Wrestling the One-Time Buyer Syndrome

Marketers have different names for them. Some marketers call them “One-and-done” customers. Others call them by more innocuous “1-Time Buyers” phrases. The latter is the literal description of what they are. But I call them “problems” — potential or immediate.

Marketers have different names for them. Some marketers call them “One-and-done” customers. Others call them by more innocuous “1-Time Buyers” phrases. The latter is the literal description of what they are. But I call them “problems” — potential or immediate.

Considering how much marketers spend to acquire any new customer, those one-timers pose real challenges. In the metrics-governed marketing world where ROI means everything, they put marketers in the corner from the beginning.

“Great! Someone just walked in, bought and walked out with merchandise! But will we ever recover the acquisition cost from them? We gave them a fat 20% discount just for showing up!”

In the old days — not too long ago, though — marketers used to plan to break even on new customers on their second or third purchase. Now, no one seems to have that kind of patience in the fast lane, where “everything, all the time” is the norm and the consumers are distracted constantly by competing offers and messages. Hence, many retailers put out an ambitious goal of breaking even at “hello.”

The Customer Acquisition and Retention Challenge

That translates into good news for low-cost acquisition channels, like email or Facebook, and bad news for relatively expensive channels, like direct marketing or traditional media. Regardless of channel usage, however, marketers must be smart about both retention and acquisition. In other words, they must stop the bleeding and pump in new blood at the same time.

I often see that one-time buyers make up over 80% of the customer base of a retailer. Even when we go back four to five years and count every transaction, the lowest figure that I’ve seen hovers around 60% or so.

That means, even in an unusually decent case, more than half of new customers do not come back. Pretty scary stuff.

What Marketers Can Do to Retain Customers

If that figure goes over 80%, I recommend starting with a more refined acquisition strategy. Simply because without new blood coming in, there won’t be much to talk about in the near future.

The first thing that I would ask is how aggressive the marketers want to be in terms of channel usage. I’ve seen bold ones who go the multichannel route with varying degrees of cost-friendliness, and conservative ones who would stick only with cheap and measurable channels.

To Retain, Acquire Customers Intelligently

Regardless of the degree of aggressiveness, the first concern is if they have been targeting the “right” prospects.

Years of experience in data and analytics business taught me that not all customers are created equal. You may have multiple pockets (or segments) of vastly different types of customers in your base, starting with the most valuable customers to downright barnacles who are professional bargain-seekers with no chance of being a loyal customer.

Going after the right kind of customers during the acquisition stage will curb the one-time buyer problem.

Whether you want to toss a bunch target samples to Facebook, go to third-party data vendors or join a co-op for modeled prospects, I strongly suggest marketers define the ideal target for them first.

  • When you say “valuable,” what does that really mean?
  • In terms of frequency, is that measured by the number of transactions or days between transactions?
  • In terms of dollars, is that in total customer value or average spending level per transactions?

There are many ways to do it, and what I am suggesting is to try them as many as you can — when it comes to target definitions — and keep testing them. Targeting requires adjustment of the gunsight, with many rounds of practice shots.

One of the tricks I’ve learned while being a vendor all of my life is that you never try one method, one channel or one type of target. Because, if that “one” thing fails, you’ll be fired. Simple as that. But if you try three to four different combinations of target definitions and methodologies, then you have a better fighting chance to stay in the game, thanks to cumulative learning. After all, 1:1 marketing is all about learning from the past endeavors, isn’t it?

Here’s What I Recommend

So, I recommend trying different types of targeting (i.e., target definition of any “look-alike” modeling or simple selects) in different focus areas. For example:

  • Behavioral Targeting: Target after you your audience’s best behavior, however you define them. I would use separate measures, such as transaction frequency and dollar amount, as responsiveness is often inversely related to sheer value (e.g., an infrequent visitor who spends a lot in one transaction).
  • Demographic Targeting: What do those most valuable customers look like? What demographic clusters do they belong to, and what are their key demographic profiles? This type of targeting may not be as precise as behavioral targeting, but basic segmentation often provides a common language among disparate players in the acquisition play, including copywriters who would come up with relevant messages for each segment. Commonly defined clusters also open doors toward new target areas (e.g., targeting Millennials when an existing target base is mostly in older age segments).
  • Regional Targeting: It is not unusual to see a high concentration of customers around physical store locations, even for online traffic. Test in and out of traditional footprints for an effective expansion strategy by channel.
  • Product Targeting: Depending on the product lines, you may be dealing with vastly different customer profiles. Customer profile by high-level product category is important, as it is not a good idea to have a one-size-fits-all type of targeting when you carry distinct lines of products. The average of multiple types of customers is really nothing; there are no such things as “average” customers, when they are separated in dichotomous universes.

