The Internet wasteland is littered with customers that once were or that might have been. Many companies have databases full of people they can’t communicate with or that they don’t even know about. Why? Well, in some cases, the post-boom consolidation market means companies have been acquired by parents that don’t know just what they have bought. In other cases, companies have built up membership lists of people who filled in their email addresses incorrectly. And in many cases, companies wipe customers who unsubscribe or whose emails bounce.
By applying a bit of marketing and business process to your database, you may find a way to recapture lost customers or convert people who never actually became customers. Remember that promotion you ran where you asked everyone to fill in a form to win a prize? Did you ever try to convert those? And what about the people who cameto your stand at the last conference you exhibited at? Did you follow up on them? And I don’t just mean you sent them an email saying “thanks for coming to our stand”.
The important thing here is to work out what process you need togo through to mine your data and the cost of that and then predict the likely benefit. Say, for example, you are an ISP with a database of one million customer records. You know that only a quarter of that are actually active. Some just dial in for web access but check their emails elsewhere, some just use the email account but no longer dial in through you. Some do both but never look at your website. Some have stopped using you altogether. What if you wrote to those 750,000 people to encourage them to start using you again. You had them once, so win them back from your competitors. The cost benefit analysis may reveal that cleaning the list, writing the letters, printing and enveloping them and them stamping them is not worth the return you will get, but if you don’t work it out you don’t know.
Are you a retailer? Do you track your database to see how often people buy from you? How about setting up an auto-email sending a voucher to anyone who hasn’t bought in the past six months? Or offer them a tempting reason to come back. Maybe you want to contact everyone you have on record who hasn’t seen your site lately. Show them the new features, invite them to tell you what they think of it.
Finally, and this is by no means a definitive look at this subject, open your door to whingers. Don’t send them into a communication cul-de-sac. Welcome their moaning, and their complaints. A disgruntled customer wants to be a loyal customer. They are trying to force you to respond. Win them over and they will be more loyal than most.