Love your customers - but not just for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is almost upon us - the one day of the year when we must, absolutely must, demonstrate our affection, our commitment, and our driving passion to the most important people in our lives, before going back to business as usual on the 15th...

That’s not how it works, of course. Relationships aren’t to be celebrated for one day and taken for granted the rest of the year. Like St. Valentine himself, let us lift the veil from your eyes and explain how to show the love to your customers, all year round.

Beyond the first date

Many businesses will focus their efforts on the early stages of the relationship - lead generation, and trying to persuade prospects to become paying customers - and leave things to lie after the conversion, maybe with a brief ‘thank you’ email and an automated sign-up to the mailing list. This isn’t making the most of your prospects - it’s like pulling out all the stops for the first date, and turning up to the second in your dressing gown with a few cans of Special Brew in hand.

Marketing isn’t just about leads. Current customers are, after all, a proven return on investment - they’re already interested in what you have to offer, and you know what they like. It’s a lot easier to hang on to them and increase their spend than it is to entice a total stranger with whom you don’t already have that connection. Why go out on the pull every night when you have someone’s number right there on your phone?

Long-term commitment

It’s easy to be stuck for ideas when it comes to second dates. Or third. Or fourth. How do you live up to that first kiss, or that first conversion? The solution is simple: don’t be selfish. Don’t think about yourself, think about them. What do you know about them?

You have a name, a purchase, and a record of their activity on your website (we’re talking websites here by the way, not dates). There’s loads you can do with that. Personalise the content they receive; keep monitoring their activity and suggest similar products. Introduce simple loyalty offers and rewards; make it clear that you want to see them again and again. Always remember their birthday; a promotional offer on that day, addressed just to them, will make them feel special and important.

Last but not least - get to know them better. Don’t talk about yourself, your product, your success, your plans and how great you are - ask them about themselves. Invite them to email, to comment and to tweet. Ask them for feedback, ask them how they’re using what they bought from you and what they’d like to see you provide down the line. You don’t have to be a mind-reader, trying to guess what they think is a good night out - asking them in a conversation, with them at the centre of attention, and it shows you want to know for sure.

Double dating

Engaged customers are the best brand advocates you could wish for - they’re voluntary, they’re authentic, and they’re more trusted by those leads you have your eye on. Offer a referral incentive, and partner up with another business; they’ll bring a friend and so will you. Everybody benefits, and nobody’s cheating: you’re encouraging loyalty and you’re adding variety to your relationship.

You’re meeting new people and putting on the charm, without the perils of talking to strangers, or the fear you’re neglecting the ones you love. People often seem more attractive when they’re in relationships; so does your business. It’s simple logic: taking care of your existing customers shows your prospects that you’re serious. Committed. In this for the long term.

Chasing after new business may seem like a priority, but your existing customers may be the best way of catching it - and they’re the ones already paying your bills. Show a little loyalty. Show a little love. It pays off.

Tweet us your email marketing question and have it answered, and get a shout-out on the next episode of On The Winbox.