The SEO’s Quick Start Guide to Customer Retention Marketing

September 21, 2012
By Purna Virji in Online Marketing

purna-virjiDo you value and retain your customers? Purna Virji, Online Marketing Manager at Stroll, shares five quick steps to customer retention marketing success. Purna wears many marketing hats, speaks a half a dozen languages, and when she isn’t driving sales, she’s a mom. Basically, she’s our hero and we’re happy to have her on the blog!

customer-retention-marketingAs SEOs, we spend vast amounts of time and effort towards building relationships, earning links, and encouraging visitors to convert. But then, like a long-term relationship after the honeymoon period ends, we stop attending to these customer relationships once the sale happens.

We all know the old adage that it is less expensive to keep an existing customer than to acquire a new one, so why don’t more of us work harder at retaining existing customers? The benefits are obvious. Past customers have a significantly higher likelihood of converting again, plus longer-term customers mean greater customer lifetime values, boiling down to the one thing we all pursue–increased profits.

But, the main reason you should even think about customer retention is that it also helps you – the SEO.

Happier customers become advocates for the company, referring friends and spreading the word online, helping social media and online reputation. More importantly, since higher lifetime values mean companies can afford to spend more to acquire customers, it will help you get buy-in from management for all the big-ticket link building or content creation projects you’ve had a tough time justifying previously. It’s a win-win situation for you and the client.

So what’s the best way to start? Customer Retention Marketing is simpler than you think–no rocket science needed. But like any other long-term profit strategy, it does take work. Hey, as SEO’s, we’re used to that!

Here are five strategies to kick-off your customer retention marketing campaign:

1. The Art of the Welcome:

Want to make your customers feel valued right from the start while combatting any buyers’ remorse? Send new customers a lovely welcome email or better yet, a welcome phone call. The messaging can be simple:

  • Thank them for choosing your company.
  • Reinforce the fact that they made a fantastic decision in choosing you.
  • Build anticipation by reminding them of how well your products/services can solve the need they sought you out for in the first place.
  • Provide them with contact information to reach out to should they ever need anything. Double points if you give them a specific contact person with name, number and email.

That’s all it takes to get things off to a great start.

2. Exceed Expectations & Tell them About it:

Now that they’re excited about your product/service, give customers a little wow factor when you fulfill your end of the deal. Mailing a product? If you advertise 1-week shipping, try to get it there in 5 days. Providing an SEO audit? Add on an extra section or two, perhaps throw in a competitor analysis as well or provide a prioritized action item list. Everyone loves to get a little more than what they paid for.

But it isn’t enough to just do it. The key here is to actually tell them that you over-delivered. Make them realize that you took the extra care for them, because you value their business. This small step will help build up trust and give the customer the feeling of being well looked after, allowing you to develop a loyal following.

3. Shower with Love:

Here’s where your content marketing skills can help. Create some helpful e-books, guides, useful tips, online videos, basically anything the customer will find valuable and appreciate receiving. Then every once in a while, send your customers an email with one of these value added pieces of content. Continue this even after the initial transaction has been completed.

An unexpected piece of communication that is all about them without trying to sell them anything is always very much appreciated. Top marks if you send a hard copy version via snail mail to them with a personalized note. Getting something tangible in the mail always provides a sense of greater value.

4. Engage and Delight:

Harness your community manager! They can be valuable assets in listening to what the customer is looking for and learning more about their interests. Answer questions promptly, give public kudos (e-props) to social media engagers and make your customers feel like part of an exclusive club. Having customer-only online contests or giveaways and hosting private hang-outs/webinars where you answer questions and give useful advice can both really help.

Also empower customer service teams to address customer problems and offer make-goods in the case of even the slightest dissatisfaction. At MozCon, Rhea had given the wonderful example of a fruit delivery firm she had ordered from. When she mentioned that one of the fruits had been slightly damaged, they promptly sent over a brand new box. Now that is great service and will guarantee repeat business.

5. Clever Cross-Sells:

Now that you have built up some trust, your cross-sells will be very well received. But there is an art to going about this. You want your customers to feel you are helping them by suggesting additional, relevant products/services. Think Amazon. How many of us receive emails from them with suggestions of products they think we’ll like? They come across as super-helpful and serving us, and we think oh that’s great, it’s just what I needed, and then hit the buy button.

It’s not altruistic on their part at all–they get a great conversion rate from this. So position your offers in such a way that your customers will thank you for the suggestions and see you as providing a service to them.

Not only will these tactics help you prevent customer attrition (the last thing we want is them going to the competition), but will also make the customer so delighted that they will be strong advocates for your brand, staying on longer, talking about you and referring friends—all helping your customer acquisition efforts. Whether you’re in-house or work with an agency, do talk to your clients about building in a customer retention marketing strategy; it’s always going to be worth the effort.

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