How Current Customers Are the Catalyst for Your Organization’s Success

Most marketing departments spend 80 percent of their budgets to acquire new customers and only 20 percent to retain current ones.

Most marketing departments spend 80 percent of their budgets to acquire new customers and only 20 percent to retain current ones. As the acquisition-focused landscape becomes increasingly crowded with newsjacking headlines and keyword stuffing, it’s important to recognize and value what’s actually driving your organization: your customers.

A brand that allocates more toward understanding, communicating with and learning from customers will see the benefits tenfold.

Redirecting your resources to customer retention can mean anything from simple customer swag packages to dedicated support-team development to a full-fledged customer-advocacy program. Regardless of the tactic, every customer-retention program has the same goal: Develop loyal customers who will, in turn, advocate for your brand.

Customers who are advocating have a big impact. In fact, 74 percent of consumers identify word-of-mouth marketing as a key influencer in their purchasing decisions, and word of mouth improves marketing effectiveness by 54 percent.

Brands that ignore the importance of the relationship with happy, passionate customers are missing a lucrative and reliable opportunity. On social media, 58 percent of consumers ask family, friends and colleagues for their opinions about brands.

Facebook’s recent announcement that it will favor personal posts over those from brand pages in its News Feed is a strong indicator that the future success of any organization is through word-of-mouth marketing—happy customers willing to advocate for your product.

Referrals that arrive at your site through word-of-mouth marketing are extremely valuable. In fact, a direct referral lead is four times more valuable than a web lead. Not only is a referred customer more likely to purchase, but they spend more and stay a customer longer, too.

In order to see consistent advocacy, you need to have a process in place. Sure, customers might serendipitously recommend your product a few times if and when the circumstances are perfect, but they won’t tell others about your product consistently unless you ask. For that, a thoughtful and strategic customer advocacy program is key.

We’ve seen the power of referrals firsthand through our Sprout Social All Stars, social media influencers and Sprout experts who we’ve organically worked with for years and have formalized our relationships with over the past six months.

Since launch, the group has generated more than 1,400 shares of Sprout-related content across their social networks. And we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the likely dark social traffic from their efforts, as well as brand awareness, that have added to Sprout’s bottom line.

So, where does a successful customer-advocacy program begin? First, look to your customer base and identify the super vocal, the long-term customers and the ones spending the most. The individuals in these three key groups are worth getting to know well.

The super vocal

When you think about finding your most passionate customers who are vocal, you’ll tend to seek out those using words like “best,” “love” or “recommend” along with your product or company name. These people self-identify, and you should already be focusing on these relationships and working to make them stronger.

Often overlooked are those always reaching out when they have issues. The people who can’t keep quiet because they rely on your product daily should be valued almost above all else—yes, even more than how much they spend with your company. If they’re logging in everyday, purchasing your product religiously or budgeting your service in their monthly necessities, they obviously want your organization to be the best it can be. They’re your biggest cheerleaders, really.

It’s important to ensure that you can differentiate those trolling your brand or exploiting your grace for freebies from those that are truly concerned. If they regularly ask for compensation or a refund of sorts, and if it’s your brand’s practice to grant it, keep a record of this. Continue to offer reliable customer support, but don’t look to them to do you any favors.

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