Some sources say it is six times easier to keep an existing customer than to win a new one. A website is all about driving sales, and the most cost-effective growth strategy for any business is to encourage current customers to do repeat business. Keeping that in mind, do not think about your website just in terms of attracting new customers – use it to retain the ones you have. Using your database to encourage existing customers to visit your website can be an important part of growing your relationship with them, generating new leads from them, and giving them many new and positive things to tell all their friends about you.
Develop a long-term relationship with your customers
A database will help you to understand your customers’ needs and expectations, to track these, and to see how they change over time. Statistics available from most modern websites can also provide useful information for developing this understanding. Such knowledge enables you to make changes to your website to ensure you meet your customers’ expectations and speak to their needs. Together, your database and website can form the basis of a loyal customer relationship and encourage people to come back for more, thus increasing your revenue and growing your business.
Communicate effectively with your customers
When you know what your customers value and what they want, you can communicate with them on a more personal level. A well-organized database enables you to put a customer communication programme in place to communicate the right messages to the right people, at the right time. Because you maintain detailed information on each customer, you are able to offer targeted campaigns and special offers of interest to specific customers or customer groups. Use quick emails to communicate with them, highlighting new information on your website, new promotions, and other changes in your business. Point the people who are most likely to be interested in specific offers and products directly to the relevant pages on your website.
Focus your marketing
A database enables you to track changes in your market, in your customers’ buying patterns, and your product sales. With careful tracking, you’ll pick up on any changes in taste quickly, and adjust your sales pitch accordingly. Having the right information at your fingertips makes it easy to focus on and communicate with your most valued customers or customer groups, because you know which marketing campaigns are working. It also shows you when a customer stops using your service. You can use vouchers, downloads, registration forms, and online surveys on your website to help track purchase behaviour.
Improve the level and consistency of your customer service
A database can keep everyone in your business informed of what is happening with each customer. This enables you to offer a consistently high, professional level of service, even if the person a customer usually deals with is out of the office.
Never miss a sales opportunity again
Because all the information about potential customers or new sales leads can be stored in the same place, you will be able to track all of your sales opportunities and follow up on them. You can also monitor your click-throughs, sales conversions, and pages viewed, to indicate other potential areas of interest to your customers.
Protect yourselves and your customers from the competition
The ongoing use of a customer database can be a major advantage for your business over a competitor’s business. If you use your database to develop loyal relationships, you can give your customers exactly what they want, when they want it, and how they want it. This is something your competitors cannot easily copy! You can use your website to automate parts of your services such as making appointments, accessing service information, and ordering products. Once you establish your website as a familiar, safe, efficient, and enjoyable space in which to do business, your customers will be more “sticky” and less likely to want to change.
Add value all around
While you are adding value to your customers by combining the power of your database with your website, you are also adding value to your own business. A business that knows who its customers are retains them. If you have systems in place that use both your database and your website, you have an additional asset that adds significant value if and when you want to sell your business.
Combining the power of an effective customer database and a dynamic and informative website can simplify much of the communication that needs to happen between your business and your customers. Think about how you can use your website to offer extra value to your customers, give them information that they need on a day-to-day basis, and help them get more value out of your products and services. Then use your database to let them know all about it.
In order for people to buy your product, they need to know about it. How are they going to find out? You need to tell them.The fastest way to get the word out is to leverage blogs in your field. The right blogs already have a large audience of people who are in your target demographic. Look for small business bloggers — ones that might act as a useful tool for small business owners who need to make small changes to their websites. Search for a virtual personal assistant who could create a list of the top 50 small business bloggers, grab their contact information, and write about their areas of expertise.
A relatively easy way to get traffic to your site is to create high-value blog posts about things your target customers care about. These could be articles about how to optimize your website, or how to fix particular problems on the web that could affect small business owners. Nevertheless, writing content takes time, especially if it is going to be the kind of great, shareable content people care about. Be sure the content is relevant, informative, and well written.
This one might seem out of place on this list, but stay with us for a minute. We noticed that we had a large audience coming to us from Indonesia and Japan — two markets totalling about 400 million people. That’s a lot of customers. However, the conversion rates on traffic from these sites were terrible: an estimated 1%. To make these customers feel more at home with our website (and to increase conversions), we’ve tried an experiment. By using Gengo.com to translate the site into Indonesian, we can see if translation affects conversion rates. Blogger outreach communications could also be translated to increase conversions — definitely money well spent.
There are always a number of ways you can make small changes to your website to increase sales. Adding social sharing functionality to your site and fixing a cross-browser compatibility issue are just two things that can quickly boost your appeal to a broader audience. Another simple example is to set up a fixed header at the top of your home page that stays with the user as he or she scrolls down the page. This is the perfect place to put an email subscription bar so it is always in view. From the tests that have been done, this has been shown to increase email subscriptions by up to 400%. That’s a lot of email!
About Author: Tim Wilson works as content manager at HostPapa, a website hosting company serving over 100,000 customers around the world. Since launching in 2006, HostPapa has offered reliable, budget-friendly, easy-to-use web hosting solutions for small to medium-sized businesses.