We’re all familiar with the 4 Ps of the marketing mix; right product, right price, right place, right promotion. It could be argued that customer loyalty follows a similar pattern.
In order for customers to remain loyal, you perhaps need product continuity, competitive prices, a convenient place and appropriate communication. The 4 Cs.
This article is focused on communication.
Understanding buyer behaviour
There are two parts to the buying process; information and negotiation. In the information phase (sourcing suppliers) buying behaviour has changed, largely due to the impact of the internet.
Analysis of the Buyersphere Report 2011 shows the major sources of information for buyers are ‘Suppliers Website’ (70%) and ‘Web Searches’ (65%), and the biggest increases in usage have been ‘Online Events/Webinars’ (up 170%) and ‘LinkedIn’ (up 100%).
The result of all this online activity is that alternative suppliers are just a click away. In addition to being indiscriminate in the information phase, buyers are also less loyal in the negotiation phase.
I conducted a series of online surveys to determine the loyalty of buyers when offered lower prices by alternative suppliers. 76% of buyers would change supplier if offered up to a 10% discount on a purchase of £2,000.
Loyalty comes at a price, and it seems the price has little elasticity.
Choosing channels that make customers feel valued
I conducted a survey on LinkedIn about the relationship between marketing channels and the perception of being valued.
Managers outside of marketing were encouraged to participate and to further avoid any prejudice in their choice I phrased the question in a non-marketing format. Over 600 Managers responded to the following question:
“It’s your birthday. Five friends congratulate you using different methods. Which friend values you most?”
Simon visits you at home (Field Sales)
Heather gives you a telephone call (Telemarketing)
Peter sends you a birthday card (Direct Mail)
Sally sends you a text message (Mobile Marketing)
Raj sends you an email (Email Marketing)
Channels that use Human Interaction (HI) performed best, while the digital channels of Email and Mobile Marketing are seen to value people least. It seems that valuing customers is linked to having a two-way, ‘live’ conversation (either face-to-face or over the telephone).
Buying behaviour has changed, the internet has made it easier to source new suppliers and change suppliers the minute a better price is offered. To keep customers loyal you need to show how much you appreciate their custom.
We react to different channels in different ways, and using channels with HI has the ability to add value to the relationship. In addition, HI can cement relationships on repeat orders and increase average order value.
Check your marketing schedule and see if Telemarketing or Field Sales could play a bigger role in your plans – after all, it costs 5-10 times more to acquire a new customer than keep an existing one.
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