This post is by Raina Kumra, Co Founder, Mavin, Inc., San Francisco Bay Area
This is the era of growth hacks and startups, and businesses are going all guns blazing to focus on new customer acquisition.
While there is nothing wrong with working hard to grow your customer base, it is crucial to remember the value behind customer retention and loyalty. Entrepreneurs are constantly grappling with these issues, because existing customers are a goldmine for your business. Are you doing everything you should to keep them coming back? Are they thrown into a sea of impolite customer service? Are they getting the high-quality product or service you promised them?
Brand loyalty is one of the most difficult assets to attain. Apple has it. Tesla has it. And they all organically recruit more people into their camps. As creators of products, digital or physical, we must strive to continually improve it until it is the best it can be. People love to feel like they have the best thing, no matter what it is, and they’ll talk a lot more about it if they really feel it’s the best.
The other important step to building a loyal audience is to understand them. No matter what you sell, you must understand your customer if you want to maximize sales. Who are you selling to? Why should they buy your product? You must always try and see things from the consumer’s perspective – why would they look at this, buy this, read this? Make sure the reasons are good, and then test and re-test your hypothesis.
The next step is to paint a full color picture of the customer. List out all the different types of customers that suffer from the problems you solve. Once done, group them by location, ask yourself relevant questions about these people, define them in as many ways as possible. Get to know them through interviews, profile them and tell stories about them and with them. If you can establish that the cost of not solving the problems is more than the cost of dealing with them, your case becomes compelling.
To achieve all of this, go where your customers are, develop a connection, involve and engage with them. Successful brands who engage their customers understand that customers want to interact with their peers and learn something of value. Celebrate them. They are all of our reason for being.
With the rise of social media, it is easy to drown in the din of content. Even if you’re creating high-quality content that is worth sharing, it’s hard to attract attention based on content alone. This is where influencers come into the picture. Finding and partnering with talented influencers who create and share branded content —and come with their own audience – gives your brand more visibility.
Entrepreneurs need to keep learning and developing to improve their performance, and feedback, especially the negative kind, is a gift. Taking advice seriously and actively work on improving performance in that area, sharing your progress and showing that you heard their concerns, being truthful, maintaining a two-way communication, being timely and responsive – all these not only improve performance, but also help build stronger relations with customers. And most importantly, feedback strengthens your product better than anything else out there.
The easiest way to grow your customers is to not lose them. Once you become an agent of change in this area, your business will be rewarded with a wider audience and better relations. Give your best users, your most loyal users meaningful and useful rewards.
Stop spending money on traditional acquisition routes and then experiencing churn and eventually having to retarget these users. Do something different. Create a loyalty program that each of your users can benefit from.
Image Credit: MyAppleSpace