Businesses rarely take off like a rocket. Most aren’t built to do that.
The concept of scalability means being able to meet the needs of your new customers as your brand’s reputation expands and you touch more people. Only a handful of businesses can scale without adding overhead, like people, equipment, and software. And all those additions take time.
So, scaling up at a pace that matches your capabilities is best.
In fact, we would call that the definition of sustainable growth.
Think about it: If you own a local business that can serve eighty customers a week, it wouldn’t matter if had a million qualified leads pouring in daily. Having so many leads wouldn’t catapult your business into an overnight success unless you were ready to serve each one with the same high level of quality.
More likely, an unsustainable spike in business would rebound into a collapse. You would have some new customers, maybe some media attention, but you would find yourself right back where you started, building up the capacity that makes it possible to extend your services further.
This is what so many marketing agencies want to keep you from thinking about – and it’s why so many people who type in “marketing company near me” don’t ultimately find a partner that helps them hit their goals. You need fresh thinking, and that means turning old ways upside down.
To Grow and Stabilize Your Business, Break Away from Lead-Centered Thinking
What assumptions about your customers are holding you back?
Let’s start with a truth many business owners haven’t heard yet:
Leads aren’t the most important people in your company’s marketing funnel.
After all, there are many different kinds of leads. Only a small fraction of the leads who connect with your brand at any given time are ready, willing, and able to buy. Those are your qualified leads. About 50% of the rest may buy in the future, but they won’t turn into “right now” business.
That might make you think qualified leads are the most important to your business.
Qualified leads are critical. But it can take weeks, months, or even years for that fraction of your total lead pool to identify itself. Meanwhile, you need an audience you can tap into right away to keep you moving forward. These people already exist, and they are waiting to hear from you at any time.
They’re your existing customers.
Experts estimate it costs five times more to attract new customers than it does to sell to existing ones:
- If it costs $20 to acquire a new lead, it costs $4 to sell to your existing customers.
- If it costs $100 to acquire a new lead, it costs $20 to sell to your existing customers.
- Even if it costs $500 to acquire a new lead, it costs just $100 to sell to existing customers.
One big reason why Central Florida businesses look for a “marketing company near me” is they feel like their cost of acquisition is spiraling out of control. The cost of acquisition is simply how much it takes to attract a new customer to your business. As it gets higher, it can devour your profit margins.
While the usual thought process is to look for faster and cheaper sources of new leads, this isn’t where you’ll find the low-hanging fruit. Companies like yours that dedicate even three months to set up robust and repeatable customer retention achieve two of their biggest goals at the same time:
- They save more money on marketing, including both traditional marketing and digital marketing
- They sell more to their existing customers, who also tend to offer a higher average order value
Yes, there are certain limits to how much business you can do with one person within a given period of time – it all depends on the nature of what you offer. Sooner or later, any patient will run out of dental issues that need help, for instance.
But here’s the deeper question: Will they diligently stick to that annual checkup?
Most other small and mid-sized Florida businesses can find a similar pattern in their work.
You might feel like you’ve exhausted all your options with some of your customers. But many of them remain untapped – and the more you communicate your value to them, the easier it is for them to build up brand loyalty. That allows them to bring their periodic and seasonal business back to you.
The key is making sure you have clear and consistent ways to connect with them.
Breaking Out of Lead-Based Tunnel-Vision: The Marketing Strategy Shift Your Company Needs
Even in the most lead-driven industries, it’s vital to lay the foundation to pivot to recurring business.
Think of a local real estate agent here in Central Florida. Her first year of business is spent with two things: Learning the ropes and leads, leads, leads. “You never know who might be a customer!” is a common phrase. But when chasing leads is a way of life, market fluctuations have you at their mercy.
If that lead-driven life lasts two years, three, four … the business never really takes root.
The result is burnout.
No matter what industry you’re in, your company faces the same basic challenge: You want to keep your calendar full while still having enough time to do all the things that move you forward. That includes, of course, everything you dreamed of doing when you launched your business.
Instead of 90% leads, 10% retention, you need to start shifting, bit by bit, the other way.
What’s the ideal outcome? Some businesses stabilize at 50/50, but many can go even further than that. Imagine 30% new leads. The rest, a blend of existing customer business and new referrals – the other category of customer you’ll get more of when you make retention a priority.
Referred customers tend to offer you greater value earlier in the relationship, too. Since you’ve come recommended, you don’t need to spend nearly as much before you’ve built up a healthy base of trust. Referral customers want you to succeed because they want their friend or family member to be right.
And meeting them all starts with customer retention.
Luckily, your existing marketing can help you retain customers and deepen relationships.
Let’s take a closer look at how.
1. Think in Terms of Lifetime Customer Value
Lifetime Customer Value (LTV) is the metric that measures the total revenue someone brings into your business across your entire relationship with them. LTV can be derived from a large number of small transactions or it can come from a periodic influx of cash – one large transaction every several years.
Let’s go back to that real estate agent. The average homebuyer is in the market rarely – every five to seven years. But if that buyer keeps coming back, their favorite agent can expect to make $10,000 or more with every transaction. In general, the value of each transaction will go up over time.
