13 powerful strategies to increase customer retention

Customer retention strategies deliver highest ROI
Customer retention strategies deliver highest ROI

Question: What is the source of highest profit sales? Most likely, it’s your current and past customers. Next question: What is your customer retention process?

You’ve already attracted these customers to your brand, built the know, like and trust factor and earned a purchase from them. You successfully converted a lead to a paying customer. And it cost you money to do that. Maybe a lot of money. How much less expensive is it to keep good customers than acquire new ones?

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A good customer retention plan has amazing ROI.

In an article posted on Entreprenuer.com, Eric Sui said,  “According to Bain & Company, it costs 7X more to attract new customers than it does to keep them. Additionally, if you retain just 5% of your customers annually, you can generate up to 125 percent more profits. Retention strategies truly pay off in the long run and help you build a sound business over time.”

I’ve outlined 13 keys you must have for your customer retention funnel to be effective so you can score more sales.

1. Make retention a top priority.

Prioritize the highest ROI activity your company does, which is most likely customer retention.

2. Measure life time value of customers.

Determine the life time value (LTV) of your average customers. The additional purchases, upgrades, replacements and referrals they send to you add up to a much bigger dollar amount than just the first purchase they make. Download this free LTV calculator here.

3. Provide amazing customer service

Have you noticed that even the cable companies want to “delight customers”? They finally get the importance of keeping current customers happy because it’s way less expensive to keep customers than to acquire new ones.

4. After the sale nurturing

Create a system for following up after the sale at regular intervals. Depending on your business, that may be a week after the sale or a month. Pay attention to how your customers are engaging with your brand, it’s product and services. Respond quickly to customers. Always. A good customer retention funnel has as process that everyone who touches the customers uses to continue nurturing the relationship after the sale. Continue delivering high value content and service and you’ll score more sales.

5. Budget for customer retention marketing

Since the ROI on keeping customers is so much higher than on acquiring new ones, it makes sense to assign some budget to marketing efforts aimed at retention.

6. CRM

Without a good CRM, your customers may be on the business end of an ill-timed phone call from an inside sales rep pitching an upsell, when that customer is currently threatening to leave if a dire problem isn’t solved. Not a good customer retention play.

Since the beginning of CRM time, having a 360 degree view of the customer so that companies could avoid this type of mistake has been the goal. You can’t manage an effective customer retention funnel without a good CRM.

7. Communicate frequently

Your customers want to feel valuable after they’ve spent money with you. Communicate with them frequently to show you care. Birthday greetings, holiday messages, news and updates are great ways to show them you care. Remember to only email customers who have opted into your email list.

8. Engage on social media

Social media is the equal opportunity soap box everyone can use to rave or complain about their experiences with a company. Monitor social media and quickly respond to any complaint. Also, quickly thank customers who sing your praises. You can also use social media to ask your customers about what’s important to them and nurture relationships.

9. Convert complaints into opportunities

Everyone remembers the companies that handle their complaints with such concern for making the situation gone wrong into an experience that feels right. It’s interesting that what’s memorable is how great it felt to the customer that the brand went above and beyond to solve the problem, and not what went wrong in the first place. Be a hero to your customers when they complain and watch that same customer become your advocate.

10. Create a customer loyalty program

Rewarding customers for their patronage is a great way to develop their loyalty. Provide added value, special promos or offers that your customers want. The rewards need to be easy to earn and redeem. Keep things simple. Score more sales by rewarding your current customers and nurturing them to send referrals.

11. Host an event

Show your customer appreciation by hosting an event. An open house, after hours event or guest lectures can provide powerful incentives for your customers to spend more time with your company. Having fun and feeling valued has a way of bonding people tighter together. Events work whether they are virtual, like a podcast or live, like an open office social gathering.

12. Corporate social responsibility

Many customers choose to buy from brands that give back over brands that don’t. If your company already has a corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, share progress and successes with your customers. If not, get one. Select a cause that is consistent with your brand and aligns with your customers’ values and interests.

13. Upsell and resell

Since you’re paying attention to how your customers are using the products or services they purchased from your company, you’ll know what’s important to them. When the time is right, offer and upgrade or replacement product that has high value and will help your customer achieve their goals.

