Jun 22 2010
As you seek to promote your business online, you are likely pretty focused on bringing in as many new site visitors and customers as possible. This is a noble goal, but don’t ignore the sometimes hidden land of plenty that your current and past customers represent in your online marketing efforts.
You are already familiar with the term “viral marketing” right? Well, the best way to get your business promoted virally is by tapping into your customers. These are people who have bought from you and who are fans of your business. They can, and will, help you grow your business.
Here are a few examples of exactly how customers can help your business after you have already sold to them.
The Web is Testimonial-Land
Firstly, you should be asking all of your customers if they would be willing to provide a testimonial for you. Good testimonials ease the path new customers must take before they trust you. If a cold prospect can see what other people think about your business or product before they buy, they will feel more comfortable making the purchase.
And since you are marketing on the web, you can take the testimonial to the next level. Consider using Skype and some Skype recording software (I use Pamela) to talk to your happy customers and get their thoughts about your business. You can record their testimonials in audio or visual format, and then use those testimonials to build trust and bring in more business.
Place these testimonials all over your online marketing efforts. At the same time, approach those happy customers about writing up reviews for your business on popular review sites. And if your customers have blogs, encourage them to write reviews on them. All of this will create a critical mass of social proof that will help you convert more visits into sales.
Online Marketing is Easy to Pass Along
Next, start to focus more heavily on the referral. In the world of online marketing, things are easy to pass along. Your customers can forward e-mails and share links to your website. Encourage them to do this by including a big “forward this to a friend” button on all of your email marketing. Consider emailing customers with special offers that they can pass out to friends. Remind them every few months about your referral program if you have one.
You should also think of every customer as a potential business partner. Set up an affiliate program so they can refer you to their network and earn a little money for it. There are solutions online that make this pretty easy to do, and it is a great referral tool. If you sell a digital product, you can use a tool such as E-Junkie.com to set up an affiliate program. If you sell something physical, you may be able to find a solution online that will track click-throughs to your e-commerce site.
Ongoing Marketing Gets Customers to Come Back for More
Finally, don’t ignore past customers, because they could become customers again. When you create new products or put together new offerings, think of your past customers and what they might need. It is always easier to get a happy customer to buy again than to get a stranger to buy. To do this properly, create a survey using the free Form tool on Google Docs and emailing it out to all past customers. Tell them what you are thinking of offering and find out if it is something they need. Also ask them what issues they are running into that you might be able to solve.
I suggest putting past customers on a different marketing program than cold contacts. Send them a helpful e-mail newsletter, for instance. In major email marketing programs (I recommend MailChimp) you can segment your list and send emails to just a portion of it. Use this tactic to send a special newsletter to past customers, but to keep them on your main announcement list as well. Consider providing past customers with special offers only they can get. Show you care by getting in touch personally from time to time and asking them if there is anything they need.
The world of online marketing is a vast and open field of promise. You have the potential to reach a huge number of new customers. But in all that excitement, don’t ignore your current and past customers. They just may be the key to all of your future success.
Guest contributor, Bradford Shimp, is the author of The Value of the Customer AFTER the Sale.