Here is the #1 tip for keeping customers engaged: Stop talking about yourself! They are already your customers. They gave you their business. Now they want value, so stop 'spamming' them with marketing.
Stop and think about your personal experience as a consumer or business decision maker. What do you response to after the purchase—promotions, company news, offers from partners, helpful content, etc.? Then explore what it is that your customers want from your organization. Are you providing them what they want so that they remain customers and eventually become brand advocates for your organization - singing your praises to anyone who will listen both online and offline?
Your customers or members buy your product or service so that they can solve problems. People buy iPhones from Apple because they want easy, fast access to media, internet connectivity, and millions of apps. People join associations because they want help with their profession. Businesses buy enterprise software and the services that come with it to help them solve a challenge that they are experiencing.
So, you have a customer. Hooray! Let's celebrate. Does this give you license to fill your customers' or members' inboxes with "me" message? A "me" message is one about you and your business. Just because a person or business purchases something from you, it does not mean that they want to hear about your new products, promotions, or other company news.
Along with a quality product or services that does what they expect it to do, what types of information do customers want from you? Just as your customer or member started a relationship with your organization to get help solving a problem, your customers also want helpful, insightful information from you once they are a customer. This includes content that makes their jobs easier, companies more profitable, and teams that are using your solutions more successful.
Many organizations fill their customers' email inboxes with information they don't want. While it is often more cost effective to get business from someone who has already purchased from you, how many times have you deleted or ignored an email from a company whom you've bought from because it was filled with promotions and "me" messages. Make your customer communication about your customers and their challenges.
The days of blasting email newsletters to your customers or members, or having sales people delivery the latest news to customers, are quickly coming to an end. Even if the information you are providing is original, insightful, and helpful content, remember that customers also want to build relationships that they can rely on to help them do their jobs.
You can meet your customers' expectation by providing an interactive platform where customers can engage your team, partners, and other customers to get the answers they are looking for. It could be as simple an online forum and listserv tool that keeps customers in the loop regarding best practices while allowing them to respond with follow up questions or guidance for other customers. Or, your customers might need an online customer community platform that utilizes social, support, and product feedback tool to keep customers engaged. The key is providing the means for customers to start a conversation with you and your community.
So, why is this important? Yes, customers can be pushed toward frustration further than non-customers, leads, and prospects. However, why upset them at all with "me" messages and no clear sustainable feedback loop. Engaging your customers with helpful information and two-way conversation leads to much higher customer satisfaction, loyalty, and brand strength. These are very tangible metrics for increasing customer retention and new sales. Ignoring customer engagement and continuing to send one-way "me" messages to your customers can wreak havoc on your revenue numbers.
(photo credit: taberandrew)