There are many ways to slice and dice this, but the important thing is to let the ideas fly within reason (i.e., don’t overdo it, either). And at some point, you will run out of options just using RFM segments, so plan to dive into look-alike models; many list vendors and social media publishers offer modeling, either in forms of traditional models or machine learning. But even the most cutting-edge targeting engines won’t work if the target is way off. Attracting barnacles is just one example.

Now Retain Those Customers

Then I would turn the attention to the retention side to curb this one-time buyer problem. But this time, I suggest marketers look at it not just from the segment/targeting point of view, but from the timeline point of view, as well.

Experience Design Benefits Greatly From Behavioral Data

Human-centered design thinking has influenced much of the way that companies think about user and customer experience, and for the better. Because customer experience is becoming an important vehicle through which brand propositions are communicated today, it is worth examining if the way we design customer experiences can be improved. Particularly, is there a way to better integrate data and analytics into design thinking?

Human-centered design thinking has influenced much of the way that companies think about user and customer experience, and for the better. Because customer experience is becoming an important vehicle through which brand propositions are communicated today, it is worth examining if the way we design customer experiences can be improved. Particularly, is there a way to better integrate data and analytics into design thinking?

A well-designed customer experience offers many benefits, such as:

  • increasing the productivity of users and service efficiency.
  • Making solutions easier to use and, therefore, reducing support costs
  • Increased accessibility and reducing discomfort and stress
  • Signature experiences that convey and re-enforce the brand proposition

In order to achieve these results, most experience design processes begin with deep empathy, which entails physically observing, interviewing and surveying customers to uncover unmet needs and pain points.

These methods often help uncover significant opportunities to improve the customer services. Just as often, however, they take companies down unprofitable journeys and fail to identify growth opportunities.

For example, Spirit airlines probably ignores every stated customer desire except price (in most cases), yet it has a very strong business model. Can you imagine the market research that says customers don’t care about on-time arrival, service or cabin comfort and want to be nickeled and dimed for every possible amenity? An examination of behavioral data, however, would show that there is a large market of travelers who consistently shop for the cheapest flight, regardless of service, brand and reputation, and Spirit has learned to cater to this segment very well.

In my view, most experience design projects fail to bring in behavioral data and resultingly miss the bigger opportunity. I have observed many customer experience projects that try desperately to empathize with the customer, but fail to examine if this is the customer they want and what their purchase and usage behaviors truly reveal.

Sometime back, my team and I were asked to identify key factors driving retention and renewal behavior among auto and home insurance customers. Certainly, survey-based feedback was helpful and identified areas of dissatisfaction, such as complicated billing, poor claims experiences and unexplained rate increases. Individual customer interviews yielded even more interesting satisfaction drivers, such as financial trust and need for honest advice. However, looking at behavioral data, such as the types of policies purchased, tenure of the policies and household makeup actually uncovered the deepest insights. Although this is now common knowledge in the insurance industry, customers who bundle auto and home policies are much less likely to switch. Therefore, most insurance carriers try to offer an Auto-Home discount. Other behaviorally observed factors, such as the level of coverage selected and signing up for auto pay are also significant predictors of retention. Surprisingly, none of these factors bubbled up directly in customer interviews or surveys. Furthermore, factors derived from the behavioral data explained 70 to 80 percent of the attrition in any given year.

Despite this example, it would be very wrong to assume that human-centered design principles do not work or that some of the methods employed to develop user/customer empathy are bunk. However, I would say that interviews and experience audits are only one source of customer insight; mining customer behavioral data is another powerful source of customer insights. A well-thought-out experience design should have the benefit of both.

Content Marketing After the Sale

If the content you’re creating is aimed only at prospects and leads, you’re missing an important marketing opportunity. Content marketing to existing clients will help you increase revenue and ROI for your content marketing program.

