In my last blog I discussed 7 Reasons Why You Need a Customer Retention Program. The core of that Customer Retention Program should be a Communication Plan – your plan for exactly how you will keep in touch with your customers. Will you use emails, newsletters, social media posts or something else? Who will you target and how often will you contact them? What type of messaging will you use? And so forth. Today I’d like to introduce the steps you need to take to answer these questions and create your Plan. I’ll be going into further detail about some of these steps in future blogs.
1. Analyze Current Customer Behavior – The first step is to get a good understanding of where things currently stand, and a baseline against which you’ll be able to measure your program. Pull together all of your customer information and take a good look at the aggregate or average data.
2. Develop Customer Profiles & Personas – As you’re analyzing all this data, what you’re looking for is trends and patterns. Start segmenting your customers based on demographics, usage and other factors, and then break things down into “buckets” from there. These “buckets” will become your buyer personas.
For example, at the “customer profile” level you might see that your average customer is a 45-year-old Hispanic woman. At the “buyer persona” level you can break things down by different age brackets (the average might be 45 years old, but the range might be from 20 to 68), life stages, buying patterns, etc. From there you can start to create stories around these personas, to zero in on the type of messaging that will appeal to each group.
3. Create the Initial Communication Plan – At this point you’ve identified trends, patterns, profiles and personas. Use this to start laying out a communication grid detailing the media, timing and messaging. For example, if you know that group A typically buys something one month after they make their initial purchase, a great time to send them an email would be at the 3-week post-purchase point. If that first purchase was for shoes, this message might center on an offer for a matching handbag.
4. Continue to Monitor Customer Behavior – After you fine tune and implement your Communication Plan, you need to keep in mind that this is not a “set it and forget it” type of thing. You’ll need to take the time to validate the plan and identify changes that take place over time.
At a minimum of once every six months (and more frequently if possible) you need to repeat your initial analysis and validate it against your assumptions. Are the customer profiles and personas still relevant? Did a new group of people emerge? Does the communication plan’s timing, messaging and mediums used still make sense? Perhaps a new social media opportunity has arisen that you should be taking advantage of, or your average customer now prefers texts instead of emails.
Your Communication Plan is all about customer retention. And as I explained in my previous article, a good customer retention program can greatly increase your business’ sales and profits.