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How to connect with your customers and create enduring relationships
A business can’t survive without customers. They’re the driver for your success and as such, it’s essential that you make a strong connection with them to attract them to your business.
During customer acquisition, your efforts need to focus on creating meaningful relationships. By doing so, you can increase the chances of repeat custom through tactics that build loyalty. With retention more cost-effective than securing new customers, this can have favourable results on your bottom line and improve the lifetime value per customer.
You can also increase your chances of word-of-mouth marketing and recommendations from people who genuinely love your brand. In a world where consumers are affected by what others say (90% of consumers say a positive review has influenced them), keeping your customers happy and gaining their trust can help you attract more sales.
By keeping your existing customers happy and engaging new leads in the right way, you can grow a solid customer base. You will also improve sentiment towards your business by developing personal, two-way connections.
The inbound marketing methodology is solely focused on building such customer relationships and provides a framework that allows your business to set-up and maintain your customer communications and experiences successfully.
In this blog, we have listed seven significant ways you can build enduring relationships with your customers, in line with the inbound methodology, enabling your business to provide value and generate results.
Get to know your customer
The first step in every relationship is getting to know the other person, and it’s no different with your customers. By learning more about them, you can understand their demographics, lifestyle choices, buying preferences, what online channels they use, topics they are interested in, what their motivations are, how they search and the language they use. All good quality insight that will enable you to then tailor your communications with them for maximum effect.
During this stage, your approach and the sources of data you use for this insight is critical. You need to find out as much as possible about your customers using real-life data rather than just relying on your assumptions.
Once you have gained insight into your audience, you need to align your strategy to connect with them on their terms. This could include creating key messages and topical content that really resonate with their pain points and interests, and in a tone of voice that matches their values and language style, establishing commonality that will lead to engagement and a beautiful friendship.
Understand their journey
Your customers’ informational and motivational needs will change as they go through the journey towards making a purchasing decision with your business. What they want when they first ‘meet’ you may differ from what they want post-purchase.
Due to customers’ differing informational and motivational needs during their purchasing decision-making journey, it is important to understand what the different stages are of the journey, so that you can address their different needs appropriately at every step along the way.
By investing time into mapping out the customer journey, you can ensure that you deliver the right messages and content that suits all their requirements at the right time, and providing real value – all the while building trust and credibility – both of which are essential to creating long term customer relationships.
Exceed their expectations
A valuable relationship is one that makes our lives better in one way or another. Therefore, to build a long-lasting connection with your customers, you need to focus on what you can do to improve their lives. Doing so will ensure you are exceeding their expectations consistently.
Exceeding expectations should start with delivering high-quality products and services that pleases the purchaser and fulfils the intended purpose. It also means ensuring that your marketing offers helpful information that is factual, honest, authoritative and inspiring, guiding them towards a purchasing decision without disrupting their lives or irritating them.
Finally, it means offering first-class customer service both before and after a purchase. A third of consumers would consider switching brands after just one instance of bad service, so you need to ensure that every interaction is a positive one. This means being proactive, answering questions and signposting them to where they need to be, along with addressing any complaints or queries they may have – all within a timely and courteous manner.
Research has found that 91% of customers will leave a brand without even complaining – so it’s essential not to let it get to that point. Instead, always take a proactive, customer-centric approach and that way, you can meet or indeed exceed their expectation.
Whilst you understandably need new sales in order to survive, a sale should be a by-product of genuinely providing your purchaser with only the information they need in order to make their purchase. If you become too pushy or employ underhand tactics, you risk alienating them.
Instead of focusing on the sale, aim to build trust. Utilise your expertise through thought leadership and informative content that educates the customer towards a purchasing decision, rather than forcing them into it.
By using responsible tactics to attract a customer and delivering value in a supportive way, you can gain customers’ trust over time. This is much more likely to encourage their loyalty, as well as improve brand reputation and likeability. As a result, you can secure repeat custom and earn a lifelong customer, rather than just a quick sale.
Another essential factor in any relationship is communication, and it’s a two-way street. This means listening as much as it means talking – by actually understanding what they are asking or searching for, you can ensure that you are responding appropriately with the right message and information.
There are many ways to listen to your customer. First, you should actively ask for their feedback to open the channels of communication. This could include inviting them to participate in surveys or responding to reviews they leave about their experience.
When they do reach out to your brand, be sure to listen to what they have to say, including any issues they raise. You should then seek to address their problems, whether it means providing information or apologising when necessary. Remember always to be empathetic, so they know you genuinely care about their feelings.
You can also utilise user-generated content (UGC) to shine a light on your customers’ experiences. By sharing their content, you can show that you care about their feedback enough to showcase it publicly. This can also be a great mechanism for attracting other leads to your business and improve sentiment.
Finally, ensure you respond to all messages and comments sent or attributed to your business, whether they’re good or bad. If a customer has taken the time out of their day to contact you, or mention you, you should be willing to reward that with your own time. This means offering a prompt response that matches the customer’s needs while providing outstanding customer service.
Personalise the experience
Once you get to know your customer more, you should be able to personalise their experience in line with the preferences you are now familiar with. This will help you provide a more tailored experience that builds a stronger connection and targets them even more effectively.
Personalisation is more than just adding their name into an email. The emphasis is on delivering content and offers that you know will specifically help the customer in their journey, based on past interactions you have had with them. Examples of personalisation could include:
- Incentivisation such as a discount on a follow-up purchase to something they’ve already bought or something else that aligns with their interests and needs
- An email containing information on how to get the most from their purchase and signposting them to customer support
- The offer of an exclusive deal on a product or service that they have viewed multiple times on your website without yet purchasing. This might just be the incentive they need to close the deal
- Providing download access to further valuable information such as a guide or report that may be of interest
By incorporating personalisation into your activity, fuelled by data, your customer will see that you understand them and their requirements and actively support them in their journey.
Stay in touch
If you seek to establish a lasting relationship with your customer, you need to stay in touch. Don’t let a customer drop off your radar just because they’ve already made the purchase. Schedule regular contact and use the opportunity to continue the dialogue, continue your relationship and fuel future purchases. It will also prove your interest in them and make them feel wanted.
There are several ways to do this, such as sending existing customers newsletters, creating content guides or even social posts aimed at those who have already bought. This communication should aim to do at least one of the following:
- Help them get the most from their purchase (such as through user guides or tips)
- Offer complimentary services and products that might assist them further or create an even better experience
- Engage with them – ask them what they think and get them more involved with your brand (such as requesting and listening to feedback, utilising UGC or running post-purchase prize draws)
Let’s say your customer has bought a blender. You might send them an email full of potential smoothie recipes they can make with that blender. Next, you might recommend another kitchen appliance you sell they could be interested in, with an exclusive 10% discount code. Finally, you could ask them to share their creations with the blender and feature them on your social media channels.
There are many benefits to be reaped from engaging with your customers and building lasting relationship well beyond the customer acquisition stage. Turning a stranger into a customer through effective, personalised targeting will secure sales for your business and make them more likely to return to your brand in the future. Turning those customers into life-long brand ambassadors will increase their lifetime value, improve loyalty and encourage them to recommend you to others, and make the new customer acquisition process even easier!
By understanding your target audience inherently, delivering consistently excellent service and offering value at every stage of the journey, you can prove their worth to your business. with customers feeling listened to, supported and appreciated.
This will create the foundations for an enduring friendship, helping to retain customers, secure repeat purchases, and better attract new leads to your brand through a favourable reputation.