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Don't Ignore the Easiest Place to Find Customers

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This week I received a great marketing lesson in the form of a hand-written thank you card from my insurance agent. The card was thoughtful and sincere enough, but the timing could have been a lot better. The card was sent to beg me to come back in response to my decision to switch to another insurance provider.

At that point in our business relationship, the agent seemed willing to do almost anything to earn back my business. If only the agent had been willing to offer the same level of service in order to insure my continued patronage during my previous two years as a customer.

It can be easy for business owners to ignore their existing customers. After all, you've already won them, right? Not necessarily. Even current customers can become prospects again because the minute they complete a purchase, you'll want to lasso another.

Of course, keeping up a constant stream of marketing communications can be daunting. But if the enticement of boosting sales isn't enough, it should be some comfort to know that getting shoppers to come back is almost always an easier -- and cheaper -- proposition.

Here are some of the simplest and most cost-effective ways to engage with your current customers so they'll not only return but also refer your business.

  • Use Facebook to create exclusive display ads for your current fans. Assuming you've done your best to make sure your customers "like" your business on Facebook, you can create ads that only appear to your current fans. Just select Advanced Targeting Options during the display ad creation process.
  • Collect contact information and permission from as many customers as possible so you can send periodic emails, newsletters or text messages. Send up-sell and cross-sell promotions to recent customers, and track the interactions so you can follow up with anyone who shows interest.
  • Install ad retargeting on your website. Retargeting is the process of placing special code on your key web pages so your website visitors see your advertisements when they visit other sites. An agency can help you place retargeted ads around the web. Thus, when people make repeat visits to specific pages on your website, such as a product page promoted to customers, you can follow up by increasing the number of ad impressions shown to those individuals.
  • Finally, don't discount the fact that building stronger relationships with customers and staying top-of-mind also gives you a competitive advantage. It's a lot harder for people to switch to the competition when they feel like your business knows them and understands their needs better.

What do you do to keep your current customers coming back? Leave a comment and let us know.

- John Arnold is president of Aveta Marketing, a marketing agency in Boulder, Colo.

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