The top challenge facing most businesses is how to acquire new customers in a cost effective manner. But while business owners, marketers, and sales people often fixate on this goal (albeit an important one), they sometimes lose track of their most eager prospects that is, their current customers.
Its at least 10 times easier to sell something to an existing customer than it is to someone who has never done business with you before. They already have a level of trust and appreciation for the work you do, for the value you deliver.
So when thinking about boosting sales why not focus on your current customer base first?
How to connect with your customers
While social media certainly garners its fair share of attention these days, we at Chrometa have found our good old-fashioned e-mail newsletter to be the most effective way of staying in touch with our customers. How 2005!
But, we cant argue with the facts. The email inbox is still the center of Western Civilization especially the working one. Professionals still live in their inboxes all day and increasingly all night with the proliferation and full-time connectivity provided by mobile devices.
What content and information should your newsletter provide?
Ask yourself: What would our clients/customers like to learn more about? Then write about these topics!
You have some creative liberty here write about topics that interest you, as well as your customers. If youre stumped, you might want to call a few people up and ask them what theyd like to hear more about.
We are a product company, so we usually keep our newsletters product-focused. Well talk about features were working on, suggestions weve received, alternate uses for our product, and the future roadmap. Weve found this to be a very popular formula with our customers, as this is what they want the inside scoop on.
Or you may want to branch out and talk about broader topics that would be of interest to your clients. For example, my CPA firms monthly newsletter talks about tax-related topics that are relevant to business owners because thats the demographic of their clientele.
Youve got a choice here to present news about your company/product, broader news and analysis that may be of interest to your client, or some combination of both. Theres no right or wrong approach go with the one that you think will appeal to your base the most.
How to get started today
The most laborious part of starting a customer newsletter is getting the names and email addresses of your customers together. But many email newsletter programs have tools that allow you to import this information from existing sources, such as Microsoft Excel or Outlook, which can automate much of the effort for you. So dont let this fear stop you!
Id recommend considering one of the following three products for your email newsletter while there are others, these three are widely known, used, and respected, and Ive personally had success with all three of these products before:
· MailChimp http://www.mailchimp.com
· AWeber http://www.aweber.com
· Constant Contact http://www.constantcontact.com
Personally Im now partial to MailChimp, which is the tool we use for our Chrometa monthly newsletter, but the others are good products as well. Most start with a very cheap monthly plan in the range of $10-15/month, which scales up as you add names to your list.
I think youll be hard pressed to get more bang for your marketing buck than a monthly newsletter. Its an extremely low cost activity, and one that shouldnt require more than an hour or two of effort to publish on a monthly basis. Get your customers used to hearing from you, and youll have a captive audience waiting to read your monthly missives every business owners dream!
Brett Owens is chief executive and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, Calif.-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Brett can be reached at 916-254-0260 and email@example.com.