You’ve worked tirelessly. Spent thousands of dollars. Spent countless hours behind your business. Shed blood, sweat, and tears.
So you can get the elusive-for-most holy grail of any business – paying customers.
But does the ball really stop there? Is the sum total of all of your effort just one fleeting interaction? Sure, there is an exchange of goods, but if you’ve got margins like the rest of us, surely that one interaction won’t satisfy your appetite!
There has got to be more, right? There must be a way to get more value from your customers than just one interaction.
Besides, with the attention span of less than a few seconds, it’s really, really hard to be memorable online. Even if you manage to get someone’s credit card out of their wallet.
I remember once I placed a follow up call to a customer no less than a week after the sale, and when I introduced myself as calling from “store name”, they answered “Umm, yeah, what did I buy from you guys again?”
To make your effort really worth it, you need to turn your customers into fans. Turn your customers into fans, and they will support you, promote you, and become the repeat customers your business needs to flourish.
Do whatever it takes!
When you turn your customers into fans, there’s so much more that they will do for your business than just pay you once. Fans will be your brand ambassadors, showing you off to their friends and family. Social is the best referral!
Fans will keep coming back to you for more – so one sale turns into many.
Fans will form a relationship and a bond with you – and they will be your best sources of feedback and even constructive criticism.
Most importantly, fans will become your brand’s friends – and they will be loyal to you, so even if a competitor makes something bigger and better, if your fans are your friends, chances are they’ll stick with you and be repeat customers that you cost you little else to acquire back.
So how do you turn customers into fans?
Have a friendly brand
To win friends in real life, you need to have a “friendable” personality. Nobody likes an asshole. Similarly, nobody likes an asshole business. Unless you are incredibly rich… but that’s a topic for another day.
How do you have a friendly brand? Ask yourself this: do you sell products, or do you promote a solution or lifestyle? Lifestyle brands win hands-down from the standard product-only brands.
When you promote a lifestyle (by promoting your products, of course), you have so much more in common with your customers than just one chanced purchase.
There are certain brand types that lend themselves more to being friendly than others – apparel, home decor, and outdoor gear will naturally do better than colon cleansers, breast pumps, and adult toys – but you can still be a “friendable” brand if you target lifestyles.
Colon cleansers could promote healthy, clean living, breast pumps could promote a strong motherly bond, and adult toys could promote, well, you get the point.
Now that your brand has friendability and fanability built into it, you can start actually turning customers in raving fans.
Go way beyond helping a customer out
Sometimes the biggest fans used to be your worst nightmare. I remember one experience from my old fish finder store where a customer had some trouble with an order, and I promptly shipped out a replacement and didn’t worry about any extra cost to me.
What started out as an angry email from an irritated customer ended up as a raving fan who promised to come back to my store to shop later on in the season – that’s how impressed they were with the service.
Live by Amazon’s mantra of the customer is always right – it may hurt you in the short term, but in the long run, the loyalty you will earn will be worth much, much more than anything else.
Send personalized follow-ups
Most ecommerce stores have the standard melange of emails: order confirmation/invoice, shipment confirmed, and write a review.
The trouble with these emails are they are terribly automated and mechanical, and most savvy shoppers know that they are automated. Sure, you can design them really well and spruce them up to look pretty (which does wonders), but they are still fairly limited.
Imagine that the next time you bought an iPhone, Tim Cook himself sent you a personal note thanking you for supporting Apple. That would feel awesome, right? And that would make you feel really special.
Even though we can’t all be Tim Cook, a personalized email from the founder of a company goes a long way. The trick is to make it genuine and personal – so a plain text email with maybe a small signature graphic, but nothing too fancy.
Not everyone will reply or even acknowledge your email, but it goes a long way to impressing those that do.
Call and say thank you
While an email can still leave some doubts in your customers’ minds whether or not it was really from you, nothing shows that you care more than a quick phone call to thank the customer a few days after they receive the order.
If you are phone-shy, don’t worry. The first few calls may be awkward, but you’ll get the hang of it soon enough. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Here is an example script:
You: Hi, I’m calling from [Your company name]. I just wanted to say thank you for choosing to shop with us and if there is anything that I can do for you, just let me know.
[If they don’t pick up, leave a message.]
It’s that easy – the conversation will take less than a minute, and it will leave a lasting impression on your customer. After all, how many of your competitors actually take the trouble to do something like this?
This technique is much easier to do in the early stages of your business when you aren’t getting hundreds of orders a day. Once you are, it may be too difficult to keep up with every order, but you could still do it for orders over a certain dollar amount or for a certain product.
Give a social media shoutout (if appropriate)
If you sell something cool or worth showing off, you can even give them a social media shoutout on Facebook or Twitter. In the interest of discretion, you may not want to disclose what product they bought, but you could still give a shoutout thanking them.
Note: This goes without saying, but don’t give shoutouts for colon cleansing or breast pumps.
Upsell and cross sell
Another way to improve the shopping experience and your branding efforts is to place strategic cross-sells and upsells throughout and after the shopping experience. This is especially useful in accessory-heavy products.
If you sold apparel, you could send an email to a customer that bought a red shirt recommending a blue tie that would go really, really well with it. Use catchy language like “This tie will look stunning on your shirt.”
The point of these emails is not to be salesy or pushy, but tastefully flattering!
These are just some of the ways you can turn your customers into fans – and not just fans, but raving fans that come back to spend with you over and over again. Do everything you can to build fans for your business, and watch as they become repeat customers that allow your business to flourish.
Got any other tips for turning buyers into repeat customers? Share them in the comments!