Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Keeping in Touch with Your Customers -- Without Annoying Them
Of course, savvy business owners know there's a fine line between keeping in touch and being a bit... well... annoying, or even worse, stalky.
Put yourself in your customers' shoes: How many e-mails do you want to receive every day? How many phone calls do you want to take? Sure, persistence is important in cultivating your customer base, but overdoing it can prove counterproductive by annoying the very customers you're trying to reach. Here's how to find the right balance.
Make it Personal
Who doesn't like to receive a personalized card or handwritten note in the mail? There's a world of difference between sending out an impersonal flyer or form letter and a customized note printed on attractive cardstock. Which would you be more likely to open and read?
Send personalized updates on the "regular" occasions -- clients' birthdays, anniversaries, major holidays, and the like -- but also consider spicing it up a bit by sending a note or card when they don't expect it. After all, most businesses send appreciation cards and letters during the winter holidays, so that's just par for the course. Stand out by also picking a random date to surprise them.
And speaking of dates, choose a day with significance for your customer -- like their birthday or the anniversary of their first major purchase from your business -- and use that occasion to automatically enroll them in a loyalty program. All you have to do is send an email letting them know you've enrolled them into your "VIP" program, or whatever you choose to call it.
Why automatically? Because a key to successful loyalty programs lies in making it as effortless for your customers as possible, without requiring them to take any extra steps or actions.
The other key to successful loyalty programs lies in creating what's known as "artificial advancement" toward a goal or milestone. A 2006 study in the Journal of Consumer Research found that customers who received punch cards as part of a loyalty program were more likely to become repeat customers if they were given a head start toward reaching a goal. For instance, many coffee shops offer loyalty cards that give a customer a stamp for each coffee drink they buy, then reward them with a free drink once they've accrued 10 stamps.
Researchers found that customers were almost three times more likely to use their punch cards -- and spend money at a business -- if at least two stamps were already present on the card when they first received it. Apparently, customers like to feel that they're already well on their way to receiving awards!
Make Contacts Worth Their While
Whether it's in an e-mail, through a printed newsletter, or on a sales call, providing customers with information they can use adds value to your communications and eliminates the annoyance factor. Offering industry news, community updates, or other data that's relevant and useful to your customers goes a long way toward transforming the way they perceive your marketing efforts. A professionally written and well-designed direct mail piece sent a few times a year that's packed with info they can use is always welcome.
If you keep your communications relevant, concise, respectful, useful, and personalized, you'll never have to worry about being too persistent.