PROXIMITY MARKETING – A NICHE CLOSER TO THE CONSUMER

The digital cosmos is exponentially on the rise and with that advancement in mobile technology has led companies target and interact with consumers in newer and exciting ways; which has brought them further closer. One of such ways is “Proximity Marketing”.

It is a form of marketing, where a brand initiates communication with consumers that’s relevant and personal. It’s all about marketing at the right place and at the right time.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THIS CONCEPT?

Marketers across a range of verticals are now realizing the enormous amount of potential that proximity marketing offers. Also referred to as ‘hyperlocal marketing’, this type of marketing involves targeting potential consumers with personalized notifications, based on how near a consumer is to a particular location and tempting them to make a buying decision.

HOW DOES IT FUNCTION?

Proximity Marketing emerged somewhere around 2008, when companies were able to send location-triggered messages to phones that were in the vicinity to a Bluetooth network and had the “discoverable” mode on.

The foremost purpose is to connect with customers while they are near your company or facility. But there are a number of must-haves required to employ this marketing technique. They are:

The consumer should be using a Bluetooth-enabled mobile device at the or near the location where the technique is being applied.

  1. A beacon must be deployed in the area where the consumer is currently located, in order to send out and receive marketing messages.
  2. The targeted consumer should have downloaded and installed the relevant mobile app on his or her phone that is capable of receiving push notifications.

Since the time with each potential customer is limited, it’s crucial to create short and sharp messages for the interaction.

WHY USE IT?

  1. It helps in a deeper understanding of customers’ buying patterns and catering to them based on their preferences and location
  2. It can lead to a higher conversion rate based on the proximity of a consumer
  3. As per a study by IBM, 72% of consumers will react to a marketing message while they are inside the store

LET’S LOOK AT SOME EXAMPLES

Over the past few years, a number of brands are adopting this method to improve their customer experience. Few of the benefits that these brands have observed are:

1. 71% were able to track and understand customer buying patterns

2. 53% were able to create more relevant and compelling offers in the store

3. 24% saw an increase in sales

4. 24% saw an increase in redemption of offers

Walmart: Launched a unique iBeacon trial in partnership with GE. The retail giant used GE light bulbs to house beacons and to send push notifications about offers to the in-store customers.

Kenneth Cole: They are using beacons to create more personalized customer experiences with an aim to provide value and offers at the time when customers are in the store.

McDonald’s: To promote a new line of coffee-flavored beverages and to enhance customer relationships, they adopted a new proximity marketing strategy via beacons. This proximity marketing campaign via beacons helped McDonald’s achieve 20% conversion rate.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Proximity marketing isn’t just one single technology; it can in fact be implemented employing various methods. Not only this, it’s not limited to just Smartphone usage. Contemporary laptops that are GPS-enabled can also be targeted through some proximity marketing techniques.

Thus, it is difficult to predict what is the next technology, which will take the customer experience further and beyond. But for retailers, this technique could be the next big thing, elevating the shopping experience for their consumers and better revenue for themselves.

Embracing Social Media Marketing

A significant 90% of brands feel that social media plays a crucial role in their business, says the 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry report. Not only this, 68% analyze their social media activities to make the most out of it.

If implemented accurately, social media marketing can bring outstanding success to your business. The two most important benefits of this technique are growing exposure and increasing traffic. 89% of all marketers indicated that their social media attempts have generated lot of exposure and traffic.

AN ESSENTIAL PART OF THE MODERN MARKETING MIX

Even though the importance of social media in the business world is unquestionable, brands are still not making the most of it. Nowadays, companies which lack social profiles on platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, and many more, could be missing out on something big strategically.

Let’s look at some of the advantages:

Branding: Social profiles give brands a personality and this in turn helps in brand building. The characteristics of the brand and how the profile looks make your profile unique.

Advertising: If you want to get noticed among the millions on the “www” world, then you need to take massive efforts on enhancing your online presence. This will give you an opportunity to advertise your products and services.

Mobile: Most of the social activity is done through a mobile device. Plan you strategy accordingly. Your website may be viewed through a mobile device so ensure its compatibility.

Share content faster: You can use social media for sharing content about your products and services. If your content is interesting, it will go viral in a very short span of time.

