• This is the second in our series on New Year’s Marketing Resolutions. If you missed the first, read it here.

    The general breakdown of responsibility in organizations puts marketing in charge of attracting new leads, sales in charge of converting them to customers, and customer service in charge of taking care of them after the sale. But businesses can benefit considerably by breaking down some of those distinctions. In particular, marketing departments can get a lot out of their customer marketing efforts by focusing on nurturing and upselling current customers.

    The Case for Creating a Marketing Strategy for Current Customers

    You know that not all leads are created equal and there’s value to assigning quality to the leads you bring in. The most valuable leads of all are the ones that have already demonstrated a serious interest in your company by making a purchase.

    But making the decision to buy from you doesn’t have to be a one-and-done deal. Your current customers can be a valuable resource both for gaining more profits and creating better marketing over time.

    Customer Marketing is Good for Revenue

    The best reason to give customer marketing more of a priority in your strategy this year is because it works on the level your bosses care about most: profits.

    In a recent survey, 61% of loyal customers say they not only make frequent purchases from brands they’re loyal to, but they go out of their way to buy from them. And when customers start to care about a brand, it tends to stick. Seventy-seven percent of customers say they have relationships with brands that last over 10 years—that’s longer than a lot of marriages!

    If your marketing has worked on a customer once, it’s much easier to achieve a conversion again because they already know all about you and had a good experience with your brand.

    And customer marketing can pay for all types of businesses. In B2C, it can mean selling new products to the same customers. In B2B, it often looks like upgrades and add-ons. And for subscription products—even more importantly—it means renewals.

    In every case it means more money for less work on your end.

    It Helps You Identify Your Customer Advocates

    All of your customers are valuable to your brand, but not all are created equal. The customers who really love your products—the ones who use your software every day or rave about the shoes you sell on social media—aren’t just important because of the money they’re willing to spend. They can become a valuable part of your marketing efforts.

    A customer marketing strategy opens the door to finding the customer advocates who are most enthusiastic about your brand. And once you’ve found them, you know who to turn to for case studies, testimonials, and referrals. You can highlight customer success stories on your blog, repost their social media updates praising your products, or enlist them to join in webinars your company puts on.

    In short, they can become your partners in marketing as well as your customers. And a message that comes straight from a happy customer will always be more powerful than one that comes from the brand itself.   

    It Inspires Positive Word of Mouth

    Ninety percent of people say they’re more likely to choose a brand that a friend recommends to them, and ninety-five percent of people read reviews before making a purchase.

    Everything your marketing accomplishes can either be supported by positive word of mouth, or counteracted by negative. And social media ensures that the opinions of customers—both those who love you and hate you—are amplified to large audiences.

    When you make nurturing and appealing to your current customers a part of your overall marketing strategy, you increase the odds that word of mouth on your brand will be positive. And any good chatter from your customers can bring in new customers who will continue the positive word of mouth cycle.

    How to Create a Successful Customer Marketing Strategy

    As with any other marketing tactic, to get the results you want from customer marketing, you should work out a strategy. Here are a few tips for increasing profits and loyalty with your customers.

    1. Collect and analyze the customer data you have.

    When marketing to customers, you’re starting out at a big advantage since you already have some good data on who they are and what they like. They’re not faceless visitors to your website, they’re Suzie Smith from Cleveland, an accountant who uses your software, or John Wilson from Denver who buys camping gear from you.

    Dig into the data you have to gain a clear picture of your customers so you can craft your strategy around their particular needs, desires, and traits. This step will help you:

    • Identify your customer advocates so you can reach out to them directly to recruit them into your marketing efforts
    • Identify the customers you’re at risk of losing, so you have a chance to get in touch and figure out how to save the relationship
    • Spot trends in customer behavior, such as items commonly bought together or types of customers most likely to invest in a product upgrade
    • Create segmented lists of customers based on the types of products they view and buy
    • Identify upgrade opportunities or related products that they may be interested in

    Don’t just stick with the data you have in your marketing tools. See what information you can get from your customer service and sales teams as well. They’ll have good anecdotes on the kinds of questions and issues your customers have, which gives you a fuller picture to work with.

    1. Use the data to send personalized, relevant messaging.

    If the marketing messages your customers see are irrelevant, at best, they’ll tune you out. At worst, they’ll unsubscribe and stop engaging with you. Relevance is key to getting the kind of response you want, and technology now puts personalized marketing within reach for businesses of all sizes.

