By ELIZABETH JACOBI | Special to the Palisadian-Post
While 2020 is a year we would all like to forget, there are some positive lessons that both businesses and customers can take into 2021.
As a marketing professional working with businesses to create customer retention strategies, I always think about my own shopping and dining experiences. While I worked with so many clients to pivot their business last year, I also realized that I pivoted my behavior as a customer.
I do miss the days of dinners out, working from a coffee place or just running into my favorite stores. In 2020 I learned to better appreciate the most local of businesses.
In the past, I would order food on one of the many delivery apps. I now find myself calling the restaurant directly to place the order and then picking it up myself.
I love being greeted by a friendly face behind the mask, who thanks me for my business. It also gives me a chance to talk to them and see how things are going. Ordering direct benefits the restaurant too.
When I have purchased retail for in-store pickup or curbside, not only do I get to have a connection, but I have also been surprised by a thank you note in the bag when I get home. All of these things create valuable customer engagement.
All of this might seem small and insignificant, but as a person who has spent more than 17 years in customer retention marketing, I know how valuable these things are. After all, it is about creating meaningful connections between a business and a customer.
As a customer, what can we do to continue with these connections once we are back to a more normal time?
While ordering for delivery might be easier, I will continue to call restaurants directly or place an order through their direct online system and pick it up myself.
While shopping online is so easy, it is just as easy to buy something from your local store and pick it up. Even better, get to know the shop owner and the people working there. If you do, they likely will know what you are looking for and can better recommend products.
I know that I will go back to driving in rush hour for dinner or go to a large shopping mall on occasion. Still, I will be more likely to continue to support my neighborhood businesses more frequently.
What can small businesses do to continue to create these meaningful connections with customers in 2021?
In the short term, it is safe to assume that people will still want to connect at a distance, which means communication is vital. Last year, I heard the word “over-communicate” in many marketing industry groups. I thought this sounded crazy, but now I realize how important it is.
Your customers want to know about your brand. They want to know when items are on sale, if your hours have changed, about select menu items such as family meals and meal kits.
While social media is the best way to reach new people, remember that email marketing is still a one-to-one direct conversation and the best channel for retention. So many businesses upped the frequency of email marketing this year, and it paid off.
I love receiving dinner specials to my inbox, clothing items for working from home in comfort or how to tackle home improvement projects. It makes me feel like these businesses know me, and in many ways, they do.
Some businesses have sent surveys to understand my interests and my buying potential. I’ve noticed that these surveys are clearly getting read because of the changes I see in my inbox.
Businesses who get to know their customers are seeing good customer retention. Communication is critical today, and it will always be, so get to know your customers through your email list.
Every time a business sends an email, they learn something about a customer. Yes, you might discover that they don’t want to hear from you too. Still, most of the time, your customers are happy to provide feedback.
Getting to know your customers better will continue to create meaningful connections that lead to customer retention.
Elizabeth Jacobi grew up in Pacific Palisades and is the owner of MochaBear Marketing. She is also a MailChimp partner helping small businesses with customer retention strategies. Elizabeth can be reached at email@example.com or 424-272-6712.
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