Customer loyalty is worth more than the best marketing piece your in-house copywriter can come up with. One of the very few things that can convince total strangers that you’re the best company in the marketplace is a customer referral–and that’s what loyal customers give you. When your customers are happy, they are more likely to refer you. However, that doesn’t mean that you can just rely on having happy customers refer you on their own. In most cases, you need to prompt customers to refer business to you using existing sales data.
Using Loyalty Cards
When your customers buy something from you, are you recording the transactions? You should be. Customer loyalty cards have been around forever, but not every company uses them effectively. Consider the chocolate company, Godiva. When you join their loyalty rewards club, you receive one piece of chocolate per month.
As soon as you come into their store to claim your prize, your visit is recorded into the computer. For the next week or two, you’re bombarded with special sales on chocolate. Coincidence? Hardly. Godiva times its emails to coincide with your visits. If you didn’t buy anything during your trip to the store, you’ll often receive special discounts as an incentive to stop in again.
It’s a clever marketing ploy, and one you can learn from. Use your customer loyalty cards as a marketing opportunity. Not only will your customer come back to see you, but he may bring a friend with him. In the case of Godiva, chocolate is almost universally loved. Getting a deal on truffles is the perfect excuse to bring along a friend to help you pick something out.
Apply this to your business, and it might give your sales figures a much-needed boost.
Using Follow-Ups After the Sale
When customers buy from you, do you follow up with them and ask for feedback? Sometimes, you’ll uncover sales opportunities if you do.
For example, let’s say that a customer stops by your website and places an order. You follow up with that customer via email and ask the customer to take a short survey. In the survey, you discover that the customer purchased one item, but really needed two others – he didn’t know you sold those other items. Or, you discover that a customer has a problem that he didn’t know could be solved by other products or services you sell. Or, you discover that your customer really loves your products and plans on buying from you in the future.
The point of following up isn’t necessarily to make a sale, it’s to show that you really do care about the customer. It’s becoming more and more rare for company representatives to go out of their way to take care of customers. If you swim upstream, you’ll stick out like a sore thumb – but in a good way. It’s hard not to talk up a company that stands out like that.
Spot Buying Trends as Opportunities for Referrals
Companies like NextDayLenses sell a good product, but it’s not always intuitive to tell your friends about how happy you are. After all, they’re just contact lenses. This is when buying trends turn into opportunities to ask for referrals.
If you sell a traditionally “boring” product, keeping tabs on when customers buy from you can help you boost sales. When a customer makes a purchase, or is about to make a purchase based on his past buying trends, you can send out an email or a paper coupon that allows him to get a discount on his next order if he refers a friend.
You can also send out discount coupons for referrals after the sale. This works exceptionally well for commodity products where quality is assumed to be about the same across product lines and where the only discernible difference is in the customer service and delivery.
Kurt Smith is a marketing consultant. His articles focus on using existing customer data in refining future marketing campaigns.