Posts tagged customer loyalty
Nine times out of ten, a donor receives a letter that starts with, “Thank you for your generous donation.” Because giving is an emotional response, it deserves an emotional thank you with more pep and personality than a typical, status quo thank you. Read Shannon Doolittle’s 22 Delightful Ways to Say Thank You.
Here’s a sample of humorous ways Shannon suggests saying thank you so you can delight, not bore your donors.
- You = awesome. Me = grateful.
- Move over Gates and Buffett, there’s a new philanthropist in town.
- Our clients have started an unofficial fan club. You should start practicing your autograph.
And according to an article in Forbes, Don’t Thank Your Donor with a Gift, a great thank you is far superior to giving donors gifts, which can be counterproductive.
Foreshadow Good Things to Come Thanks to Their Donation
Beyond saying a great thank you, help connect the dots for your donors by telling them what’s happening. Something like, “Your donation pushes us to 90% of goal. Soon we can give all local children the nutrition they need on a daily basis”
A nonprofit named Charity:Water did an excellent follow-up video of a 9-year old girl’s donation of $240 that spurred $1.2 million more in donations following her tragic death in a car collision. Watch Charity:Water’s video about the little girl who could, Rachel Beckwith.
People who give to Donors Choose are greeted with an evolving thank-you screen on the home page where kids thank them for each specific gift – be it a computer or projector. They even mail hand written letters from the kids that benefited from the donation to the giver in order to say thank you in a very personal way.
Good cause marketing is all about great ongoing storytelling packed with emotional triumphs and challenges everyone can share in.
Timing, Format, and Other Loose Ends of Donor Thank Yous
When money comes in, a thank you letter or email needs to go out within 48 hours – the industry standard for courtesy, appreciation, and the chance to encourage more giving in the future from this donor.
The alleged bible for writing donor letters is Donor Centered Fundraising by Penelope Burk. In it, you’ll find many samples and formats to try and tweak within your organization.
Finally consider picking up the phone and calling to say thank you. Penelope Burk says her research shows that 90% of donors never receive a phone call from their favorite charities unless they’re asking for money. What an opportunity to turn that around to building a stronger relationship.
Are you inspired to polish your fundraising now?
Other than identifying a known brand name and automatically knowing the size of the company, have you ever thumbed through a publication or web portal, become impressed by a company’s logo or tagline, only to learn that this company wasn’t nearly as large as you thought? It happens to me all the time.
I see polished ads or brands in business publications or at blogger sites. I then check out their web traffic at Compete, or look up their staff page on their website to see how large they are. I then acknowledge that they’re pulling off such a fabulous branding being the small fish in a big pond.
Moresource Plays Full Out with Ad Campaign
There is something very classy, catchy and memorable about an ad series done well. Moresource, a Columbia, Mo. based human resource company, gets my kudos for executing a successful ad series in the Kansas City Chamber business magazine, KC Business.
I liked that the owner of this three-person firm, Kat Cunningham featured herself with a client in each ad, used a QR Code®, included both a mention of Facebook and Twitter on her ad. She also stepped up by running a full-page ad, and obviously paid for a professionally designed ad and logo.
How Your Small Business Can Look Bigger than You Are
While it’s not always easy to win customers from larger competitors, technology has leveled the playing field and made it possible.
#1 Re-target your online ads vs. overspending for paid search.
Re-targeting lets you focus your ads exclusively on people who have already engaged with you online. You can re-target ads to people who have opened an email, searched for keywords or been on your site and left without buying anything. Site re-targeting is effective because these people are already interested in your products or services.
#2 Don’t cut corners on image or execution.
The quickest way to look small and amateurish is to put something into the marketplace that is poorly designed, poorly worded or filled with grammatical errors. If you’re going to send a postcard, make it the best designed card, on the best paper with the best call to action imaginable. If you’re going to run an ad campaign, make sure you develop the best creative, best frequency needed for results, and test all the back-end components such as the landing page URL, QR Code (that it scans and bridges your prospect to a site that further engages them), and best greeting upon their action. Does someone answer the phone before the third ring? Who is in the loop of the campaign and can answer questions intelligently? Does the eReport download without glitches once the prospect hands over the required lead info?
#3 Don’t build it, buy it.
You can launch a professional looking website quickly and without the absorbent costs of hiring programmers. Services such as Weebly or Yola have helped many businesses launch for a few dollars a month. Their drag, drop, type and upload technology further levels the playing field for all businesses and budgets.
Need an e-commerce store? Use Shopify.com or SquareSpace. Need to accept payments? Paypal is the answer. Want to provide live customer service online? Consider BoldChat. Chances are what you need already exists and can be accessed through open source, monthly lease, or shared software.