Email marketing with calls to action and free demos or trials, just like regular marketing campaigns. Incent the customer to try new add ons, upgrades and eventually replacement purchases, in some industries.

Lifetime Value of Customer Calculator
Lifetime Value of Customer Calculator

 

Sales Tip of the Week – Active Listening

One of the most powerful ways to increase sales is to listen. Active listening means you ask your prospect questions and focus on hearing their answers. People love to be heard because it makes them feel respected and valued.

Plus, active listening often reveals insights that help you determine how best to help them solve their problems or entertain them. This information helps you illustrate the value your product or service offers, which helps you close the sale.

Active Listening – Sales Tip of the Week

 

Try it out and let me know how it works for you. I coach and train sales teams and entrepreneurs how to increase their income by 20 to 80%. Active listening is one of the most effective methods I coach my clients on developing. For a limited time, I’m offering a FREE 15 minutes Sales Strategy Session! Click the button below to schedule your session now. Spots are limited, so get yours on the calendar while you can!

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5 Tips to Promote Your Business with Instagram

It’s not too late to get in on using Instagram to promote your business. There’s been lots of buzz about this fast growing social media platform and there’s still time to take advantage of all the good Instagram can do for grow your business.

Promote your business with Instagram
Promote your business with Instagram

Some companies have already done well with it, but it is my opinion is that Instagram has more big growth waves coming.

Use these Instagram tips to bring major growth to your business

Some techniques may #surprise you. Thought hashtags were so 2012? They’re back!

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#1 Use More Hashtags

Max Woolf studied 120,000 photos and likes on Instagram and discovered that using more hashtags actually does correlate to more reach and likes. So, spamming is good?!?! Well, not exactly. Spamming isn’t considerate of others and tends to annoy people. But using many hashtags that are closely related to your post on Instagram is worthwhile. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags and it’s unclear how many is too many. My advice? Test what works best for your business and use keywords efficiently and liberally. Since long tail keywords tend to be the best, try a few of those first.

#2 Identify Instagram Influencers

In her post “How to Promote Your Business on Instagram“,  talks about collaborating with social media influencers. “As a small business, you should actively research which Instagram influencers are a great fit for your products. Chances are, their followers have the same interests and are potential customers”, Danielle says.

#3 Collaborate with Influencers

Have some fun brainstorming about partnership and collaboration ideas. Are there influencers who could benefit from your service or product? Could the followers of those influencers benefit from what you offer? If not, there may still be a way to nurture a relationship with them. You may be creating content for your own marketing that could be very useful to a potential social media partner.

For example, I have a client who films weddings and is looking to build his referral business with venues and event planners. These businesses want to show the world how beautiful their events are. Since many of them have a lot of followers on social channels, my client upped his social media game to increase his brand recognition.

Because he is one of the first certified videographers in his area to use a drone to shoot aerial footage, he is promoting this market differentiator across Instagram. Also, he noticed that very few venues and almost no planners have any video of their events on their websites or social accounts and even fewer have aerial video.

Recognizing a great opportunity when he saw one, this videographer uses drone footage he already had to help his potential referral partners so that they could market their businesses. As a result, they are blown away by the gorgeous video they have to use on Instagram and Facebook. Also, they are extremely appreciative of the wedding filmer’s generous gift.  Relationship nurturing is easy when we help others achieve their goals.

#4 Share Marketing Content

He has a library of stunning drone video from several weddings at a wide variety of venues. We created a business development program for him to reach out to these prospective partners and offer to provide them with this gorgeous aerial video to share across social channels and websites. It gives them a beautiful piece of marketing and sales content to share, it nurtures the relationship for my client and it cost him nothing. This is all goodness for his brand. Helping his customers grow their digital presence increases the value of his relationship to his customers and prospective customers.

#5 Use Apps to Simplify Posts

Who’s got time to schedule posts on a bunch of different apps? Instagram doesn’t play as well with social media scheduling tools. Grum is a fun app that allows scheduling Instagram posts from a desktop. About time! I like how Grum makes it easier to manage followers and following. Plus, the app provides an easy way to deliver scripted direct messages to new followers. Grum has a cute little messaging like interface.

