7 Strategies for increasing customer loyalty

Written on the 19 July 2010 by Altitude Communications

With customers demanding better service and more value for money, there has never been a more important time to demonstrate and advertise the added value that you offer. And with the deepening global financial crisis, clients will start to keep an ever watchful eye on their money. It is at this time that the importance of going the extra mile, adding extra value, good customer service AND having a good quality product or service could mean the difference between a business that prospers and one that doesn’t.

increase customer loyaltyHowever, as we all know, this isn’t the time to throw money around, which is why it’s important that your business looks for more cost-effective ways to deliver unparalleled service with quicker turnaround time. There are a number of ways you could achieve this, and Customer Loyalty Retention Programs are a great start.

And while it may seem like a huge undertaking, the simplest solution is to take advantage of modern technology and use email marketing and the Internet.  There are many strategies that you could use which is why below we’ve detailed our seven favourites. These seven strategies are simple-to-use, easy-to-implement and very cost-effective.

Just remember, the main goal here is to increase your level of client retention, repeat purchase and loyalty.  After all, a client that returns and keeps buying from you is much more likely to spread the “good word” and continue purchasing again and again.

  • Welcome Packs via Email - Once you have won a customer over it’s important to not only make them feel welcome, but give some clear direction and instructions on the next step that you wish them to take. After all they are paying for your guidance and assistance. A good email marketing system like FastTrack Email Marketing will allow you to automate this process by developing your very own customizable welcome pack for client and setting a sequence of pre-programmed auto responders.  It’s important that the system that you choose has the ability to personalise your material, by allowing you to add fields such as First Name, Company Name etc, into your emails.

Remember, if you’re material is complicated or time-sensitive; you could split your welcome pack into a series of automated emails over a week or so to guide your customer through the process. By communicating with your customer regularly they will feel as if you’re ‘holding their hand’ through the set-up process – this is a great customer service strategy, especially with an automated system that once built requires minimum (if any) input/action from you!.

Here is an example of what you might do…
0 Days after purchase – Email a thank you for your valued business letter with key links to relevant instructions and PDF documents.

1 Day after purchase – Send a FREE gift in the form of an article or special report.  It may also be a MP3 recording of a teleconference call between yourself and a related expert.  Either way, the main objective here is to under promise and over deliver.

5 Days after purchase – send your client a link and invite them to join your password-protected client lounge.  This webpage may include free e-books, free resources and a range of helpful hints and tips that you would only share with paying customers.

10 Days after purchase – send another free article or a list of frequently asked questions.  This will build trust, credibility and answer some burning questions that the customer may have after experiencing your product or service.

30 days after purchase – Email a link to a client satisfaction review survey.  Ask them about their thoughts, feeling and suggestions for improvement. Not only will this invaluable information help you to refine and grow your business according to your customer’s wants, needs and desires, but it will also produce some fantastic testimonials for your marketing purposes.

Obviously this could go on for months, but the point here is to set-and-forget it.  Automation is now your friend and the rewards will be a happy customer that feels that you care.  Your professionalism will shine through and set you apart from your competition.

  • Set up a Client Lounge on your Website – Email marketing is a very powerful medium for getting customers to return your website time and time again.  This has a number of benefits, not only in terms of customer frequency and retention, but also in the eyes of the ever-watchful search engines that monitor and rate the return traffic to your website.

A client lounge should be an area or webpage that is password-protected on your website.  It should offer exclusive information and valued-added content.  It may include items such as podcast recordings, frequently asked questions, articles, free eBooks, instruction manuals and special offers, discounts, warranties and guarantees either for your products or services or other affiliated products/services. 

Your client will love the fact that they have a special user name and login to an area on your website that is built just for them.  Make sure that you keep this area of your website up-to date with the latest information and remember to invite your customers to visit it regularly.

It’s also a good idea after updating the content to remind your customers (via email) to “check out” all the new updates you’ve added.  This keeps them informed, up-to-date and shows them that you are constantly looking for ways to add information and value to their experience with you.  The end result will be better communication with less effort on your behalf.

  • Customer Surveys – Asking someone for their opinion is one of the biggest compliments that you could pay to them.  Online surveys are the quickest, easiest and most cost-effective way to achieve feedback, testimonials and guidance. Getting your customers thoughts, feelings and feedback will be the fuel that your business needs to push forward and help you grow.

