This chilly morning, when I went online to my favorite outdoor sporting goods store in search of a pair of cold weather cycling pants, a pop-up filled my screen. “WIN A SPRING SHOPPING SPREE,” (YES, IT WAS IN ALL CAPS). My response? “Heck yah! I want to win a $500 to shop ‘til I drop!” The best part? For a chance to win, all I had to do was like them on Instagram and share what kind of purchases I was interested in making. Simple enough - sign me up!
Many individuals care about who and how many followers, likes and shares they have on a particular channel because it provides a Pavlovian response, a way to feel validated. But for small businesses, it’s not about being liked and cool (or at least, not all about that). Social media is important and even essential because more people than ever are connecting to your business first and continually with social media, and customers connecting with your business often equates more sales.
While it’s important to continue to focus on generating new customers, retention of past and present customers is far cheaper monetarily. Retaining those customers means keeping them connected to what you have to offer them—what’s new, what’s old and valuable, what they absolutely need!
While most small businesses don’t have $500 or a $30,000 vehicle to put in the marketing budget, you can find something to offer your current customers in exchange for a shout out. Three weeks ago, a friend followed her optometrist’s office on Facebook and actually won two tickets to a college basketball game. Contests are a great way to get your current customers interested in what you have to offer on social media, and in the long run, attract them to what you have to sell. Ask them to like or follow you, to win a free service, a free product, or even tickets to a local event.
Other than contests, there are other good ways to keep your current customers engaged in your social media. Promotions are a great way to make them aware of the services and products that they can’t live without. Provide customers with a promotional discount if they follow you on social media. Give them some simple incentive to stay engaged and also encourage them to make purchases! How about 10% off there next service or a BOGO deal on some of your products?
Use your website to increase your social media hits. On your website, you can embed a link to your social media accounts. Incentivize your current customers to interact with you and your team by giving them something for their efforts. Tip, news, a list of strategies and or how to’s are great ways to keep your customers engaged. One of the websites I often scan for advice offers me additional tips if I like them or follow them on a particular platform. They not only get me to like them, but they also get my email because I have to provide my address in order to get the information I want - this is called gated content, or a lead magnet. If you are a carpet cleaning business offer tips on how to keep high traffic areas cleaner longer. If you are a boutique of women’s fashions offer to send them some different ways to pair the same shirt with many different looks.
Word of mouth has been the greatest contributor to customer acquisition, but it can also be great for customer retention. Ask your customers for their feedback. Encourage them to go onto your social media and post feedback for your products or services. Have a link on your website that directs customers to post comments on what they like and what they want to see. If you receive negative feedback, take responsibility and address the issue (read our blog on responding to negative feedback). Customers know you aren’t perfect, and they respect businesses who acknowledge and correct problems.
To retain your current customers, you need to be a consistent presence on social media channels. Don’t be the friend who calls too much. Don’t be the family member who never calls. You have to find a balance between providing too little and too much content. Let your customers hear from you regularly and with some reliability. If you haven’t been convinced to create an editorial calendar, you really should. You can generate a list of possible topics to cover over the next three months. Ask your customers what they want and need. Have them post those wants and needs on your social media. You can plan how you will present new products and services that are coming down the pipeline. You also can plan ahead for promotions, seasonal opportunities, contests, and community events.
It is important (and financially smart) to use social media to invest in keeping current customers. Give these tricks a go and keep those customers happy, engaged, and coming back for more.