Social media and live video are changing fast! Subscribe and stay up to date on the latest social media marketing trends.

3 Steps For Awesome Relationship Building – Keys to Success

In the era of customer experience is king, successful relationship building is key. Some people are naturally gifted in this art and some are not. We are all different, which is what makes the world an interesting place.

So, if you don’t already have relationship building skills honed to a fine point, there’s no reason to feel badly about yourself. We can’t all be ace at everything. (For example, don’t ask me to file your taxes. Orange is definitely not my best color and I doubt it’s yours).

If you find that pleasing others interferes with your own happiness or success, you’re not alone. Many of us have a tendency to be people pleasers. And it doesn’t have to be a permanent condition:-) I’m a reforming pleaser and discovered steps that help me experience more joy and peace by reprioritizing my thoughts and actions. I share these steps in my ebook “Stop Pleasing Others and Get More Joy in Life” and invite you to download a free copy. Click the link below to get your free ebook:

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Relationship building skills can be learned.

Here are 3 simple and impactful steps I use to nurture relationships. Try them out and let me know how they work for you.

1. Ask.

Be intensely curious about people. Ask a lot of questions about them. For example:

  • How do enjoy life when you’re not working?
  • What projects are you working on right now?
  • How do you define success for yourself and your business?
  • What challenges are you dealing with?
  • What do you enjoy most and least about your work?

Since people love to talk about themselves, this is easier than you might think. Their answers will give you insight to what they care about and the problems you (or someone you know) may be able to help them solve. Showing an interest in someone is the ideal first step to great relationship building.

2. Listen.

Have you ever tried the experiment of listening more than you talk in a conversation? If you have, did the person you were “talking” with say, “You are so easy to talk to”? If you haven’t, try it out sometime. The results can be a fascinating illustration of how much people love feeling heard.

Because people enjoy focusing on themselves (and that’s not a bad thing) it’s naturally a good thing to let them share ideas and insights with you.  It’s a human thing to connect, share, listen and feel heard. When you’re building relationships with humans, understanding this quality is invaluable. We are wired to connect and share our thoughts, ideas, feelings and experiences with people.

3. Reconnect.

Now that you have established some rapport and discovered what your contact values, the most important step is to follow-up with them. Staying connected is how you’ll nurture and build this relationship. Call or email with a brief message about how much you enjoyed talking with them and that you’d like to stay in touch. I also suggest mentioning something specific they talked about.

Also ask what social media they prefer and connect with them on those channels. LinkedIn is a given for most professionals, but find out if they like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest also. Most people have a couple of go-to channels they like.

The magic of successful relationship building is to continue nurturing.

Now you have a platform for nurturing that new business relationship. Use social media to develop your new relationships by liking, reposting and making comments (positive and insightful, never negative). I suggest doing this within the first week, and then at least every couple of weeks after that.

Finally, since nurturing a relationship takes time, stay in touch with your new contact by email or text regularly. You don’t want to stalk your new contact, but you do want to stay in touch. so I suggest checking in with them every month or so.

Finally, for more tips on ways to ramp your success, subscribe here . You can have a look at “Three Things Successful Entrepreneurs Do First Thing in the Morning”.

400% Increase in Referrals – The Success Story Video

Referrals are awesome! You know you’ve done a good job nurturing business relationships when your referral rate goes up by 400%!  That’s what one business coaching client saw as a result of the marketing and social media efforts. Watch the video below to see how we did it!

Hint: We didn’t have a marketing budget or dedicated marketing person. I worked with my client to create a plan that HE could implement and feel GOOD about. At first, he was worried he would dread contacting colleagues in his industry to network. He thought, “Ugh, I hate calling people to ASK them for something.”  We needed a plan my for building up referrals that my client could enjoy. Sound familiar? I knew the secret to his success would be making this process easy…and maybe even fun.

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Getting Referrals Can Be FUN – Really!

I’m serious. Connecting with other people in your field can and should be fun. Referrals are so crucial to the success of most entrepreneurs and yet, I find many business owners avoid networking like the plague.