How to Drive Your Customer's Lifecycle to Increase Revenue and RetentionIf the content you’re creating is aimed only at prospects and leads, you’re missing an important marketing opportunity. Content marketing to existing clients will help you increase revenue and ROI for your content marketing program.

First and foremost, paying attention to clients after the sale in ways that appear (to the client) to go above and beyond is one of the best ways to build the kind of emotional connection that creates raving fans and lifelong clients. (To say nothing of killer net promoter scores.)

Second, your prospects aren’t paying attention to what you tell them. Sad, true fact. So even though you know you’ve reviewed with them the full range of your services — and your breadth of expertise may even have influenced their decision to become a client — they don’t remember any of that. They just know they needed X and they hired you you did X, whatever X might be.

Post-sale content marketing is your opportunity to remind them that you also do Y and Z, and that Y and Z are valuable complements to the X already in place.

Finally, your content marketing to existing clients should subtly point out that you and they have both invested a lot in you learning enough about their business to service them well. There’s great value to be leveraged, and most clients recognize that even if their primary focus is on the path of least resistance: keeping your current vendor is almost always easier than vetting and on boarding a new one. The key is to make clear that there’s value beyond eliminating new-vendor hassles.

How? Here are a few ideas:

Research: Set up alerts to follow your client, their biggest competitors, and the industry. You can pass some of this information on as interesting items to be aware of. Better still is news they can use: news along with some insight related to their business.

Some portion of the info you provide should be related to your area of expertise, though you’ll want to be careful to stay well clear of the line between “news they can use” and “news which helps me sell them more stuff.” Out-and-out promotion wrapped in content marketing — or anything else — gets old fast. And don’t discount the fact that offering information completely unrelated to what your firm does makes it crystal clear that you’re paying attention to their company and their industry.

Post-sale content marketing should also be viewed as a long-term commitment, not only in it being an effort you’ll need to make over a long period of time, but in it being an opportunity to point out future possibilities rather than current needs. Again, this can help you show that you’re paying attention to their needs.

And that’s probably the key point to be made here, as in all content marketing: the client’s needs.

One last note that is often overlooked: Your champion at any given client isn’t always going to be there. So make sure your content marketing includes materials that he or she would be comfortable passing on to peers and superiors. You want to expand your reach and win more champions inside the firm, if not for increased sales today, then to maintain existing sales in the future.

Creative Cage Match: Battle of the ‘Miss You’ Emails

Ahhh, win-back emails. Or as I like to call them “Miss Yous” (but not “youse” — insert New Jersey joke here). The marketer wants to win back the customer, so out come the puppy-dog eyes and usually some sort of device to get the customer to take action; whether that’s a discount code, some incentive to login, etc. Let’s see who can tug on my heartstrings the best.

There’s a reason that pro-wrestling is so popular — and it’s not just the juicy drama and bespangled costumes. People love a good fight, and have for millennia, dating back to the gladiators of Rome and beyond.

So, once a month I’m going to select two marketers and toss them into a Creative Cage Match. I’ll be looking at everything ranging from email to direct mail, website to mobile site. It’ll be a mix of objective and subjective, and each time a marketer will walk out of the ring triumphantly.

Miss You BearAhhh, win-back emails. Or as I like to call them “Miss Yous” (but not “youse” — insert New Jersey joke here). The marketer wants to win back the customer, so out come the puppy-dog eyes and usually some sort of device to get the customer to take action, whether that’s a discount code, some incentive to login, etc.

Let’s see who can tug on my heartstrings the best:

In this corner, we have ThinkGeek, an e-tailer based out of Fairfax, Va. with a focus on geeky and pop culture-themed goods. If you’re not a customer, you may know these fine folks thanks to their infamous April Fool’s Day emails and zany fake products.

And across the ring, we have Redbubble, a creative community and marketplace that allows users to upload and sell designs on merchandise ranging from postcards to stickers, from t-shirts to decorative throw pillows. If you have a creative idea and the ability to design, you can make a little extra cash within this community marketplace (and if you like to shop for unique t-shirts, this is the place for you!)

Email vs. Email

As a marketer, if you want customers to come back, you have to give them a solid reason. Let’s look at some email:

 

Miss You email from ThinkGeek
First up we have ThinkGeek with the subject line, “Just because we miss you: 20% off any order at ThinkGeek!” All right … the offer right in the subject line, front and center in the inbox, piques my interest.

