The world of business is growing increasingly more competitive with each passing day. It’s more important than ever to have a solid plan in place to capture the attention of new customers, get them to stick around, and turn them into loyal repeat customers. In this article, we’re going to walk you through the three stages of the customer lifecycle and proven strategies you can implement to build a loyal following.
1. Love at First Site (Acquisition)
The consumer market is a rapidly evolving animal that you need to constantly stay on top of to gain the upper hand over your competitors. Your brand’s first impression is one of the single most important experiences in the customer lifecycle, and here’s how to make the most of it.
Understand your Market Inside and Out
We’re not just talking about staying up to date on relevant industry news. You need to understand the consumer trends within your target market as well. When you know what your target customer likes, what they don’t like, and which social media platforms they use, you can make the most of your marketing efforts.
Optimize Your Website and Social Media Accounts
It’s extremely important to make sure that your website and social media accounts properly and effectively portray your brand’s message and values. These are the areas that new customers will first interact with your company, so it’s important that they contain eye-catching and targeted components.
Believe it or not, you only have 10 seconds before a new customer creates the first impression about your brand (Source: CrowdSpring).
The Lure of Free Information
Most people aren’t sold to a brand when they first come across it (there are exceptions, of course). Instead, bring new prospects in and nurture your leads with truly valuable, free information that helps them in some way. By doing this, you can create yourself as an authority in the field to increase your reader base.
In fact, 80% of consumers said “authenticity of content” is the most influential factor when they decide to follow a brand (Source: Content Marketing Institute).
2. Growing Customer Love (Retention)
While new customer acquisition is important, focusing on retaining existing customers should be the larger marketing priority. By increasing your customer retention rates by as little as 5%, you can increase profits by 25% to 95% percent (Source: Harvard Business Week).
Build Customized Experiences
Something as simple as using a customer’s name in an email can have a profound impact on the way they feel about your brand. When it comes to retaining customers, you want to build a solid foundation of trust, which can best be done with personalized experiences. 78% of consumers find companies that produce custom content more trustworthy than those that only create generic content (Source: CrowdSpring).
Focus on Customer Satisfaction
As a brand, you want your customer experience to be flawless from start to finish. A negative impression at any point can have devastating effects on your retention rates. It’s so powerful that 58% of consumers said they would never use a company again if they had a bad experience (Source: New Voice Media).
Let’s not forget that consumers are also not afraid to leave negative reviews, and to rely on them when making decisions. Quality customer service is an increasingly important factor that consumers are looking for in companies they stay loyal to.
Consistently Generate Valuable Content
On top of using high-value content to generate new leads, consistently generating a steady stream of content is just as important when it comes to retaining the customers you have. Use a blog in combination with weekly or monthly newsletters to keep your readers engaged and learning so you’re always on the forefront of their minds.
Track Customer Behavior
No matter how great you think all of your marketing strategies are, it’s inevitable some won’t always hit home the way they should. In order to stay on top of your evolving customer base, you need to track the way they’re interacting with the content.
This will give you a better understanding of what’s working and what’s not, but, more importantly, you’ll gain insight into the way your consumers think and act from an emotional perspective.
3. Lasting Customer Love (Loyalty)
In the online world, there is no way around the fact that your customers are going to be constantly tempted by competitors. The only way to combat this threat is by creating a sense of loyalty between your brand and consumers. Give them a reason to be exclusive with you.
As tempting as it is to shower repeat customers with special offers and discounts to drive sales, don’t do it because you’ll be flooding their inboxes. A safer route that will ensure your consumers don’t feel overwhelmed or pressured into making a purchase is the 80/20 rule. That means 8 out of 10 of your emails or posts should provide valuable content, and only 2 should be promoting.
By that same token, the Gartner Group found that 20% of your existing customer base generates a staggering 80% of your profits.
Build a Customer Loyalty Program
What makes people want to spend more money? When they know they’re going to be rewarded for it. In fact, one study found customers that are engaged with a brand’s loyalty program make 90% more purchases, spend 60% more, and are 5 times more likely to choose that brand for future purchases (Source: Sapient Razorfish). The combination of offering a quality product or service and rewarding them on top of it makes for a potent loyalty duo.
Stay With The Times
We’ve touched on this a few times now, but it can’t be stressed enough. You have to make sure that your brand and product are in line with the most current trends. If you make the deadly mistake of ignoring industry news and failing to monitor competitors, you’re setting your company up for failure. Simply put, if you’re not offering the most relevant, cutting-edge product, you’d best believe your customers are going to find who is.
Mastering the customer lifecycle for your particular niche and brand is going to be something that takes time. All of these tips are great for jump-starting your pipeline and providing a solid foundation to build upon, but you’re going to get the best results through seeing what works with your target market and what doesn’t.
Originally posted by Kristen McCormick