SOURCE:“Look Like a Big Company Without Spending Big Money,” by Scott Gerber, Nov. 30, 2011, Small Business Advocate.
#4 Don’t cut corners on your print collateral.
Find a graphic designer and print partner who produced the image materials of companies you admire and work with them to build your brand. Even in a digital world, you still need business cards, letterhead, pocket folders and mailing labels. Don’t short-change your business by trying to penny pinch you’re way through your collateral. If you and your three biggest competitors had materials sitting on the table in front of the customer of your dreams, who would they pick and why based on image alone?
QR Code is a registered trademark of Denso Wave.
Air New Zealand started in the ‘70s but is not stuck in the ‘70s. It knows batch and blast emails are a thing of the past. Instead of sending generic emails about promotions, it sends automated, personalized emails prior to, and upon return, of each of their customer’s flights.
Air New Zealand transformed its entire business in 2004 when if firmly placed the customer at the front of all its processes. The airline started from the outside and worked its way in by first purchasing new carriers, then lower fares, simplifying booking processes, and then shifting to internet sales and loyalty programs.
Sending Customer Emails of Value
Keeping with the theme of putting its customers in front of all processes, Air New Zealand built a powerful pre-flight reminder campaign. The email contained dynamic content that generated three popular messages that made it both pertinent and engaging. First the email included a personal greeting from and photograph of the actual Air New Zealand flight attendant who would be on the traveler’s specific flight. Many travelers would print out the email and show it to their attendant when boarding the plane.
Secondly, the email recapped the customer’s itinerary and lastly it offered a five-day weather forecast, which helped their customers plan and pack accordingly.
The pre-flight emails had an average open rate of 69 percent and an average click rate of 38 percent. The post-arrival emails had an average unique open rate of 62 percent and an average click rate of 40 percent, according to this Silverpop case study.
Engaging Customers with Humorous Video
Air New Zealand also gained customers, laughs, and massive viral exposure on the web with their series of in-flight instructional videos such as this one featuring Richard Simmons or this one using animation.
The animated video brings the safety pamphlet to life using animated versions of Modern Family’s Ed O’Neill and Melanie Lynskey from Two and Half Men. Making the commitment to regularly change their videos and include new stars and cameos keeps travelers tuned in to the safety message rather than sleeping through it.
The airline won awards for its innovative, quirky, and sometimes risqué videos.
Dynamic ROI through Dynamic Content
I can’t rave about Air New Zealand’s dynamic publishing push in its marketing because I don’t believe it or any domestic airline currently employs variable data printing. However, the possibilities for VDP in airline marketing is ripe.
Airlines could print custom booklets or magazines for all its platinum level members and populate them with articles on their favorite vacation destinations, favorite sports, favorite wines and the like. Imagine the loyalty that could be built by stroking the egos of men and women who fly 200,000 miles a year by handing them a magazine filled with the their name and family member’s names in print as well as content on everything of interest just to them.
How is your company dynamically generating your email and print content? Are you making your content personality rich or is it the equivalent to a fast-food restaurant’s hand washing training video?
Casino operators have cued in to the importance of analytics because as little as one percent of casino customers can drive as much as 20 percent of the company’s revenue.
This fact alone has spurred casinos into building sophisticated customer relationship management (CRM) systems to track and reward customer loyalty to increase the returns from select customers and retain them for the long term.
One tool being used by casinos is predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is using statistics to analyze current and historical facts to make future predictions about a customer’s behavior.
For some casinos, as little as a five percent improvement in customer retention can lead to a fifty percent gain in profitability. Author Clive Pearson explains in Double Down on Your Data that by using predictive analytics, Harrah’s was able to identify a small group of customers who accounted for 30 percent of their overall customers.
They then learned that these particular customers spent between $100 and $499 per trip but actually accounted for about 80 percent of the casino’s revenue and 100 percent of its profits.
By using data mining and predictive analytics, casinos keep their highest value customers happier longer and take high-value customers away from the competition. Furthermore, predictive analytics can help casinos pinpoint customers who are most likely to “defect” from the competition with enough lead time to allow casino employees to intervene and possibly retain these highly valuable, hard to recapture customers.
Which of the Three Predictive Analytics is Your Casino Using?
The world of data has evolved. In the beginning companies would look at past events to predict future activity as gleaned from information management systems from the 1970s. Then drill-down technology of the 1980s led to data warehousing, which allowed more complex data querying. Then predictive modeling and optimization rang in the new millennium.