That example is easy to understand because the transactions are rare and relatively fixed. Nothing a real estate agent can say can persuade someone to buy a house if it’s not the right time for them to do it. But most businesses have a bit more leeway. They can fan the flames of an existing desire.
Every time you connect with your existing customers at just the right moment, LTV goes up.
It might be impossible to predict LTV in advance, but you have plenty of levers you can use to increase it. And, over time, you’ll come to understand which customer types and use cases lead to a higher spend.
To get there, worry less about first-time sales. Instead, focus on relationships. See sales as milestones.
As long as you have more value to offer, you can use marketing to accelerate the tempo of the relationship, but the cadence of sales is ultimately up to the customer. As you learn more about individual customers, you’ll be able to time and deliver marketing follow-up more effectively.
Luckily, you don’t have to do it all by hand. Many parts of digital marketing, such as email marketing and social media, can be outsourced to a Central Florida digital marketing agency. Your marketing team, in turn, builds your campaign so customers hear from your brand, in your voice, at the perfect times.
That frees you up to bring your whole self to moments when you communicate with customers directly.
2. Build Out a Customer Retention Funnel
Since the relationship doesn’t end with the first sale, neither should your funnel.
When you choose a “marketing company near me,” make certain their expertise doesn’t stop with conventional digital marketing funnels, either.
You also need a retention funnel – it makes use of all the same tools but points them toward the unique needs of those who have an established relationship with you.
Looking at the buyer journey in terms of ongoing value allows you to find ways to make future special offers more attractive to your existing audience. In addition to using email marketing, social media management, and the rest, you might also launch a program that rewards loyalty.
Your customer retention funnel also gives you more versatile ways to think about customer success.
Customer success is a systematic approach to helping customers achieve first and continuing value from your products or services. Because your customers are more sophisticated than your leads, they will often need specific and specialized content that wouldn’t be of much interest to newcomers.
Throughout the waypoints of your retention funnel, you are encouraging new purchases, but you’re also learning which customers are most likely to be long-term diehard fans. Someone who joins your loyalty program and customers-only Facebook community stands apart as an enthusiastic supporter.
Over time, you can cultivate that part of your audience into true brand advocates.
3. Find the Right Retention Touch Points
The simplest way to define a touchpoint is any time your brand and your audience come into contact. At the beginning of your relationship with a prospect, it’s impossible to know when or how it’ll happen. You simply have to publish and promote relevant content and be ready to serve at a moment’s notice.
Once customers sign on and become known to you, you have a much greater degree of influence.
You can send them personalized email messages, tag them on social media, or even shoot them a text. Using your insight into their preferences, figure out which touchpoints to build into a standardized retention flow. This can take some creative thinking, but it is very worthwhile.
For example, if you appeal mainly to Millennials, text message marketing may be an ideal fit.
The nature of your business also shapes the touchpoints you should consider. Enterprises that offer cloud-based software will have access to a different set of data on how customers use their products. For them, it makes sense to connect whenever engagement and time on an application drop.
As with everything in marketing, some touchpoints will be more effective than others. There’s no point spending a lot of time posting on Twitter if your audience doesn’t use it. Likewise, if no one is joining your customer retention Facebook group, you’ll need to rethink how you position and talk about it.
Always ask yourself: What value does the customer get from this?
Soon, you’ll have a handful of methods that inspire positive responses and are easy to keep up with.
4. Integrate Customer Feedback into Your Business
Whatever your situation, there’s one place you can begin: Soliciting direct customer feedback.
Everyone wants to know their voice is heard and counted – and that goes double for people who have just recently become your customers. In our experience at New York Ave, the majority of negative online reviews arise from simple frustration that an issue has not been heard.
When you hear and address a concern, it can lead to an even more positive assessment of your brand than if the problem never came up in the first place. Listening to your customers is just that powerful.
To get started right, contact a customer for feedback within a short time after they’ve received their product or had their service. The sooner you reach out after the buy, the more likely they are to respond. To improve response rate, keep questions short and use open-ended ones sparingly.
Last but not least, be sure all that feedback is being analyzed and acted on regularly. Customers will help you find and create opportunities to make your business better – they just need a forum to do it in!
5. Update and Expand Your Buyer Personas
You probably already have at least one buyer persona. Now, you need a re-buyer persona.
A buyer persona is a repository of all your knowledge and assumptions about one type of customer: Their pain points, questions, interests, demographic background, and more. Marketers and sales reps should come together to develop personas and refine them over time.
As you invest more time and energy into customer retention, you’ll learn things that might surprise you. Customer profiles that translate to easy first-time sales may not be the ones who stick with you long-term. There may be a particular use case that’s indicative of long-term buying relationships in the future.
Whatever the facts, you’ll need to collect customer feedback and buying behavior data to know.
This is another area where that “marketing company near me” can come in handy. Modern marketers should be tech-savvy, able to make sure useful data is coming in and separate the signal from the noise.
Retention-Driven Growth Is Around the Corner with New York Ave
When you want to take retention to the next level – and reap all the benefits – New York Ave is here in your corner. We’ve worked with businesses of all sizes and industries throughout Central Florida. We know how to develop a customer retention strategy that leverages your strengths and marketing assets.
Contact us to get started with the marketing agency that’s as serious about your success as you are.