    Not only is personalization a good customer marketing strategy for results, it’s now what consumers come to expect from brands. Seventy-one percent are frustrated by impersonal experiences, and forty-four percent say they’re more likely to become a repeat customer of brands that personalize their experience.

    With the right data and tech, you can send out personalized emails to customers based on the types of products they like, the past pages they’ve viewed, purchases they’ve made, and reviews and ratings they’ve provided. With retargeting, you can deliver personalized ads around the web based on their interests. And with website personalization tools, you can even tailor each customer’s experience when they visit your website to highlight the content and products they’re most likely to care about.

    Naked Wines excels at providing a personalized experience to customers. The website highlights recommendations based on past ratings each time their members visit, and they send emails alerting members each time a wine they like is about to run out or goes on special. It works—I’m consistently happy with the wines they recommend to me and appreciate how much easier it makes choosing my bottles with each order.

    1. Find creative ways to treat your customers.

    Often providing just a little extra can go a long way. When you order products from a new company and open the box to find a couple of extra items they threw in as nice freebies, it feels good! You’re much more likely to buy from that company again.

    Freebies aren’t your only option here though. Providing handwritten thank you notes can also personalize your brand. For B2B brands, taking customers out to a nice dinner when you visit their town can create a strong connection.

    Chewy, an online store for pets, made a fan for life when they responded to a customer service inquiry by not only resolving the issue, but also sending over a drawing of the customer’s dogs, complete with a cute pun.

    This doesn’t have to be expensive. Getting creative with your customer marketing efforts can go a long way toward earning loyalty.

    1.     Host special events for customers.

    So much of business happens over the internet now that it’s that much more notable when you connect with customers in person, and even better if you coordinate it so enthusiastic customers meet each other in person.

    Companies across industries now put on successful conferences that bring customers together in one place and provide a few days worth of useful information on how to use their products effectively. Our own RampUp conference now attracts over 2,400 attendees who come together to network and learn in educational talks and sessions from industry leaders.

    You don’t have to put on an event of that magnitude. You can host a dinner for customers in your community or put together a monthly meetup. Events are a great way to make a more personal connection and seal the relationship.

    1. Create a loyalty program.

    When you’re one punch on your card away from getting a free sandwich, how likely are you to choose that sandwich shop for lunch this week? Loyalty programs that provide customers rewards for the purchases they make are a strong psychological incentive to keep buying more from your brand.

    Not only does it give customers a good reason to come back and spend more with you, but it makes them feel good about the brand each time they get to redeem points for a free purchase or earn a discount on their next order.

    Loyalty programs don’t cost you that much in the grand scheme of things, and including one in your customer marketing strategy can pay big dividends in the repeat business they help you earn.

    1. Create a customer referral program.

    As mentioned, your happy customers are one of the best resources you have for bringing in new customers. Every time they talk up your brand to their friends or social networks, it brings you new positive attention likely to lead to new customers. If you’re lucky, some of your customers will do this on their own. But why depend on luck when you can increase the odds with a referral program?

    By offering your current customers a nice discount for every new customer they send your way, you give them a strong incentive to do some of your marketing for you. And if the offer includes a discount for their friend as well, you increase the odds of converting a new lead without having to do any work to gain them on your own.

    Even better:

      • The ROI is big: 74% of businesses doing referral marketing say it’s their lowest-cost method for gaining new customers
      • The quality of new customers is high: 70% say the customers they gain through referrals are especially loyal—they come with retention built in! Referred customers are good for new referrals: two-thirds say the customers they earn through referrals also tend to send their own referrals, so you don’t just gain one customer, you gain all the new customers they send your way.
      • It’s easy to measure: With many marketing tactics, tracking how customers found you and what made them decide to purchase is a challenge. Not so with referral programs. Since your customers each get a unique referral code, you always know not only how many total sales are coming from the program, but which customers are behind them.

    A referral program is a relatively easy and affordable way to grow your business exponentially.

    1.     Take time to listen.

    A customer marketing plan has to center your customers. To do that, you need to understand what they care about. Amongst all the other tactics you try here, make sure you spend time soliciting feedback and directly listening to what your customers have to say.

    Send surveys to learn more about what they think. Practice social listening to see what they’re talking about in their online communities. And set up meetings with customers to have conversations with them that fill in the gaps in your knowledge and really allow you to tap into what they’re thinking and feeling.

    Data can tell you a lot about your customers, but not as much as listening directly to what they have to say. Their feedback will help improve your customer marketing plan and make sure you’re meeting them on their level.

    What are your New Year’s marketing resolutions? Tweet us @RampUp and we might feature you in a future blog!

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