Many businesses focus their marketing efforts on acquiring new customers.
And yes, new customers are important. Ultimately, however, acquiring new customers is not as important to the long-term success of your business as acquiring loyal customers.
These are the customers that come back and spend money with your business week after week, month after month, year after year. They are also your greatest advocates, recommending your business to their friends, families, online communities, etc.
So how will you create loyal customers for your business? Here are 5 tips for creating customer loyalty:
1. Understand exactly who your 'ideal' customer is
Who are they? What do they like/dislike? Where do they live? What's their lifestyle? Ideally, you want to pinpoint this to an individual who personifies your core target market. Your entire team's activities should be aligned to serving this target market, so ensure they're familiar with who your customers are.
2. Give customers more reasons to shop with you
If you give customers only rational reasons (e.g. price) to buy from you, then quite rationally they will decide to buy from you based on your product's prices alone. Price is important, but certainly isn't the only consideration for most purchasers. If you do target price-conscious customers they are seldom loyal, plus competing on price can easily be replicated or undercut by competitors.
Speed, accuracy and committment all need to underpin your product service delivery.
3. Define exactly what need(s) you are solving
Loyal customers buy based on emotional value as well as rational value. Define what makes your solution unique. Often it is the combination of small incremental gains that lead to a company’s unique DNA that then becomes very hard for competitors to fully understand or replicate.
4. Make it personal
- Greet the customer - greeting a customer online is much easier than in a physical store, your customer's online shopping experience should be personalised and engaging every time.
- Make it easy for them to shop with you - show your customers products that are relevant to them and make it easy for them to find products that they've purchased from you before.
- Thank them personally for shopping with you.
- Invite them back to shop with you and be sure to reward them for their loyalty.
- Understand the customer buying cycle - this will allow you to do things like remind them when they're due to order or recommend future products.
- If they love your business and service, ask them to tell their friends and family – if you don't ask you don't get!
5. Use Marketing Automation technology
Marketing automation software like Marketo or Hubspot, provide tools for things like social media marketing, content management, and website analytics and can make personalising your online engagement far easier and cost effective.
Case Study: Nappies Direct
In 2002, I co-founded Nappies Direct with my wife Pia, when online retailing in New Zealand was still in its infancy. We understood the importance of data and technology, and using this to enhance our customer's online buying experience.
At Nappies Direct we got to the point where we could forecast when someone was due to buy nappies. We would then proactively contact them and let them know they were low on nappies and ask if they would like to restock now. Running out of nappies is a disaster for a parent and would result in a lost sale for us, as they would be forced to rush to a supermarket or store to restock. Since providing this service, lots of customers said to us, "you must have ESP!"
We would ‘trigger’ milestone emails, with age appropriate information and products when a customer’s baby was approaching the next life-stage of their baby’s development e.g. baby’s first teeth, moving to solid foods, toilet training, etc.
We included dynamic content so that products and even background colours of emails, e.g. pink for girls, were gender specific and personalised based on the customers previous purchase history.
This ultimately resulted in our dream feedback from one customer who said, "you make me feel like I am your only customer; even though I know I am not”. We in fact engaged with over 40,000 new and expecting parents on a weekly basis, but strived to ensure the way we engaged with each customer was as unique and customised as possible.
So, how can you make it personal for your customers?
This blog is written by Kevin D'Ambros-Smith, a business coach at The Icehouse. Kevin co-founded the award-winning Nappies Direct, and specialises in identifying what makes your business unique and how to create customer loyalty.