. They’re someone you value and someone you’re invested in. That extra little bit of love you show them just may pay some giant dividends when it comes to keeping their long-term loyalty.