SMEs - maximise loyalty with smart marketing - Business Works
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SMEs - maximise loyalty with smart marketing

by Emma Springham, Head of Marketing and Channels, Royal Mail MarketReach Customer loyalty is essential to growing your business. It is a well-known business adage that 80% of business should come from 20% of customers, with loyal customers spending ten times more than prospects. Given their value, it is vital small businesses invest in the right ways to build a stronger relationship with the customers they already have, says Emma Springham, Head of Marketing and Channels at Royal Mail MarketReach.

At Royal Mail, we work closely with companies of all sizes to help them achieve their aims. Earlier this year, we commissioned research to understand better the ambitions and challenges SMEs face.

90% of SMEs we spoke to agreed that regularly keeping in touch with customers made them more likely to remain loyal and almost half (46%) cited building better relationships with existing customers as a business ambition.

Our research also showed that 95% of SMEs recognise that marketing has an important role in helping them achieve their business aims and in communicating with customers. Marketing to customers, using a combination of different channels and activity, can have a profound effect on the growth and success of your business.

Stay in touch

In recent years, social media and email have become popular marketing tools for small and medium sized businesses to keep in touch with customers, to make them aware of new products and services and keep their business front-of-mind.

However, this is part of a wider trend among SMEs to market across multiple channels. On average, our research showed that SMEs use 3.5 different channels to talk to customers. The most popular channels are e-mail (82%), online advertising (50%) and direct mail (46%).

Quick and often cost-effective, the biggest advantage of online methods is that they are easy to use. But are SMEs convinced that they are enough to create a lasting impact? Our research would suggest not: 71% of decision-makers we spoke with said they would like to create marketing that that customers can keep hold of, for future reference. Over 80% of people also read mail and keep it for later use, with over half keeping a commercial mailing for three months or more. SMEs looking for marketing that stays with their customers should consider the value that mail brings.

This is a smart move for SMEs. Physical communications, such as mail - letters, flyers and catalogues - make customers feel more emotionally connected with the sender. This emotional connection helps build loyal relationships.

Get personal

Tailoring your service around each individual client should be at the heart of your customer retention strategy. As an SME, it is important to make the customer feel as though they can't go to a competitor because they'd lose the personal touch you've given them.

Research has found that more than half of consumers expect brands to remember what they have bought in the past. Separate research uncovered that three-quarters of shoppers prefer to do business with companies that personalise their experience; consumers are openly acknowledging the fact that businesses can influence them by delivering relevant messaging and making shopping experiences more personal.

SMEs that continue to send one size fits all marketing messages and treat every consumer the same are missing the opportunity to create lasting, valuable customer relationships.

Show your appreciation

When you consider the fact that the cost of attracting new customers is significantly more than that of maintaining a relationship with existing ones, you have a strong motivation to keep that core group of customers happy.

Business owners can make loyal customers feel special by creating exclusive events and loyalty offers to show them how important they are, and to forge deeper business links.

It is not as difficult as expected to create programmes that offer customers relevant deals and discounts on things that they were going to be buying anyway; from groceries to getaways. Customers all have a desire to save money and attain the best value in their spending, whether they are buying from a chain or a boutique. A loyalty scheme adds value to the SME's proposition while lessening the importance of price from the purchasing decision.

Think about how you communicate your appreciation, too. Tests on the brain have also shown that people feel more valued and engaged when they receiving mail, rather than e-mail.

With competition fiercer than ever, SMEs need to find a way to connect with loyal customers on a more personal level. Personalisation and loyalty rewards are nothing new, but SMEs can make this work in a more powerful way; utilising what they know about their customers and using powerful channels, like direct mail.

To help SMEs build better relationships with customers and reach new ones, we have launched MailshotMaker - a simple, easy-to-use online tool, created specifically for small businesses to send professional mailshots. Find out more here:

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