In marketing, there a million ways to reach your customers. You can go big with a billboard, or far with a Facebook post, targeting potential customers city-wide, nationwide and globally.
The internet has allowed us more reach than ever before, and while powerful, this means that we can easily lose the humanity of our marketing.
When it comes to retaining your customers, this humanity is crucial. Will your customers still be with you once serious product competition appears on the horizon, ready to snap up your valued buyers with slashed prices and easier delivery means?
If your marketing has been about numbers rather than people, you can guarantee that most will flock to where the prices are better.
The key to long-term success is not to simply generate more and more one-off customers. Instead, you need to transform them from best-price-shoppers into business-loyal buyers. That loyalty may indeed be hard earned, but it is entirely worthwhile.
To help you do this, here are 8 of the best tactics to make sure that your customers feel valued and in turn, value you enough to buy from you again and again.
1. Get on a first name basis
Bestselling author Dale Carnegie of How To Win Friends and Influence People said, “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language”, and it’s true. Researchers have proven that our brains light up at the sound of our own name, and so when it comes to marketing, why wouldn’t we tap into that quirk in human nature?
Coca Cola famously turned around their stagnating sales with the introduction of their “Share a Coke campaign”, with customers not only picking up bottles printed with their names and those of their friends and family, but ordering bespoke labels on the classic glass bottle online for everything from unique gifts to proposal props.
Book publisher, Faber, also notably printed individual names on their proof copies of debut author Alwyn Hamilton’s Rebel of the Sands, generating plenty of excitement from fans across social media and an instant connection with a book they were already looking forward to reading.
Taking this into consideration, how do you address your weekly mailers, or your responses on social media?
If you aren’t calling your customers by their first names, then you are missing valuable opportunities to make a more individual, human connection with your customers. If you are sending out products for review to bloggers and influencers, think about personalising them with their first names, or including a handwritten note.
If your product isn’t customisable, you might even consider other options which tie into your brand and message, such as notebooks for book bloggers.
On the other side, you can use your first name too. How much more human does a tweet sent from Natalie or William, than a brand logo? Or a blog post which includes a brief bio about the employee who penned it, accompanied by a headshot?
Don’t be afraid to break rank and be a person. Your customers will appreciate your personalised help and attention.
2. Watch your tone
When you contact your customers, do you sound like a well-oiled machine, churning out the same marketing mumblings that every other company does, or do you sound human?
Customers love the tone of voice from Innocent Smoothies on Twitter, encapsulating its brand as sweet and friendly, but also how it engages with them individually. Take for example, their fun tweet about Bring Your Dog To Work Day in the office.
Not only were they human and personable in their phrasing and the idea of posting a dog photo, but the brand took the time to respond to each reply they got from customers and followers alike.
Obviously, there is a time and place for silliness, and perhaps your brand is dealing with heavier subjects than fruity drinks. You may have to be professional and reassuring, helping customers with important insurance issues or banking mishaps, but even in this case, there is no need to be robotic or cold.
3. Talk about what they want to talk about
So you’ve got a Facebook account. Great. What’s on it? If it’s a stream of never ending promotional messages and ways to get people to buy buy buy, stop. Think about what your customers are actually interested in.
For example, if you are dog collar supplier, then it makes sense that your customers would be interested in other dog related issues, like how often should you walk them depending on their size and breed, how do you bring a second dog into your home or how to make sure they are warm enough in winter.
Another example is printing company, Quinnstheprinters.com, which consistently reposts and writes content about and for graphic designers, as that is who forms the bulk of their buyers.
The typically light, interesting content helps customers connect the brand on a more personal level, instead of a mere financial level. Better yet, the company has learned to make its customers laugh, creating an even better relationship between brand and buyer.
4. React to what isn’t there
Marketing prompts usually come at the start of your relationship with a company. You get the friendly welcome email, and a few notifications from their app about how to get full use from their services. But then, you drop off the map.
Does your company notice when this happens?
Your marketing prompts need to come in when your customer is inactive, just as they come in when they are updating their accounts and making purchases.
Noticing these individual habits can be a great boost to your company. For example, if a customer who makes consistent repeat orders suddenly stops, and you don’t reach out to them, you may lose out on their valuable business.
Similarly, if you are able to contact customers who have abandoned their shopping carts before purchasing, you will be pleased to notice how many of these are not left abandoned, but followed through to sale.