Now, sadly, the preheader text is a bit lackluster, but the rest of the copy works for me:

We miss you! Here, take 20% off any order

We haven’t seen you around recently, and we wanted you to know we’ve been busy monkeys! We have new gear from recent movies, TV shows, and video games, on top of our old favorites. If you wanted to come have a look, maybe we could make it worth your time? How’s 20% off any order from now until 11:59pm ET November 3rd sound?

The discount is pretty good, the email doesn’t get too complicated, nor does it trip all over itself, and the use of the mascot Timmy is an excellent fit. Simple and clean … if only ThinkGeek had written a decent preheader.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s look at Redbubble’s email:
Miss You email from Red Bubble“We miss you Melissa Ward” … whoa … full name. If they slipped my middle name in there I would have sworn I was in trouble with my mom. We know personalization gets people’s attention, and my first AND last name popping up in the promotional tab of my Gmail definitely make me pause.

Again, we have some serious weak sauce when it comes to the preheader: “It’s been awhile.” Yeah, um great. Moving along, we have a nice header image with some products and “We Miss You” in wonderfully large type.

The copy, much like ThinkGeek’s is on-brand and simple:

We’ve been chatting with your inbox, and you know what it said? It said it needs some art in its life. So to make sure it gets what it wants, we’re giving you 10% off anything you fancy on Redbubble.

Okay, so this cage match win is a tough one. The emails are very similar … ThinkGeek makes a better offer, and gave me more time to use the discount (I received the email Oct. 26 and the code is good until Nov. 3). Redbubble’s discount is smaller, and I only have 48 hours to use it. But this isn’t about offers … it’s about the win-back.

And well … sorry ThinkGeek and Redbubble, but I think this is a double countout. I’m a tough customer to woo with a win-back email, and neither one really did it for me. Each marketer got bits and pieces right, but nothing for a full win.

I miss you fix itWant more email creative critiques? Well guess what, you’re in luck! Last week I was part of a panel on email creative during Target Marketing’s annual All About Email Virtual Conference and Expo! The entire show is available now on-demand, and it’s FREE! What are you waiting for?

Retention Starts With Onboarding

Many purchase decisions come with months of angst, review of competitive options, and discussion among peers, family and friends, or in the case of a business purchase, stakeholders and management. Some are impulse buys, given no more thought than a click of a button. But when you finally do pull the trigger, what does that brand do to try and retain you as a customer other than immediately start to upsell you to another product or service?

Customer retentionMany purchase decisions come with months of angst, review of competitive options, and discussion among peers, family and friends, or in the case of a business purchase, stakeholders and management. Some are impulse buys, given no more thought than a click of a button. But when you finally do pull the trigger, what does that brand do to try and retain you as a customer other than immediately start to upsell you to another product or service?

In a blog posted nearly a year ago, I wrote about my personal experience making a college “purchase” decision for each of my twin boys. It’s certainly a brand decision that is worth, in some instances, over $100,000 to the institution selected, so you’d think (no, expect) them to understand and optimize the relationship from day one. For one college, they did exactly that … but for the other, not so much.

For many marketers, the focus is entirely on the front-end of the sales process. And while those efforts are critically important to fill the pipeline, it’s equally important to make sure your new customer is aware of all the resources available post-purchase including training videos, user groups, access to tools and add-ons, and other ways to optimize their brand experience.

Too often, the first contact post-purchase is an email that tries to sell you more goods/services, and that can be a complete turn-off.

In a pilot campaign for AAA of Northern California, Nevada and Utah, new AAA members were asked to complete a short online survey so follow-up emails would be more relevant to their lifestage. Those with teenagers, for example, were probably most concerned with new driver safety, while empty nesters wanted to know how to use their AAA card to access better travel deals. The result was a huge lift in open and click through rates — and, by continuously communicating the value of membership, an increase in retention rates.

After B-to-B targets sign up for a free demo at LifeSize, they are sent a series of emails that help them get set up, add users, set up a video chat, set up a group chat, etc. Experiencing the product with all the bells and whistles helps ensure a maximum product experience, increasing conversion rates. But they don’t stop there — post-purchase emails continue to give tips and tricks on how to use the product to its fullest.