Social media can be a great way to expand your network. It can also be a tremendous way to waste precious time, so learning how to use social platforms efficiently is the key to success. In my recent post, “The 1 Thing to Do on Social Media Today”,  I outline how to focus your content on the highest value you can deliver to your prospect.

LinkedIn offers very powerful tools for finding new potential referral partners and prospects. The advanced sear tool is incredible  – but using it can be overwhelming. To unlock how to use LinkedIn’s search tool to find more referral partners and leads, click here.

Do you have some techniques that work really well to grow referral networks? Share them below in your comments.

What my dog taught me about social media

What my dog taught me about social media marketing
What my dog taught me about social media marketing

Ever noticed how dogs behave so much better in an off leash park than on leash anywhere else? Social media is like an off leash park for humans. Free range to say what we want, whenever we want, to whomever we want. No leashes constricting us!

What is it about an off leash environment that makes dogs get along so well? Dogs adhere to an ancient and universal set of guidelines for interacting in off leash encounters. Dogs don’t discuss the guidelines ahead or time or sign waivers before they engage in off leash play. (Their humans might have to, but they don’t.) If people were to adhere to a commonly accepted set of guidelines for engaging with each other on social media, we could enjoy substantially reduced: hurt feelings from inflammatory statements, offending remarks, escalation and online bullying. It might even help us move closer to world peace. Certainly, the level of civility would improve. 🙂

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So what guidelines do dogs use that humans could adopt for more civil social media engagement?

  1. Enter social situations with respect. Healthy dogs approach a new social situation with submissive energy and body language. They don’t enter a free range social situation like an off leash dog park with aggressive or dominating behavior. People who demonstrate a healthy respect for others, rather than blasting social channels with bombastic posts gain the respect of others. As a result, they gain more followers and repel fewer.
  1. Get to know others first. How relieved are we that the polite way for humans to get to know each other does not emulate dogs?!? Butt sniffing would be SO embarrassing! Fortunately, finding out more about another person is as easy as asking them.
  1. Accept our differences. Alaskan Malamute, Dachshund, Lab or mutt, dogs take each other at canine face value. Different isn’t bad to dogs in a free range area; it’s good. Different smells, different sizes, different shapes, different everything. Except that the general guidelines for polite doggy behavior is the same and dogs who don’t go by those rules are shunned. Dogs have no reference for breedism. If people can learn to treat those with differing political views, religion or opinion with this same regard, the world would indeed be a more peaceful place.
  1. Invite others to play nicely. The adorable and universal body language for dogs who want to play is the same across all breeds. Front feet down, hind quarters and tail up and open relaxed face. No teeth baring or growling, no fur standing up on their backs. Dogs who want to play will engage with the pups who show they want to have fun. If a dog doesn’t respond to the invitation with the same playful body language, the other dog moves on to invite someone else.

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  1. No means no. When a dog is uninterested or is through playing, they adopt a “No thank you” stance. They look away or walk off. Persistently playful dogs (@mylabs) might attempt to engage this dog in play another time or two. But once they get the message, the pup will move on to someone else.

Seems to me, our best friends can provide us with an excellent example for how to treat each other in our own off leash areas – social media.

The 1 social media thing to do today to grow your business

How to get social media focus
Knowing how to get social media focus so you can grow our businesses can be overwhelming.

How to get social media focus – We are faced with endless options for posting on several social platforms.

Easier said than done, right? Raise your hand if you feel overwhelmed by social media sometimes. It’s SUPER common!

There’s so much we CAN do on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn (to name a few social platforms) that entrepreneurs can feel paralyzed, like a deer in the headlights. How do we get social media focus?  Building a network of referral partners is one smart use of social media.

And this can be a really good use of your social media time, depending on your business. Download my free 3-step plan for getting more referrals.

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Just because we CAN do it, doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it. The key is social media focus. I like to use lists to visualize and prioritize my tasks.  Whether you like lists, graphics or some other way to organize your “To Dos”,  I highly recommend you do that so you can get clarity on what social media activity is most important for driving growth for your business. What’s the one thing you can do that will attract more customers today?