Now you can use one of three types of data analytics:
- Predictive – using past performance to predict future customer behavior.
- Descriptive – identifying different relationships between customers or groups.
- Decision – using the above information to predict outcomes or complex decisions, relationships, products or processes.
Executed correctly predictive analytics can determine how much a customer is worth today and for his lifetime, which customers come together in groups, and which customer might abuse an incentive offer by using the free room and not gambling at all.
Pearson so eloquently puts it this way. “Do you want to lead the analytics horse to profitability…or follow it with a shovel?” The choice is clear.
Marketers want to talk to prospects and salespeople want to talk to buyers. The courting process of moving a person from the prospect to buyer stage is called lead nurturing. Unfortunately most B2B marketers aren’t very good at it. In fact, among marketing automation adopters, only about 1 in 3 believe they have an effective lead nurturing process, according to research from Bulldog Solutions/Frost & Sullivan.
Like in a courtship, nurturing involves two-way communication. To have an effective dialogue with your customers you must watch their digital body language and listen to where they are in the purchasing process.
Too often marketers make nurturing synonymous with email drip campaigns. While this tactical effort is easy to put in place, it’s not effective in converting leads because it overly simplifies communications by making it one-way and one-size-fits-all.
“Simply delivering the same message to a broad audience (mass marketing), doesn’t allow for the 1-to-1 engagement that yields the best results,” says Carlos Hidalgo with Annuitas Group.
The graph below from Left Brain Marketing shows how good marketing communications involves listening to the prospect, then sending a message, and then waiting for a customer response before tailoring the next message.
Does a lead-nurturing program seem too methodical, time consuming, or too customized to implement or manage? The increased customer appeal and response of proper nurturing brings financial gains that make the process all worthwhile. A recent study by the Aberdeen Group showed that companies who implemented a nurture-marketing program had:
- 46% increase in annual revenue
- 26% increase in lead conversions to sales
- 25% decrease in cost per lead
IBM lead nurtures its customers by dividing them into one of three categories depending on where they are in the buying cycle. Leads are categorized as ‘Learn’ (potential client at the initial stages of a project), ‘Scope’ (interested in case studies white papers, conducting research) or ‘Select’ (interested in comparing and engaging with vendor).
IBM maintains a dialogue with those in the Learn and Scope stages as they progress through the sales cycle, using targeted collateral and promoting IBM’s solutions. Once prospects reach the Select stage, they are handed over to the IBM sales team for direct engagement.
The graph below shows how marketing and sales can work in tangent nurturing prospects during the inbound and outbound marketing process.
Your dialogue with your customers sets the tone for the relationship. Customers know that how you sell them is how you will serve them in the future. So set the tone by nurturing their needs and nurturing their trust.
If you provide valuable education and information to prospects up front and as they need it, you’ll become their trusted advisor. Then you’ll be first in line for their business when they move from the data collection phase into the purchasing mode.
With patience, ongoing dialogue, and a good lead-nurturing program, you can ensure you’re not leaving 8 out of 10 prospects on the table for your competitors.
Are your direct mail marketing numbers spiking or splatting? If you want to bring in at least three new projects from your existing clients in the next 60 days stop selling and start solving. Solution selling is the quickest way to move from being a bother to being a trusted advisor in your customer’s mind. You’ll see a turn for the better in your numbers by making this adjustment.
So for the next two months, put one marketing or sales project on hold to give your staff time to ask your customers what big business problems they are wrestling with. Nothing engages customers faster than addressing their pain and fears.
What Keeps Them Awake at Night
Learn the three biggest worries that are keeping each CEO awake at night if you’re a B2B business or frustrating or enraging each A-level customer if you’re a B2C business. Then develop a solution to each problem each month and you’ll be delivering gold while also increasing your company’s revenues.
Start by segmenting your customer database to assemble a round-table, a CEO summit, or series of focus groups with pivotal customers to gather the specifics you can build a plan around. Better yet, send your sales force out to talk to your customers through a pain funnel one-on-one. This effort should uncover pertinent, fresh info to act on as well as improving customer relations. It will also help you hone your marketing copy.
When an appliance company did this exercise, it learned women were feeling guilty for not keeping up on their domestic chores but didn’t feel comfortable hiring outside maid services. In response, the appliance company crafted a direct marketing campaign for its robot vacuum that boosted sales 20%. Its female customers gave a big nod affirming the pain driven home in the postcard that read:
- Does vacuuming take up too much of your time?
- Do you shudder with frustration every time you look at the dirt on the floor?
- Are you frustrated by all the arguments you have with your spouse about vacuuming and wish it could be different?