Now let’s go back to my college experience. One of my twins decided to change colleges this fall, after completing his freshman year. After he was accepted at his new school and had accepted the offer for a dorm room, he received several “retention” emails: an introduction from the student who “heads” the dorms, inviting him to drop by for coffee; an introduction from an upperclassman that will be acting as his mentor (“Ask me anything about campus life!”); an invitation to sign up for an orientation session that involves rafting down a local river; an announcement that the campus food service just won a Silver Award … for the Best Food on a College Campus! Do you think he’s looking forward to attending this school for a few years? Sign us all up!

But the best message of all came from the Admissions Office. Without us even asking, they went ahead and researched his freshman year course work at his previous college and advised him that they had transferred/accepted specific course credits, so he has all of his electives now completed for two years. That’s what I call customer service.

In my experience, only a handful of brands do anything post-sale other than promote sale items or send a little chest-beating message. In many industries, newsletters are considered passé, and considering how much content we know consumers want, I’m surprised more brands don’t understand how to leverage it to keep customers engaged until the next membership renewal and/or selling opportunity.

I’d love to hear some other best practices so we can all learn from these marketing leaders.

Drive Your Buyer’s Lifecycle, Increase Revenue and Retention

The process of acquiring and sifting traffic into engaged, and ultimately buying, prospects is critical to your customer acquisition efforts. Managing your audience is often referred to as the early stage of the “Customer Journey.” In this post, we’ll focus on the core and most pivotal part of your relationship

The process of acquiring and sifting traffic into engaged, and ultimately buying, prospects is critical to your customer acquisition efforts. Managing your audience is often referred to as the early stage of the “Customer Journey.” In this post, we’ll focus on the core and most pivotal part of your relationship with the consumer — purchasing from your brand.

Based on some years of experimentation and measurement, we can share a simplified and highly actionable approach that can make a difference in how you value and grow value among customers. This is the buyer lifecycle.

Mike Ferranti chartProspects: Before They Are Customers
Prospects, of course, come from many places: word of mouth and direct visits to your website and to your retail stores. Advertising and search drives them to on- and off-line points of sale. Prospects can be those who simply signed up on that ever-larger email signup popup on your homepage, or those who put items in a cart and “almost” purchased, but abandoned.

But prospects can also be those who we leverage statistical intelligence to hand-pick. Not just look-alikes but the “buy-alike” prospects with the highest potential value. See my prior column called “The Most Important CRM Metric You Might Be Missing.”

All of these prospects have the same thing in common, they have not purchased, and a level of investment and communications will be required to drive them to the next step. This cannot be overlooked without consequence. Prospects, regardless of the level of engagement or targeting, have a massive, and in some cases, a predictable difference from the buyers you seek to drive incremental sales from — they lack the most powerful signal of all behaviors — actually spending with your brand. Commonsensical enough, perhaps — but the prospect ‘batch and blast’ marketing that pervades retail emailers typically makes the challenge harder. Customer Intelligence is required to target, learn and test your way into viable prospect conversion strategies. We reiterate this point as it is often assumed that prospects, when contacted, will just buy — and they don’t. The bar is higher (see “Bigger is Better: How to Scale Up Customer Acquisition Smarter” for how to target the right customers, and the sophistication your competitors may be leveraging already).

To be sure, an analysis of your prospect base, which in a great many organizations is actually called the “email file” — another issue, in itself ― will help you determine who is likely to buy and who is not. This can be achieved by considering engagement measures, like opening and clicking your emails, visiting the website and micro-conversions. While these behaviors are correlated with the move from prospect to buying, it is not uncommon for the “average” prospect files to contain too many records of individuals who will never buy — they are lookers, not buyers. They may lack the means, intent or occasion to buy — or they may have experienced some change in their lifestage that moved them out of the market for your product. The opportunity is in identifying the highest value prospects and investing more thoughtfully in converting them.

Direct Mail Can Fill Your Marketing Bathtub

Direct mail is very effective for prospecting thru follow-up. Many times marketers get caught up in the rush to use digital channels to the exclusion of direct mail. They forget how strong, good direct mail can be.

Most people are familiar with the bathtub theory of marketing, but let me just give a short overview before we start. Your business is the bathtub, it has cracks and leaks (customers leave, or go out of business). Your acquisition programs are the faucets that help to fill the tub with water (new customers). Some customers stay and make more purchases, some don’t need you very often, and then some leak out and move on. When people liked other tubs (your competitors) better, they leaked out and moved on. The trick to keep the bathtub filled is to keep the faucets going and plug as many leaks as possible.

