We’ve all been schooled on the stages of the traditional B2B marketing and sales funnel, which usually includes awareness, consideration, preference, and purchase. Although more modern and digitally aligned varieties exist, such as the Purchase Fish, few of them reference what happens after the purchase.
When you look at the typical Marketing funnel, it seems as if a marketing or sales expert’s job simply ends once a buyer has made a final decision. However, this completely disregards the need to build a strong relationship with existing customers over time, in order to security their brand loyalty.
A few years ago, in 2009, digital thought leader Adam Cohen argued that it’s time to extend the marketing funnel to include an Advocacy segment. Going one step further, others have cited the need to expand it an additional three stages by including Support, Loyalty and Advocacy – in that order. No matter which stages you choose to add, it’s clear that marketing and sales activities shouldn’t stop after the purchase level, and need to continue at full force to keep existing customers happy.
For each additional funnel segment – support, loyalty and advocacy, there are a few great marketing strategies that can be implemented. Next time you’re celebrating the acquisition of a new customer, keep these ideas in mind to ensure that your newest customer stays content, and spreads the word about your brand.
As a B2B company, you know that customer support is a top priority for any new or old client, and that in today’s 24/7 hyper-connected world, your customers expect you to be available at all times. A company’s support plays a crucial role in shaping a client’s opinion, especially given that after a sale, consumers often deliberate about whether they made the right purchasing decision.
1. Create a Knowledge Base for Your Product or Service
Building a comprehensive online resource center is a great way to give clients access to a diverse range of answers. Create a “Getting Started Guide” with step-by-step text and visuals, and follow it up with dozens of articles that offer clear explanations of how to leverage your service offering, as well as a general FAQs section. Make sure the link is prominent on your company website, and is also featured in e-mails, inside the product (if applicable), and highlight it when speaking to clients. In the Knowledge Base, have a section for feedback one of new ideas to keep your clients engaged.
2. Monitor Your Brand’s Social Mentions
It’s no surprise that the first place customers go to complain is social media – most often Twitter. Use a social listening tool such as TweetDeck to monitor mentions of your brand in real-time and quickly address any complaints or issues in a timely manner. When you’re finished helping the customer, chances are that person may go back to the social channel to express their gratitude for your help.
3. Launch a Best Practices E-mail Campaign
E-mails aren’t just for nurturing purposes, they’re also a great way to show customers you’re still thinking about them, and want them to maximize their use of your product. Create a campaign with weekly e-mails that include either a tip on how to use your product, or a best practice relating to the industry that can actually help your client improve their work habits.
Once you have a seamless customer support system in place, start focusing on how to make your users love your brand. Thinking that a user will continue to stick with your product just because they’ve done so for a while is dangerous – particularly since your competitors are probably fighting to capture their attention at every digital corner.
1. Offer a Promotion or Discount
Building loyalty goes beyond a valuable offering and customer service; these are just the beginning. Once in a while, offer your customers an exclusive promotion, complimentary product, or even hold a raffle for a gift card. Create a monthly e-mail campaign to advertise the offer, or if applicable, promote it using a pop-up that appears within your product. Sometimes, a 10% discount or a free month of service can go a really long way and make all the difference.
2. Conduct a Feedback Survey
The best way to understand what your user-base wants is to talk to them. Write up a feedback survey with no more than 10 questions, and divide your client database among the team. Have each person make a few phone calls a day, and make sure to record or transcribe the entire conversation. The key here is to follow-up on the feedback that clients give. If a new feature is added, a bug is fixed, or improvements are made based on a person’s feedback, let him or her know. This is an excellent way to build loyalty, and show your customers that you listen to them on a personal level.
3. Send a Gift on a Special Occasion
Sometimes a simple gift can be a small reminder of your company’s appreciation. When the holidays roll around, in addition to sending out a season’s greeting message, send a token of appreciation to your top customers. Whether you choose to send a box of chocolates, fruit basket or company swag such as t-shirts, these types of gifts can often turn a customer into a loyal user.
If a client reaches the advocacy stage, you’ve definitely been doing something right. As the voice of customers grows online, more and more prospects turn to social media and online forums to research their next purchase. Cultivating brand ambassadors, especially those who are active on social media, is priceless. These evangelists are excited about your product and eager to spread the word to others about its benefits. Once you’ve established this kind of relationship, there are a million and one ways to leverage it so you can maximize its impact.
1. Case Studies
If you know your ambassador is an expert on your offering, and has the data to show it, why not ask them to cooperate with you on a case study? Make sure their logo is prominent in the slides, and that you include lots of real numbers to demonstrate how your service made a favorable impact.
Co-hosting webinars with an advocate of your brand is another excellent way to leverage their excitement about your product. Take it one step further, and ask them to lead a customer-hosted webinar for your target audience. During the webinar, ask your ambassador to reference your product in at least a few sides, and highlight best practices and strategies that drive great results.
3. Testimonials and Quotes
Your company website is probably one of the best places to publish a client testimonial, quote, or even a company logo. Ambassadors are familiar with the ins-and-outs of your products, and can easily identify its unique value propositions. Leverage this knowledge, and ask them to write a killer quote that you can feature in e-mails, landing pages, or other types of marketing collateral.
4. Social Media Posts
Next time you’re planning to introduce a new service of feature, why not turn to a loyal customer to help make the announcement? One Tweet or Facebook post can often make a huge difference and introduce tons of new prospects to the benefits you’re offering. Likewise, this strategy also works with sharing content from your blog, posting links to landing pages for events or promotions, or even just saying how awesome your brand in general.
5. Affiliate Program
Reward people who love your product. It’s that simple. Launch a campaign that offers a small gift in exchange for recommending the service to a friend or colleague. Create a special landing page, and make sure to follow-up with the affiliate to let them know that a gift is on the way.
How do you manage your customers after purchase? Leave comments below on some best practices on how to turn a paying customer into an advocate!
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