How to Develop Lifelong Clients The too-often-overlooked art of customer retention (as opposed to acquisition) is pivotal to success in just about every business venture, and there are proven methods of honing it.
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According to a survey of businesses conducted by the consulting company Invesp (which specializes in conversion rate optimization), it costs five times more to obtain new clients as it does to retain old ones, and that businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of re-selling to former clients versus a 5% to 20% chance of sales success with new ones. It's just common sense: If you've given a client great service and they know they can trust you, they're much more willing to give you their business.
So, why do so many entrepreneurs pay little or no attention to client retention?
Even though my closing rates are much higher than 5% to 20%, I emphasize customer retention religiously. For my coaching business, I'm constantly developing new courses and seminars, and clients who have trained with me know that I provide great value. Clients in my real estate business, meanwhile, may only need my services once every 10 years, but by staying connected to them and continuing to serve them, they become a great source of repeat business and referrals. Think of clients as your tribe. If you continue to support them, they'll continue to support you.
A few dos and don'ts:
Do offer value
The days of refrigerator magnets as client incentives are gone! Instead, give them something they could truly use to improve their lives. For example, for my real estate clients I offer informational videos on the state of the market, along with home maintenance tips… even the best new restaurants in town. For coaching clients, I send videos on new digital strategies or platforms that might be helpful for them.
Don't make it all about you
To establish and keep trust and interest, you need to be generous with expertise and knowledge and not bombard people with pitches about the latest offering. We've all developed pretty nimble "delete" fingers: If all they see from you are emails or posts that try to sell them something, they'll quickly learn to ignore outreaches. You want them to be eager to read or listen to anything with your name on it.
Do be consistent
And by this I don't mean reaching out once each year. Think about friendships: Only the very oldest and closest can stay healthy with little contact. To nurture relationships, you need to be in contact more frequently, at least once per month.
Don't be boring
If you're doing a newsletter or a blog entry, make it snappy and use lots of graphics. If using video (which is much more effective), make each is fun and upbeat, and incorporate language that's not overly technical. And whether it's in written, audio or video form, keep it brief!
Do get online
If your clients are like seven-in-ten Americans, they're on social media, so get onto all the platforms your clients use and create a social media strategy for what you'll post and when. For example, you can do Facebook Live sessions on topics your community is interested in and invite prior clients to them, and/or create a batch of videos on topics within your industry then post them on your YouTube channel.
The objective of client retention efforts is to remind prior customers how great and helpful you are. In that effort, think "Show, don't tell" and "Serve, don't sell." When you do both, clients know you have their best interests at heart.
The bottom line is that we all have incredibly short attention spans. Clients may have loved your service, but unless you make an effort to stay top-of-mind among them, they'll forget. If you want a business to stay healthy, make it a priority to keep in touch and keep giving value.