Tag Archive for customer retention

Tools to Stand Out

BNET shared some stories about marketing tactics that independent bookstores are using to remain successful.

  1. Expand your reach to a national market.
  2. Go green.
  3. Create a store within a store.
  4. Open your doors to the community.
  5. Cultivate the next generation of customers.
  6. Get social.

One or more of these ideas could work for your business. We would love to help you implement them and put together a story to tell your customers about it. Maybe it is just the reason you have needed to mail a postcard out to your favorite customers?

Generate Sales Fast

If you’re looking for a reliable way to bring in revenue, the best place to start is by contacting your best customers.

Start by Segmenting Your Customer List

Your best customers are the most likely to purchase. Try dividing by sales or average order size. Analyzing your customers will identify strategic breaking points between groups. When you sort your customers’ sales activity, from highest to lowest and cumulate sales and calculate percentage of total sales, you may be surprised. The top customers will reliably respond to your offers.

Let Customers Know You Miss Them

We Miss You

“We Miss You” offers

Just because someone cancelled last year, or you have not heard from them in a while, doesn’t mean the sale is gone forever. Mail a “We want you back” offer. It will produce more sales than cold prospecting letters.

Get more from Customer Data

DMNews recently talked with experts about the best ways to combine and leverage customer data.

Elissa Tomasetti, VP of marketing, Financial Times, suggested that creating a single view of your customer will allow for better targeting.

Sal Pecoraro, VP of database marketing solutions, Infogroup, advised looking for trends in behavior to refine follow-up with customers.

Dino Michetti, GM and VP of client services, Epsilon, reminded marketers that current technology and innovation allow for real-time marketing and better data automation.

A Strategy for Tough Times

BNET posted an article in its leadership section titled, “What to Do in a Double-Dip Recession? Grow!” This may sound counter intuitive but it isn’t. There is evidence and research everywhere to support the notion that if you invest in gaining market share when your competitors are just trying to hang on, you will be in much better position when things do turn around.

We published these tips about Marketing in Tough Times a few years ago, they still seem very relevant today.

Bombardment Can Hurt Consumer Loyalty Too

DMNews posted an article about how customer loyalty practices can build brands. American businesses that have the strongest bottom lines right now are those that enjoy the strongest brand loyalty. More and more organizations are searching ways to gain visibility for and engagement with their brands. Marketers have always known the value of brand building. Once consumers begin to trust a brand, their loyalty to it grows – and loyal customers have far higher long-term value than opportunistic customers.

Consumers have shown that they will defect from brands that bombard them with impersonal and irrelevant information. However, they are more likely to make a purchase after a personalized interaction with a brand.

First impressions can’t be taken back, so it’s important to interact with interested consumers effectively – not damage your brand for future customers.

Direct mail has been shown to be a great brand building tool. The piece can be touched and felt and it is not considered to be an intrusive interruption – it is desired communication.

Too Much Contact to Businesses Can Hurt

The Harvard Business Review featured some results from a McKinsey & Company study that found that the “most destructive” failures of business-to-business sales reps are too much contact with customers (35%). Customers want to be contacted, not bombarded. The upside of getting things right is significant: A primary supplier perceived as having a high-performing sales force can boost its share of a customer’s business by 8 to 15 percentage points.

Chart of Ways Customers Are Turned Off

The methods of “bombardment” are in person, by phone or via email. Postal mail is not listed. Use direct mail to stay in touch with business customers without making them feel inundated.

Creating More Value in the Mail

DMNews published a story about trends in marketing campaigns that stress customers’ ideas of “value”.

US consumer spending grew at the fastest rate in three years during the first quarter of 2010, according to figures from the Commerce Department. Overall spending grew 3.6%, with spending on durable goods increasing 11.3%. For nondurable goods, the increase was 3.9% and for services, 2.4%. These figures suggest the worst of the recession may be over, but it doesn’t paint a clear picture of what the consumer will do next.

The power of putting money back in consumers’ wallets explains the growing popularity of coupons. NCH Marketing Services reports that coupon distribution rose 11% in 2009, while redemption rates have increased consistently over the past six quarters. According to a recent Nielsen report, direct mail is the second-fastest growing redemption method for coupons, posting a 69% jump in 2009.

