Posts in CRM
45 Ways to make your customers and your tribe feel appreciated

The people you write for or make videos for. The people you sell your products to. The people on the other end. They’re inspired by you. They love what you sell. They listen to you. I know, because otherwise they wouldn’t be there.

If you’d like to make them feel appreciated, I hope you’ll find inspiration in my list below.

If I had to sum this list up, I’d say: be honest, be kind, be transparent and remember you’re an uplifter. Because you are. And we’re all ready to be uplifted by you.

  1. A thank you just because email

  2. Secret updates about a new product you’re working on

  3. A special section on your website only accessible to customers, where you post additional content from what’s visible to all visitors

  4. A behind the scenes video

  5. Dedicate a new product to a customer who inspired you

  6. Limited edition products just for elite customers

  7. Thank you handwritten cards

  8. Gifts that don’t have your company’s logo on them

  9. An event just for customers

  10. A virtual club

  11. Ask for your customers’ vote about something you’re working on (and show them how you’ve used their vote)

  12. A multi city tour to meet your customers

  13. Donate to a cause that’s important to your customers

  14. Fix people’s problems quickly and seamlessly

  15. Follow up with people who had an issue

  16. Answer people’s questions on social media

  17. Ask for people’s feedback and show them you used it

  18. A free product day, where everyone gets a free sample (inspired from Ben & Jerry’s “free cone” annual day)

  19. A free workshop on a topic valuable to your customers

  20. Give a shout out to special customers on social media and/or your other marketing messages

  21. Gather and share “customer stories” (ex. a newsletter with customer pictures and stories)

  22. Offer a surprise upgrade

  23. A “Happy One” card on the customer’s one year anniversary with your business

  24. A separate phone line just for customers (or just for VIP customers)

  25. Pop up (virtual or in person) week where “product experts” (i.e. stylists, engineers etc.) answer your customers’ questions

  26. Wish them happy birthday and offer a gift

  27. Give an unexpected reimbursement

  28. Respond personally to some customer inquiries

  29. Create a “year in review” for each customer

  30. Empower your employees to spontaneously do special things for your customers

  31. Create personalized products for some customers (inspired by Samsung http://mashable.com/2012/08/30/samsung-dragon-phone/#U.Q3rP5lLgqV)

  32. A celebratory, thank you or get well card signed manually by your entire team

  33. Tshirts with your customers’ names on them

  34. A concierge service only for your VIP clients

  35. Jokes, mantras or words of inspiration customized with a customer’s details

  36. A special video message from your founder or team

  37. Different emails for customers (don’t just change the message, change the design too)

  38. A different package for repeat customers

  39. An AMA (ask me anything) day where your team is available all day to answer questions asked by your customers in real time online

  40. “How I built this” 100% honest and transparent training

  41. Celebrate your birthday with your customers

  42. Start an award for customers only

  43. Monthly digital art with things overheard in your tribe

  44. Gift books that inspired you in creating your product, content or business

  45. Say thank you to everyone who gives you a shout out on social media

They understand something that’s often forgotten in CRM strategies

Harvey helped me with several small projects around my home. He also painted my apartment.

This past week Harvey texted me to wish me Happy Holidays. He wrote that he’s grateful for the work he’s done for me and hopes I will always call him when I need work done.

Bella works in a beauty salon and is incredibly passionate about what she does for a living. I’m one of her loyal customers. Bella texts me every now and then to ask me how I am, if I’d like to make an appointment and to let me know when she’s away on vacation for a longer period of time.

Bella and Harvey don’t care much about marketing. Yet they always have customers. They didn’t purposefully implement a CRM strategy. Yet, they abound in loyal customers.

They understand something that’s often forgotten in meeting rooms in large companies. They know the relationships they build with their customers are the backbone of their business. When they talk with their customers, they’re genuine and authentic and eager to build a long lasting relationship.

Building long lasting and profitable relationships should be the goal of every CRM strategy.

CRM stands for customer relationship management. It’s about using meaningful customer data to create strategies and systems that maximize each customer’s lifetime value. To maximize value, you have to build and strengthen a relationship.

Unfortunately, CRM is vastly misunderstood. It’s not just about a sophisticated tool or about customer intelligence. But more importantly, it’s not just about making more money from the customers you already have.

How you make more money from your customers matters. You can make more money in ways that set you up for customer retention and loyalty, or you can make more money in ways that set you up for one time customers. It’s easier to do the latter. But in the long run, the latter will harm your business.

No matter how big your company will get, no matter how big your customer database will grow, all your CRM efforts should ultimately be about creating relationships with individual customers. Not about mass marketing, but about recognizing each customer as a unique individual with unique desires. Not about shouting the same message to all your customers, but about saying the right thing at the right time to the right person. Not about creating a sale, but about creating lifetime sales.

