In this economic downturn, marketers will need to focus their efforts on existing customers for maximum return, explains Andrew Freeman at CRM Technologies
The gloomy economy now means that businesses will have to achieve more sales, with less marketing budget. But with so many options within the marketing mix, where should you start to prioritise those activities? The key objective should be to focus on marketing activities geared to retaining and maintaining existing customers. This is because marketing to repeat customers is the most cost-effective route for business survival and continued success.
So how do you respond to this shift? Well, it’s all about understanding your relationship with your customers at each stage of the sales lifecycle. To target existing customers, you should only need to examine those at the later stages of the lifecycle, examples of this could be:
- Profiled prospects – contacts that have had one or more leads associated with them
- Customers – contacts that have purchased your product or service
- Repeat customers – contacts who have repeatedly purchased your product or service.
Once you have a customer you obviously want to sell them more and develop them. This could be achieved by cross-selling or up-selling to them. After they have been developed to their fullest, you then want to retain them – so they come back! This may seem easy in practice, but how do you discover who they all are and what they want?
Fortunately, help is at hand, as a growing number of customers conduct both their purchasing research and sales on the Web. This means that you can easily gain a strong understanding of their digital behaviour. Armed with this customer knowledge, you can begin to see what is taking place in the buying process. This means that tools such as online tracking and analytics packages can provide low-cost competitive intelligence to really understand and serve customer buying habits.
The key to examining your customer’s digital behaviour is comprised of analysing their website visits, information downloads, keyword searches and email responses. In many ways an online buyer’s behaviour provides the most accurate picture of interest and intent. By analysing the frequency and click stream data of Web site visits, you can focus on the buyer’s concerns and motivation.
There is sales & marketing process that can support this – the idea is to develop a closed loop between your marketing and sales efforts. This allows you to keep track of the different stages of a customer and adapt your marketing messages appropriately. By aligning your marketing and sales teams around information and intelligence, you will possess the most important tools to drive successful sales.
Unfortunately, simply switching on a business intelligence tool is not enough. A holistic approach is needed with significant process changes required within both your marketing and sales teams. This could include:
- Developing marketing channels on a single marketing platform to build comprehensive customer profiles
- Sharing customer intelligence with sales and other business stakeholders by integrating the marketing system of record with Customer Relationship Management or Sales Force Automation systems
- Evaluating customer behaviour using advanced sales lead scoring systems
- Speeding up the sales process with real time sales alerts and notifications of prospect Web activity and marketing responses.
- Driving customers back to the website with personalised nurturing campaigns.
So once these processes are set up, how do you know if things are working? Apart from revenue going up, here are some other ideas for metrics and measures for the latter stages of the customer lifecycle, highlighted earlier:
- How many customers buy a single product/service from you versus multiple products/services
- Increase in actual and forecast revenue from existing customer base
- What is in each stage of sales pipeline for existing customers
- New business wins from existing customers.
- Customer churn rate
- Customer satisfaction levels
- Share of Wallet.
There is a big opportunity for forward-thinking companies to strategically use tools and processes to track the behaviour of their customer’s prospects and making that information available to their sales teams. By focusing on existing customers and their buying behaviour means that you can achieve more business for less budget – which is the perfect solution in a recession.