Small Businesses frequently tend to focus their resources on the difficult task of acquiring new customers, and often neglect the customer base they have already built. While this is perfectly understandable, businesses have much more to gain from building client loyalty by establishing sustainable and long-lasting relationships, rather than focusing strictly on new client acquisition.
Now, before we get into the thick of it, here are some figures to take into consideration:
- It is roughly 5 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain one
- A 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect as decreasing costs by 10%
- Reducing your customer defection rate by 5% can increase your profitability by 25 to 125%
- 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
In a nutshell, retention is crucial for any company. So without further ado, here are some tips to help you develop a sound strategy for loyalty marketing.
First step: focus on relationship marketing
As more and more customers expect a personalized experience, a growing number of businesses have had to shift their focus from transactional marketing to relationship marketing.
Whereas transactional marketing focuses on short term benefits by centering strongly on price and maximizing profits for each transaction; relationship marketing’s key focus is brand loyalty and aims to develop deep, enduring relationships with all people or organizations that have a direct or indirect impact on the success of a business’ marketing activities.
There are many benefits to relationship marketing: Not only does it increase the likelihood of referrals, but a solid relationship marketing strategy can help make rolling out a price increase easier. It also creates an opportunity for genuine feedback that will most certainly help you improve your product offering and make your small business more adaptable to change.
Second step: cultivate your customer relationships
Before implementing any sort of retention strategy, you should first have a solid customer relationship management process in place. A customer who feels they are not properly taken care of will most likely not respond well to your loyalty proposition.
A successful business aims to foster good relationships with clients as opposed to to trying to sell at any cost.
And this is increasingly true, support, availability, and expert advice are now the hallmarks of a successful business relationship. In addition, keep in mind that customer loyalty is achieved not just when you have met an immediate need, but once you’ve managed to create a relationship based on trust. Schedule regular visits or follow-up calls to your clients as it adds a human touch to the business relationship. If you manage to create a strong relationship with your customers, they will become your best ambassadors.
Third step: enhance your customer experience
Providing a superior customer experience is key to making your customers loyal to your business and is increasignly becoming the critical differentiator between market leaders and followers. You can achieve that by having a more compelling product or service offerings, or If for example you operate in the retail business, by revamping you entire ordering process:
- Have an efficient inventory management system in place
- Offer different delivery methods to the customer
- Ensure the reliability of your delivery system (package quality, punctuality, etc.)
- variety of payment methods, etc.
In short: make the whole customer experience as quick and hassle-free as possible.
Third step: Adapt your strategy
The next step is to adapt your strategy to not only your target market, but also to your product offering as well your competition. Loyalty marketing is also a differentiation strategy; You do not want to blindly apply methods that may have worked for other companies as they may not be suitable for your business.
We distinguish different methods that are aimed at different targets, you should select the one that best suits your goals:
- Loyalty programs: This method is for returning customers. The idea is to reward loyalty with specific offers.
- Personalization: This method is costly because it requires data collection and analysis but it can be particularly effective. The aim is to analyze the purchasing behavior and patterns of your customers in order to roll-out customized offers and/or products they are most likely to respond to.
- Community building: this method aims to create a sense of belonging to a community, including setting up the necessary interactive tools for this: (social networks, events, product testing, etc.)
Fourth step: Honor your commitments
Nothing turns a customer off more than a business that does not honor its commitments. If you want to keep your customers, set yourself fast response time standards and stick to them. If you think you will not be able to honor your promises, be pro-active and let the client know beforehand. In addition, we recommend conducting satisfaction surveys on a regular basis in order to gauge your ability to meet your commitments.
Last step: Evaluate your strategy
This is probably the last step and will validate the performance and effects of your loyalty marketing strategy loyalty. For despite all the time you have been devoting to planning and design your strategy, it is ultimately your customers who can tell you whether it is effective or not. You can gather insights from your current and prospective customers through a variety of means:
- Contact forms
- Surveys / Questionnaires
- Comment Boxes
Correctly evaluating the impact of your loyalty marketing initiatives not only allows you to determine whether the resources and costs involved are justified, but it also you to determine whether mid-course corrections are needed. It also provides you useful insights into the development of your next marketing initiative.