Engagement: Social media gives brands opportunities to interact freely and such positive engagement plays a major role in building customer base and improved reputation.

Driving Traffic: When it comes to driving traffic through referrals, social media marketing can prove to be a boon. And this is where the importance of online presence comes into picture.

Respond to problems: Studies have proved that customers appreciate brands that respond to complaints promptly. Being on social media, you can get instant feedback and also handle any problem or controversial situation and take quick steps to resolve them.

Low marketing costs: Social media marketing is one of the most affordable ways to grow your business rapidly, without a huge money and time commitment.

Showcase new products: Introducing or launching new products is much cheaper and comparatively easier on social media.

Employee engagement: Like your customers, your employees too have many connections on social media. You can share employee accomplishments and other activities about your brand. This will surely have a positive impact, and can make your employees, your biggest group of brand advocates.

Customer insight: Social media tools can be used to analyze customers and their purchasing behavior. Brands can plan their promotional strategies accordingly.

CONCLUSION

The whole marketing scenario has changed with the introduction of Social Media. It’s being vigorously used for personal reasons but today if you are not using it for business, you’re already behind.

So are you ready to zoom ahead of your competitors in the sphere of social media?

Corporate Transparency – a Key to more Traffic

Do you know one straightforward and undemanding way you can generate more traffic? It’s actually by being transparent.

Adopting a more transparent approach can bring enormous benefits in terms of employee engagement and productivity. With this, you’ll be able to convert more of your visitors into customers. Further, it positions you in such a way that you can efficiently respond to problems and controversies if any arise.

Advantages

1) Improved customer service
A car manufacturer that tries to hide a product defect may come across to consumers as being sneaky and dishonest. But if a manufacturer publicly admits a defect and takes steps to repair it, he is more likely to retain or even attract customers through his forthright behavior.

2) Positive Perception
A transparent approach in business shows that you have nothing to hide. Being honest rather than fiddling with corporate information, demonstrates truthfulness.

3) Workforce Involvement
Employees who are not aware of what’s going on in your business may participate in spreading gossip. An open and honest communication with them can help in building loyalty and a higher degree of job satisfaction when they feel as trusted members and not just workers.

4) Status Management
Improved transparency also has a very good impact on company’s reputation, which in turn leads to improved trust from employees as well as customers, allowing you to manage even the most challenging situations smoothly.

Some instances

Transparency begins with knowing your customers and requires having an engaging relationship with your community of customers. Interestingly, many brands are increasingly turning to this approach.

Let’s look at some of the brands that share their numbers to their benefit:

  • McDonalds Canada

With their “Our Food. Your Questions.” digital platform, consumers were encouraged to ask questions and McDonalds promised to step up and provide clear and concise answers.

  • HCL Technologies

Vineet Nayar, VC and Joint MD of this organization, has been one of the most outspoken advocates of this approach. He had been quoted as saying, “all HCL’s financial information is on the company’s internal Web. We put all the dirty linen on the table, and answer everyone’s questions.

  • Moz

A great example of transparency is Moz. Every year, they reveal their revenue numbers, whether they have had a great year or a bad one, they are transparent.

  • Buffer

When Buffer suffered a security breach in October 2013, they avoided the blame game and owned up to the problem. They immediately took to every communication channel they had, apologized for the inconvenience. Not only this, they chose to publish a blog post, which was updated ten times with the ongoing status of the problem and their efforts to make things right.

So it can be seen that these brands don’t just discuss the numbers, but also what went on behind to achieve them. It demonstrates their willingness to stand up and take responsibility for both success and failure.

Some Disadvantages

Transparency has distinct advantages but sometimes this may put business growth and financial plans at risk.

1) Timing
Whenever there is any scandal, it’s better to get to the bottom of it and ensure that your customers know what all efforts you are taking to resolve it. The more you keep them hanging, the more they are likely to think the worst.

2) Competition
This approach can put the brand at competitive disadvantage. So the amount of information and the timing can be filtered to lessen the potentially damaging consequences, provided the information released has the planned effect.

3) Sensitive information
If a disgruntled employee ever wanted to take vengeance, he or she could easily hand over that information to competitors.

Conclusion

So it’s for the brands to thoughtfully weigh both the advantages and disadvantages before going ahead.

