For demand generation marketers, it’s easy to feel like once you’ve made the sale, you’re done. But crossing the finish line is only part of the job. Customers need to be retained, upsold and cross sold. And it never hurts to get referral business. Here’s a few hints on customer nurturing programs that work:
- Obviously, customer nurturing fails if your customers aren’t happy, so make sure customers can easily connect with the customer service department and get problems resolved quickly. Doing so means higher customer satisfaction and retention. It also ensures your sales team isn’t distracted from selling by resolving customer complaints.
- When someone becomes a new customer, it’s pretty easy to get them to tell you how they want to engage with your company. Do they want emails? Is texting okay? How often? What is their role? What interests them? To get this information, have your reps ask when the deal closes, email asking about contact preferences or set up a subscription center.
- Before you develop your program, set your objectives. Quantify the customer value and identify revenue opportunities. Figure out what it costs to acquire a new customer and their lifetime value. Look at average spend per month and how long a customer is retained. Where can you increase revenue? Focus there.
- Once you have objectives, think a moment about reporting and how you’re going to track. What tools do you have for reporting? How will you see if you kept a customer longer or if they bought more products? Set benchmarks of where your company is before you start and then see how effective nurturing is. Also set up reporting on how well your customers engage with individual touches in your nurture stream. This will enable you to refine content.
- Develop a customer story arc. What path do your customers take? When are they ready to buy again? When can they provide a review or make a referral? Creating this will help you develop a content plan. It can also help you determine if it makes sense to segment your messaging – maybe by job function, customer value or industry.
- Determine if you have data in your arsenal to trigger campaigns. Can you trigger emails when a customer reaches a certain usage or purchase threshold? Buys a particular product? “Next most likely” communications are very effective.
- Now develop your communication plan. Email once a month, once a week or even more frequently, as long as you have something a customer wants to hear. Be sure and tally up everything a customer receives from your company and work all of that into the plan. While operational emails, emails from sales and newsletters may not be your responsibility, from a customer standpoint all of it counts. Streamline contact and make sure customers aren’t getting the same message from multiple sources.
- Never send anything that doesn’t have a customer benefit. At best, you will annoy a customer and at worst, you can trigger an unsubscribe or even lose their business. Follow the golden rule – before you send an email, ask yourself from the customer’s perspective “what’s in it for me?” If your customer isn’t going to save time, save money or have their life improved by your offer, don’t send it. The worst offenders in my opinion are holiday cards. Poorly executed newsletters are a close second.
- Consider multi-channel communication. Can you vary the web experience to fit your customer’s interests? How about using mobile marketing? Is there a way to involve them in a community or user group or an event? What about postal mail or phone calls? Think outside of email to create a full experience.
- The gold star in customer nurture is a referral. It’s not impossible, but the percentage of success can be low. You have to find a customer who is happy enough with your product to put their name on the line. And who has a network of folks who might want your service and is willing to take the time to refer them. My experience is that the most successful referral programs are those that aren’t too aggressive, but are communicated frequently so when a customer is ready to refer, they know exactly what to do. Incentives are helpful to encourage referrals, so test them to determine the ROI. In a lot of cases, something as simple as a $10 gift card or free shipping will do the trick.
I’m happy to discuss ideas for customer nurture – contact me to learn more!