The secret to retaining your clients
Last month we looked at some specific methods for converting prospects into customers, including using the psychology of pain/pleasure and gratification to ‘push your prospects’ buttons.
But if, once you’ve gained those customers, you’re then unable to keep them, you’re effectively wasting much of the effort that you initially put into acquiring them.
According to customer feedback experts Client Heartbeat, there are “three cold hard facts why customer retention is important”:
- It is 5-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one
- It costs a company real money every time they lose a customer
- Loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase
The simplest way to ensure you retain your clients is to continue to delight them at every opportunity with the best quality product, the best service and the best overall value proposition. Yet marketing can also support and reinforce product value.
Marketers talk about the ‘lifetime value’ of a customer and ‘churn rates’.
In simple terms, you want to hold on to your customers once you’ve won them (because they’re expensive to acquire in the first place) and minimise ‘churn’ (the rate at which you have to acquire new customers to replace old ones that leave).
Put another way, it is better nurture customer loyalty via an enduring relationship that lasts for years, than to treat each purchase transaction as a one-off event.
In this article, we’re going to share with you some of the secrets for retaining your clients.
Why do people stay?
Before we take a look at some of the specific methods that you can use to increase your retention rates, we should consider more broadly the kind of things that make people want to remain a customer.
Customers like to feel special, and to experience great service and value in the form of some of the following:Reliability – People like companies that do what they say when they say they’ll do it. Or at least, manage their expectations.
- Reliability – People like companies that do what they say when they say they’ll do it. Or at least, manage their expectations.
- Attentiveness – Customers feel valued when the company responds positively to their needs, complaints or queries.
- Freshness – This one really varies depending on what business you’re in, but generally speaking people can get bored of the same old things and like businesses that innovate.
Peter Drucker said that “what gets measured gets managed” and it’s true here. If you want to retain customers, you need to establish a benchmark for your effectiveness, and then monitor it each month.
In very simple terms, your customer retention rate can be measured by monitoring three key statistics. Let’s say you are going to produce a monthly retention rate statistics (though it could equally be a 6 monthly one, depending on your business).
- Number of customers at the start of the month = S
- Number of new customers acquired during the month = N
- Number of customers at the end of the month = E
The retention rate is an indicator of the net increase or drop in customers, so we need to exclude the number of new customers acquired during the month, so E – N. Then we take that number an divide it by the number of customers at the start of the month and turn it into a percentage.
So customer retention rate (CRR) = ((E-N)/S)*100
By measuring customer retention regularly, you can factor actions taken that month into your analysis and take steps to do more of what works in order to encourage customers to stay with you.
Actions to increase retention rates
Whether you’re currently experience high attrition rates and wish to remedy them, or you simply want to maximise your brand’s power to retain clients for as long as possible, there are a number of positive actions you can take.
1. Get to know your customers better
The better you know your customers, the easier it will be for you to delight them with products and services.
You can collect data on who your customers post-purchase surveys, email correspondence and social media. You can then use this to deliver digital content and a user experience which is better tailored to their expectations, needs and preferences.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers for direct feedback from time to time. Many will be happy to help, and by being asked they may feel appreciative of the fact that you care about their needs.
2. Exploit the potential of email
Many successful businesses send regular, carefully planned email marketing campaigns to their clients.
The issue for marketers and business owners is not how or when to send emails, but what sort of content to send to customers.
A rule of thumb for email content is to make it useful, interesting and relevant to your email list. Here are a few ideas:
- News – Informative news may relate to your business itself and its products, or it may concern your wider industry. For instance, a firm of accountants might write about changes in tax law. Be careful not to overdo news about your business unless it directly impacts your customers.
- Special offers – Send these if you have a special offer which is genuinely appealing, and only on occasion – people will rapidly unsubscribe from your email list if you bombard them with sales messages.
- Insights – In the case of B2B businesses, sharing insights on key pain points and other issues can be most welcome. You may also wish to link through to more extensive white papers and other resources on your website. For example, C4B Media offer hints and tips on social media.
Though your customers may not open your emails, even just seeing your brand in their inbox can have a positive effect. And when the time comes that they need your services, chances are they’ll click-through.
3. Leverage social media effectively
You can also keep your brand in your customers’ minds and further build your relationships by interacting with them regularly on social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This has two components –
- Reactive – When people mention your business or brand, or send you a public or private message, you need to be responding quickly. Doing so will help to portray your brand as one which is modern and genuinely cares about its customers.
- Proactive – You also need to post regularly (but not too frequently) on social media channels. Posting about news, events and issues related to your industry, as well as sharing some content centred around your brand, will help to position your business as a thought leader. Recommended posting frequencies are around 1-2 times per day on Facebook, and around 5-8 times for Twitter.
Engaging customers both reactively and proactively on social media will cement your brand in their digital consciousness, and generate the feeling of a relationship which is worth continuing.
4. Monitor your competitors and act on insights
No brand is an island. Your efforts to retain your customers are directly linked to your competitors’ attempts to steal them. So identify who your key competitors are, and then proactively monitor their online activities. Things you should be looking out for via their website, social media and other channels include:
- Any special offers they may be running for new customers
- Loyalty incentives
- High-profile brand awareness campaigns
Once you know what your competitors are up to, you can take steps to ensure that you customers know that staying with you this a better option than switching.
5. Encourage brand advocates
Finally, once customers have been with you for a decent length of time, you can help them to go a step further in becoming your advocates.
Brand advocates will tell their friends, colleagues and social media connections how awesome you are, and because it’s coming from an actual person it can potentially have far more persuasive powers than your own advertising ever could.
Select a handful of the most loyal and happy clients and give them a nudge towards advocacy. There are few ways you can do this:
- Offer discounts/ financial rewards for online referrals
- Publish brand-centric social media content which is ‘shareable’
- Give people a reason to talk about you by highlighting what is innovative different and original about your products and services
- Introduce share buttons on all of your digital content
- Incorporate user reviews into your website
Want more advice on marketing activities to boost client retention? Speak to C4B Media on 01763 877110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org