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Customer Retention: 4 Incredibly Simple Ways to Stay Top-Of-Mind

I was in a marketing class one time, and the main speaker was a real estate agent. One of the things she said to the class really stuck with me, and that was:

“I would rather have somebody tell me they straight up chose not to refer their friends to me than for somebody to tell me they forgot I’m a real estate agent.”

My first thought was, well that would be pretty awkward for someone to tell her they just chose not to refer their friends to her…” But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with what she said.

We are living in the most connected times in all of history. We keep up with our friends and family in real-time through phone calls, text messages, emails, social media, etc. every single day. So when you own a business, the same opportunities for connection are available to you, although many businesses aren’t taking full advantage (even though most of these methods of communication are 100% free).

When you own a business, you may think that getting new customers is the key to staying alive. Let me just say this, new customers are FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC, you guys. I still get excited every single time I get an alert saying someone has subscribed to my email list, or downloaded one of my freebies from my Free Resource Library – because connecting with new people is fun and a great opportunity to create a new relationship.

But it doesn’t end there.

Getting new customers is wonderful and essential for a healthy business, but keeping those customers is the other side to the equation. Customer retention is a major problem in businesses today, and part of the reason being because we have the world at our fingertips. Say something to piss off a customer? They’ll Google another car mechanic down the road from your shop and you’ll never hear from them again. Do a bad job painting their kitchen? No worries, they’ll find someone else by the end of the hour. Mow their lawn once or twice and then never contact them again? There’s an entire phone book section full of landscapers just dying to grab up that business.

All of these are a problem, but the last scenario is the one I’m really going to focus on. As a business owner, one thing I can tell you for certain is that you’re never going to keep every single customer you get. Someone will get annoyed with you, find better pricing, or maybe even just fire you for no reason at some point in your business’s life. And that’s okay, because you can’t keep every single person that you work with happy…you just can’t (not saying you shouldn’t try). But one thing that just isn’t acceptable is for people to forget that you’re here. Because there are WAY too many resources to help you stay top-of-mind with your customers and improve customer retention.

The three customer retention strategies that I want to discuss now are all communication-based and are extremely easy to implement and keep up, it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it.

  1. Sending out a newsletter: If you’ve read any of my other posts, you know how serious I am about businesses having an email list. Your email list is YOURS and it’s a direct line of communication to your customers. Social media is wonderful, and I’m actually going to talk about it next, but an email list is easily the most important resource for your business and for customer retention because it 100% belongs to you. You can have a million followers on Facebook, but if Mark Zuckerburg decides to pull the plug and get rid of the entire platform, all of those people are gone. Same with Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, you name it. Unless you delete your email account without backing up your email database, you will always have access to your customers’ email addresses.

Sending out a newsletter regularly, whether it’s once a week or once a month, is a great way to stay top-of-mind with your customers. Emails are a direct link from you to your customers’ inboxes, and unless they have you marked as spam, chances are they’re going to see it. Here’s another great part about it, even if they don’t read what you send (but the goal is that they will), they will still see that an email came from you and it puts you at the top of their mind. You can create a newsletter account for your business for FREE using programs like MailChimp and Mailerlite (I use Mailerlite, personally, but they both work fine).

Sometimes it can be difficult to come up with things to email your customers about. But here’s the thing, it can really be anything as long as it adds value to their life and isn’t spammy (because that’s annoying and everybody hates it).

Another great thing about Mailerlite (and some other email providers, but I’m talking specifically about Mailerlite in this post) is that it has amazing automation features, which means you can “set it and forget it,” leaving your email to run itself (for the most part). You can set up triggers and responses that work automatically without you having to constantly monitor your email account, such as introduction emails. For example, if a customer joins your email list through your website, you can set a trigger for when a reader is added to that list, and a response to automatically send them an email welcoming them to your business, introducing yourself, offering a coupon, etc.

