A business without its customers is nothing, just the same as a sports team with no fans. Knowing what your customers want and, more importantly, what they need is key to ensuring long-term success.
As a topic of such importance, there’s great value in knowing your customer base and finding ways to retain and expand in tandem. But just how do you do that?
Read on to find out more about how to nurture a lucrative customer base.
What is a customer or client base?
Put plainly, a customer or client base is the group of consumers who purchase goods or services from your company. This could range from individual consumers buying clothing apparel to multinational businesses purchasing software solutions for their organization.
Different types of customer bases
As you might expect, not all customers are created equal. Within your overall customer base, you will likely find smaller groups with different wants or needs, from one-off consumers to regular trade contracts.
Here are some of the different types of customer bases you may encounter.
As the widest category of customers available to you, the potential customers group includes everyone who is at least somewhat likely to use your product. This typically includes your defined target market and any associated sub-markets, covering each and every customer who may have an interest in your product.
A step on from potential customers, installed customers are those who are currently using your company’s products. This is essentially your active customer base and is much easier to monitor than potential customers thanks to purchase records.
The name might give this one away, but new customers are customers who have recently bought from your company for the first time. Dependent on any number of factors, these new customers may go on to become long-term, loyal customers, or they may remain as one-time buyers.
This is one of the most volatile and important segments of your customer base, as successful businesses are built from repeat business. One way to give yourself the best chance of retaining your new customers is to request and action feedback wherever possible, helping to provide a more positive buying experience.
Combine this with effective, efficient onboarding and your new customers will have no reason to make this just a one-time thing.
Low lifetime value (LTV) customers
Low lifetime value customers are those who have generated a small amount of revenue during their interactions with a company and are unlikely to make significant repeat purchases in the future.
An example of a low lifetime value customer could be someone who made a single purchase during a promotional offer or has only purchased a small handful of products when their usual supplier is out of stock.
However, this isn’t as negative as it sounds – in fact, it’s an opportunity. There are a handful of ways to turn low lifetime value customers into regular spenders, from sending out personalized special offers to conducting surveys to find out more about their motivations.
Turning low lifetime value customers into high-value ones won’t directly increase your customer base, but it will contribute considerably to increases in revenue.
Loyal, repeat, and high LTV customers
On the flip side of low lifetime value customers are loyal, repeat, and high lifetime value customers.
As consumers who regularly purchase from your company, this is your currently engaged audience who are likely to make regular purchases in the future. These customers are especially valuable for a company and contribute greatly to the overall flow of revenue.
These repeat customers are also great candidates for cross- or upselling, as they are already fans of your products and would be likely to try more of your product range given the chance.
These customers can evolve even further given the correct motivations and levels of service, as they are the most likely individuals to become brand advocates. By investing in relationship building with your loyal, repeat, and high lifetime value customers, you can develop a network of committed, dedicated ‘superfans’ to promote your brand even further.
The last potential group within your customer base is your former customers. No points for guessing, but these are customers who once bought from your company and have never done so again.
Whilst these customers have no financial value at present, there is still the potential of re-engaging them, given the right motivations. Reaching out to former customers with special offers or ‘welcome back’ discounts can be a good way to encourage them back into the fold.
Even if these customers are set on never returning, you may still be able to gain some valuable information from them. By issuing exit surveys, you may receive some insightful feedback on what made them leave and make changes to prevent this from happening again in the future.
Why is it important to grow your customer base?
With nearly eight billion people on the planet today, there’s always room to find and welcome new customers – but why should you focus on continually growing your customer base?
Here are three reasons to keep growing your customer base.
- Sustainable growth – by gradually expanding your customer base, you install the foundation for sustainable long-term growth. With new customers comes new revenue, and with new revenue comes new possibilities and security.
- Economies of scale – whilst you might expect producing products for a larger customer base to be more expensive, it can actually be the opposite. By scaling up your production to match a larger audience, the cost per unit can dramatically decrease and make it more efficient to produce goods in larger numbers.
- Competitive advantage – as a continuation of the above point, producing in larger numbers for a lower price per item can provide your business with a significant competitive advantage. Drive your production costs down and you can bring your retail prices down also, to levels your rivals just can’t afford to match.
Steps towards building your customer base
So, that’s settled - building your customer base has some real value for your business. But just how do you make that happen?
Here are some steps you can take to start building your customer base.
Identify your target market
First things first, you need to need to know who your ideal customer is. Whilst it would be great to target every consumer on the planet, that just isn’t achievable for the vast majority of brands.
By identifying your target market, you can more accurately direct your marketing efforts towards those that might have an interest in purchasing from you. This not only increases the likelihood of sales conversions, but it also reduces the risk of wasted budget when advertising to consumers who have no interest in your products.
Know your audience and go directly to them.
Analyze your current customer base
Going hand-in-hand with identifying your potential customers is analyzing your existing ones. Whilst they’re already on board, there is still a lot you can learn from this customer group.
By analyzing your current customer base, you can spot trends and common factors between your regular buyers, helping you to target potential customers more accurately.
