This is a guest post from Joseph Eitan, founder of Photo Paper Direct.
The next sentence might raise a few eyebrows, but I am going to say it anyway. Winning new customers is much easier than keeping them as returning customers. After winning new business, so many things could go wrong during the retention process that customer retention becomes daunting for the business owner. However, retaining customers is extremely crucial to the health of your business, even though it’s not as easy as winning them.
5 Ways to Win New Business
1. Increase Your Customer Base – If the business has a good conversion rate, the math is simple. More customers will result in more business.
2. Cater for Different Marketing Channels – It is very likely that some of your customer base might be ebay users, some might be Amazon users and some will only look at the organic search results. To win new business it will make sense to diversify your marketing channels to reach as many potential customers as possible. A good channel to look into is affiliate marketing if you aren’t already. This gives potential buyers a 3rd party opinion on your product/service. Consumer Mattress Guide is a great example, they review mattresses to help visitors make informed buying decisions.
3. Check Your Prices – Customers are very wise these days. Before buying from you, they will research other offers to find the best deal, especially for branded products. To win new customers, ensure your prices are competitive.
4. Offer More Products or Services – True in many industries, customer taste changes, technology improves and new products are constantly introduced. To win new customers stay tuned to your market and add new products when possible.
5. Make Your Current Customers Work for You – Current customers can help immensely. Social recommendations are known to have a high conversion rate because friends or family tend to share a similar taste. To win new customers make sure your website has an easy way to share content (for example, an addthis.com button is an easy way to email a page) and do not be afraid to ask customers to share your products with others.
10 Ways to Keep Customers
1. Offer More Communication Channels – The days of communicating with your customers via email alone are numbered. To keep customers you must talk the same language using the same channels. Consider using Twitter, Skype and even a 3rd party online chat application to engage your customers.
2. Respond to Emails Within 15 Minutes – In the viral world, it is very hard to cause a customer to say “Wow!”, but it’s not impossible. Quality customer support in the shape of priority email support can cause that. To keep customers, make it a business policy to respond as soon as possible. In some cases, you might still respond while the customer is browsing the site, thereby increasing the likelihood of a sale.
3. Make New Offers – Some customer groups find price drop offers appealing, some find free delivery appealing and some are just looking for any excuse to spend more. To keep customers, always diversify your offers to keep your products as appealing to your customers as the first time they bought from you.
4. Openly Encourage Reviews (Good or Bad) – It is easier for customers to relate to other customers and to the problems or solutions they found when using your products if there is a place for them to talk about their experience. In order to keep a genuine brand image, encourage product reviews which will also help you spot any potential problems on time.
5. Actively Ask for Feedback – Similar to product reviews, the goal of asking for feedback is to find potential problems with your products or service which might put off customers from buying again. Consider signing every service email (such as an invoice, order confirmation and of course, company newsletter) with a request to provide feedback.
6. Look and Talk Professionally – To win and retain new customers, become an authority on the product or service you offer. The brand image, the language you use, and the level of service offered should all spell professionalism.
7. Do Not Distance Yourself – While your business needs to look and act in a professional manner, do not overdo it. Remember that your customer base has many potential returning customers, some with more knowledge than others. Avoid using buzz words, openly accept communication, and find the right balance between appearing professional and distancing yourself from your customers.
8. Fix Problems Quickly – If you find a problem with your products or service, act quickly and decisively.
9. Stay Competitive – As you already read, one of my top tips of winning new business is to be competitive. To keep new customers, you must also stay competitive, taking into account the total price of your products or service i.e. tax and delivery when applicable.
10. Surprise Your Customers (with a nice surprise, that is) – Do something beyond what you have to. Send a promotion code to loyal customers, create a high quality how-to guide sharing your extensive industry experience, or even send your customer a congratulations email on their birthday. Just show you really care.
What are your tips for retaining customers?