Having a loyal customer base is no easy matter. A lot of people don’t know how to even begin building customer loyalty and simply focus on launching new products or finding new customers. And, while properly launching products and finding new customers is important, there are some key reasons why having a loyal customer base is essential for any serious company. So, we’ve come up with a professional guide that should give you all the necessary knowledge for building and maintaining customer loyalty.
Building and maintaining customer loyalty
As it is with any serious project, you need to have a plan in order to deal with building customer loyalty. One of the biggest setbacks for people is that they design their marketing strategy around finding new customers and then try to shoehorn into maintaining customer loyalty. This is a mistake and quite a costly one. In order to properly build customer loyalty, you need to keep it in mind from the moment you establish your company. Now, we don’t mean that you need to have everything planned out straight off the bat. But, you need to keep this important aspect in mind if you are going to have any success in developing it.
Difference between getting customers and maintaining them
The main difference between getting customers and maintaining them is the approach. Most marketing strategies that you can read online are all about getting new clients since that is what most companies struggle with. And, when it comes to getting customers, you need to convince them why out of all of your competitors they should choose you. Keeping your customers, on the other hand, is all about the benefits that they have from sticking with you. They’ve already tried your product, so why shouldn’t they try something else? What should you do so that they do not even feel the need to find a different company? Well, as a product manager, these are the questions you will need to answer.
Steps you need to take
So, how do you go about dealing with this complicated issue? Well, there are several steps you need to take. Luckily, you need not take these steps all at once, as some of them come once you’ve established your brand and your product. But, it is vital that you do take these steps at the right time. Timing plays a key role in building customer loyalty. Much more so than in finding new customers.
Communication is vital
It is no secret the communication is essential for any successful marketing strategy. Once you establish your product, you only have a guess of what the public wants. With any luck, it is a good guess, but a guess none the less. So, in order to get the true facts about your customers’ wants and needs, you will have to communicate. And, you should start doing this the moment you start offering your product. Only then will you be able to establish your product and make it something that the customers continually want.
Now, there are a lot of ways in which you can communicate with your customers. You can try directly contacting them, but this is seldom fruitful. You want to have a place where your customers will leave their feedback and opinions. Ideally, you should have a forum where they can post their opinions and rate them. Now, some of them might seem cruel. But this is something you will have to withstand. A lot of companies failed simply because they couldn’t take criticism. And a lot of companies succeed because they found key information in contact with their customers. Therefore, it is up to you to choose which kind of a company you are going to run.
Customer loyalty programs
The second thing you will have to think about is the customer loyalty programs. Those are, in a nutshell, ways in which you will reward your customers for being loyal. You need not rush with them, as they will require people to know about you. But, as soon as you get a worthwhile stream of customers, you should look into one of the programs. The most obvious examples are:
- Free frequent flyer miles with airline companies.
- Premium memberships in different organizations.
- Video games, for instance, are constantly developing new rewards to keep their customers loyal, which makes them a great inspiration for loyalty programs.
- Coffee stores give you cards for that 6th free coffee.
- Chain markets sell membership cards with which you can get discounts.
- Partnering with another company can be a great way to combine products and keep your customers happy.
So, there are a bunch of ways in which you can reward your customers for loyalty. All you need to find is a customer loyalty program that works for you and your product. And, you should feel free to experiment with different programs. Remember, there is only a slim chance you will pick the right customer loyalty program on the first go.
Now, having an easy way to communicate with your clients and having a customer loyalty program are both important. But, their importance diminishes if no one knows that they exist. Remember, just because people know that your company exists, doesn’t mean that they know all about what you have to offer. This is where social media kicks in. Building customer loyalty without using social media is almost impossible in today’s world. Now, there are some key things you need to know about using social media as a company.
First, you need to think of your profile as if it were a person. Studies have shown that people have a much better reaction on social media posts if they feel that there is a person behind it and not a company. So, you need to pay close attention to the way you address people on social media and the way in which you comprise posts. The less you sound like a faceless company, the better. This is especially important to remember when promoting your customer loyalty programs.
Secondly, you need to remind people that you are open to criticism. The easier you make it for people to get their voices heard, the easier it will be for you to figure out what they really want. And, if you do change something due to customer input, make sure you mention it. Do yourself a favor and use the full potential of social media in order to properly build customer loyalty.
SEO and advertising are important parts of any marketing strategy. Some people would even consider them as the most important aspects, especially if you consider the importance of online presence and Google search priority. But, even if we put that aside, there are aspects of SEO that are important for a product manager who wants to build customer loyalty. Namely, every promotion that you make (regarding customer loyalty or otherwise) should be accompanied with proper SEO coverage.
For instance, if you plan on promoting a special deal for your customers during Christmas (we will assume that your product can be associated with Christmas) you should pay close attention to the keywords that you use during that period. Ideally, you want your whole website working in sync so that you get the most attention in the most efficient way.