Today when customers have more information than ever before, available at their fingertips, brands that are transparent are more likely to win. It’s just a matter of time before your opponent knows what you already know. So why not just put it all out there and gain traffic out of it?

 

Let’s be Water Smart!

Have you ever given it a thought about how much water you use at work? Did you know that a typical office uses around 50 litres of water per full-time employee each day? Shocked?

A recent study gives a breakdown of water usage in offices:

Cleaning 1%
Canteen/kitchen 9%
Washing 27%
Urinal Flushing 20%
Toilet Flushing 43%

Water is a priceless resource, yet it is very often taken for granted. As the effects of climate change are becoming clear, it is even more critical to look at our water use and see what we can do to save water.

Many organisations use much more water than they actually need, leading to higher than needed expenses and negative environmental impacts. Often measures can be taken that cost little or nothing to implement, but can result in substantial water saving.

How to do it?

It is obvious that every business has different water needs – from a small-scale home-based business to a large manufacturing plant, but almost all could benefit from cutting water utilization. Below are some tips which can help in saving this valuable resource:

  1. Create a suggestion and incentive system at your workplace to recognize water-saving ideas.
  2. Publish your organization’s monthly water usage to show how things are progressing toward water-saving goals.
  3. Have maintenance personnel regularly check your office for leaks, drips and other water wastage.
  4. Create a goal of how much water your company can save and plan a celebration once that goal is met.
  5. Ask employees for suggestions on saving water and give prizes for the best ideas.
  6. Write articles on your employee website that highlight water-saving ideas and share case studies about other success stories.
  7. Wash company vehicles as needed rather than on a schedule. Stretch out the time in between washes.
  8. When ice cubes are left from your drink, don’t throw them out; pour them on a plant.
  9. Replace urinals with low-volume models. Urinals can use as much as 5 gallons per flush, while low-volume urinals use only 1 gallon per flush.
  10. Taps left running can waste large volumes of water. In washrooms consider replacing conventional screw taps with self close taps that close automatically after a preset period.
  11. Carrying out a simple “water audit” can be very beneficial, which will allow you to assess your plumbing/fittings for water efficiencies

Once you have identified the instances where water efficiencies can be made, you should build up an action plan, which includes prioritising work, assigning responsibilities and setting timeframes for completion. It is also important to set targets for further improvements. Always remember that this plan is a working document and should be reconsidered regularly.

Do More, Use Less

To reduce water consumption, a change in outlook is necessary. If you commit just a little extra effort every day, you alone can make a difference. None of the above tips may seem like they would have a huge effect on the conservation plan, but if enforced and sustained, these changes, over time will definitely make a difference.

New technologies that use less water are becoming more important than ever, but our common sense and consciousness that our planet cannot supply water forever will ensure that future generations will enjoy the benefits of abundant fresh water because of the steps that we take now.

Engage your Customers through Content Marketing

What should an organization write about on a blog or Twitter profile? The answer to this question is simple. The content you publish should complement what your audience wants from your brand. One of the biggest challenges businesses face is coming up with fresh content ideas. The trick lies in finding out what your target audiences wants to hear from you because content marketing can be incredibly effective in building brand authority and recognition.

Finding out Content Ideas

Inertly watching what other companies are doing is a tiny part of the research to come up with content ideas that will interest your target audience. First, a major part of research should include spending a lot of time going through content published by your competitors and by leaders who are related to your industry. Listen to the conversations happening about your industry, and identify the topics. Also, you may get some great content ideas from other industries as well.

Further surveying both the existing and prospective customers, asking them what kind of content they would like, to get a clear picture. Always remember, many consumers don’t know what they want from the content that brands are publishing. Get creative and you’ll get more insightful content ideas.

Types of Content

Once you recognize what type of information your audience is most interested in, it’s time to start creating and publishing that content. Following are some ways in which you can publish content for the varied audience:

  1. Blog posts
  2. Tweets
  3. YouTube videos
  4. Flickr images
  5. eBooks
  6. Presentations
  7. Facebook updates
  8. LinkedIn updates
  9. Pinterest pins
  10. White papers
  11. Infographics
  12. Answers to questions on LinkedIn Answers and Quora
  13. Webinars
  14. Screencasts
  15. Podcasts
  16. Links to great resources
  17. Interviews
  18. Case Studies

Your goal should be to create a variety of high-quality content, but you should be able to revamp that for different kinds of media. Diversification of quality content is very essential.

