3 Ideas for Customer Retention Programs
To hold onto customers, whether they’re brand-new or have been interacting with your company for years, consider the following three tips from direct marketing consultant Lee Marc Stein and copywriter Mark Hallen. They were recently featured in Stein’s e-mail newsletter, Increasing Return on Marketing Dollars, along with 18 more ideas for improving customer retention through relationship marketing programs.
1. Unexpected perks do more than expected ones.
Stein and Hallen advise marketers to position added-value elements carefully. For example, a software company might send an upgrade effort to its installed base, offering “30 days FREE support” to respondents. That perk might draw a few extra sales, but it also could depress response by suggesting support is needed for the product. And, the experts caution, it could raise expectations that are then never met.
Instead, they recommend telling customers after they upgrade that “to thank you for your purchase, we’re giving you 30 days FREE support.” Not only does this approach let customers “know you’re thinking about their welfare, since there is no (obvious) profit in it for you,” but because it was a surprise and not an incentive, it lowers users’ expectations for it.
2. Give instruction on how to get the most use from products and services.
This tactic is critical when welcoming new customers, but it can continue to foster long-term customer relationships when used after “an existing customer renews, buys a more expensive model or accepts a new release of a product,” Stein and Hallen point out.
3. Keep a control group long term.
“To accurately measure the effect—and ROI—of a relationship program, you must retain a control group that has absolutely no contact with any component of the relationship program,” say Stein and Hallen. And don’t forget to compare every action of the control group to the test group so you develop the full picture of your marketing program’s performance over time.