I’ll give you some help. You’ve heard it said often that brands need to deliver value with their content. That’s true, no matter what form the content takes. Social media is included. Entertain, inform or do both is the content marketing credo. Since the goal of content is to build the know-like-trust factor, I suggest you run each post you’re considering through that filter.

Does the social post help audiences to know, like and trust you? If so, is the content valuable and/of entertaining.

My suggestion is to put all of your social media focus on post ideas. Look through these filters and then you’ll have a short list of good branding, rapport-building and value-adding content. Once you have the short list, review it to determine which social post is most likely to attract new clients. That’s the one to post.

Declutter your mind and calendar by focusing only on this one post. Use your favorite social media management app (I use Hootsuite) to optimize when you post on each social platform. Remember to answer questions and like and reply to comments to get the most mileage out of your post too.

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Live Video Streaming is How Michael Phelps Announced His Retirement – Not TV

Live video streaming is beating out cable and network TV for celebrity announcements. That’s not all. Life and business is changing radically.

Michael Phelps showed the world how game-changing live video streaming is by announcing his retirement on Facebook Live this week. His fans loved the feeling that they were right there with him and his teammates hanging out in between races in the Olympic village. We loved watching him talk with us as if we are his friends and as he bared his soul, announcing that Rio would be his last Olympics. This illustrates how authentic live video makes the experience feel for the broadcaster and their viewing audience. The unscripted and conversational style allows the viewing audience to connect with the people they watch on live video. It is so comfortable, natural and easy. Of course we love it!

Live video is on fire. Like, white hot fire! I feel like a kid in a candy store because we are at the beginning of a new wave of communication that changes, oh, just EVERYTHING! How lucky are we to live right now!?!

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If the internet was the greatest invention since the car and social media was the great democratization for people across the globe, then live video is the paradigm shift that empowers everyone to become their own broadcast stars. Talk of content being king has been around for years now and recently, video content has become most effective at garnering our ever-shortening attention spans. But live video broadcasting is a whole new and exponentially more captivating dimension.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video may be worth a million and live video is worth a trillion words. Don’t quote me on the math, but there plenty of studies that show our brains are wired to detect and focus on movement. So, while I view all content as having intrinsic value (I myself love painting and drawings), it depends on the context. Of course video content grabs out attention more quickly than still content. Of course it’s more compelling for our brains to watch moving pictures and action than read words. (Sorry, my dear talented writers. People do still love to read. It’s all about context and right now we are talking about the digital screen context.)

Instapage

Moving images + real time live action = incredibly compelling content. Plus, thanks to camera phones and social media, anyone, anywhere with a smart phone can be a live video content creator, aggregator and publisher. How cool is THAT?!?!?

Google introduced video conferencing with “Hangouts” in 2014. Twitter launched Periscope as their live video streaming platform in spring of 2015. Also in spring of that year, Blab went live with their beta version of live video. Facebook Live launched to celebrities in the summer of 2015 and rolled out to most members with fan pages in April of 2016. Less than five months later, Blab shuttered their platform in the same week that Google announced it’s closing down “Hangouts” next month. Google wants everyone to migrate over to YouTube for live video. YouTube has some work to do to make that platform more user friendly.

Now there’s a mad scramble to claim the live video streaming territory. Blab and Hangouts both allowed multiple video hosts to participate. That was really compelling because humans like to watch interactions between other humans more than watching one human monologuing.

Instagram added live video recently. Huzza has emerged as a live streaming platform that offers multiple video feeds and hosts, plus it’s is more stable than Blab ever was. Huzza recently added a beta feature that allows live video broadcasters to connect and stream over Facebook Live simultaneously. It has a few bugs so we’ll see how that works out. Meanwhile Facebook attempted to launch 2 person live video, but it was nothing more than glorified Facetime. Wah-wah-wah. Periscope continues to thrive, since people all over the world can “scope” live to anyone who who wants to watch. It’s easier to get discovered on Periscope than on Facebook. IMO, Facebook might wanna close that competitive gap.

Whatever the live video streaming platforms do this year, this is going to be a fun and wild ride!

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