Even if you are just starting out in a brand new business, do yourself a favor and start an email list immediately! Trust me, it’s never too early.

  1. Utilizing social media: Facebook and Instagram aren’t just for friends and family anymore…they’re an essential tool for business owners. Having a business Facebook page is super important for helping people find your business when they search online, especially if you don’t yet have a website. But you absolutely need a website, even if your business is just a side gig – as explained in this post.

Facebook pages are completely free and they allow you to have a lot of information about your business all in one place such as:

  • Hours and business location

  • Logo and brand colors

  • Link to your website

  • Customer reviews (this is a big one!)

  • Photos of your projects and products

  • Live videos (this is extremely popular right now, if you can figure out a way to incorporate it into your business, you should give it a try!)

We are all (for the most part) pretty well plugged into social media. Posting regularly allows you to get in front of your customers and potential customers on a regular basis.

Like emails, you can pretty much post whatever you want on social media. I like to keep my emails a little more informative and business-related, and give my social accounts a little splash of fun (with business stuff mixed in there, as well). All business all the time is a little stiff…gotta shake it up, know what I mean?

Post about new products, give a behind-the-scenes look at a project you’re working on, introduce new employees, share a photo of your dog, be relatable. Social media is supposed to be fun, but also a great way to stay in front of your customers at the same time.

Another awesome, incredibly useful feature on Facebook and Instagram in particular is the ad feature. You set your own budget, use your own photos/graphics, completely customize your target audience and promote whatever you want. Whether you want to spend $50 and run an ad for the weekend or spend $1,000 and run an ad for two months, it’s completely up to you.

  1. Sending cards to past clients: Besides just being a really nice gesture, sending cards to customers for special occasions is a great strategy for customer retention. Not only does it show that you care about your customers and what’s going on in their lives, but it also reminds them that you exist. They get a card from you in the mail and it jogs their memory about what you’re offering. Maybe they haven’t purchased anything from you in a while, but they remember that their mom’s birthday is coming up and they need to get her something. Or maybe they’re hosting a big party at their house and are in need of some landscaping, but had totally forgotten about it until now. Keeping yourself in front of your customers is essential for customer retention, and this is an easy way to do that.

How do I go about getting info on what’s going on in my customers’ lives? Glad you asked. Remember what we just talked about in #2? Social media.

At the risk of sounding creepy, you would be amazed at what you can find out on Facebook. Birthdays, weddings, birth announcements, anniversaries, buying/building a new home and just about and other card-worthy occasion you can think of. Social media is a fantastic tool for keeping up with your customers, just like they keep up with you!

Another extremely easy way to gather basic customer information is to have them fill out a simple information form the first time they do business with you. Name, address, phone number, email address and date of birth – easy as that. Create a spreadsheet with a tab for each month and add in customer birthdays, keep a notebook, set a calendar reminder – whatever will help you keep track. If you really want to get fancy, there is an online program called Send Out Cards that you can add customer information into and have reminders sent to you when birthdays and other events are coming up. They have an insane amount of cards for every occasion, and you can pay per card or sign up for a monthly program.

4. Pop-By Gifts: If you want to take it a step further (which I'm personally always a fan of), "popping by" occasionally at a customer's home or somewhere you know you'll run into them with a small, fun gift is always a hit! Now, this isn't necessarily applicable to every type of customer. If you own an online boutique and you've never met your customers face to face, don't show up at their house. But if you offer a product or service that involves you going to their home (think cleaning, real estate, pool install, landscaping, plumbing, etc.) and you've been to their house before, it's totally not weird to drop a small gift on their porch from time to time.

Something like a mum in October or a hanging floral basket in the Spring lets you know you're thinking of them...and keeps them thinking of you!

These are three simple, easy action items that can be quickly implemented to help improve your customer retention and keep you at the top of your customers’ minds. If you want to focus on one at a time, I would recommend starting an email list first, setting up socials second and sending out cards/dropping off gifts third.

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