This article focuses on ways to address new and returning customers to encourage repeat business and loyalty. The ideas presented here are not new, but they are combined in such a way as to allow you to pick and choose which ones are most appropriate for your business, as well as generate ideas of your own for building online and offline relationships with your customers, clientele, or prospectives.
1) Emails: When it isn’t SPAM
Email can be used effectively when treated with moderation. Resist the temptation to come up with 20 different email templates that should be sent to a customer and focus on getting the basics right instead. Four to five emails over the course of a month is very tolerable, especially when each email has a specific purpose. Take for example the order confirmation email that is generated when the customer places an order: it should be concise, short and easy to understand, which is that you got their order. It should include quick answers to common questions, but you shouldn’t waste space with advertising, save it for a future email. With that future email, thank them for their business and offer a repeat order discount or highlight featured items.
A reasonable email flow might look like:
- Order Confirmation Email (short & concise)
- Shipment Confirmation Email (short & concise)
- Thank You Email with 15 day offer
- Specials & Featured Product Email
2) Direct Mail Flyers
Since you have mailing information for the customer, setup a calendar of direct mail postcards that go out to your entire customer database. Also setup a system for sending out direct mail with one-off address labels for brand new customers to get the repeat exposure in that critical time frame of the weeks following a good experience. Costs can range based on frequency, list size, and complexity of direct mailer(s) production. Keep it simple by having one-offs printed in advance and print labels as needed, and schedule new flyers to be mailed on a quarterly or monthly basis depending on how often your market changes or inventory fluctuates.
3) Paper Catalogs & One-Sheets
The days of catalogs are not necessarily numbered, as seen by the effectiveness of large direct order houses who have survived the transition online by using both channels to more effectively cater to the customer. You can take advantage of these dynamics by scaling down to a four or eight page catalog or even a one-sheet that uses web based calls-to-action. This is an expansion of the direct mail flyers idea, but has even more possibilities.
4) Its All In The Packaging
What do you include in shipments going out to the customer? Clearly, you have the obvious: product and packing slip, but what else could you be including? One example is a simple print-out on card stock that has your logo and a special promo code for their next (return) order? You could spin this as a Thank You or a Frequent Buyer program, or make it time-sensitive to get the repeat order sooner. The possibilities here are really close to endless: postcard or paper catalog, one-sheet on your company or highlight on the type of products you sell, or even a newsletter you recently printed. Look at your current marketing materials and look for potential re-use with no or simple modifications.
A Note On Customer Service
Providing an excellent customer service experience in each and every order processed on your site is the most direct way to building repeat business. There are a myriad of ways to address customer service during the order cycle, a few major ones could be:
- Repeat contact with the customer regarding the status of their order
- Prompt shipment of goods (or contact if there will be a delay)
- Easy-to-understand return policies and directions
- Real human beings available to answer questions and handle issues with shipped goods
Improving your customer service through better follow up, as well as implementing other customer service initiatives will pay dividends over two to three years, longer if new customer acquisition continues.
Quick Study: Elrick Art Supplies
We are associated with this website only in that we buy office and art supplies from this website. Once you have placed an order, they send two emails, one to confirm the order and one to confirm shipment of the product. The package arrives with a postcard and paper catalog along with the nicely wrapped product and the packing slip, which is basic and easy to read. After two weeks or so they send out a postcard and a few more follow up emails thanking you for your business. This is a solid customer service experience with repeat exposure that educates us as to what other products they carry. We now are trained to go to their website first when looking for anything art or office related.
Above all, treat what you implement as research. Some ideas may have no effect at all (not all segments will respond to a paper catalog, as those segments will assume they can get the same information online and not want to deal with looking at or using the paper catalog). Measurement over periods of time will help guide you in figuring out what to ramp up and where to look next. Keep refining follow up initiatives that gain traction and learn from them. You will find channels and avenues to your customers that none of your competitors pick up on, which strengthens your position in the market and raises the barrier to entry.
I hope this article was valuable to you. MagicLamp offers this kind of advice and know-how to all of our clients on a daily basis. If you are interested in finding out more about what MagicLamp can do for you, contact us for a free consultation. If you are an existing client of MagicLamp and want to get started on any of these ideas or new ones you may have, email us or add a new task in the Change Management System.