There are two major schools of thought on customers. On the one hand, there is customer retention, those who believe that it is more important to keep your existing customers than to find new ones. The second is customer acquisition. For the proponents of the latter, the more customers you have the better. As a result, getting new customers is imperative to an organization.
So, which one should be the focus of your company? The simple answer is to invest in acquisition and retention marketing evenly. Still, most companies, especially start-ups and small businesses don’t have an unlimited budget and cannot afford to spend large amounts of money on promotion.
A better answer then would be it depends. A large, well-established enterprise with a brand name and the reputation to match should focus more on customer retention. Oppositely, a smaller, relatively-unknown business needs to maximize its resources and manpower into getting new customers and building a stable clientele.
For online businesses, the situation is a bit different. First, the advertising tools are already there, right at our disposal. They are also cheaper than hiring the services of a traditional advertising firm or PR agency. Firms can set-up Facebook business pages, Instagram accounts, and Twitter feeds. As a result, it is much easier to “get out there” and establish an online presence.
The focus thus shifts to retention, building customer loyalty. Online, this is best accomplished through customer engagement, incremental innovation, and maximizing the power of information.
Building Customer Engagement
Engagement is about input and participation. Customers don’t want companies to sell them things. They want a two-way communication stream where their voices are heard and their needs are met. One way to do this is through personalized community apps. By using them, businesses can get direct, real-time feedback from their clients, create focus groups, display exclusive content, and create a safe environment for customers to interact with each other.
Other ideas include online live events, Q&A sessions with company employees and CEOs, and customer participation in the creation and development of new products and services.
Thomas Edison once said, “There is a better way to do it, find it.” Innovation is about making things easier, faster, more convenient. But it doesn’t have to be a life-changing, monumental change. Incremental innovation is making the battery in your smartphone last one hour longer. It is increasing the amount of cloud storage you offer from three gigabytes to four. Instead of a checkout process that takes 10 minutes and requires five steps, it is one that takes seven and requires four.
Small changes make a big difference in customer perception. They show a company cares and is always looking to make the customer experience better. For existing clients, incremental innovation indicates the company doesn’t take them for granted and is willing to improve.
The Power of Information
Most companies, whether big or small, include a blog or newsletter on their site. It’s not only about clicks, driving traffic, and SEO. Of course, these are very important factors to consider, especially for a starting business. A blog or newsletter serves other purposes too. It establishes you as an authority, keeps your company information updated and relevant, and creates a platform for your customers to comment and give feedback.
But not any blog will do. A proper blog is informative, not just promotional. Aside from your product, customers want to know about the industry as a whole. The blog also creates a call to action, prompting prospective clients to buy something, recommend something, or simply evaluate.
Studies show that it costs five times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Loyal customers are not only a source of stable income but also the best, most effective, and cheapest promotional strategy your organization can have. By building customer engagement, innovating, and providing timely access to relevant information, starting online businesses position themselves on the right path to success.