Power of Content Marketing

According to asurvey, 72% of marketers feel that content marketing offers a better ROI than magazine advertising, while 69% think that it’s more effective than direct mail and PR

  • 63% of companies said posting content on social media has increased marketing effectiveness
  • 6 out of 10 Twitter and Facebook users are more likely to recommend a brand they follow
  • Companies with blogs get 97% more inbound links
  • 67% of Twitter users with buy from a brand they follow
  • 55% of blogs on company sites result in 55% more visitors
  • 70% of customers prefer getting to know a company via articles rather than advertising

Despite these figures, brands are still skeptical about the benefits of content marketing.

Virgin Mobile, Marriott, American Express, LinkedIn, Toshiba, Expedia, Red Bull, Coca Cola and there are more of such classic examples, that used content marketing as a key tactic to get to where they are today. If you’re still not sure about this powerful new strategy, get inspired with the success of these giants and fuel up your content marketing strategies.

Why is it Required?

Content Marketing can be referred to as the “art of communicating” for attracting as well as retaining your customer base, by delivering valuable and consistent information. Here are some reasons why this strategy can work very well for your brand:

  1. Helps in building a community of loyal customers
  2. Content shared through social media allows feedback and through this you can know gauge the customers’ thought process.
  3. It plays an integral role in improving SEO
  4. This strategy adds value and makes your website worth returning again and again
  5. Good content acts as a magnet for people
  6. It increases your followers on social media
  7. It boosts word-of-mouth advertising

Impossible without Content Marketing

No matter what type of advertising tactics are used, content marketing should be an indispensable part of your brand building process. Recent years have witnessed a spike in this strategy. The popularity of social media has added more buzz in this marketing approach. Studies reveal that 72% of brands have increased their investment on this strategy in the past year. Not only this, the success of content marketing is also alluring to brands that have not used this form of marketing till now. For instance, 57% of brands that haven’t tried content marketing in the past intend to give it a go in the next year.

Organizations are clear on what they want to achieve with their content marketing strategies. It’s crucial for brands today to find more lucrative and consistent means of engaging with consumers, and that’s why content marketing has quickly become a key part of any organisation’s marketing blend today.

Neuromarketing – Where Brain Science and Marketing Come Together

Analyzing customer data can reap significant financial benefits for your organization’s success. Consumers can usually define what they want, how much they will pay, and maybe even what kind of promotional activities appeal to them. Understanding the roots of human emotion is vital in comprehending consumers’ purchasing behavior.

Enter Neuromarketing

Neuromarketing is the study of how people’s brains respond to advertising and other brand-related messages by scientifically monitoring brainwave activities, eye-tracking and skin response.

According to BrightHouse, an Atlanta-based consultancy firm, neuromarketing only seeks to understand “how and why customers develop relationships with products, brands, and the company itself.” The truth is that neuromarketing is simply the study of how the human brain reacts to marketing stimuli. This helps in understanding the primary reasons as to why consumers make the buying decisions they do.

How does it work?

There are two basic methods of tracking brain activity; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography (EEG):

  • Utilizing fMRI involves using a powerful magnet to track the brain’s blood flow as subjects respond to audio and visual cues.  This allows examiners to access a deep part of the brain known as the “pleasure center”.
  • EEG, on the other hand, is much cheaper than fMRI. By using a cap of electrodes attached to the sample’s scalp, that measure electrical waves produced by the brain and allow researchers to track instinctual emotions such as anger, excitement, sorrow, and lust through fluctuations of activity. However, unlike fMRI, EEG does not grant access to deep parts of the brain where the pleasure center is located.