Women rushed to purchase the robot vac because it solved their immediate problem — taking away the pain and guilt of a dirty house without adding time or additional tasks to their to-do list.
After you have a true understanding of your customer’s pain, you can fine-tune your marketing messages and, more importantly, add value by providing your customers more pain remedies through white papers, eBooks, and webinars. Delving deep to take away their pain is the perfect way to position your company as the go-to expert.
Intensify Their Pain
When your sale is low on a customers’ priority list, it is because they believe they have bigger problems to focus on. You can compress the sales cycle by getting them to experience the consequences of the problem in advance of it happening. You want to make this problem feel real in the present moment through story telling.
LifeLock moves the threat of identity theft to the forefront of its customers’ minds through stories. LifeLock drives home that the bad news is your data is out there, but the good news is they have your back.
My husband and I have had to deal with fraudulent use of one of our credit cards no less than 3 times over the last few years and it was a pain to deal with each time, but not nearly as much of a hassle as it would be to prove fraud if one of us had our identity stolen. I’ve heard the horror stories from victims of identity theft who were out thousands of dollars and countless hours of time trying to battle against this crime. It is comforting to know that I am able to take proactive steps to prevent this type of theft from occurring and if it does occur, I have an ally on my side, ready to help battle against it, through LifeLock’s protection plan.
Tamara Walker, R.N
“My husband was skeptical, but I signed us up, and forgot about it. A couple of months later, on a family vacation, my husband received a phone call asking if he was applying for a new credit card. Someone was trying to steal his identity. LifeLock had stopped the thief cold. We continued on with our vacation knowing we were safe.”
When St. Jerome pulled the thorn from the lion’s paw, therefore removing its pain, Jerome gained a loyal friend and protector for life. When you remove the pain from your customer’s paw, you’ll gain business and loyalty for life, too. Find that thorn.
Want to know another trade secret to spike your sales? Variable Data Printing.
This article is a guest post from Daniel Dejan, a renowned graphic arts educator, author and consultant.
“Marketing communications” was much easier in the 1990s because the only choices to launch a sales and marketing strategy were television, radio, out-of-door, and print in its many forms. A few alternatives, which fell under the heading of “other,” were not recognized yet as conventional marketing communication, but rather as beta technology for the digital revolution. Making the right media decisions required lots of market research and often employed focus groups (if you could afford them) to determine which media to utilize, to what extent, and which messages would resonate with target markets. Measurement and return-on-investment (ROI) provided the ground rules, and green flags, for future endeavors.
Fast forward to 2011 and the vast options in media channels today. Which marketing tools and what messaging will help your company achieve the ultimate goal of winning the battle for top-of-mind recognition and brand loyalty among your target market?
Confusing and challenging, isn’t it? There is an elegant and efficacious solution: ASK the target market how they would solve the conundrum. According to a Peppers and Rogers white paper, Relationship Marketing 3.0, their 2009 survey indicated that tapping into and implementing the voice-of-the-customer is the most profound process to achieve both relevancy and timing—two of the most imperative and vital attributes to any current campaign. Using online surveys to engage customers when forging a new marketing campaign can guarantee the success of most branding, prospecting and loyalty efforts. Social networking, online advertising and targeted direct mail and email can easily get the survey into the hands of the right people.
Ask your audience:
- How do you like to be communicated to?
- Which media outlets do you prefer to be contacted through?
- How can companies cut through the clutter?
- What would capture your attention?
- How often would you like to be contacted?
- Which media are you most likely to use to communicate with friends, family and colleagues?
Your customers will let you know exactly what they want from your company; whether your sales and marketing efforts are penetrating and successful, how they feel about your latest product or service, and if it does indeed fulfill a need or satisfy a want they have. After all, isn’t it the prospective customer we are trying to engage and convert into an actual customer?
By fulfilling the sales and marketing promise, we can establish, maintain and grow a loyal customer base that helps us in the quest towards brand loyalty and growth in sales. Integrating the voice-of-the-customer may be one of the most important elements of the success formula.
About the Author
Daniel Dejan is the North American ETC print and creative manager for Sappi Fine Paper North America. A dedicated graphics arts educator and author with many years of national and international experience, Dejan has been invited to judge numerous graphic design and print competitions, written extensively for graphic arts trade publications and has served on the Board of several graphic arts associations and companies.
Voice-of-the-Customer Case Study
Using business intelligence along with triggered communications is the new rocket science behind digital and direct marketing. Identifying prospect and customer activities and behaviors that indicate the need for more or less contact, business intelligence is what makes everything else happen.
