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Have you ever heard the old saying “It is cheaper to retain current customers than it is to recruit new ones”? This statement could not be truer. If you want to increase and maximize your profits, you have to invest some time and money in creating a strong customer loyalty among your current customer-base. Believe it or not, retention marketing is all about building a long-term mutually beneficial relationship with your customers that will keep them faithful to you and your business.

One of the main drivers to customer loyalty and a successful retention campaign is the experience the customers have with your business.  According to the Customer Relationship Management Report (CRM) by Forrester Research, companies that:

  • provide superior customer experience have 14% more customers who are willing to consider another purchase from them.
  • offer the best experience in the industry have 16% fewer customers who are likely to move to a competitor.
  • have high experience scores have 17% more customers who are likely to recommend their products or services.

So what does this mean for you and your business? It means to create loyal customers, you have to be willing to go above and beyond the average to create a unique, positive and exceptional experience for each customer that you come in contact with regardless of how difficult this may be.

A few methods that you can consider implementing to enhance your customer loyalty are:

  • Offer a generous referral program – not only will this encourage your current customers to purchase more but it will also create positive “word of mouth” that will drive more people to your business.
  • Ask the customers for feedback on how your business can serve them better – customers love to give their input and opinion about things that can make their lives easier. This shows your customers that you value their business and is committed to making them happy.
  • Create targeted alerts and/or newsletters with topics that will drive customers back to your website – this can be very affective if you can produce a tailor-made alerts and/or newsletters for each classification of customers and highlight topics that each group would find interesting. With this, and any other form of communication, be sure to give the customer a choice on the type of communication they would prefer to receive.
  • Use social media outlets to allow your customers to interact with each other – some businesses mistakenly think social media outlets such as Facebook or blogs are only good for marketing the services/products and “newest” items or services but it is not. It should also be used to allow your customers to communicate with each other as well as with you. The more accessible you are and the more you participate in these outlets the better.
  • Just because tactics – to show your appreciation and to make your customers feel like they are more than just another sale, consider sending them holiday and/or birthday cards or emails with discount coupons. Having a “just because” tactic will keep loyal customers coming back “just because” they feel like you appreciate not only their business but also them as a person.

To develop and implement a successful retention plan, you can always hire a professional or you can purchase a number of customer retention books. Either way, you can’t afford not to include a retention strategy in your overall business marketing plan. Keep in mind, it is always “cheaper to retain current customers than it is to recruit new ones.”

According to the “Alterian Annual Survey 2009: Are You Ready to Engage?” sixty-six percent of marketing professional will invest in social channels in the 2010/2011 year. However, of those investing in social medial marketing, forty percent said they’d be shifting more than a fifth of their traditional direct marketing budgets towards social marketing functions. Also, thirty-six percent of the respondents already have invested in social media marketing and analysis tools.

So, what is social media marketing and what is the big deal?

Social media marketing is the process of marketing your website or business through social media channels such as social networks, online communities, blogs, and other online outlets. This is an innovative and important approach of marketing because it can create a massive amount of website traffic for little to no monetary cost. The sole purpose of this method is to make your business and website profitable over time by creating a word-of-mouth buzz about the services and/or products that you offer. The more you effectively promote yourself through the social media channels, the more supporters you will gain which will ultimately lead to higher website traffic.

Is it really that simple?

Believe it or not, it is just as simple as it is stated to implement social media marketing however, there is a cost of time commitment involved in effectively spreading the word about your business and/or services which is why some business owners hire freelancer to do it. Conversely, if you don’t have the funds to hire a freelancer, you can easily do the marketing yourself and become very successful at doing it.

However, you should keep in mind that social media marketing is not a quick marketing tactic that will generate a ton of money for you in the beginning. Its purpose is to build and maintain long-term relationships that will eventually lead to loyal paying customers.

 Why so much negative reviews if it is so effective?

There are several bloggers and marketing professionals that feel as though social media marketing is not the most effective form of marking and is a temporary method that will eventually die out. They claim that the tactic is not as simple as it seems and its benefits are misleading. I choose to disagree with this but do believe that you have to choose your social media outlets wisely.

The fact of the matter, the use of the Internet and social marketing is growing on rapid basis and as business owners or entrepreneurs, it is your job to decide which social media outlets will best fit your business and target market. This means, you should have a social media marketing strategy in place before you begin joining networks and writing blogs. While Facebook and Twitter are very popular sites, they may not be the outlets that are best for business. Instead, you may benefit more by joining a site such as Small Business Online Community.

 So…

A word to the wise, don’t believe the hype that social media marketing is not an effective and efficient form of marketing because it is. There are age old companies such as Motorola  and Ford Motor Company that are one the social media marketing bandwagon and is succeeding at it. Like these and other businesses that have successfully mastered social media marketing, you just have to find what works for you and your business.

Are you feeling as though there are not enough hours in the day to complete all the administrative duties you have? Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed at the end of the day because of all the “extra” tasks you have?

Step into the world of Virtual Assistance and let them be the calm to your storm.

So you ask, what is a Virtual Assistant (VA)? A Virtual Assistant is a skilled professional who works as an independent contractor by providing
administrative support to businesses, entrepreneurs and other people who are too busy to work on administrate tasks or need help completing certain projects. The majority of VAs work from home and maintain a full functioning home office with innovative technologies to communicate and work with their clients. VAs offer a number of different services including Internet research, medical and legal transcription, database management, general to advanced secretarial duties, web development, meeting and event planning, realtor support, several types of marketing and much more.  The one aspect that makes VAs unique is the fact that their services are not limited to an office or even a state for that matter. They can provide support to clients all over the world.

A common assumption is that VAs are more expensive to hire than a full-time company employee when in actually, this assumption is not true.  With a full- or part-time regular employee, you will not only have to pay that person an hourly wage but you may also have to pay for their health and medical benefits, retirement plans, training, etc. However, with VAs you will only pay them for the time they work for you. Many VAs have payment plans that are designed to accommodate the needs of the clients. Additionally, VAs pay for their own training and benefits which is a cost-saving partnership for the clients.

Hiring a VA is no different from hiring a regular employee. The only difference is that you will not have the luxury of meeting them face-to-face unless the VA is in your local area. Nonetheless, you should interview the VA to determine their experience level and if they will provide you with the best possible business solutions.

For more information on the VA industry click here.