Imagine a world where your potential customers just can’t stop hearing about your products — your lawnmowers, for discussion's sake.
Their colleagues mention how much they love their new lawnmower. Their Facebook friends are posting about how easy it was to buy a lawnmower from you. Their Twitter feed shows people tweeting about how great your customer service was when their lawnmower broke down. When this potential customer needs a new lawnmower, choosing your company will be a no-brainer.
This fictitious lawnmower company is doing something that many businesses fail to do: They’re leveraging solid inbound marketing strategies to turn their customers into brand ambassadors, or promoters.
If you’re at all familiar with the philosophy of inbound marketing, then you’ve seen the inbound marketing funnel: a handy infographic that describes the modern customer’s buying journey. Inbound marketing devotees know that you have to create content that’s valuable to your potential customers and strategically place it in the online channels your potential customers frequent. This content-driven approach takes a person along a journey of building trust with your company, from being a stranger to a visitor to a lead.
The problem for many companies is that when they close a sale and turn that lead into a customer, they think their work is done. Companies often ignore the final stage of the inbound marketing funnel, figuring that once they have a new customer, the inbound marketing journey is over. After all, new customers means it’s time to celebrate!
"We did it!" ...Right?
Not so fast.
While it’s wonderful that you’re growing your business and creating new customers, there’s still work to be done. Take a look at that infographic again: the final “Delight” stage of the funnel turns your customers into loyal promoters who will sing your company’s praises to the skies.
No amount of online advertising or content marketing can match the power of your customers voluntarily telling all their friends and social networks how much they love you and your products. It means that all those strangers who haven’t heard of you yet are now beginning their own trust journey, and will be more likely to buy from you in the future.
Here are four easy ways you can turn your customers into loyal promoters who will sing your company’s praises to the skies.
1. Connect with your customers on their preferred online channels.
You want your customers to be loyal, repeat buyers. That means continuing to reach out to them with interesting, relevant information on your products and services. That can be anything from new product announcements to special sales and discounts.
The opportunities to connect with your customers today are endless, so this step can be pretty overwhelming (which is another reason companies tend to shirk the Delight stage of the funnel). Truly delighting your customers after a sale means you need to reach out to them on multiple platforms: through email, through an outstanding, easy-to-use website, and through an endless variety of social media services.
Fortunately, there’s an easy way to cut through the clutter: Just take the time to be strategic with where your company “lives” online. Do you have products with high-impact visuals that appeal to young mothers? Then you need to be sharing those great images on Pinterest.
Focus your energy on the platforms where your audience is.
Do your services appeal to the tech-savvy crowd? Then you should probably be sharing news and information on Twitter. Do you have a pain point of customers being unsure how to install your product? Invest in a few simple YouTube videos showing how quick and easy it is to do.
While it’s tempting to think that you need to reach out to your customers on every conceivable online channel, the truth is that you only need to be on a particular online platform if you have a solid strategic reason for being there. That means, among other things, that you don’t need to waste time on Tumblr if your target audience isn’t on there in the first place.
Making connections with your customers online isn’t rocket science: Do the demographics research to find out what social media channels your customers use and how they use them, and connect with them where they already are.
2. Give them more opportunities to buy with specifically tailored deals and offers.
When everything has gone smoothly in that first sale, your new customer should be feeling pretty good about your company. Now it’s time to capitalize on that goodwill by giving your new customer more opportunities to buy from you.
Depending on the size of your customer base, this can scale up to be as complex and data-driven as you could possibly want. Starbucks, for example, is brilliant at giving their customers more opportunities to buy through the Starbucks smartphone app.
While it was undoubtedly a significant up-front investment of Starbucks’ time and resources, their customers can now use the mobile app to pay for their order, to place an order ahead of time (so that it will be ready and waiting for them when they show up at their favorite Starbucks location), and to earn free drinks. This provides repeat customers with a valuable time-saving service and makes them even more likely to make Starbucks their regular morning caffeine stop.
The Starbucks app.
Even more, Starbucks pulls data from the app to track what their customers are buying and when they buy it, and uses that data to provide specifically tailored deals and discounts based on each individual customer’s buying patterns.
A customer who always buys a coffee every morning might get a coupon on breakfast sandwiches to encourage them to try Starbucks’ food options. A customer who likes to splurge on the occasional Frappuccino might get a discount when a new seasonal Frappuccino flavor comes along.
Again, this doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as you might think. You don’t have to be as comprehensive and data-driven as Starbucks is to be effective in reaching out to your current customers with the right promotions. It can be as simple as a thank-you email, sent out automatically to all new customers, offering them 10% off their next order.
The customer will know you appreciate their business and now has a great direct and immediate reason to buy from you in the future.
3. Listen to them and show that you care about what they have to say.
In addition to speaking, you also want to take the time to listen. When your customers mention you or contact you on Facebook or Twitter, have someone who’s being paid to respond, whether it’s with an offer to help them with customer service or just to say you’re glad they’re enjoying your product.
The reason for this is very simple: People like to feel special. Simply showing that you’ve heard what they have to say makes your customers feel great and helps to foster the trust relationship you’ve been building.
Nothing makes people feel special, and thus feel good about your company, more than letting them know they have been heard.
4. Make it easy for them to share how much they love you.
Customers who really love you, and are excited about your products, want to be able to share that with their friends. So as long as you’re not pushy, they won’t mind that you’d like their help in spreading the word about how awesome you are.
When you email them a coupon, you also include one for their friends, so they can forward the discount on to everyone else they know that could use your services. Or if you have a big Twitter campaign you can just ask for a retweet. When they’re browsing your website, have those social media connect buttons loud and clear so they can quickly connect with, friend, or follow you.
Sharing should be as easy as clicking (or tapping) a button!
The bottom line is that when you consistently treat your customers like people rather than numbers — when you make yourself available to listen and respond to your customers in the places they already spend time online — your customers will quickly get the message that you are sincere. Then they’ll be loyal promoters, sharing how much they love you with all their friends, and you’ll start the buying cycle all over with a fresh group of potential customers.