Here’s some tips to ensure you get the most out of your surveys:

  1. Be sure to use a reliable and reputable online survey management system. 
  2. Make sure that your survey questions are short, direct and to the point. The aim is to allow your customers to complete the survey in a matter of minutes.  
  3. Consider allowing your customer the option of rating your various products and services from 1 to 10 – as this will give you a better indication of satisfaction than a yes/no type question.
  4. Alternatively multiple choice questions are another way to cut time and make it simple for your customer to answer your questions without spending too much or their valuable time completing them. 
  5. Consider including a general comments box in your survey and if you notice that they have a concern, be sure to call them and resolve it right away.  This will show them that you care about their feelings and comments and that the purpose of them giving their valuable opinion really matters to you.  
  6. Remember to include a disclaimer that says “these comments may be used for marketing and testimonial purposes.”  
  7. Online surveys are a great way of automating the collection of collecting success stories and testimonials for your website.  After your customer has completed the survey, remember to take them to a thank you page and include a link to an eBook or other related product or service as a thank you for taking the time to complete your survey. Alternatively you could offer a complimentary one-on-one telephone session as a special gift.
  • Email Marketing Promotions - one of the simplest ways to add value to current clients whilst increasing the revenue of your business is with specials offers, package deals and discounts. But unlike with traditional marketing, it's so easy to promote these with email marketing.  The options with this are pretty much endless and really depend on your business however, some examples include 'special of the month', free trials, 'buy one get one free', referral rewards program etc.  To increase the effectiveness of this strategy even further, consider making the offer sound exclusive by giving tying it to a group or time limit. For example 'Members club specials' or Valentine’s Day Promotion for Couples Only.

Alternatively you could personalise the communication, for example, “Sue, how's the model X vaccuum cleaner going for you?  We thought you might be interested in these products so we've discounted them an extra 10% just for you.” Email marketing is the most cost-effective way for you to communicate with your existing customers and because they have a relationship with you, it's highly likely that they will open your email.  
 

  • Ebooks - eBooks are a fantastic marketing tool for small businesses.  It's simple and free to put together a professional PDF report on a topic you are knowledgeable about. But more than that, in modern business eBooks have so many potential uses. Consider writing a 'getting started' eBook and include it up as part of your automated welcome emails, or a 'how to' guide that could be given away as a free gift to your valued clients. 

Ebooks can also be used for lead generation - create a free eBook that can be downloaded from your website after capturing your prospects details.
All you need to do to write your eBook is type it up in Microsoft Word, create a simple, professional design, add some pictures and then use a free PDF converter like CutePDF to secure the document.  Alternatively, if you don’t think your writing or design skills are up to it, you could hire a copywriter and graphic designer to make the eBook for you. 

  • Say Thank you and Congratulations with eCards - an eCard is simply an animated greeting card that is sent via email.  You can automate eCards to be sent to your customers on special occasions, such as their birthday, the anniversary of them becoming your client, Easter and Christmas. 

This simple act makes the client feel you care about them, plus has the added benefit of putting your brand at the top of mind of their mind.  The FastTrack Email Marketing System includes a complete eCard system with a variety of generic templates for most occasions. 

After choosing your eCard design, you’ll be able to personalise it and schedule it to go automatically to every client on a particular date.  Spend an hour setting up a series of eCards for different events and it will be working for you throughout the year with no effort - you can't get much easier than that! 
 

  • Take Stock – Update your customer’s contact information - if you were to go through all your past customers and try to contact them, how many of their phone numbers and postal addresses would still be correct?  Having an up-to-date database of contacts is essential for all of the marketing strategies mentioned above, so you will need to spend some time making sure you have everyone's correct details.  The good news is that this is easy with email marketing - you can send an automatically generated form to your entire database that asks them to update their details and anything they enter into the form is automatically updated in your database. 

Not only does this decrease the bounce rate of your email marketing, but it also means you’re not wasting time and money on marketing that is not relevant to your target. Update your Database Emails should be sent out once every 6 months to make sure your database is fully maximised.

These strategies are all really simple and cost-effective, so you could easily start doing them today and you may even reap instant rewards - a customer from a year ago might just be in the market for an upgrade and an email from you could push them over the line.  We know times are challenging at the moment, so get smart with your marketing and start maximising your existing customers to grow your business.

Copyright Altitude Communications 2010. All Rights Reserved. This article may not be used without the prior written consent from the author. See below for more details...

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Author: Altitude Communications
 
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