Start by Hanging On to What You Have
Many businesses realize that they can survive on a small number of loyal repeat customers and then make the big money off of the occasional extra traffic until things finally blast off to the moon. Taking care of those bedrock clients who keep the lights on and the rent paid may not be sexy or highly profitable, but it does provide the platform upon which all other operations are based.
Yet, far too often, businesses concentrate on what their customers can do for them and forget about what they can do for their customers. For online businesses, this often manifests itself in various forms of data mining efforts that drive off once-loyal customers screaming into the night. This is becoming an increasing problem due to the proliferation of algorithmic advertising efforts that treat every key click as an opportunity to be analyzed and pounded upon.
The Danger of Automation
One of the most murderous algorithmic habits is the one that fails to understand that someone who has just purchased a widget no longer needs to be bombarded with advertisements for great deals on widgets. Only two things can happen and neither of them is very good. First, the customer can find that he just paid too much for his widget and this makes him mad, or else he can be driven insane by endless widget advertisements when he already has his.
This leads to an important rule of customer retention: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What happens when you get bombarded with useless advertising for stuff you do not want or already own? You tune it out. If it keeps coming, you get annoyed and eventually you get to the point where you no longer visit the site in fear of triggering a resumption of these merciless dunning tactics. Voila! You just turned a loyal customer who has favored you with their business into someone who is reluctant to ever contact you again.
The Golden Rule for Businesses
You must not drive customers away, and the way that you avoid this problem is by treating them in an honorable and respectful manner. If you have a really smoking deal for them, sure, let them know about it. Giant multi-nationals can afford to play the all-inclusive advertising game across every possible medium where they pound their message into the brain until people cannot think of any name but theirs. You do not possess that kind of reach so you need to work your trade on a personal, neighborly basis.
Drop them a personalized line every month, but not on the same clockwork schedule. Treat them like a friend you are just touching base with and don’t push. Keep your name around enough to know you are there but not enough to drive them off. Your first objective in business is to establish a solid customer base of about 50 people, then double that, then double that again.
Choose your advertising strategy carefully and do not be fooled by the advice doled out by the massive ad bundlers that make their money off of tiny slices of enormous page clicks. If you have an especially good deal or need to expand your reach into a new venue, you can always roll out a carefully-tailored campaign that reaches a new audience without damaging relations with your established base. If money is tight, the friendly staff at AFN (www.advancedfundsnetwork.com) can help you with some short term financial firepower to get your point across. Just remember that the people who shout all day long eventually find that nobody is listening. Pick the right moment to make some noise.