Addressing your product
So, those were the steps you will need to take in order to set up a solid platform on which you will build your customer loyalty. Alongside that, you will need to pay attention to your product. Now, some of you might think why? If your product started selling well, why should you pay any mind to it? Well, this simply something that all the top companies do. Just because your product started selling well, doesn’t mean that it is going to continue to do so in the long run. And, when talking about building customer loyalty, the long run is all that matters.
Learn to adapt
The chances that you will capture lightning in a bottle and come out of the gates with a product that everyone wants are slim. Mind you, if you are good at what you do and creative, you will come up with a good product. But, in order to make it suitable for your market, you will need to adapt it. This is why you need to continually communicate with your customers. They will be more than happy to tell you about any grievance that they might have.
Now, some of them will be personal preferences that you can ignore. But, if a large part of your customers is asking you to add or change something, you should probably listen. Ideally, you should make every plan for change public so that your loyal clients will have the feeling that they are a part of your company. Which, if you are serious about building customer loyalty, they should be.
Explore and learn
Sometimes simply altering your product as your customers ask you to will not be enough. Sometimes the customers will want something, but will not know how to communicate what that is. This is why you need to explore constantly, both your products and your customers. Also, try to learn from your competition. More often then not, you can simply alter their strategy a bit and get a lot of customers.
Also, if your product has a tendency to be used with another product (say chips and beer, or coke and jack) you should look into making a partnership with another company (co-branding). Moving companies, for instance, offer their services through verifiedmovers.com, so that people will know they are reliable right away. Remember, there is always a new way to let people know what you are offering. And, your main goal is to find what your customers want and then provide it to them in the easiest and the most efficient way possible.
Tracking your progress
So far, we have had different ways to adapt your product, different strategies to promote it and different ways to combine the two. Then how are you supposed to keep track of what marketing strategy works? Good question. Any serious person will require some numbers which will reliably reflect the impact of their strategy. You can base this solely on the income your company is producing. But, those numbers usually come in too late. Luckily, there are different figures which you can monitor in order to keep track of your progress in building customer loyalty.
- Repeat Purchase Rate – Repeat purchase rate is great for differentiating between new customers and returning customers. These figures can be of tremendous help when starting up your marketing plan.
- Customer effort score – Customer effort score is best monitored by giving your customers an easy way to rate your product. Ideally, you should combine it with reviews and rankings.
- Negative churn rate – Knowing how many people stopped using your product is just as important as knowing how many people continue to use it. If it happens that a number of people have dropped off, yet your income remains the same, great! That means that you hit upon a niche group of customers that should remain loyal.
- Customer lifetime value– Customer lifetime value is the overall amount a customer spends on your products. This value will require some time to reliably measure, as customers will need to grow accustomed to your product. But, it should give you a clear graph that will show how effective your customer loyalty strategy is in time.
The benefits of building customer loyalty
Well, after everything we’ve mentioned, some of you might still wonder “Why should I bother?” Why should you go through all this trouble in order to build customer loyalty? After all, if you offer a good product at a reasonable price, the customers should remain loyal on their own, right? Well, not quite. A good customer loyalty plan will give your company a chance to thrive for many years. It will give you room to make mistakes and come back from them. If something like having to move your company happens, you can save time on worrying about your customers leaving you. They will be full of understanding and you will be changing your office address in no time. But, all of this is only possible if you have a loyal customer base.
By certain estimates, having a loyal customer is 7 times more affordable than finding a new one. This is if you factor in all the costs and insecurities connected to marketing and a fickle customers bases. A well designed long term marketing strategy will pay itself in dividend as loyal customers will soon start recommending your product by word of mouth. Plus, by studying your loyal customers, you will have to spend far less money on short-lived marketing schemes.
Companies that listen to their customers and try to alter their services and products in order to help them are few and far in between. Therefore, by giving sufficient thought and time to building customer loyalty, you will also get a great reputation for your company. Before you know it, your customers will truly be loyal to you and start giving praise when praise is due. And if you combine your good reputation with some altruistic deeds like donating or helping the poor, you are bound to get some people on your side that will stay with you for a lifetime. So, don’t neglect the importance of growing your reputation. A lot of people solely focus on money and end up losing in the long run.
A sure way to boost growth
The final and the most useful point about building customer loyalty is that it is a certain way to boost company growth. Now, this might sound like a minor point, but it is actually quite important. Let us say it again. It is a SURE way to boost company growth. This means that any company that seriously tackles customer loyalty is bound to grow. No other aspect of either marketing, sales or production can give you assurances of growth. They can give you a boost from time to time, and can even sustain growth for quite a while. But, the only known way to keep your company safely growing is to work with your customers and to thank them for doing business with you. And, as it turns out, that is what building customer loyalty is all about.