So you want to retain your customers.
I don’t blame you, it’s the talk of the town.
Articles say that’s “where it’s at,” your marketer is pulling rabbits and ideas out of their hat, each one more fellow kids-y than the other, and your customers are lapping it up.
Or are they?
Look, I’ll be frank with you: recurring customers make up 40% of your revenue, and treating them like they’ll always be there can be deadly for your business.
However, there are some pretty annoying methods of supposed customer retention out there. And they’re not going to do anything for you but make your customers delete their lawyer, hire a Facebook and move to Mexico.
So let’s dig into some classic do's and dont's of customer retention.
1) My customers love ten emails a day!
I love promotional emails from services I use, too!
I especially love them when I’m deleting them because I already know what Jake from SomeProductINeededOnce is going to tell me.
I might love his product, but I do not love his emails.
And I also think he might have a crush on me because hey, ten emails a day? Not even my mom sends me that many.
I understand why businesses are doing it. The goal is to increase customer engagement and get them to a point where they’re using your product as a habit.
And that’s smart. That’s really smart, and it's the best way to retain your customers.
However, ten emails a day don’t have a place in that equation if you want to retain your customers. It's a marketing myth like so many that we’ve adopted as best practices.
The businesses that use emails successfully are the ones providing actual value with them.
No, I don’t want to read tutorials on how to use the service I’ve been using successfully for the past three months, thank you very much.
But I would be interested in a case study showing me how I can use it even better.
As with everything, the context is important.
So go through your automated emails and ask yourself: Does this customer at this stage really need this email?
If the answer is anything but a resounding ‘yes,’ delete it and do better.
Please, do better. We all want to love what you’re selling, but this retention strategy is making us hate it.
2) I made a special diet for my customers and it consists of social media & blogs
We’re in the business of content here at ContentFly so we know how far it can take you.
However, we also know that (as Naeem so eloquently put it) “garbage content” isn’t going to take you or your customers anywhere.
Or, well, it will take you to the nearest trash can. If you’re making trash bags, good for you!
If you’re running a dog spa, keep reading.
Content today is being skimmed – all the time. It takes something really special to jog your customers’ attention and make them love you.
HubSpot is my go-to example for this. They’re producing case studies, research, have an academy full of courses that are directly related to the industries their customers are in.
When I look at HubSpot, I want to give them my money. When they release a new feature, you can catch me calling my bank to see if I can get a loan to buy their stock. I just love them so much.
And that’s actually how you retain your customers.
You give them more. You offer them the full package, and you show them insights you’ve learned from doing business and talking to your customers.
Not the insights that they can get by googling the right keyword, but the insights only you can offer them. That’s how a blog can be useful for retaining customers.
You can apply the same principle to social media.
Yes, you can curate content 24/7 and have a wide array of things to share (from your blog posts to promotional offers), but that’s not what it’s about.
Your customers don’t want to be badgered into buying your product again.
They want to talk about themselves.
And that’s the real truth of using social media to retain your customers.
People love talking about themselves. Your customers love talking about their opinions and perceptions of the industry (or the world at large).
You can share your post and add the appropriate hashtags, or snap a pic of your neat UI and post it to Instagram, but people are just going to skim over it.
Ask them what annoys them, though, and you’ll see how fast they’ll become loyal.
Too many businesses and people use social media for announcing their two cents on a topic. Give your customers a chance to say their piece.
Bonus tip: Don’t be a robot about it. Use tools for scheduling posts and questions, but start a conversation with them. Commiserate with them. That’s all any of us want, really.
3) Better shove those negative reviews where no one can see them and do absolutely nothing!
What’s the best thing you can do with negative reviews and negative feedback?
That’s right! You should find a really dark place to hide them in, and bury your head in the sand like an ostrich while you’re at it!
Because that’s worked out so well in the past.
Look, it’s understandable. We all hate negative reviews.
There’s this point where we’re sitting in front of our laptops and wondering if our C- on a math test in the third grade lead to this. Is it karma for jumping the line at Starbucks?
But negative reviews are actually great!
First of all, you’ve got a customer who’s invested. There are emotions involved. And if we’re being honest, there’s nothing more powerful than emotions in business. Forget big data and analytics. Emotions are where it’s really at.
So now that you’ve got their negative review, it’s time to show the sweetest side you’ve got. Even if you have to grab candy bars from the corner store.
Be so sweet and helpful and nice that they’ll turn that frown upside down.
And go the extra mile. Do more than just correcting your mistake. Offer them a discount and a shoulder to cry on. Ask them how you can improve, and mean it.
And then, obviously, publicize it.
Show everyone how happy you are to receive criticism, how fast you can improve, and how generously you reward your customers for being honest with you.
Show your customers that you’re willing to work for their approval.
Again, this is an ego thing (as so many things are in business). Your customers want to feel valued, so show them that you do, and make a positive example out of incidents.
It makes them want to do business with you again 70% of the time.
4) Keep funnels funneling, don’t make them fun!
The best stage of the customer lifecycle for any customer to be is at the pre-adoption phase.
Imagine having thousands and thousands of customers who are almost ready to buy from you. But not quite.
Because every time they want to give you money, you just keep redirecting them to a live webinar or a data sheet.
They’re not ready, your marketer tells you. This funnel has to be optimized. Add more content. Add a turtle. Heck, add a hat.
Not yet, just a little bit more, have patience, this takes time, they say.
Meanwhile, you’re sitting on your entrepreneurial posterior with overdraft fees racking up, and your customers are waving their dollars at you.
But not yet.
More funnel stuff first.
Yeah, that’s really not how it works.
Customers want straightforward processes. We already covered the part where they don’t want useless content and/or too many emails, but I can’t emphasize this enough:
You do not need to keep adding to your sales funnel.
It’s easy to cry “awareness” every time when you add something new, but know when it’s necessary.
If you’re launching an innovative new feature, by all means – show your customers what it’s good for. Shout it from the rooftops. You do you.
But if you’re focusing on the wrong customers who aren’t going to be aware that they need your product, despite all the convincing, you’re just knocking on the wrong door.
And while we’re at it, stop using the word “funnel” to sound smart.
This is all the funnel you need:
1. Find your customers in their natural habitat (either with SEO, PPC, social media, or locally)
2. Show them a particularly gruesome escalation of a problem your product could’ve solved
3. Slap ‘em with a discount
4. Boom. Done.
*Additional step: Keep warming them up with useful information.
You can mix & match here, but the formula is simple. Avoid the growth hacking and the fancy stuff.
Retain your customers by giving them what they need. Not what you think they need.