For example, using strategic business intelligence to detect when a prospect has moved further into the buying process allows you to trigger communications to influence the behavior of the individual. Triggers can be simple or complex depending on your business, industry and capabilities.
Some common triggers include:
- A prospect changing to a customer
- A customer requesting a new product demonstration
- A prospect’s status changing from “cold” to “warm” as identified through predetermined behaviors
- A customer missing a regularly placed seasonal order
- A prospect visiting your website multiple times within the same week
- Online shopping cart abandonment
- Algorithms and predictive models that indicate probability of purchase
Using Triggers to Initiate Multi-Channel Communications
With programmed business rules, triggers can then automatically initiate the appropriate actions, including automatic electronic and printed communications in the forms of: text messages, email, direct mail, and personalized landing pages (PURLs). These individual communications can be sent one at a time, and can include highly personalized information such as product specifications and recommendations, industry-targeted case studies and testimonials, and satisfaction surveys to name a few.
Identifying and mapping the stages of the customer life cycle, and then applying strategic direct marketing plans to build sales and customer loyalty are worthwhile activities. By identifying the critical communication points for each stage of the customer life cycle, and then deploying relevant, triggered communications at those critical points, direct marketing can positively influence the life time value of the customer by increasing sales and the length of the relationship.
Creating Your Customer Lifecycle Communication Strategy
Developing a solid triggered life cycle communication plan begins with common principles:
- Who wants or needs to hear from us?
- What do they need to see or hear to make a decision?
- What are they trying to decide? It is not necessarily just a purchasing decision.
Other important aspects to consider:
- When do they need to see or hear the information?
- Where would they like to receive the information: in the mail, via personal visit, telephone, email or Internet?
- Understand why they want or need the information to make sure the communication is relevant and speaks to their situation.
- How much information is needed? Too much, and the person loses interest. Too little, and the person doesn’t get what they need.
Buying processes are becoming longer as both consumers and businesses carefully consider each purchase, and for complex products and services it can take months to more than a year to close a sale. Poorly timed digital and direct marketing processes that try to force a prospect into a premature purchasing decision will cause the prospect to become annoyed with the communication. They will assume future communications are irrelevant and will eventually “tune out” all attempts at engagement. Aligning triggered direct marketing efforts to the customer buying process is critical for success.
Irrelevant offers and messages alienate customers and reduce the love in the Return On Marketing Investment (ROMI) of loyalty programs. A recent study by the CMO Council uncovered that 73% of consumers participating in a loyalty program have received promotions for products and services they already own.* Ouch!
In addition to wasted marketing resources, customers become less and less interested in reading your communications. They think, “Why should I read this? I already know everything about this company and they aren’t going to offer me anything special.”
Forging a deep emotional bond with customers is at the heart of building loyalty. Direct marketing communications play a significant role in achieving a personalized experience, yet 68% of consumers rate reward program communications a seven or less on a ten point scale.** So what’s a direct marketer focused on customer retention to do? Here are four ideas to consider:
- Make sure all your data points are aggregated. This includes purchase data (both online and offline), email opens and clicks, critical online behaviors (especially important for non-commerce web sites), and direct marketing activity and response.
- Speak relevantly. By the very nature of signing up for a loyalty program, people are certain their purchases are being tracked. They expect you to use the information. So if someone only buys from only one category and nothing else, some level of cross-selling is OK, but you have to communicate about what’s important to them. The CMO Council Study also found that, “only a third of companies capture personal or product preferences from program members.” In addition, “80% said they are happy to provide additional personal data if they see that it is being used to provide relevant perks such as special offers, discounts and loyalty bonuses.”***
- Offer appropriately. Do the offers you post to Facebook have more value than the ones you email to your loyal customers? Nothing does more to diminish the value of a loyalty program than giving the wrong offers. Not all customers are as valuable as others, so not everyone should receive the same offers. (And keep in mind the relevancy issue from #2.)
- Show genuine appreciation. It is a loyalty program after all.
Loyalty programs have come to the forefront of customer retention marketing. Growing and expanding the love in the customer relationships evolves around cross-selling, up-selling and lengthening the customer life cycle. Using data intelligence to provide messages and offers that are personalized to customers, demonstrates that you are interested in helping them in some way, and not just trying to hit the next sales quota.What are some other ideas to improve the relevancy of loyalty programs? Please share in our Comments section.
*CMO Council, Why Relevance Drives Response and Relationships
**Research conducted by Colloquy/LoyaltyOne and Direct Antidote
*** Transactis Report http://www.pressreleasepoint.com/transactis-survey-shows-road-customer-trust-consumer-bliss