Of the many issues that can lead businesses astray, perhaps the most common is the inability (or refusal) to change course. It’s understandable, admittedly: once you get into a habit that’s produced results, it’s most comfortable to keep going. But that doesn’t make it any less damaging. Think about all the companies that didn’t adapt when the first pandemic lockdowns arrived. They kept trying to operate as usual, and their competitors vaulted past them.
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This is relevant here because of the tendency of companies to fixate on earning new customers. It’s a focus that starts as an absolute necessity. When you’re launching a startup, you have no clients whatsoever and must figure out how to position your value proposition to win people over. But as you build a customer case, the relative value of bringing in new customers starts to drop, surpassed by the relative value of simply making more money from existing customers.
Even the broadest business can’t count upon indefinitely finding new customers. Sooner or later that well will run dry, or another business will prove better at marketing. If your company has been around for a while, your best option for making more money may be to concentrate on the customers you’ve had for a while. To help you do this, we’re going to look at five ways in which you can generate more revenue from existing customers. Let’s get to them:
#1. Incentivize them to encourage referrals
The typical framing of new customers versus existing customers isn’t entirely fair, as it’s perfectly possible to target both simultaneously. Rolling out a robust incentive program that rewards customers for bringing in new prospects can work wonders – and if you incentivize the new customers as well, you can kill two birds with one stone. The key is to forget about common gimmicks and concentrate on keeping things simple with monetary rewards.
You could, for instance, state that anyone who refers a new customer will receive $10, and that the new customer will also get $10. Alternatively, you could go with a classic price reduction coupon code to keep them spending through your business. Can you use things like free gifts instead? If you’re convinced that you can make it work, give it a try. But remember that most people will prefer simply to make money or save money.
#2. Display personality on social media
What do your current customers know about your business outside of its core products and/or services? Most companies don’t look beyond those basic elements. They compete through value alone, aiming to have high-quality products at reasonable price points, attract business through steady exposure, and perform well enough to keep customers coming back. When they use social media at all, they stop at offering stock or website updates.
If you’re in that position, or if you try to use social media for marketing but aren’t seeing results, it’s time to make a change. The trick is to show personality. Instead of sending out bland statements that you’ve carefully tweaked to make ultimately innocuous, start telling the truth about what you think and how you feel. No, I’m not saying you should express all your most controversial political views: your comments still need to be relevant. Just ensure that your posts actually read as though they were written by a human instead of a bot.
The more you can show personality in this way (assuming you can come across as likable, that is), the more you can make it clear to your customers that your company is worth supporting in a grander sense. You can even try live social content to change things up. When people want to support you for reasons other than what you technically bring to the table, they’ll truly be loyal to your brand.
#3. Start offering discounted subscriptions
Mixing up the core of what you offer can pay dividends, and the rise in popularity of the subscription model has made it clear that customers welcome consistent delivery. There’s something satisfying and reassuring about knowing that you can rely on something month after month. Think about how many subscription box services are on the market now. Could you implement something similar for your products? Most likely. So why not try it?
This option obviously requires some thought and work. You’ll need to decide what you should bundle together, how you should present the overall value, how deeply you can discount it to make it worthwhile, and even what software you’re going to use to manage the subscriptions (vital for implementing much-requested features including flexible billing frequencies). But if you’re willing to put in the effort to set them up, you might find that offering some subscriptions in addition to your standard lineup will enhance your revenue without adding much complexity.
#4. Personalize your marketing emails
Email marketing is a core part of every online business, but are you making your email as good as it can be? Some brands shy away from personalization because of how easy it is to get it wrong, but that doesn’t mean you should do the same. It’s all about getting the level of detail right, matching it to the value of each customer.
Instead of using blanket tactics like leaning on dynamically-inserted names (this can go well, but it can also go very wrong), get into the habit of picking out valuable customers and making some manual tweaks to their marketing emails. So what makes a customer notably valuable? It might be how much they’ve spent with you before, which products they’ve expressed interest in, or even how long it’s been since they last bought from you.
Yes, a customer that hasn’t bought from you for a while can actually be highly valuable, depending on what they bought before. Imagine a type of product that’s usually replaced every two years or so. If you have a customer who’s approaching a couple of years since buying such a product from you, you could be in with a golden chance to secure their business for the replacement – and targeting them with a hyper-relevant email could make all the difference.
#5. Add upselling and cross-selling options
Getting someone to and past the point of conversion is an unambiguous victory. That’s the goal of business, isn’t it? But making a sale isn’t the same as making an optimal sale — and just as a car salesperson can disappoint despite selling a car by failing to convince the buyer to go for numerous extras, your business can leave money on the table by neglecting to optimize the checkout phase. Two terms are key here: upselling and cross-selling.
Upselling is about convincing a buyer to go for something better. If they’ve added a mid-range item to their basket, can you persuade them to swap it for a top-of-the-line alternative? And cross-selling is about supplying items to go alongside what’s already been chosen. If someone is buying shoes, for instance, you might be able to prompt them to buy some socks.
The great thing about these options is that you don’t need to put much work into them. Your main task is to identify the associations between products, logging which items are comparable and which are compatible. But once that’s done, each shopper can be given a selection of alternative purchases at the point of checkout without you needing to do anything. And since your loyal customers are more likely to trust you, this should lead to at least some of your existing customers increasing their orders down the line.
Guest author: Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups – a site dedicated to spreading the word about startups and small businesses of all shapes and sizes. Visit the blog for the latest marketing insights from top experts and inspiring entrepreneurial stories.