Adopting this Technique

Neuromarketing has been around for around a decade now, but has gained a lot of popularity. Despite the cynics, major corporations are using this technology while designing their products, packaging, and advertising campaigns. Some of the giants who have joined the bandwagon include Walt Disney, Google, Frito-Lay, Chevron, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Hyundai.
Some examples:

  • For example, neuromarketing has recently been used to measure neurological response to Presidential speeches and movie trailers in order to improve how both are presented to the public.
  • It has found that warning labels on cigarette packages stimulate activity in a brain area associated with craving – despite the fact that subjects said that they thought the warnings were effective.
  • In another instance, Hyundai utilized neuromarketing when they gave thirty participants EEG caps and asked them to examine a car prototype for an hour. Information recorded by the electrodes were stored in an individualized hard drive and analyzed by experts.
  • Microsoft uses EEG data to better understand its users’ interactions with its personal and notebook computers, including feelings of “surprise, satisfaction, and frustration.”

How is a Neuromarketing Campaign developed?

Neuromarketing is most often used to market commercial goods and services. A neuromarketing campaign is more person-intensive. Whereas typical marketing draws broadly from a cross-section of customers, through a variety of methods (focus groups, surveys, customer records, cold calling, etc.), neuromarketing focuses on individual marketing test subjects.

  • MRI and EEG machines are used to monitor participants’ brain activity before, during, and after exposure to neuromarketing techniques. Other physiological sensors that monitor heart rate, breathing, and skin response may also be used.
  • Neuromarketing depends on a process known as priming—an electrochemical reaction set off whenever a topic is first introduced. Even before the conscious mind becomes aware of a stimulus; the subconscious mind has already begun to process it and respond—all in the course of a single second. Neuromarketing is most concerned with that “second” when the response is first formed.
  • Once a consumer’s brain is primed, new stimuli is introduced to allow the brain to compare this new information with what it already knows, and to form and express conscious opinions about the product itself.
  • Once all the data has been collected, the marketing campaign itself becomes more like any “traditional” marketing campaign. Based on the neural and sensory data collected, the broader marketing team will further develop and adjust the campaign in order to create maximum engagement, and memory retention, with consumers.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The market today is customer dominated and neuromarketing helps the companies to have an insight into the modern consumer’s mind so that they can cater them in the best possible way. This process can provide fresh viewpoints and it also uncovers emotional and non-conscious responses.

It is important to understand what neuromarketing can or cannot achieve. It has limitations and advantages, and is more costly than traditional focus group testing. Further, it is difficult to convince customers to be a part of this kind of study. Even if its cost factor is kept aside, neuromarketing still has a range of skeptics. Concerns include accusations of “brainwashing”, how much brain behavior actually affects consumer behavior, and the inability to employ neuromarketing techniques in the business-to-business arena. Some neuromarketing experts say that companies should disclose the procedures and results of their research to avoid accusations of irresponsible behavior.

Still, as its users from top brands confirm, neuromarketing has already captured the market’s attention, as researchers continue to conduct more studies in this field, for further refinements.

The beauty of neuromarketing is its ability to integrate into both your outbound and inbound marketing strategies. Adding a touch of neuromarketing to your existing marketing methods could give your company a formula for marketing success!

The Secret Ingredient – Generating Referrals

Let’s face it; most people do not like cold calling. While it’s sometimes a necessary tactic in new business development, as an alternative, how about if you let your customers do the talking. In other words, get them to generate the referrals for you! Referrals from existing customers are the greatest source of new business.

Whether you are just starting or have been in business for years, referrals are one of the easiest ways for business growth.

And thanks to social media, loyal customers’ voices have serious reach, giving them the potential to become powerful brand campaigners.  You don’t have to be Samsung, Coca-Cola or another high profile company to get attention on social media. You just need a creative strategy and loyal customers who care about your brand.

Some statistical proof that referrals are important:

  • In a study of software buying trends, Capterra concluded that peer recommendations outweigh blogs and online media when it comes to researching software options.
  • In a Wharton study of referral programs in a Frankfurt based bank, customers who referred their friends were 18% more likely to stick with the bank and generated 16 to 25% higher long-term value than ordinary customers.
  • Depending on the industry, a referral business closes and converts nearly 70% of the time.
  • In a survey of over 3,000 business people, more than half of the respondents said that they got 70% or more of their customers through referrals.

But how do you generate additional referrals?

A few quick tips:

Be referable: Referrals build a brand’s credibility and trustworthiness. So deliver what you promise and when you promise.

