Considering what I do to earn my keep around here, my blog posts usually focus on inbound marketing strategy and best practices. I’m going to deviate slightly from that today. I want to discuss something that extends beyond inbound marketing only, and considering it’s the end of the year when programs, strategies and budgets are under review, this is a timely topic: How do you treat your customers?
Here’s what triggered this post. I’ve been a Birchbox subscriber for more than a year. (If you’re not familiar with Birchbox, it’s a subscription service that delivers a box of beauty product and make-up samples to your door every month. It’s wonderful, and I recommend it. There’s one for men, too!) Not only is it a great way to try new items without wasting money or product, I get so many samples, I rarely have to buy stuff like fragrances or moisturizer.
A few days ago, I was getting the mail and collecting the bevy of holiday packages that had arrived on my front porch. Tucked inside the postal bane of my existence—the Red Plum—was a small padded envelope addressed to me. There wasn’t a sender’s name; only a return address I didn’t recognize. As I searched my brain for any memory of what this package might contain, I began to mentally berate myself for what was obviously a case of too much online shopping—I’d completely forgotten about something I ordered.
What was in the package completely surprised me. There was something small wrapped in tissue paper and a gray grosgrain ribbon, and a card thanking me for being a subscriber for 13 months. The gift itself was simple—just a keychain I could use to store my favorite lip balm—but I was floored. I can’t remember a company ever sending me a “just because” gift. There are usually strings attached. I usually have to buy something to get something, be it a discount or a “free” gift. Even when a clothing company sends me a promotional code for $15, it’s nice, but it means I’m lured back to the website, spending more money. This keychain from Birchbox arrived without warning and without strings. I was thrilled, not only as a consumer, but as a marketer. Birchbox just won so many points from me.
I wanted to write this post to ask marketers to think about how they are treating their customers. Since this is our day-to-day, it’s easy to just keep cranking out campaigns without taking a step back to evaluate what you’re doing. Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I exceeding expectations, or merely meeting them? It’s not enough to just not mess up. You really do need to find ways to go above and beyond if you want to earn loyalty.
Do I do nice things for my loyal customers just because, or are there strings attached? Loyalty should be rewarded, period. Customers have so many choices today of what businesses they choose to patronize, and if they’ve chosen yours, you need to let them know you appreciate that choice. Birchbox chose to reward customers based on the length of time they’d been a subscriber. You might also choose to reward a customer based on the amount of money they’ve spent with you in a year, or the number of times they’ve made a purchase.
Am I rude? I was chatting with a client recently about a company that decided sending him text messages—without his permission—was a good way to communicate with him. It’s not. There are indeed many channels you can use to communicate with your customers, but please make sure they’ve granted you permission in some way to do so. Otherwise you’re invading their privacy, and we all know what a big deal privacy is. Besides, it’s just common courtesy.
Am I marketing to my customers the way I want to be marketed to? This ties in with not being annoying, but even if you’re not a member of your target audience, make sure you’re putting yourself in their shoes as best you can before you launch a campaign. Even better, work with a focus group first.
If you’re thinking about your marketing New Year’s Resolutions, make one of them to do something really great for your most loyal customers. The reward will come back to you, I’m sure.
What has a company done for you that’s completely wowed you? Leave a comment below!
With a decade of marketing experience, Meghan Sullivan is a Senior Consultant at Kuno Creative and is passionate about developing and executing inbound marketing strategies for her clients. When sheís not doing that, sheís probably curled up on the couchwith her dog and iPad, or exploring Clevelandís incredible food scene. Connect with Meghan on Twitter or LinkedIn.
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