Here’s a little exercise. Take a look at your marketing calendar, at all the marketing emails and all other 1:1 communication you have planned for the month ahead. How many of them resonate with the customer segment that’s receiving them so much so that these customers think that message was created for them and only them? How many push a mass marketing event? How many build an emotional connection? How many were created to make a sale and how many were created to strengthen a relationship and increase lifetime value?

Perhaps the reason why so many of us can’t answer these questions in a way that feels good to us is because it’s not always easy to create marketing that generates maximum sales and that also strengthens the relationship with customers as much as possible. It’s a mix of art and science. However, when your objective is to strengthen the relationship with your customers, and when you stay grounded in direct marketing and CRM best practices, it’s my experience that you will gain all the sales you deserve.

How to grow your business with CRM, lifecycle & retention marketing

I don’t know about others, but if you’d ask me, your CRM strategy is the most efficient way to grow your business. In fact, if you’re not using a CRM strategy in your business, you’re probably leaving a lot of money on the table. 

And you know what the best part of a CRM strategy is? Most of it is automated, so you get to work less on marketing and more on your wonderful products. Apart from a couple of touches here and there, you can automate all communication via email, and just watch the sales come in.

What is CRM, lifecycle marketing and retention marketing?

CRM (short for Customer Relationship Management) is about just what its title says, managing your relationship with the people whose contact information you already have, (ex: your leads and your customers), in order to make more profit and get more loyalty. Contrary to what some people say, CRM is not a tool or a software. It is also not a sales funnel. CRM is a holistic, end-to-end strategy that generates more sales and more loyalty.

Lifecycle marketing is about creating marketing that elegantly moves a person from a prospect to a lead, to a customer, to a repeat customer and all the way to a VIP customer. 

Retention marketing is about keeping your customers.

So, at the end of the day, all these three terms are essentially about the same thing: growing a relationship with your leads and customers, so that you make more money and get more raving fans.

For simplicity, I refer to all these three terms combined as CRM.

One myth about CRM

A big misconception out there is that CRM doesn’t help you get new customers, but only helps you keep them after they already bought once.

That’s not true, at least not in the way I teach this concept.

First, because CRM starts with growing a thoughtful relationship with your prospects and leads, it helps you convert more of them into new customers.

Second, because loyalty and profit are your overall objectives (not just sales), CRM also informs your acquisition efforts. When you start working on a CRM strategy, you can’t hide anymore from the fact that not every new customer is worth your acquisition efforts. A new customer is much more valuable to your business if she/he refers others or buys again. Thus, your CRM efforts will also help you craft a strategy to acquire only people who have a high likelihood to become loyal down the line.

So, in addition to helping you get more profit and loyalty from your current customers, CRM helps you get more new, high quality customers.

Who is CRM for?

Back in the day, CRM used to be a strategy employed only by the giants of the business world, the lucky few, the rich companies that other businesses envied for their high profit margins. They weren’t the only ones that used CRM because they had smarter people working for them, but because they had the luxury to invest in sophisticated (at the time) customer database systems, which allowed them to accurately track people’s behavior.

Nowadays, almost every business has the same opportunity. You don't even need a sophisticated system. Most e-commerce platforms and email providers these days allow you to track enough data to start making more money from your leads and customers. So, no matter how small your business is, you can take advantage of this powerful force.

In fact, I'm pleased to see more and more small businesses starting to implement a CRM strategy. You guys rock!

By the way, the smaller your business, the better it is to start using a CRM strategy as soon as possible. You can’t afford to drive any traffic to your website or physical location if you don’t have a system in place to convert them into customers. Maybe big companies can afford this loss (even though they shouldn't), but you don't have that luxury. 

How to get started

Here’s a 5-step process through which your company can get started to implement a CRM strategy:

Step 1. Analyze your customer data

If you’ve been in business for a while and you have some customer data, you should analyze your customers’ behavior and understand things like:

  • Your customer KPIs (and trends over time)
  • At which points in their journey you’re leaking the most money
  • Who are your most and least profitable customers and what’s different about them
  • What marketing channels your people respond the most to…

...and other things that are important to your unique company.

Even if you’re a small business and you don’t have much data yet, you have enough data to be able to calculate how much more profit you’ll make for every incremental email lead, for every incremental customer and for every incremental repeat customer (or referral). When you’re armed with this knowledge you’ll not only be more motivated to create a CRM strategy, but you’ll also know how much money you can invest back into a customer.

