How To Nurture Your Online Customers And Turn Them Into ‘Brand Evangelists’

Attracting Customers With Horseshoe Magnet
B&T Magazine
Edited by B&T Magazine

Building a connection with existing customers is just as integral to any marketing strategy as winning new ones, but how do we turn customers into spokespeople for our brands?

By Peggy de Lange, VP of international expansion at Fiverr

It’s a well-known rule of thumb that it costs 5-times more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.

Building a connection with existing customers is just as integral to any marketing strategy as winning new ones, and instilling confidence in this group does more than just build brand loyalty; in many cases, it turns customers into brand evangelists.

A customer who’s had a great experience with your company is a huge asset to your brand, as satisfied customers can promote your business in ways that feel more honest, genuine and authentic than traditional marketing efforts.

However, the reality is that often, customers are indifferent to the products and services they use.

It’s not that they see anything wrong with them, but they would be quick to switch to another brand with a similar offering, and while unlikely to provide negative feedback, it’s equally unlikely they’ll preach their positive experience to others.

In short, today brand loyalty is harder than ever to come by, particularly in a landscape where competition is ripe.

Passive customers are often prevalent in companies that focus efforts and funds into reaching new customers, without nurturing the existing ones.

There’s a difference between liking something and being a passionate advocate about it, and in order to turn your passive customers into brand evangelists that will shout from the hills about the unique value of your company, you need to show them how your brand actually differs.

Here are five actionable steps businesses can put in place to encourage the transition from customer to brand evangelist.

Run promotions

Promotions not only boost sales, brand visibility and differentiation, but also provide an opportunity to show your appreciation and build a relationship with your current customers. Before running a promotional campaign, it’s important to recognise that within your target audience, there are specific divisions with different wants, needs, and motivations. Marketers can utilise the information gleaned from social media ads or EDM’s to detect patterns in customer’s behaviors and launch promotions specifically tailored to this data.

For e-commerce sites, consider using abandoned shopping carts to offer these products at a discounted rate, or curated purchase options or customised payment plans to go that step further. If you’ve witnessed high click-rates on a particular EDM, take note of the topic and products of interest and use it to decipher which promotions could appeal to subscribers.

Encourage feedback

Research shows that the majority of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. Reviews are a vital building block of a brand’s reputation, and can be utilised to a company’s advantage through encouraging organic discussion on purchases and brand experience.

With the reduction of foot traffic as a result of lockdowns, the world has relied on reviews as a way to inform their own understanding of a brand, so the value of the ‘review economy’ is key, now more than ever before.

Providing a public feedback forum not only makes customers believe that their opinion is truly valued, but acts as a candid, unbiased account of the product or service in question, proven to be one of the most powerful ways of promoting sales.

Handle complaints with tact

According to the ‘service recovery paradox’, it is a fact that customers can be more loyal to your business after they have had a negative experience, than if it never happened in the first place — provided your company has optimal customer service and is well-equipped to handle complaints.

For example, if a customer calls you out on social media to criticise delivery time frames, you can publicly apologise and offer them free shipping next time. If a customer calls to complain about poor service they’ve received, offer them product vouchers as compensation.

Complaints provide an opportunity to optimise customer service and publicly show potential customers how much you care. It’s an opportunity to right a wrong in the best way possible.

Celebrate milestones

We’re all familiar with the effectiveness of combining holiday spirit, strong marketing campaigns, and exciting discounts to power sales conversions. With Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Boxing Day and Click Frenzy proving to be some of the most anticipated shopping events of the year, there is an opportunity to contact your customers during these periods as they’re more likely to spend.

Incentivise your shoppers by offering discounts incorporating the word ‘free’ or ‘exclusive’ to stand out from your competitors and strengthen the relationship. Personalise their EDM by highlighting products on sale that you know they’ve shopped before, or are within the same categories they’ve previously displayed interest in.

Personalised communications or promotions are equally as powerful. Studies show that birthday emails in particular have sales conversion rates that are five times higher, and click-through rates twice as high compared to  standard marketing emails.

Why? Because every individual likes to feel special, particularly on their special day. Take Boost Juice offering loyalty members a free drink on their birthday, or Mecca giving Beauty Loop members free birthday gifts.

These activities nurture existing customers and make them feel recognised, leading to retention, more referrals and retained profits.

Reward loyalty

Loyalty programs are a proven way to boost customer engagement and retention time and time again. The statistics speak for themselves, with 77 per cent of top performing loyalty program members more likely to choose your brand over the competition and 75 per cent of customers more likely to make a repeat purchase after receiving a loyalty reward.

Loyalty programs come in all different shapes and sizes and will need to be tailored to your company’s mission, product and sales goals. Non-cash rewards have been proven to be three times more effective than discounts or cash prizes.

Offering a free gift for a renewed subscription or a company-wide discount once a certain tier is reached is an excellent way of acknowledging and building customer retention and giving your business a sustainable competitive advantage.

Existing customers present a wealth of opportunity, yet often aren’t given enough consideration in marketing strategies. By nurturing those who have already had positive experiences with your brand, you can save money on marketing in the long run by converting loyal customers into brand evangelists and boost brand reputation.

Peggy de Lange is the VP of international expansion at Fiverr

Featured image source: iStock/marrio31

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