This process focuses not only on acquiring new customers, but on keeping the ones you already have too. That is the real key to maintaining and growing. Direct mail is perfect for this. Direct mail is very effective for prospecting thru follow-up. Many times marketers get caught up in the rush to use digital channels to the exclusion of direct mail. They forget how strong, good direct mail can be. You need a constant flow of marketing to keep filling your tub. Whether you are a B-to-B company or a B-to-C one you need to continue to market effectively.

Now you can’t fill your tub with just anyone. You need to find the right people who need your business. The right people are the ones who need what you offer, can afford what you offer and have a history of using businesses such as yours. Direct mail can be a very powerful marketing tool for finding these people. When executed correctly you can see a great return on your investment. Creating targeted mailing lists is easy compared with other channels. A highly targeted list fills up your tub quickly. Once you have them in your tub, direct mail will help you with client retention too. This keeps the leaks in check.

These days in marketing, it’s all about the list. We gather more and more information on our customers and prospects so that we can better target our message. That is one of the great advantages of direct mail. There are many choices in mailing lists and with so much information out there about people, filtering the lists into segments for messaging is easy. You can even do this when you don’t know much about your customers. You can run a profiling tool on your data which can append psychographics as well as demographics. This will help you to find more people like your customers.

So, now that you have your tub, you have your faucets on full flow and your leaks are stopped up as much as possible, your direct mail marketing will keep this pattern for you. You cannot stop the process of acquiring new customers and keeping the existing ones. Your direct mail will be the valve that your faucet needs to keep the water flowing.

Using Video Production as Part of Your Customer Retention Strategy

Video is a tool designed to communicate with your customers. If you follow the statistic “80 percent of your future revenue will come from 20 percent of your current customers,” you know that the greatest part is to keep your customers happy so they keep coming back. The best way to preserve your clients is to keep them engaged.  You can keep your clients engaged by offering new videos about your product or service

How strong is your relationship with your customers? Do you have a customer retention strategy in place for your business? What are you doing to maintain your customers loyalty?

These questions are extremely important, and it’s up to you to come up with ways to maintain a healthy system designed to keep your customers and help them grow with you not against you. These hints will give you some fresh ideas that you might not have considered to plan on growing your client retention.

Video is a tool designed to communicate with your customers. If you follow the statistic “80 percent of your future revenue will come from 20 percent of your current customers,” you know that the greatest part is to keep your customers happy so they keep coming back. The best way to preserve your clients is to keep them engaged. You can keep your clients engaged by offering new videos about your product or service. Be careful not to over due it with the social media. People will get angry if you spam them out on Facebook and the like. Thinking of new ways to communicate to your clients is a big responsibility, but with a few solid ideas, you can give your customers a dose of encouragement and keep them wanting to know more about what you can provide for them.

Video can be a great answer as it’s good for promotions, technical issues, special discounts, customer appreciation, etc., etc., etc. Keeping the client engaged is one thing, but the end goal should be to keep your clients devoted to you and your brand. Video allows you to communicate with the message you want them to receive while sending that message to more of your clients. Although this can never take the place of the human element in communication, it can be a terrific alternative for when you need to send the message to the masses.

Here are some ideas that will help gain trust with your clients, keep them remembering your products, and accepting your messages.

  1. Product review
  2. Customer support, repair, assembly
  3. Customer conferences
  4. Customer testimonials
  5. Employee testimonials
  6. New product launch
  7. Webinars
  8. Video newsletters and blogging

Video featuring your product or someone talking about a focused area of your service can be extremely effective, not only by gaining a lot of attention on YouTube, but also developing trust by demonstrating your product online. Remember to have a lot of cutaways and b-roll (the images that support the dialogue).

Customer support, repair and videos of assembling a product can not only be useful to post online, they can save you money by not hiring staff to answer specific and common questions. There is customer service 24/7. More companies are using Vine for this type of video communication. Vine is great because you can create video with your cell phone. However, remember that these can only be short videos. Companies like The Gap have found this to be a unique tool to their culture.

Customer conferences are great and you can get some exposure through press releases announcing the conference. Depending on the success of the conference, often times you can gain some additional sales through word of mouth. Word of mouth is the best advertising possible.

