How exciting is it to get a new customer? You get this little buzz of validation and excited at the prospect of gaining more and more just like them. Acquisition can cost you a bit though. And if you’re investing in acquisition tactics at the expense of serving your existing customers better, well now, we have to talk.

Acquiring new customers costs you more than keeping your existing customers.

 

Imagine yourself in the shoes of that customer who gets ignored or forgotten by you, while they’re off spruiking to new people how awesome they are. I’m sure you’ve experienced this as a customer yourself.

I have.

I recently experienced the pain of being shafted by a company who was more interested in attracting shiny new customers than delighting their existing customers. I’ve been a loyal one-service-provider customer for the whole time I’ve had a mobile phone.

Sidebar, for context: I got my first mobile when I was 15 as mobiles were becoming mainstream. We didn’t text yet cos we didn’t really get why you would, when you could just call people whenever you wanted. There were no emojis. Mobiles weren’t smart yet. You get the picture. This was a long time ago.

So, I’d been a loyal customer for – ahem – 18 years with the same service provider. I’d had plan after plan after plan. I’d spent thousands of dollars with them. I’d never once considered switching providers. I suffered through their poor reception in areas where this really shouldn’t have been an issue. I defended them to other people.

And then they let me down. And when I called them out on it, they didn’t really care. That really sucks. I’d been a customer for as long as those shiny new customers had been alive. And they didn’t seem to give a shit.

via GIPHY

Brand loyalty starts with brands actually giving a shit about their customers Click To Tweet

This got me thinking about brand loyalty and whether it even existed in a world where the barriers to entry are so low and the cost of getting out of a relationship is low. Free trial periods, no contracts, no fees. There are a lot of ways brands are giving their customers a way to easily get out of a relationship with them.

Think about it. Brands don’t have to spend millions on media like they used to in order to attract new customers to their brands. They can whip up an ad which is highly targeted and creepily follows people around the internet, popping up wherever they go, for such a small percentage of the cost of even producing a piece of traditional media. And it will convert!

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Well, not if it means you’re not spending money on ‘customer retention’ (for the record, I hate that term ‘retention’ sounds so clinical and cold). What it’s really about is relationships.

What do you do to foster long-term, rich relationships with your customers? What can you do to surprise and delight your customers? What can you do to keep them coming back again? What can you do to get them to tell their friends and family about you?

I came to the conclusion that yes, brand loyalty does and can exist. It’s just so many have forgotten its importance.

Brand loyalty exists if brands foster their relationships with their customers. Click To Tweet

So, how do you maintain positive customer relationships and increase the customer lifetime value (CLV) of your existing customer base?

🔥 HOT TIP # 1 🔥 Show You Care

It doesn’t take much to think of ways to show you care. We’re all human. We all like something that makes us feel like we’re wanted and special and that someone genuinely cares.

It doesn’t have to be tricky or expensive. And for it to really mean something, don’t attach it to an existing holiday or occasion. Do something just because.

Send a personalised email. Like, an actual one-to-one email, not a [fill name in here] templated email. Human to human.

Send a postcard.

Send a gift card.

Give them a bonus – a special discount code, extra credit, a freebie next time they buy from you.

Frankly, this goes for friends and your significant other too 😉

🔥 HOT TIP # 2 🔥 Shorten Your Buying Cycle

Determine how frequently your customers buy from you. Do they need something from you weekly, fortnightly, monthly, quarterly? What are the reasons behind this cycle?

Now, is there a way to shorten that cycle to get people buying from you more often?

Examples of how you might do this:

🔥 Hold a special sale mid-cycle to encourage existing customers to buy again at an insane discount (a great price just for them will make them feel special)

🔥 Encourage existing customers to refer to a friend and get something for free. That’s an acquisition strategy AND a loyalty strategy all wrapped up in one!

🔥 HOT TIP # 3 🔥 Create Something New With What You Have

Create a new offer which fulfils another one of your existing customers’ needs. There are economies of scale to be leveraged here – you already know your customer (if you, don’t start with that first!)  – and know how your current offer fulfils their needs. Is there something closely related to what you currently offer that you could easily fulfil?

 

I built a Define Your Audience workbook for you

 

For example, you might create a bundle of products or services. You might be doing something in your business that would provide insane value to your customers – what could you ‘productise’ to create an additional revenue stream from?

This so doesn’t have to be hard. In a world where brands are basically forcing their customers to be fickle and switch constantly, it will be the little things that create loyalty.

Don’t forget, your most effective acquisition strategy can actually start with your existing customers – if you look after them.

What amazing brand experiences have you had that have wowed you? What are you already doing to foster meaningful relationships with your customers?

 

Why You Should Focus On Relationships BEFORE Acquisition - A Brand Is Not A Logo

 

** Image Credit: Cory Bouthillette