Posts tagged customer retention
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?
Internet shopping has increased 51% in the past two years. Today, seven out of 10 internet users shop online. If you’re an e-commerce company, this is all good until you see that e-retailers have lost around $33 billion in revenues because of abandoned carts in the past several years. Statistics indicate that three out of 10 online shoppers abandon their carts – that’s 70 percent.
Abandoned carts mean abandoned revenues. Getting someone to almost make a purchase serves no one on the game scorecard of business. Surprisingly only 15% of the top 1000 online retailers are following up with shoppers who don’t complete their transaction.
Part of personalized marketing is knowing what your customer came for and making sure they leave with it.
Why do people abandon carts?
Though there may be many reasons for an online shopper to push the keyboard away and not click “make purchase,” including a crying baby, the most common reasons are:
1. A poor checkout experience. The process was too long, complicated, cumbersome, or not inline with an easier experience they’ve grown accustomed to.
2. High shipping charges. By the time shopper gets to the screen with this information, he or she is shocked by the shipping charge and therefore aborts the purchase.
3. Doing their own price check. Some shoppers are looking for the best price and the only way to learn the price is to initiate a purchase. McAfee calls this digital window shopping.
4. They lack trust. Because of media reports of other online retailers having their customer database breached or the fear of identity theft, they fear putting their credit card number into your hands. They are worried about being defrauded on your site.
5. They didn’t see the option they wanted. Perhaps they don’t want to sign up for an account with the retailer to make one purchase this lifetime or perhaps they thought there would be a Pay Pal option. When they don’t see the option of their preference, they abort.
Turning that Cart Around
Abandonment is a lose/lose. The retailer doesn’t make the sale and the customer stays home empty handed. Fortunately, there are ways to decrease shopping cart abandonment and improve the customer experience.
1. Improve the experience. One of the main reasons consumers choose to shop online is the convenience. Ensure the process is easy, convenient, smooth and glitch-free. Place a shopping cart on every page or at the top of each page so finding it is easy.
2. Have reasonable shipping charges. Make sure your shipping charges are in line, or build them into your prices so you can offer free shipping.
3. Earn their trust. Seeing is believing in America and online. Have the best designed site you can afford, which includes a full company name, complete address and phone number, easy-to-find contact us page and form, a complete About Us page with professionally taken photographs. Display trust seals, association seals and any other seals you have permission to use. Also include social media buttons to follow. Showing that your company is present elsewhere on the Net provides social validation to prospects.
4. Provide online help. Provide all the help channels you can muster so your prospects can quickly get their answers and leave with what they came for. FAQs, forums, and live chats will bolster confidence and increase sales.
5. Follow up afterwards. Be one of the minority that follow-up by email or phone with prospects that abandon their carts. Chances are there’s something you can do to gain their business by answering a question or sending them a URL to a page that you can walk them through.
6. Show ‘em before they get there. If they know the payment options you offer and the shipping charges upfront, you’ll decrease abandonment at the end of the purchasing process.
7. Be technically and verbally clear. Make sure you’ve been crystal clear on your business, your product and the steps to checkout. What seems clear to an IT person, most certainly won’t seem clear to a grandmother on her first laptop. And make sure the pages load quickly, the forms are accepted without errors, and, customer doesn’t leave the screen until he or she sees a note that their order has been received.
Recovery of Lost Sales
Cart abandonment is a huge opportunity for Internet retailers. By following the recommendations above you can be on your way to recovering some of the $18 million being lost each year, according to Listrak.
Don’t be among the 22% of businesses that have no idea what their abandonment rate is or how much they are losing. Start by using Listrak’s online shopping cart abandonment calculator to get a grip on the size of the problem.
Then devise a reachback campaign to redirect these dollars back to your company vs. a competitors’ cart. Because unlike digital window shopping, a shopper who has abandoned his or her cart, will most likely return. In analysis of over 160 million transactions, the average time between their first visit to your online store and their return is between 54 minutes and 33 hours.
If you can re-engage these customers in this timeframe, you have a high likelihood of regaining a customer and helping them fill their shopping cart.
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.
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
In a recent BtoB Magazine Online post Karen Bannan says, “transactional messages can help you reach out to new or current customers to help build brand awareness and even create new sales.” Her article “Tips for Transactional Email” contains a multitude of reminders of how impactful email can be for building customer relationships. It also highlights all the wonderful benefits of relevancy and timeliness when communicating with customers.
- But what if the customer’s email address isn’t accurate?
- What if, the client gives you an email address they never check? (We all know that many people have a “junk” email account that they don’t check all that often.)
- What if, your email gets caught in a spam filter and the customer never receives it?
With new advances in email and printing automation technology, there are ways to make sure your transactional marketing (transpromo) stays at the top of its game by using a multi-channel approach. Here are a couple of ideas to get you thinking:
- Based on the value of the customer, if the email hard bounces you send a direct mail piece to present the information and great offers they missed in the email. You also provide an easy way to collect the correct email address, usually via a landing page or Personalized URL. This landing page is also a great place to ask their preference for all types of transpromo communications.
- You can define engagement rules to know when you should communicate via a different channel. A couple of examples:
- If the email isn’t opened within seven days, a mail piece is triggered.
- If three transactional emails are not opened, a text message or direct mail piece is triggered.
It is important to remember that the goal of the utilizing alternate channels is not just to sell more, but to get the customer to engage with the channel that’s right for them. Email Experience Council research states that 85% of the people on your email list will stop reading your emails without unsubscribing after the third message your company sends to them. How are you going to re-engage them?
Derek Harding, CEO of Innovyx, Omnicom Group’s interactive arm states, “If someone has just made a purchase, you absolutely must try and keep that dialogue going.” The way I see it, that means utilizing every channel at your disposal to serve and engage your customer.
A special thanks for Karen Bannan for her thoughtful article on transactional email. You can read it here.