Price promotions aren’t the only way to a consumer’s heart. Sprint does a good job providing value and relevance to consumers in its communications, including direct mail. Over the past year, the company has shifted its focus away from acquisition toward more loyalty- and customer retention-oriented efforts. There is so much more information about your customer base, so it is a lot easier to get relevant and meaningful. In February 2009, Sprint introduced a complimentary loyalty program for wireless customers and is promoting it through direct mail and e-mail. A mailed welcome package details the benefits of the program.

Determining your customer base’s definition of “value” will drive the right direct mail strategy.

The economy has made things tough for everyone but, in the end, mailing successfully means being able to tap into what’s going on in consumers’ minds. As marketers, we are responsible for giving customers what they want, and at this particular time, that means value.

Empathy Improves Response

The Boston Globe reported that 62% of patients receiving intentionally fake treatment from friendly, empathetic doctors reported relief from their irritable bowel syndrome. This high number compared with 44% of a group that got the same fake treatment from impersonal, businesslike doctors.

Science is confirming that people respond much better to friendliness that demonstrates an understanding of their needs.

How can we help you translate this to your marketing? Do you want to append your customer list to get a better understanding of who they are? Can we help translate what you already know about your customers into new messages?

Customer Lifetime Value

BNET recently posted an article titled, “Treat Your Customers Like Lifetime Investments”. They told the story of most retailers having a dismal year, with larger companies laying off employees and closing stores, and a smaller operations shutting down altogether. At the same time, Zane’s Cycles, a Branford, CT bicycle retailer, increased revenue 20 percent. How? Years ago, Zane’s established a service-focused company culture that keeps customers coming to the store in good economic times and bad.  “When we changed from trying to force our customers to buy what we had to creating a relationship with them based on providing them with whatever they needed, then everything changed,” CEO Chris Zane says.

The 29-year-old store sets itself apart from competitors by offering free lifetime service and parts on everything it sells, as well as 90-day price protection. Zane has tracked sales and customer data over a number of years to discover the average customer’s “lifetime value” — the gross revenue he or she will bring in over time. “The lifetime value of a customer [for me] is $12,500,” says Zane. “That gives me $5,625 of profit. My customers are valuable, so I treat them that way.”

How can you turn your customers into lifetime fans? Here are Zane’s tips:

  1. Focus on customer relationships, not one-time transactions. Discounts and sales may lure in one-time buyers, but they won’t keep them coming back. On the other hand, Zane’s policy of giving away anything that costs under a dollar helps create raving fans.
  2. Give your employees permission to do whatever it takes to keep customers satisfied — even if the customer’s request might seem unreasonable. When a customer recently complained that a new bicycle from Zane’s had made a grease mark on the back seat of her car, an employee offered to treat her to free professional detailing. “It becomes a much easier existence for our staff. There’s no worrying if you’ve made the right decision, “  Zane says. “You just do what the customer wants.”
  3. Make every customer interaction fun, informative, and positive. That’s every interaction — even when it’s clear they’re not going to open their wallets that day. Zane’s customers are treated to free coffee and soft drinks and encouraged to linger in the store.
  4. Stand by your products with service and price guarantees. In a lousy economy, that may sound like a recipe for bankruptcy, but Zane says only small numbers of people actually take advantage of the guarantees. And the pay off is customer loyalty and trust.

Have you calculated the lifetime value of your customers? Can we help you create a strategy to make your customers feel appreciated?


DMNews ran a great article titled “When marketing, travel through the four dimensions of time” by Paul Mandeville. They say “timing is everything”, it may not be everything but it sure can play a big part in the success of marketing efforts.

Mr. Mandeville suggests that in a marketing campaign timing has four facets:

Timing  (Recency)– the nearness of a message to a customer event that triggers that message, for example, sending a coupon for related accessories within 3 days of purchase.

Frequency – the number of times you choose to send a similarly themed messages before you stop further attempts, for example customers should receive three messages from you within the first month of purchase and at least one message every three months for the first year or two after that trigger purchase.

Pacing – the amount of time between messages of a similar theme, for example sent the first message within 72 hours, and if no reply, send message #2 seven days after purchase, and if still no reply, send final message #3 ten days after purchase.

Sequencing – the act of coordinated, separate but related content.

The article stated that financial services and retail firms have been able to achieve a double digit lift in response, without increasing their discount offers, simply by using timing to their advantage. You can do the same. Direct mail is a great way to implement this strategy or include it as a part of your marketing that speaks directly to your customer when they want to hear from you.