Step 2. Map out pivotal points on your customers’ journey

Next, you want to map out your customers’ current journey in your business. In other words, what are the steps they need to take before they become a VIP client?

If you sell a physical product, this journey will look different than if you sell an app.

It could be something like this:

Prospect -> Lead -> 1st Time Customer -> Repeat Customer -> High Value Repeat Customer -> VIP Customer

Or it could be something like this:

Prospect -> Lead -> Free Trial -> Uses Free Product -> Buys -> Uses Product -> Upgrades

(note: If you offer a free trial, you want people to engage with your product, and actually use it, otherwise they're less likely to even consider buying it).

Once you map out your customers’ journey, take a look to see if you can split it into even more measurable and actionable milestones. For example, becoming a "High Value Repeat Customer" could be split into at least "Getting more sales from a repeat customer" and "Getting a referral from a repeat customer."

Or, in the case of an app, you could split "Uses Free Product" into "Uses Feature X" and then moves on to "Uses Feature Y", where you'd know from your data and your tests that people who use feature X and Y are more likely to end up buying your product.

You'll want to pay attention to these milestones upfront, because they will help you create deliberate marketing that moves a prospect from one milestone to the next, to the next, and so forth. 

A couple of things to consider:

A)   Don’t overlook the importance of getting an email lead

New customers come from traffic that eventually converts into sales. Except, most people are not ready to buy on their first visit. The ones who are not ready will leave and will go on with their lives. They may or may not come back (usually they don’t).

However, you can get them back much faster if you intelligently ask for their email address (or other contact info, depending on your business) and then use it to methodically build a relationship with them and to get a first sale. If people don’t give you their email address, you can also target them on Facebook with a sequence of ads. However, email is almost free and Facebook ads cost money, so always start with email. 

B)   Don’t settle for just one sale

If you’re a small business, it’s tempting to just be happy when you get new customers and not worry about getting a repeat sale or referrals. Please don’t do this, because you’d be forsaking a lot of profit, and you’ve already worked hard to get to where you are. As a benchmark, according to a study by Bain & Co, a 5% increase in your retention rate leads to a 25%-95% increase in your profit.

So you have to continue your relationship with people after they buy. What you say to people right after they buy can either set yourself up for another sale/referral, or kill the relationship.

C) Don't just assume you have a high retention rate

Just because you see a customer's name in your order list more than once, or you see the same person come in again and again in your store, or the people who buy from you tell you they love your business - does not mean you have a high retention rate.

You have to look at your data. Only your data can tell you if you indeed have a high retention rate (most businesses don't, including small businesses). It's a quick calculation: what percentage of the customers who bought from you last year returned to buy again this year? You can adjust "year" to whatever makes sense to your business. 

Step 3. Take inventory of the direct marketing channels you have at your disposal

Most of you have email and targeted social media ads. Some of you also have others (like direct mail). 

Step 4. Create your strategy to get people to advance from each of these points to the next one

Using all the direct marketing channels you listed above, what will you say to get a prospect to convert into an email lead? I don’t recommend discounts because that incentive doesn’t capture people who aren't ready to buy.

What will you say to get a lead to buy and how many targeted emails you need to send to get a sale? You have to map out the main message(s) you’ll put in each email.

How will you speak differently to your leads after they've gone through your automated email sequence but still didn't buy? How will you speak differently to the people who did buy from you?

The reason why all of this is called a “relationship” is because you have to build it up methodically. When you ask people for a sale and do nothing else to build this relationship, you’re creating transactions. Transactions will cost you a lot of money in the long run, while relationships will be both profitable and fulfilling.

"If you make a sale, you can make a living. If you make an investment of time and good service in a customer, you can make a fortune. " (Jim Rohn)

I can’t tell you in one single blog post what this entire communication should look like, but I’ll give you my 4 guiding principles, which happen to stand for LAWS (no, I didn't try to get clever with an acronym, it’s just a coincidence :-):

Long lasting

Keep your focus on building a long-lasting relationship, not just getting a transaction. That’s how you’ll make the most money (and also gain the most fulfillment).

Appreciation

If you show your genuine appreciation for having people on your list and as customers, you’re more likely to build a long lasting relationship with them.

Win-Win

A relationship that lasts and that brings in a lot of profit is win-win. Both parties (your business and your customers) get stronger when either of the two wins.

Simplicity

Automate your CRM strategy as much as possible and stay away from multi-layered, super complicated, need-a-binocular type of funnels. They won’t work and they’ll end up full of errors, of which you won’t even be aware (but your customers will be).

Step 5. Back to data

And finally, pay attention to what your customers are telling you through the data they offer you (what a gift!). You have a strategy, but how will you know if it works? You have to keep an eye on your metrics.