Target your most loyal clients: One important element to remember is that the quality of the referrals you’re getting is directly related to the types of people who are in the periphery of your network. If you continue to wow your customers with your services, it is most likely that they will refer you to their family and friends.

Be accessible: Have a stack of business cards ready to hand out to your customers. If you’ve made a good impression, there are ample chances that those cards will end up in the hands of someone else! Don’t shy away from giving them out at events, meetings, or at other networking events.

Build relationships with others in your industry: Expand your horizons. For e.g. If you work in the medical field, you probably see a lot of other medical professionals. We have heard that an ophthalmologist referring a patient to his friend who is an orthopaedic, which means a referral from a trusted expert can mean a lot!

Provide valuable content:  Share good content that you customers can share in their network. Invite them for seminars or webinars on industry topics, research, or articles about latest industry trends, etc.

Reward your clients: Surprise your customers by offering something they didn’t expect. Offer discounts or special offers in exchange for referrals. Showing gratitude will encourage them to keep spreading the word about your brand.

Let your clients know you want to be referred: As per American writer and lecturer, Dale Carnegie, 91% of customers say they’d happily give referrals. Tell your customers that you’re trying to grow your business, and any referrals you can get will be appreciated. Reassure them that you’ll do your level best to keep these new referrals happy.

Lack of referrals

If a customer is reluctant to refer your brand, it could indicate that:

  • They don’t intend to stick around long enough to prolong your existing relationship by. The problem could be anything from poor customer service, or product quality.
  • That your product/service doesn’t wow them enough to refer their friends to it.

In either situation, your customers’ unwillingness will tell you where you’re going wrong and what you can do to make your approach and brand better.

Lastly, make sure what you serve is good! Your likelihood of building a solid and expanding referral channel is directly linked to your success; and you can achieve it by consistently exceeding customer expectations. You will surely build a loyal network of customers who will keep on coming back, bringing their networks along!

Trust Based Marketing – A New Move towards Brand Building

What’s your company doing to better understand the customer as a means to gain his trust? How do customers perceive your marketing? It is increasingly important for businesses to build a bond and a relationship with a focus on TRUST with their stake holders like customers, employees, partners, etc. At the same time, the brand should maintain the trust which customers have showered upon it; should not indulge in any doings, which compromises the trust factor.

Have you ever heard about Trust based marketing? It is not a new concept. It simply means that the customer trusts a particular brand, feels safe & happy with the brand and can talk about this brand proudly. Studies show that trust-based companies have higher customer retention and more stable revenue streams. The prediction is that eventually, trust-based businesses will have higher sales volumes and lower marketing costs than companies that survive on push-based marketing strategies.

Some of the invaluable features of this novel approach are:

  • Value – A brand must ensure that it is really adding value to a customer’s life. The more value you provide, the more trust you build. Most marketing and sales efforts focus on pushing your services and capabilities. This doesn’t build trust; in fact, it turns the prospect off.
  • Permission based & Non-intrusive – Are you really reaching out to new people or just annoying them? Brand should not be disturbing or intrusive to customer life. It may reach out to its audience based on personal attributes but should not get into personal life.
  • Transparency – There should be open and frank communication. Customer should not get unpleasant surprises.
  • Cost – Customer generally feel cheated if they find they paid a lot for it. Brand should ensure that they make them understand why they are paying this extra and make them comfortable about it.
  • Communication – Recently, a study was done asking customers if they preferred a reply by email, phone, or fax. A significant portion selected phone, despite their obvious access to the Internet. This shows that quick and complete communication is key. It should be easy for the customer to communicate with the brand.
  • Environment friendly – It is an additional responsibility on brands. Brands should go extra miles and share how they would care for the environment using the power which customers are giving them.
  • Accountable – Every employee in the organization should be ready to accept his mistake in case a customer has a bad experience with the brand. There should be immediate steps taken to set it right.
  • Easily Accessible – A brand should be very easily accessible through any mode of communication which the customer prefers.
  • Long term vision – Brand must have long-term vision & should not get into P& L or growth hacking mode for investors.
  • Customers’ Loss – Warn your customers of the cost of inaction. If you provide something of genuine value to customers then you have a moral duty to summarize exactly what they lose out on through inaction.
  • Content – Build your marketing approach on valuable content powered by the principles of trustworthiness and you will be well on your way to a strong brand,

Building trust is like taking a series of baby steps. It happens with time, but once there is trust the next steps become very smooth. At the same time, trust is fragile. Customers are understandably wary so pushing too much can turn out to be risky!