Testimonials are always terrific for people looking to do business with new companies. Testimonials can be effective by selecting real clients, with real stories that they can relate to. Also, give your interviewee enough time to prepare what they would like to say. Remember not everyone is comfortable around the camera. Even a cell phone can be intimidating when you aren’t sure what to say.

Any time you have a new product a video, it should be on your marketing strategy. People love to read about new products, but they love it even more when they can find out pertinent information about that product for 30 seconds. Disney Collector BR on YouTube discovered a way to make a living from product reviews. She has over 800,000 subscribers who want to know what the toy features before buying it.

When it comes to B-to-B marketing, one of the best ways to make an impact on your clients is by hosting a webinar. Incorporate video subscription to those that want to attend but cant, so that they don’t miss your important message. Webinars are great because they are informative as well as valuable.

Last but not least is the use of video blogs. When your clients are interested in what you have to offer a newsletter or blog keeping them updated helps to build a relationship with them. I know many executives that utilize this method of communicating to their teams overseas and abroad.

There are thousands of terrific ideas for using video as part of your customer retention strategy. Video can always be measured by viewership and analytics. In any case if your goal is to get your clients to be loyal to your brand then using video as part of that net will be sure to help you succeed.

Email Marketing: 5 Steps to Better Results

The biggest challenge with email marketing is that it is so easy to be successful marketers don’t reach for the next level. After all, when something isn’t broken, why invest time and energy in making it better? Most marketers don’t make the effort to optimize their strategy because “good enough” serves them well enough. For those who want more, optimizing emails delivers more than additional sales—it turns casual shoppers into long-term loyal customers by creating a better shopping experience.

This post is excerpted from the e-book “31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing.”

The biggest challenge with email marketing is that it is so easy to be successful marketers don’t reach for the next level. After all, when something isn’t broken, why invest time and energy in making it better? Most marketers don’t make the effort to optimize their strategy because “good enough” serves them well enough. For those who want more, optimizing emails delivers more than additional sales—it turns casual shoppers into long-term loyal customers by creating a better shopping experience.

There are four reasons to send emails to customers and prospects: Acquisition, retention, sales and service. Most companies are very good at generating sales with emails, but fail miserably at the other three objectives. People miss opportunities to acquire new customers, improve relationships and increase satisfaction because email marketing is so good at generating revenue. Simple changes to your email marketing strategy make a big difference in results.

The first step is to complete a mini review of your email marketing program to see how effective it is at acquisition, retention, sales and service. Make a list of the emails sent over the last year and place them into the appropriate category.

What percentage of the emails were designed to acquire new customers? This includes all emails sent to prospects and those that specifically ask customers to share the information with a friend. (Placing a “Tell a Friend” button in the email doesn’t count.) How effective were the acquisition emails at generating new prospects and customers? What changes made them better? How much did it cost to acquire new people?

How many of the emails were specifically designed to keep customers coming back? This question is often met with the response, “our promotional emails keep customers coming back.” If your company is Walmart or you can effectively compete with low price leaders, this response is right. If your company is like most, you don’t have the margins to guarantee the lowest prices and need to create loyalty-based customer relationships.

Do your sales emails consistently generate revenue, or are you seeing peaks and valleys? Email promotional programs are very predictable once you have enough historical data. Peaks and valleys that are not seasonal suggest that there may be underlying issues affecting your revenue. Subscriber fatigue is one such issue. It happens when people receive the same type of emails over an extended period of time.

The first sign of subscriber fatigue is a decline in open rates. If there is nothing new, then why open the email? The second sign is a higher click-through rate on opened emails. When people are ready to make a purchase, they look for a discount. The combination of lower open rates and higher click-throughs indicate that your emails may have become a coupon mecca.

Are your service emails a statement of facts or a conversation with your customers? Order and shipping confirmation emails can be much more than “here’s your information, thank you for your order” notices. They can be entertaining and sharable.