5. Divide and conquer
You won’t be able to target person by person for all of your marketing tactics, but you sure can group people into similar sections to make sure that the marketing messages you’re sending them aren’t completely irrelevant.
For example, when conducting social media advertising, split your audiences. If your brand appeals to women of all ages, you might consider how a teenage girl and a woman over fifty will react to your message, split and tailor to suit both.
To believe that all of your customers will respond positively to a catch-all message is narrow minded and won’t win you over any long-lasting customers.
Similarly, remember to split your email lists when it comes to your email marketing and newsletters. Run A/B testing for your subject lines, experimenting with longer and shorter lines, emojis and no emojis.
Different kinds of customers require different subject lines and content, and though it may take more time to research their tastes and habits, it’s worth knowing that Hubspot found that marketers with two-to-six email lists generated a higher average click through rate than those with just one.
Even more simply, is your company noticing lacking open rates on mailers, or poor engagement with customers?
You may want to mix up the times when you post, or your targeted audience. After all, your customers across the globe may not all wake up at the same time, and are more likely to respond to your marketing messages if you aren’t trying to contact them in the middle of the night.
6. Remember the little things
When you first meet someone, it’s very easy to move on and forget their name and person entirely. It takes that little something extra to remember.
When it comes to your marketing, there is value in remembering the little things. For example, when sending an outreach email to a potential client, or a customer, you might think to reference something you remember about them.
For example, Len Markidan at Groove points out how American Express impressed him by remembering that he had been a customer since 1998 and that they appreciated his continued business.
How can your company make that special connection? Like American Express, is it remembering when your relationship first began, or is it remembering customers’ birthdays and gifting them a special discount to celebrate?
You can even look at an area, or a city, and remember a particular event which is uniquely important to them, if person by person marketing is too in-depth for your strategy.
7. Reward them
Make sure your customers know how much you appreciate their continued support by sending them small, yet effective rewards for their loyalty.
Lots of big brands have a loyalty programme in place, usually offering customers rewards cards in order to gain points by purchasing items. However, if your business isn’t so big yet, don’t worry. Even the most modest coffee shop can carry a loyalty card, so that five stamps later, your customer can claim their free hot drink.
To make your rewards truly memorable though, make them unique. Anyone and everyone can use a rewards scheme, but your business truly stands out when you are able to recognise an individual’s loyalty and gift them accordingly.
For example, you might think of offering free shipping as a one off to a consistent customer, or a discount off their next order.
A great example of treating customers as individuals is from pop superstar, Taylor Swift. In 2014, the singer launched her Swiftmas campaign, in which Swift chose and researched a selection of fans to buy Christmas gifts for, and had them delivered alongside a handwritten note.
Later, a video was released, showing Swift’s home strewn with gifts, wrapping paper and other signs of festive cheer, as well as clips from the recipients ecstatically, and sometimes tearfully, opening their gifts.
The result was a cute tearjerker of a video, and Swift’s fans continued adoration for a pop star who had taken the time to read their social media posts and learn what they wanted for Christmas – a celebrity who really, truly cared about them as individuals.
8. Listen to them
When was the last time you ran a survey of your customers? Have you ever contacted them to find out what they want from your company, or from your industry?
For example, if you are a designer shoe distributor, what is your customer’s’ number one problem with buying new shoes? These are things you can find out about them and use.
You might use that information to create content for your blog, or generate publicity with other publications, such as “Men find shoe shopping more difficult than women”, “2/3 of women do not enjoy shopping despite stereotypes”, or “20% of women prefer heels to flats”.
You then could do something about it, something that says we heard you. For example, Olympic Lifts ran a general survey about loneliness in the elderly, and found that 44% people only saw their grandparents once a month or less.
The study alone was of interest to the media, but instead of leaving it there, the stairlift installation provider, created something new for their customers: a directory of elderly social groups, and an interactive map to go along with it.
Remember: loyalty-winning marketing is not necessarily about the big numbers. It’s about the few, the consistent, the ones who will stand by your company and champion its brand name.
There are other times for big, booming marketing messages across the globe, for dialing up the numbers across all accounts, but here, remember the individual. And they will remember you.
About the author
This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Laura McLoughlin who works with My Own Stationery, a leading personalised stationery e-seller based in Northern Ireland. At over 100 years old, they have considerable manufacturing experience in the making of paper stationery products, and are dedicated to eco-friendly production.