Gone are the days when there were a handful of brands and a large number of buyers. Before the advent of technological innovations and the Internet, it was a brand-driven market where each brand had its own share of loyal customers. Today, what we have is a customer-driven market where the mantra is to give customers what they want and also win their patronage.
Caught between Choices: The Customer Psyche
In our fast-paced world, the attention span a product or brand enjoys is limited to a few moments. The market is flooded with countless products and brands daily. The customer is no longer stranded with a single product. In fact, he has no dearth of choices and has to eliminate several options to select the brand he wants to purchase. So, the customer has to weigh the pros and cons of almost every product before he can decide whether to buy it or not. In case he does not want to buy that particular product, he chooses another one, and again weighs his options. It has become a challenge for companies to update their products and services to meet the ever changing consumer expectations.
Eliminating the Old Formula
The usual customer acquisition formula of a business focuses on identifying the target segment, developing effective marketing strategies, followed by attracting customers. The task does not end here as the business has to convert a one-time buyer to a long-standing and loyal customer.
Previously, some companies focused on short-term goals for products with due emphasis on the AIDA (Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action) principle. Back then, businesses harnessed their efforts in drawing the customer’s attention, creating interest, propelling the desire to own the product followed by the actual purchase. In this way, products evolved into bigger and better concepts called brands. The AIDA principle still holds good, but what businesses are looking at today is: a customer who gets hooked on to the product with the very first purchase, and not someone who buys a product just once.
Treading the Road Less Travelled
To look beyond customer acquisition, we need to maximize customer retention. Traditional means of reaching the customers are passé. For instance, telemarketing is an effective means to market your product but it is a laborious, time-consuming, and expensive method. Today, there is a need for brand communication through a host of applications such as social media, email management, digital marketing, and mobile commerce.
- Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter enable companies to engage in customer relationship programs. Social media is emerging as a potent retention tool as it facilitates direct customer feedback, enables response to customer queries, and allows for sharing of relevant information on products and services. In case of product launches or recalls, the company can update the information on the product launched or recalled before sending out an official press release. For a business, social media is a more effective means of communication than its own corporate website.
- Companies can periodically email customers to keep them updated with the events and changes in the organization. They can also send email questionnaires to customers. At regular intervals, companies can create a flurry of activity on their social media business pages by announcing new promotional activities like discounts, lucky draws, sweepstakes and so on.
- Mobile commerce has become indispensable in our tech-driven world. Companies can adopt new customer retention strategies by tapping the mobile sphere.
Today, more than a million products compete for the attention of the average consumer. Brands are at war to be the product of choice as newer and more interesting products can shift customer loyalties. More often than not, marketing and advertising campaigns have shown a high cost of production that failed to generate the expected revenue in sales. Offering quality products and services to retain customers is a given; the contemporary scenario calls for a strategic approach through platforms, such as social media, web and mobile commerce, and digital marketing, to produce noteworthy results.