Nov 29, 2016

4 Simple Ways to Nurture Your Customer Relationships

by Digital Marketing Institute

86% of customers would pay more for a better customer experience. This statistic may or may not come as a surprise to many businesses, particularly as we turn increasingly to digital channels to automate and expedite. We use comparison shopping engines to find the best deals, and sites like eBay to negotiate on price points where possible. Yet at our core, all we really want is a positive customer experience, and a personal touch.

If you’re worried that you’re not nurturing your customers enough, or think there’s more you could be doing to drive positive sentiment towards your brand, we’ve broken down 4 incredibly simple methods you can use to foster those meaningful relationships and turn them into guaranteed revenue generators:

1. Use analytics to develop the perfect personas

The more you know about your potential customers, the more successfully you will be able to develop meaningful relationships with them. Gathering as much customer data as possible will allow you to build a detailed profile of your customer’s needs, preferences and key characteristics. This is often referred to as a customer persona. Traditionally, customer personas include information on demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, challenges and goals. The number of personas you create will be dependent on how you choose to segment your customer base.

Because of online channels, the balance of power between businesses and buyers has shifted significantly. Customers are more empowered and self-sufficient, more inclined to turn to search engines and social media to carry out their product research. They are less susceptible to hard sells and one-way “push” marketing messages from brands, who don’t realise they’re more interruptive than influential. As more businesses begin to acknowledge this, they have become more preoccupied with analytics that can inform a more effective approach – data-driven marketing is becoming a top strategic priority for many.

Customer analytics will provide you with a deep, granular understanding of your existing and potential customers’ buying habits and lifestyles. This will allow you to predict their future buying behaviors and cater to them accordingly with a more targeted, structured sales and marketing approach.

The insights derived from customer analytics will facilitate reduced campaign costs, as you’ll be able to streamline your targeting, delivering marketing messages more effectively to the customers most likely to respond in a positive manner. You’ll also be able to maximize customer loyalty and positive sentiment, by delivering the right message to the right customers at the right time. All of this should culminate in increased sales, and ROI.

Whatever tool you use, customer analytics are an essential first step to effectively nurturing relationships. All you need to do is research and choose the solution that best suits your needs and purposes, and start leveraging powerful insights!

2. Send personalized, relevant emails

Email is the single most powerful channel you can use to communicate with and engage customers. It’s a direct and personal channel that allows you to foster a sense of customer loyalty and nurture relationships so much more quickly and easily than other digital channels. Generally, if a customer has consented to giving you their email address, they have already been exposed to your brand, are willing to receive correspondence from you, and have possibly even purchased from you. This is significant – in order to sustain your business’s profitability, you need to encourage repeat purchases. Not only is it less expensive to sell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one, repeat customers spend more than new customers.

By sending your customers personalized emails, you’ll be able to demonstrate your brand’s investment in their unique needs and interests. If they’ve abandoned their shopping cart, you can send a friendly reminder and ask them if they need any help completing their transaction. If they’ve been spending time on some particular product pages, you can follow up with more product information and benefits. Maybe it’s been a year since they first subscribed to your newsletter, and you want to send them a note celebrating this anniversary.

With the power of trigger emails and marketing automation, you can take a proactive approach to solidifying your customer relationships, without having to spend an onerous amount of time or effort. You can tailor communications that are suited to every stage of the customer journey, and, due to your instant visibility in their inboxes, the chances of receiving a response are greatly enhanced. Use your personalized marketing emails to provide valuable, informative, authentic content, and show you care, and you will reap the benefits.

3. Be social

Social media is, increasingly, the preferred channel for communicating and connecting. The instant updates and responses that social media facilitates has also placed a pressure on brands to reply just as quickly. In fact, 32% of social customers expect a response to a complaint within 30 minutes, and 42% expect a response within 60 minutes.

Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that they can use their social channels solely for building brand visibility and extending their reach. However, the second they establish an online presence through which customers can interact with them, businesses have a responsibility to use their social channels to provide customer service, as and when it is required.

Adopt both a proactive and reactive approach to managing your social media and nurturing your online communities. You can do this by responding to any queries or brand mentions as quickly as possible, attempting to provide the best possible solution, and administering a personal, ‘human’ touch along with your communications.

There is nothing more dissatisfying to a customer than to wait for a prolonged period of time for a response, or to be ignored entirely. Never forget that your social channels are an extension of your brand, just as important as your website or a hard copy brochure, and any negative experiences a customer may have via social has the potential to seriously harm your brand’s reputation.

The best thing to do is implement a system that enables you to prioritize customer communications depending on how urgently they require a response – i.e., a tweet in which a customer is complaining about your product should be addressed over a positive comment or compliment, though you should ultimately respond to both.

Be sure to carry out regular searches for brand mentions and social media posts that may not have tagged you directly. For example, only a small percentage of tweets mentioning a company are actually directed at the company, yet they may require engagement just as much. The more you can do to promote a positive social customer experience, the more likely your customers will be to recommend your business to others!

4. Aim to retain

Most businesses have a well-established marketing strategy, but very few have a documented plan for retention. If you aim to retain, you will make more of an effort nurturing your customer relationships by extension. We’ve already established that retention is cheaper than acquisition, but it can expand your profit margins too. In fact, increasing customer retention rates by just 5% increases profits by anything from 25 to 95%.

Besides an exceptional product offering and competitive price point, there are a number of approaches you can take to improve retention rates. Unparalleled social customer service will help, as will targeted emails. But the real key to customer retention lies in the execution.

Regardless of your business type or target audience, content marketing is a top performing retention tool, and can simultaneously cement your customer relationships due to its personalized nature. Again, you can use analytics and marketing automation to send emails to customers that include percentage discounts tailored to individual personas based on their preferences and previous buying behaviour. If a customer hasn’t purchased, or even opened one of your emails for a while, you can incentivize them to re-engage with your brand with a special offer (be sure to state it in the subject line if possible!).

Run competitions centred upon user-generated content on social media. If you’re a restaurant, you could encourage followers to tweet a picture of their dinner (be it impressive or abysmal!) in order to win a free meal for two. This is a simple but effective way of stimulating engagement and will help you to reach a wider online community.

Finally, the best way to nurture positive customer relationships and loyalty, is to reward them for it. For customers that purchase consistently, sending them a gift voucher, or personalized discount code, offering exclusive deals, or crediting their accounts, whether it’s for $10, or $100, are all small but thoughtful gestures that will give your customers a tangible reason to keep coming back.

Learn more about optimizing how your customers see you with a Customer Experience course.  

(Updated July 2021)

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