The title of this blog might be a bit off-putting to some!
Many will immediately think “We don’t forget about our customers! They are continual purchasers of X every month!” or perhaps “They have a long-term contract with us. We speak to them frequently and work with them all of the time.”
That could all be true. However, when marketers refer to “forgetting” about customers, they’re coming from a strict marketing perspective rather than a sales perspective.If your marketing process is working properly, many of your customers are with you today as a result of a concerted set of marketing tactics that were designed to attract, convert, and close leads. In B2B marketing, it’s fair to look at this as a form of courtship.
First, your marketing is structured to attract attention, for example, on social media. Once you have the attention of potential buyers, you’re trying to keep them interested by offering a piece of content that may encourage them to submit their contact information. Then, you’re using their contact information to keep them engaged and get more content in front of them. Eventually, after a long engagement process during which they have shown their interest (a day, or even months later), you can pass them to sales and, hopefully, they close the deal by buying something.
It’s at this point that many businesses seem to forget about the customer and move on to the next one. But, the marketing process shouldn’t end there. The marketing relationship with the customer should continue beyond the initial purchase.
Stop Courting and Start Delighting
When you haven’t closed a lead yet, you’re using all the marketing tactics at your disposal. The attention you give to the lead, along with the tone and style of the content that goes with it, is all about letting the lead know that your brand cares about them. This entices them to download more material or contact your company for a further discussion.
Many marketing programs seem to have a gap when it comes to maintaining the relationship with newly acquired or existing customers: When leads become customers, there isn’t much else that goes out to them in the way of brand communication.
But the marketing process should be structured to address all of your contacts in different ways at every stage of the buyer’s journey. If you don’t want your customers to feel like they were only good to your brand pre-purchase, then your marketing tactics should shift from courting to delighting. This can be achieved by delivering content that will continue to keep them interested and show that you care about maintaining the relationship with them.
Keep Them Engaged
Most customers do care about getting information from a brand they’re doing business with. Not only can new materials benefit them by simply informing, they can also plant the seed about potentially upgrading or purchasing new products or services. For that reason, new product or service news, company news, or even recent blog posts can all be used to keep customers engaged.
Customers also want to like your brand and want you to be credible. At some point, they made the decision to go with you for good reasons. Reminding them that you’re active in the industry with new content reinforces the idea that you take industry and product and/or service discussions seriously. It makes your customers feel good about your brand on top of feeling good about the products and/or services they’re using.
Finally, unless you have a monopoly, there are other companies that want to eat your lunch and steal your customers. That’s why it’s important that the freshest thing in your customer’s mind is not that snazzy new brochure, brief, blog, etc. from your competitor. By keeping your customers in the loop, you are keeping your brand front and center in their minds, ensuring that you continually compete with alternatives and prevent a potential switch to a competitor.
Continue the Conversation
The marketing and sales process continually aims pull input from leads:
- Can we talk to you next week?
- How are you doing on your decision?
- Would you like us to send you more materials?
- Are we emailing you too much?
- Are you sure you’re good for now, should someone follow up with you soon?
And on and on.
Of course, when leads become customers, there’s a new set of questions that enter the marketer’s mind:
- Are we emailing our customers too much?
- Do they even care about the newsletter?
- If they do, is the information in it useful?
- What other kinds of information would they like to see?
- Is there content we don’t have that we should be creating?
There’s a simple way to get the answers to these questions from your customers: Ask them.
When you ask your customers for input, the marketing process is no longer a one-way street. It’s a conversation. Using a variety of methods, you can ask customers questions to get them more engaged in that conversation. Whether it’s a quick question at the end of an email, or perhaps even a survey, your customers appreciate that you ask for their input, and you’ll appreciate the feedback.
Use Your Judgement
At the end of the day, all industries, markets, and audiences are different. There isn’t a rigid set of guidelines for marketers to follow that guarantees success in the customer engagement and retention process. Your judgement will have to come into play when deciding the exact tactics you should be using to continue the marketing conversation with customers, how often you should do it, how blatant your intent should be, and so on.
When tastefully done, ongoing communication with customers may put a smile on their face, prevent a switch to a competitor, and even encourage an upgrade or additional purchase.
However, there is one truth that seems to play out time and time again. If your brand forgets about its customers, your customers tend to forget about your brand – they have other things to do with their time and other options constantly making themselves available.