Thus, the simple truth behind trust-based marketing is obvious – being trustworthy! Like it is said, “Play nice and you will make friends”.

 

Nurturing Customer Loyalty

Do customers see your startup as “unique” and “innovative”? If they don’t, but you do, you need to find a way to bridge that gap.

Your business can thrive or drown depending how contented your customers are. Building customer loyalty can be hard, but it is one of the most indispensable things for your business. Satisfied customers are the key to sustainability and growth for any business. The more satisfied your customers are, the more likely your company will be successful.

Loyalty = Satisfaction

Since studies have shown that it costs 6 to 7 times more to acquire a new customer than keep an old one, outpacing your competition depends upon having a loyal tribe of happy customers.

Uber, the on-demand car service, is rapidly building fierce loyalty. They deliver an exemplary product in their “spot-on-the-way program”. Their customer service is unparalleled, just see the way they handle complaints on Twitter, and their innovation just never quits.

Harley Davidson is another great example of fierce loyalty. Everyone wants the kind of customer loyalty they’ve achieved. Harley owners don’t just ride the bike; they wear the t-shirt, the hat and the tattoo. Being a part of the Harley community is an integral part of how they define themselves.

Consumer Reports and surveys have shown that nearly 91 percent of customers will not do business with you a second time if you make a mess of the first encounter. The amount of customers willing to immediately abandon a business reached nearly 70 percent when it came to poor service on the phone or walked out of store if the service there was below expectations, conclusively showing that customers are willing to shut you out if you don’t provide the quality of service they expect.

The worst part is that you may not know how much of an impact your poor quality of service is having before it is too late. The negative effects of lost customer trust can be deep and long-lasting.

Converting your Efforts into Strategies

According to a study by McKinsey, 70 percent of buying experiences are based on how the customers feel they are being treated. Customer satisfaction is a moving target; you must continually survey your customers to find out what it takes to satisfy them today, tomorrow, and the next day. Then you’ll have the data you need to figure out how you’re doing or how you can prepare against the competition.

If you have been wondering about how to increase customer loyalty and retention, the below points may throw some light:

1) Share with your customers: This can be done through a quick phone call or a friendly email or a newsletter in which you can consolidate some of the plans you have for them. For e.g. if you are planning a survey or if you have been spending time over solving some issues to make things easy for them; the resulting effect on the long-term profit can’t be underestimated.

2) Remember special occasions: Send greeting cards or small gifts on customers’ birthdays and festivals. Use your creativity and find ways to connect the gift ideas with your business or with the customers’ business or his/her personal life. It’s simple yet very engaging and adds value.

3) Hanging out: Gone are the days when you are confined to meet your clients and customers in office. Now-a-days, you can discuss business while playing golf with them, or plan your meetings over breakfast or cocktails. Furthermore, if they are on Facebook, engage them into discussions there.

4) Make it right: Resolving customer complaints is the best way to build customer loyalty. You earn the opportunity to regain customer trust, by handling complaints in a professional manner. In doing so, you connect with your customer on an emotional level. Customers love this!

5) Never take loyalty for granted: Only a successful customer loyalty and retention plan will keep the customers coming back for more. This involves keeping your word, delivering what you promise, being honest, and providing immediate response and a consistent level of products and services.

6) Loyalty Program: The overall aim is nourishing long-term relationships into impactful connections that will help in boosting your business growth. The more information you have about your customer, the more effective your loyalty program will be.

7) Listen to your customers: The average business loses around 20 percent of its customers by simply failing to listen to its customers at the right time. Therefore, always leave room for customers to make suggestions or complaints. It can be through an informal call, a quick poll or a mailer with some rapid fire questions.

8) Give credit: If you end up making a change or update anything based on your customer’s feedback, give them credit for coming up with the idea. Also, send them a little something to show your appreciation. They may respond to it positively but they appreciate it because they feel valued.

9) Build employee loyalty too: If you are transparent and consistent in your dealings, your employees will feel proud to work for you and with you. They will feel good about their jobs and pass that loyalty along to your customers.

