It’s easy to get hung up on short-term wins. When you have quarterly sales goals or monthly KPIs hanging over your head, looking years down the road can feel impossible.
It’s why so many businesses make knee-jerk moves to go after consumers who are ready to buy now, instead of steadily courting lifelong customers who could spend more over time.
Neil Hoyne, the Chief Measurement Strategist for Google, has spent years trying to wean businesses off this short-term mindset and introduce them to long-term thinking. It’s a shift that’s at the center of his book Converted: The Data-Driven Way to Win Customers’ Hearts.
Here are a few tips for building a great, long-term relationship with your customers:
1. Say their name when you talk to them.
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who keeps saying your name? “That’s a great point, Rachel.” “Dave, I want to know what you think.” Even if you know it’s a sales tactic, it’s pretty hard to not feel flattered.
Customers work the same way. And one of the most important things you can do is to learn their names.
- Offer incentives to get them to register for an account and give their information
- Use a single sign-on provider like Google or Facebook to make it easy
- Get their name before they purchase so you can use it in marketing
Once you have their name, use it! Adding the name to the subject line of an email campaign increases open rates by 20 percent and conversion rates by 31 percent.
2. Ask better questions (don’t just talk about yourself).
Making small talk about the weather isn’t going to move things forward with your Tinder date.
And asking your customers the typical, boilerplate questions on the annual survey might be good for developing dashboards, but it won’t help you really get to know your customer.
To glean deeper insights that can help you chart lifetime customer value, learn to ask more thoughtful questions.
Questions that get you data, but not much information
- What’s your title?
- What’s your address?
- What could we do better?
- How likely are you to recommend us to a friend?
Questions that help you get to know your customer
- Is this a gift for somebody?
- Why it works: People buying a gift for someone else tend to have a higher lifetime value than people buying for themselves.
- What do you love most about our product?
- Why it works: People asked this question start to form a more positive association with your brand and develop a higher lifetime value.
- How much do you spend on our product category every year?
- Why it works: When you know how much spends on your product category every year, you can compare it to the amount they spend on your product every year to calculate share of wallet and opportunity for growth.
3. Accept that they may not behave rationally – and use it to your advantage.
Dealing with irrational behavior is part of dating. (To quote Freaks and Geeks, “Are you calling me irrational?! Because I’ll rip your head off and I’ll throw it over that fence.”)
And it’s part of attracting customers too. Learn the ways people behave irrationally, and use it to your advantage in your marketing. For example:
- Make people feel accomplished (even if they haven’t done anything yet). If your sign up process has eight steps, present it as a ten-step process where two of the steps have already been completed.
- Make products feel scarce (even if you technically have more in stock). When something is scarce, we see it as more valuable. So don’t be afraid to say, “15 people have this product in their cart” or “only 10 products left.”
- Make people think everyone else is doing it. People pay attention to what other people are doing, and they make purchase decisions because of it. Conversion rates are 270 percent higher for products with at least five reviews than for products with none.
4. Get them to tell you about themselves.
You need customer data to inform your decisions – but being sketchy in how you collect data can severely damage customer trust long-term.
The good news: Customers aren’t averse to providing information if they have trust in your brand.
A few tips to collect customer information AND get them to love you:
- Tell them why you want their data. And don’t just say “so we can create a better experience for you” – everyone does that. Let them know specifically how it will be used.
- Tell them how they can revoke access, and make it easy to do so.
- Don’t wait until you have to do something because a regulator told you to. Start early and practice transparency to build trust.
Want to learn more from Neil Hoyne? Sign up for the Increasing Lifetime Customer Value workshop, or buy Converted: The Data-Driven Way to Win Customers’ Hearts.