So much effort is put into marketing products and services to the unfamiliar. Mastering the first impression, addressing likely objections, and overcoming the last-minute doubts of the new customer. And for good reason, too, as you have to start somewhere. If you can’t win people over, you can’t get your business off the ground.
However, the attention given to that activity is often disproportionate. Giving short shrift to a tactic that’s hugely profitable in the long run: marketing to existing customers. The people who’ve already bought from you and had positive experiences are considerably more likely to buy from you than new prospects, and will spend more when they do.
This is precisely why top brands invest so heavily in developing their customer communities. The more you can make people feel connected, part of something notable, the more you can encourage them to provide enduring advocacy (plus hyper-relevant feedback).
So if you want to maximize the performance of your business, you need to know how to use your customer community to drive sales. Here are some tips to help you out:
Present personalized marketing materials
It may be easier in principle to market to existing customers. However, bear in mind that their familiarity with your business will make whatever you offer seem less engaging by default. They’ll also expect more from you than they’d expect from unfamiliar sellers. Calling for highly-polished marketing materials at the very least. So I strongly recommend bringing in elements of personalization where possible.
Dynamic recommendations are excellent for this. Whether in a customized view provided through a user login, or through a grid placed into marketing emails, the idea is to suggest only the products or services that are relevant to the specific customer’s needs. If you market a product similar to something a customer has previously purchased, you’ll have a much greater chance of driving a conversion.
Offer extra value to encourage advocacy
Being a loyal customer means that someone will consistently return to buy from you, but it doesn’t guarantee anything beyond that. If you want them to proactively recommend your brand, you need to pull out all the stops. To do that, I suggest investing in value-add marketing. This approach moves beyond basic sale value to find ways to incentivize brand advocacy. For instance, you can offer a generous referral commission to bring in new customers.
You can also use elements of progression to make your buying process more engaging and the referral process significantly easier. Many businesses offer discount tiers that rise with orders placed. In other words, long-term customers get better prices. This not only keeps customers happy but also makes it easier for them to recommend the service to others. Usefully, there are plenty of apps out there for mainstream e-commerce systems that can handle discount tiers, though be careful — some discount only based on volume, while you need something that allows custom discount levels.
Stay active and personable on social media
The more exposure you can achieve with your customers (at least, without starting to irritate them), the better. This is because it will more frequently remind them of what you bring to the table. As a result this may push them to think about buying from you again, or spur them to recommend your business to a friend or family member.
Social media is perfect for this: you can stay visible without getting too obnoxious. Be careful to avoid getting overly pushy about what you’re offering, as it can have the opposite effect of what you’re going for. Additionally, prioritize personality — modern shoppers care about the values and styles of the brands they support, so aim to come across as honest and well-meaning (it’s also important that your exchanges with existing customers look good to other social media users who might be thinking about buying from you).
Pre-launch pages have become a big part of e-commerce social media strategies — and for good reason. Building a customer community and creating hype before you even launch is a no-brainer.
Encourage (and publicize) the production of UGC
UGC is user-generated content. It encompasses all the brand-related materials that come directly from your customers: star ratings, testimonials, video reviews, product suggestions, etc. Aside from the obvious reason for using UGC (confirming that you’re essentially trustworthy and that your products and/or services are worthwhile), it’s also great for showing how much enthusiasm your most loyal customers have for your business.
Here’s a viable scenario: you could use every communication channel available to announce a wide-ranging brand assessment calling upon customers to let you know everything they like and dislike about your brand. You’d showcase positives and negatives, and even have prizes for the most useful points. The prizes would show the appeal of being a loyal customer, and the feedback collection would show your determination to admit your shortcomings and improve.
Whether you’re finding ways to encourage your customer community to place repeat purchases, or using their enthusiasm and support to bring in fresh customers, this form of marketing is much more reliably effective than directly approaching new prospects. Use the tips we’ve outlined, and you should be able to ramp up your conversions.
CATMEDIA is an award-winning Inc. 500 company based in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1997, the company specializes in advertising, creative services, media production, program management, training, and human resource management. As a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), CATMEDIA provides world-class customer service and innovative solutions to government and commercial clients. Current CATMEDIA clients include Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
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