10) Priority should be Customer Retention: Sounds obvious but it’s true. If you spend as much time in building customer loyalty as you spent on while acquiring new customers, you would surely have a very high retention rate.

The concept of loyalty in business isn’t new. Every business would like all of its customers 100 percent satisfied 100 percent of the time–but that’s not realistic. Make sure you and your customers are on the same page when it comes to what they expect from your company. What’s important is that the customer satisfaction should always be rising and then you’re surely headed in the right direction.

 

Why Referral Marketing can be Spectacular for your Business?

Referral marketing, sometimes also called as word-of-mouth marketing, is people purchasing products based on someone else’s opinion or influence. Study after study has proven that referral marketing is one of the best forms of marketing when it comes to sales.

It’s a powerful marketing channel because people trust the opinions of other people in their lives and people they respect, whether that is family, friends, social media or celebrities. It makes sense, as we regularly get advice from our friends about which TV shows or movies to watch, or restaurants to go to. Also, as end consumers ourselves, we want to share our stories about the products we buy and the brands we choose. This becomes magnified when the buying experience and products are exceptional.

Why is it so influential?

A customer referral program can in fact be strikingly profitable. When you have a fully functioning referral marketing strategy in function, you can predict approximately how many referrals you can expect and what quality they’ll likely be. At the same time, you won’t know exactly who you will be selling to or how large the order will be, but that’s true of almost all marketing techniques.

By pursuing referrals in an organized and structured way, the existing networks can be turned into active referral networks. Referrals offer significant advantages over cold-calling and direct marketing leads. For example, referrals are:

  1. Always more cost-effective and
  2. Referrals generally help in taking decisions quicker about purchasing
  3. Returning customers are likely to purchase more often
  4. Less negotiation or convincing is required
  5. They will be more willing to make further referrals

Talking about the Referral Effect

  • A study by HBR (Harvard Business Review) shows the extent to which referred customers are more profitable. The study was done on 10,000 accounts in a large German bank over a period of three years, and found that customers obtained through referrals are both more loyal and more valuable than other customers. After controlling factors such as age and gender, it was found that referred customers are, on average, about 18% more likely than others to stay with the bank. The study also projected that they generate 16% more in profits.
  • According to Nielsen92% of customers trusted referrals from people they knew;
  • According to a study carried by the Wharton School of Business, a referred customer has a 16% higher customer lifetime value. This means that referrals help you save more on acquisition costs and help you make more as they’ll be more loyal to your brand; and,
  • Referred clients tend to spend 13.2% more than a non-referred customer.

Boosting your business

Referral marketing is a powerful and important component for every business. Implementing some basic tactics can help encourage and facilitate the referral process, which can be a major source of new sales. It is rated continually as one of the most powerful modes of marketing. But why?

  • Targeting Referral and word-of-mouth marketing tend to be much more targeted because people tend to know their friends and social audiences pretty well. This allows your brand message to spread more effectively than with most other marketing channels.
  • Trust – Consider the last time a salesperson you know is on commission and tried to sell you something. You likely had doubts about his authenticity due to a lack of trust. With referral marketing though, the sales pitch is usually coming from someone who you either know well, like friends and family, or it’s coming from someone you have trust in, like your favourite new publication, blogger or writer.
  • Customers’ Reach – Earlier, average reach of a typical consumer was limited. As most part of it was restricted to the number of people they met or talked to on the phone. Today, though, it is much larger and with strong social followings, it can be enormous. Some consumers now have the power to make or break a business by what they say about it online. With a simple Facebook post and Twitter tweet, the average consumer can now reach hundreds in a matter of seconds. That kind of social reach is definitely a critical reason to why referral marketing has only gotten bigger over the years.

Referral marketing may seem a bit messy and random to those who’ve been trained to call a list of names in hopes of selling to one in 100. But it’s a system that works well because it flushes out all those unpredictable, hidden, complex connections that exist between people in everyday life and in business.

The procedures and results of referral marketing are not as easy to measure as cold-calling. Therefore, big companies stick to the old ways when training their sales staff. Hopefully, someday, people in corporate settings adopt this system. In the meantime, it is surely working wonders for start-ups and upcoming businesses that are leading the way with this networking technique.