In business marketing, there’s usually more talk about how to attract new customers than about how to retain loyal ones. This, even after most of us have read time and again that it costs four to 10 times more to attract a new customer than to keep an old one. My advice is to spend a substantial part of your budget marketing to your customers. Studies show that for every additional 5 percent of current customers you retain, your profits increase 25 percent to 95 percent.
Direct marketing is a great way to maintain connections with this important segment of your customer base. Here are some thoughts on how to use it to keep loyal customers coming back.
Just as we tire of friends who bend our ears with tales of woe, we also grow weary of businesses that always try to sell us something. Send your customers a different message such as a thank you postcard, a tangible reminder of your appreciation. In addition to a message of gratitude, include an offer of a small discount or gift on their next visit. A thank you email could do the same. Reach out on special occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, with a card or an e-card. At the holidays, send loyal customers an invite to an after-hours open house with food and drinks. Marketing to your customers doesn’t always have to look like, well, marketing.
Mail or email regular customers a survey and ask for feedback. Send an invitation to be part of a focus group that will provide information about new directions for your business. If you sell in a niche, for example gardening or craft supplies, invite regulars in to evaluate new products at the start of the season.
Use information from past purchases to suggest similar or complimentary products. A regular customer will be impressed that you remembered they bought a John Grisham novel last year and that you thought they might be interested in his newest book. Data can also show ways to expand customers’ purchasing by educating them about services you offer they might not be aware of. Flyers, postcards, newsletters or email updates can do a good job of improving even regulars’ understanding of what your business can do for them.
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