With Net Promoter Surveys, Grow Your Company Without Spending Big on Marketing

They can help you learn valuable insights from existing customers -- and increase sales.
With Net Promoter Surveys, Grow Your Company Without Spending Big on Marketing
Image credit: Federico Gastaldi
Magazine Contributor
Founder of Pen Name Consulting
4 min read

This story appears in the November 2018 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Q: What’s the best way to ignite stalled revenue, especially if you have a limited marketing budget?  -- Mike, Colorado

Mike, I think a little dating advice might be what you need. Many years ago, after my wedding, one of my single friends jokingly asked, “How many women do you have to date before you find your wife?” 

I responded by saying, “It’s not about how many girls you date; it’s about how many dates you have with the girl.”

Related: 8 Steps to Manage Your Customers Through Change

Obviously, marriage is something you build to over time with one person. But I like to think of business (and revenue) in much the same way. If someone likes your business or product, your only reaction shouldn’t be Let’s find another customer. Instead, ask yourself, How do we do this again with the same customer?

Brand loyalty is the reason today’s biggest businesses win. Trillion-dollar behemoths like Apple and Amazon add to their customer bases all the time, sure, but they’re also excellent at driving repeat purchases. They’re not dating their customers; they’re marrying them. If you can do that -- maximizing the lifetime value and revenue per customer -- then you’ll have achieved two of the most important things in business: You’ll grow, and you’ll gain insights that will make it easier to find new consumers (and to do it for less money).

So, how do you start? One of the best ways is through net promoter scores. Net promoter begins with a simple, often free-to-create email survey you ask your customers to fill out. (If you want to increase the likelihood of a response, we recommend incentivizing your consumers -- something as simple as giving away gift cards or discounts is an easy value proposition to encourage higher response rates.) The initial question is straightforward: “How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?” Customers are asked to rank you from 1 to 10. Those who rank you 9 to 10 are known as “promoters”; those who score you 0 to 6 are “detractors.” (A 7 or 8 score is neutral.) 

Related: 10 Innovative Ways to Excite Your Customers

After this initial question, the opportunities are numerous. From your promoters, you can figure out why they love your business, what messaging was effective and what they want more of. Detractors can help you understand where you’re missing the mark, what made them unhappy and even spot potential trends (psycho­graphic or demographic) among unhappy customers. 

Then the real fun begins. Cross-sell other products or offer discounts to your promoters with the expectation of converting at a higher percentage, because you know these people are believers in your business. You can also use their responses to fine-tune your sales techniques to attract more people who are similar to your biggest advocates.

Related: 10 Tactics For Increasing Your Customer Lifetime Value and Loyalty

Likewise, you can win back the detractors. Were they unhappy? Yes. Can you go the extra mile to show them they matter and earn brand redemption? Absolutely. Because now you know what went wrong. 

Either way -- and we usually recommend tackling both audiences -- you’ll be armed with valuable data and insights, a better relationship with your consumers and more sales fueling your growth. And you can achieve it all on a very limited budget.  

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