A good email marketing strategy increases sales. A great email marketing strategy increases sales, introduces the company to new people, and keeps customers’ happily coming back for more. The only way to move from good to great is to optimize every email sent to customers and prospects. Tips for making the move include:

  • Partner with non-competitive companies and organizations to connect with new prospects. Selective partnerships help grow your company’s prospect list exponentially. Allies from corporate and non-profit worlds can introduce your business to new people that are highly targeted. In turn, your participation provides reciprocal information or financial support.
  • Customize emails to buying behavior. There are three very good reasons to invest time and effort into modeling emails around buying behavior. They are response, revenue and retention. Carefully crafting individually customized emails improves results. You don’t have to have the analytics chops of a large company to do this well. Even small changes can make a difference.
  • Analyze email customers differently. People who choose to receive your emails are different from other customers. They order more often and spend more money when they buy, but this doesn’t automatically translate into more profitability. If subscribers are primarily buying at discounted prices, they generate higher revenue and lower profits.
  • Use reminders to help customers. Your customers are busy people. They don’t always remember that cars need servicing or they are about to run out of consumable goods. People tend to take the path of least resistance. When your company makes it easy for them to take care of maintenance and replacement issues, they seldom look elsewhere. Pricing is less of an issue because purchasing from your company becomes a habit they don’t want to break.
  • Send people to the right place. The Internet is a wonderland filled with rabbit holes that take people away from your marketing messages. Your customers and prospects will become distracted and venture off to other activities if they do not have a clear path to follow. The emails they receive from your company are the starting point of a map to the final objective. Anything that isn’t easily recognized as the next step or requires the traveler to stop and think is a diversion that needs to be eliminated.

For more, check out the full e-book “31 Ways to Supercharge Your Email Marketing.” The e-book shows how to make simple changes that improve email marketing results with examples of what works and doesn’t.

Email Marketing Redefined: The 3 Keys to Customer Retention

Memorable experiences make people more likely to return when they need your products or services again. Memories are made by both good and bad experiences. You expect customers to place another order after a good experience. Yet, surprisingly, they are more likely to return after a bad experience when the issues are resolved than after an uneventful good experience. Solving the problems that contribute to a bad experience creates trust, and the more people trust your company, the more they buy

The best customer retention strategies begin with the first order and continue until the lifespan is complete. Everything that happens from the first visit to completion of the final order is part of the experience of shopping with your company. Memorable experiences make people more likely to return when they need your products or services again. Memories are made by both good and bad experiences.

You expect customers to return to place another order after a good experience. Yet, surprisingly, customers are more likely to return after a bad experience when the issues are resolved than after an uneventful good experience. Solving the problems that contribute to a bad experience creates trust, and the more customers trust your company, the more they buy.

Consistently keeping promises also builds trust. When an order is placed, fulfillment is expected. Simply fulfilling orders will not retain customers because every legitimate business fulfills orders. You have to do more to differentiate your company from the competition. Relationships retain customers. Email allows companies in high-volume business to communicate with people on a one-to-one basis. This establishes relationships. Yes, it is at a superficial level, but it serves the purpose of personalizing the customer experience and significantly improves retention rates.

Most people aren’t fooled into thinking that “[insert name here]” emails are personal. They know that is a form letter, but that doesn’t matter as long as the information included is relevant. People placing orders are not looking for best friends, they are looking to solve a problem with minimal effort. The problem may be not having the perfect outfit for the next party, the best coffee maker, a service that would make their jobs easier, or a variety of other challenges. Whatever the problem, if your company provides the solution, keeps the customer informed, and makes everything as easy as possible, people will keep coming back for more.

There are three key components to an effective customer retention strategy:

  1. Knowledge of the Customer Lifecycle—Knowing how people normally act provides insight into drop-off points and inspires ideas for keeping them from leaving. When you know how each segment of your customer base typically performs, you can recognize when someone prematurely drops out of the buying cycle.
  2. Execution of a Detailed Communication Plan—Good communication is the key to all successful relationships. Sharing information about order processing, special sales, use of products and available services contributes to customer retention because it simplifies the buying and consumption process.
  3. An Automated Reactivation Process—Reactivation must start as soon as a customer reaches the first drop-off point. When you know your customer types well enough to know when they have passed the next order point without making a purchase, you can catch them before they are completely gone. Email automation simplifies the reactivation process. Create a strategy designed to connect with customers before they migrate to a competitor.

Plan your reactivation strategy to start while people are still in the active buying cycle. Every email sent from your business to your customers should have a retention element in it, such as these:

  • Make people feel valued and appreciated
  • Solve problems before people ask for help
  • Provide value above and beyond offering low prices
  • Keep people informed throughout the buying process
  • Provide information on the use of products and services
  • Create a bond between company and customer