By Amber Kemmis
Happy and engaged customers are critical to current and future business. Not only do customers pay you, but they also determine future sales through word-of-mouth and their feedback, which helps you to improve your product or service. Customers provide so much untapped value, which is why nurturing your relationship with them is critical. Inbound marketing helps to do this in multiple ways. See how below:
1. Become obsessed with the customer
Sounds creepy, but it is true. In a Forbe’s article, Is the Customer Experience Your Magnificent Obsession?, Shep Hyken, a customer service contributor, illustrates the benefit of a “magnificent obsession” with the customer experience with now being the ultimate time because 86% of surveyed in RightNow’s 2011 Customer Experience Impact Report would pay more for a better customer experience. To make this dream a reality, the entire organization must live, breathe, walk, talk and exist for the customer.
Inbound marketing is all about bringing the customer to your door, and you can’t do that without putting customers first. So, although it sounds a bit creepy, inbound marketing requires you and the entire organization to become obsessed with the customer. They’ll appreciate you for that, and you’ll certainly be able to better nurture your relationship with them when they are top of find.
2. Learn everything you need to know about the customer
Inbound marketing allows you to gather more than enough data to nurture the customer. With a strong focus on analytics in addition to a focus on the customer, inbound is the perfect way to gather data through the nurturing process and use this data to drive future customer nurturing campaigns. From social media to email and content, inbound marketing allows you to learn more and more about your customer and the relationship, which enables you better nurture them.
3. Interact often and automatically
Inbound gives you multiple ways to interact with your customer, which are highlighted further below, but what’s better is that much of the interaction can be automated. Inbound software, like HubSpot’s CRM and marketing automation, allow you to nurture your customer relationship by storing customer information in a way that allows you interact in real-time.
4. Segment to save their sanity
Learning everything you need to know about the customer means that not all customers are treated equal. Well, you probably treat them with the same level of service, but you no longer have to nurture in a cookie-cutter way with the same exact experience for each of them, regardless of their differences. Inbound gives you the ability to segment customers to create a customized experience. For example, a company that sells software to enterprise companies likely has multiple decision makers involved, so their customers serve multiple different roles and have different interests in mind. Segmentation ensures that the nurturing, whether it be on LinkedIn, email or another medium, is geared to the customer and their unique characteristics.
5. Entertain and inform them with content
At the premise of every inbound marketing campaign is content. Typically, however, companies focus on building content for prospects, but your customers need content too and may even consume some of the content you’ve developed for prospects. Content like product or service tips, success stories, or anything they’ll find useful and/or entertaining will make your customers fall in love with you even more.
6. Stay close to your customer's inbox
One obvious way that inbound marketing allows you to nurture customer relationships is through email marketing and automation. Delivering valuable email regularly enough to remain on the mind of your customer helps to keep your customer relationship strong, but you can’t just send automated junk. This will not nurture the relationship but instead is sure fire way to end up in spam. One of my favorite brands, ThredUp, an online consignment shop with great brands (yes, I shop used items and am not afraid to admit it), stays close to my inbox with content about #badassmoms. The company sells clothing, but the still keep me opening their emails with content that shares stories of their customers, recipes and, of course, style tips. This is inbound marketing at its’ finest.
7. Socialize with customers
According to Pew Research, nearly two-thirds of Americans use social networking sites. So, it is pretty likely that your customers are on social media, which is why it is an excellent inbound marketing tactic and way to engage and socialize with your customers. The first step to nurturing on social media is discovering the best platform/s to utilize. Then, social allows you to share valuable content (whether you created it or not, it should be shared) and relevant product or service updates, respond to customer questions or concerns, and show them your gratitude for staying loyal.
8. Monitor and react when needed
Social media is a great inbound tool for responding to customer concerns, but there are other ways that inbound helps to nurture the customer relationship. Inbound marketing software, with its’ big focus on gathering data, gives a company the ability to monitor their brand throughout multiple channels. For example, let’s say you suddenly see a boost in traffic to your website that, through your inbound metrics, turns out to be from a review site with a post from a unhappy customer. With the help of inbound metrics, you can react to the customer and do a bit of damage control. The same reaction is also possible when you receive positive feedback and want to thank your customer.
9. Grow and build a community for them
Humans are naturally social beings. We want avoid loneliness as much as possible. Thanks to social media and an always connected lifestyle, humans are becoming more and more resistant to feeling left out. FOMO (fear of missing out) is becoming a real thing, and communities help to ensure we belong and don’t miss out. Inbound marketing offers multiple tools and ways to build a community for your customers. This community will make your customers feel like they belong and won’t be lonely anytime soon. Take, for example, a more recent brand that’s built a community, Fitbit. See another person wearing a Fitbit, and you are instantly connected with a complete stranger by simply asking, “How many steps did you take today?”
10. Recruit and retain an army of evangelists
When you use all of the above to nurture your customer relationships, an excellent by-product occurs⎯⎯an army of evangelists. The best source for new sales come from a customer referral, so growing the number of happy customers who brag about your company’s excellence is paramount to overall business success.
Inbound marketing is all about bringing the customer to you, so it naturally helps to nurture customer relationships. But, as you’ve seen, there are many tactics, tools and ways that inbound can help you to keep your customers happy and satisfied. Now, go nurture your customer relationships with inbound!