For example, if you notice that a large section of your customers are between the ages of 18-25, you can focus more efforts towards this particular demographic.
This is a great way to get a real representation of your target audience, which may or may not align with what you had previously outlined.
Analyze your competition and their customers
Second only to your own customers are the customers of your competitors.
If consumers are choosing to buy from your competition rather than you, there must be a reason. Is it branding, quality of product, price, or something else entirely?
By analyzing the customers of your competition, you can uncover a lucrative pool of consumers who are already actively purchasing products similar to yours.
More applicable in B2B environments where data protection regulations are less stringent, you can potentially obtain the details of these active customers to bring them over to your brand. If you are offering a similar service to one of your competitors and can facilitate a short-term discount for new customers, or if your service is technically superior, you can reap the rewards here.
Craft a customer profile
In a nutshell, growing your customer base is about knowing who your customer is – whether they’ve bought from you yet or not.
A great way to explicitly map out your ideal customers is to develop a customer profile which paints a detailed picture for anyone involved in customer acquisition.
A comprehensive customer profile can include information such as:
- Demographics – age, race, location, income, etc.
- Psychographics – values, interests, personality traits, etc.
- Behavioral – purchase history, social media engagement, website activity, etc.
5 of the best ways you can grow your client or customer base
Looking for some concise, actionable steps to take? You’re in luck.
Here are 5 of the best ways you can begin to grow your client or customer base.
Provide excellent customer support
Did you know, 72% of customers will share a positive experience with six or more people? Now imagine that over, and over, and over again.
You can pump millions into your marketing activity, but if you’re not delivering a memorable experience for your customers, things are going to dry up rather quickly.
Invest in your customer experience and watch as buyers return with their friends and family in tow.
Create customer advocates
You can say all the positive things you want about your brand, but not everyone’s going to believe you. But, you know who they will trust? Your other customers.
By nurturing your loyal customers, you can establish lucrative customer advocates. These are essentially your brand’s ‘super fans’ who spread the good word about your company via their social media and word of mouth.
If a customer is impressed enough by your brand to advocate for it, other consumers are likely to listen up to find out what they could be missing.
Try the freemium model
Price is one of the biggest barriers for new customers. With budgets and purse strings tighter than ever, each and every penny has to be spent with confidence.
Implementing the ‘freemium’ model is a great way to negate this issue and encourage new customers to ‘try before they buy’. The freemium model is essentially offering free access to a product or service with limited functionality, which can be upgraded with a paid membership.
Whilst you will undoubtedly experience some customers utilizing the free version and never stepping beyond that, you will also certainly gain paying customers who were uncertain before their free trial.
Give them a taste and leave them wanting more.
Start a referral program
For most customers, the motivation behind recommending a product or service to others is rather slim. Unless a customer’s friend or connection is actively seeking what you’re offering, the thought may never even cross their mind.
This is where a referral program can be a great tool for businesses of all specialisms. By offering your customers a future discount or reward, they are now incentivized to bring others on board.
It’s a win-win-win. Your customer receives a discount for next time, your customer’s friend receives a discount on their order, and your company receives a new customer. What’s not to love?
Invest in the right tools
All the goodwill in the world won’t bring you results if you don’t have the right tools for the job. Thankfully, when it comes to the customer experience, there are a host of effective tools to help take things to the next level.
Quite often, the customer support team will be the first and last contact a customer has with your brand – so you need to make it count. From training your customer service agents and building accessible knowledge bases to sorting and actioning support tickets, finding the right tools for your business can save time and budget, time and time again.
One example of an effective support tool is Fullview. Including cobrowsing, session replays, and console logs, Fullview’s platform helps agents tackle some of the most technically demanding support issues they will face.
Eliminating the need for endless back and forth over email or SMS, Fullview can facilitate an instant cobrowsing session with no downloads necessary, allowing agents and customers to work on the same machine simultaneously. With full access to data from the user’s previous sessions, Fullview’s platform is an effective one-stop-shop for technical support and customer resolution.
By streamlining and enhancing the customer experience, you make the process more enjoyable for not just your customers, but also your agents and wider support teams.
In conclusion, building and maintaining a strong customer base is integral to the success and sustainability of any business. Understanding the diverse types of customers within your base, from potential and new customers to loyal advocates, allows for targeted strategies to meet varying needs. While low lifetime value customers present an opportunity for conversion, high LTV customers can significantly contribute to revenue and brand advocacy.
The importance of growing your customer base is underlined by the potential for sustainable growth, economies of scale, and a competitive advantage. To achieve this, businesses can identify their target market, analyze existing customers and competitors, and craft detailed customer profiles.
Implementing strategies like providing excellent customer support, creating customer advocates, adopting freemium models, starting referral programs, and investing in the right tools, such as Fullview, can further accelerate the growth of your customer base.
Ultimately, by consistently delivering value and fostering positive experiences, businesses can cultivate lasting relationships and ensure the longevity of their success in the market.