Beyond the Sale: How Inbound Marketing Can Impact Customer Activation and Retention
William Ballard, a regular contributor to Entreprenuer.com, is a solo entrepreneur and business owner in Ontario, Canada. A former network-marketer, William definitely knows how to go from original business idea to established business operation. His business tips and marketing wisdom has been featured on Entreprenuer.com as well as many other online business websites. William is a husband, writer and author. In his spare time you can usually find him reading or making notes for his next book. But above all else, William loves spending quality time with his loving wife. She truly holds his heart.
A delightful experience is often the difference between a pleased customer and a confused, or even angry, customer.
Here's the honest truth: If you fail to meet a customer's expectations, you lose that customer and, most likely, their friends.
How Inbound Can Work Beyond the Sale
A few years ago, companies could get away with over-promising and under-delivering. Today, with social media, this approach means death to the business. Social media has effectively taken nationwide companies back to Mayberry. If you treat a customer badly, word is going to get around.
Therefore, you don't want just any customer who will buy your product or service to buy. Instead, you want the rightpeople to buy. This is where Inbound Marketing is excelling. We can now educate our potential customers to help them make the wisest possibly buying decisions.
We qualify and disqualify our leads very easily today.
But the Inbound Methodology, and it's benefits, doesn't have to end at the sale. Instead, imagine extending the same methodology to delight your customers, a portion of Inbound that often gets overlooked.
Think of it as your an additional marketing funnel; a delighted customer funnel.
Implementing the Delighted Customer Funnel
Let’s put this idea into perspective for you: Say your ideal customer buys product or service X. That customer is now placed into the Top-of-the-Funnel (TOFU) of your new delight funnel.
The same marketing strategies you used to go from stranger to customer can be used to go from new customer to a brand promoter.
This is what I call the delighted customer funnel.
The Delighted Customer Funnel
There have been so many startups that have offered free trials to great apps only to find that leads never move past the trial. The problem is rarely a horrible app. Many times, it's the experience of using the app that causes the drop-off in customer engagement.
When customers are looking for a service or product, it's to solve a specific problem. When they encounter a possible solution, they sign up for the free trial.
If the pain of adopting this new tool is worse than the pain of their original problem, do you think they'll pay for the tool?
The answer to that question is no.
A wise person once said; we will never change until the pain of change becomes greater than the pain of being the same.
That quote applies to user experience.
Here's an Example
A company who has an online quote tool. Thousands of companies are looking for this solution. If the tool is too complex to figure out, or frustrating to operate, they will not adopt it into their workflow.
Even if it benefits them in the long run, they don't have the time to deal with a huge learning curve. Instead, they'll do quotes the way they've done them for the last 30 years.
Such a company may experience a high conversion rate to the free trial. What they will experience is a low conversion rate from free trial to full, paid version.
But, what if they made the learning curve short and easy?
That's where the delighted customer funnel comes into play. Instead of throwing the paying customers to the dogs, give them content that helps them move forward quickly and easily.
For the quote app company, this could be in daily e-mails with short how-tos on how to do the most important parts of the quote workflow. This would help busy people do what they need to do, even if they don't yet take full advantage of the complex features.
At the very least, they know how to solve that problem in a way that doesn't make them feel like they're learning to walk again.
Putting This Into Practice
Stop abandoning customers after they buy. Instead, treat them like they are your best prospects to buy again, and to bring referrals.
Adopt a content marketing strategy that's focused on what happens after the sale. Do some research in what would make customers delighted to experience after they buy - then work on delivering that experience.