What do you buy for Valentine’s Day? Flowers? A personal treat for your single self? Or do you avoid the day completely?
I’m a Valentine’s Avoider myself. My track record for presents or asking people out isn’t great.
Whatever your feelings towards Valentine’s Day, there’s one relationship that could do with some TLC on this special day, and every day.
The relationship with your customers.
Intro: The importance of customer relationships
Good relationships define pretty much all success, both personally and professionally. In business, establishing a bond between you and your customers is key.
Valentine’s Day is a huge retail day, even if your products aren’t typically associated with love.
Spending hit £1.9bn in the United Kingdom in 2015, with restaurants, jewellery stores and gift stores selling the most.
Retail romance isn’t just visible in the UK though; across the Atlantic, spending in the United States reached the $19bn (£12.3bn) mark.
When love is in the air, it’s important to connect with customers and turn what might be a one-off purchase into a commitment to your brand in the future.
Here are nine top tips on sharing your customer love and receiving admiration in return, not just for 14 February but throughout the year.
1 - Exclusive offers
Giving your customers a sneak peek at a new product or service, or inviting them to a special company event, are just a few ways to offer exclusivity to all your loyal fans.
Ensuring your customers feel special is key. Fifty-one per cent say exclusivity is their most desired trait in a loyalty programme.
2 - Loyalty offers
Loyalty programmes are one of the greatest ways to ensure a recurring revenue stream.
To show your adoration for your biggest brand advocates, why not give double points for purchases, or an exclusive gift for their loyalty?
In 75% of cases, continual relevant offers are the main attraction for customers on a loyalty programme.
3 - Build a lifelong romance
Communication is key in any relationship. Even if you don’t sell typically romantic products, you can still win this Valentine’s Day and beyond. A gift is personal.
So personlise your communication and offers to your customers, and spend time showing them that they’re important to you.
Digital Trends research shows 73% of consumers prefer to do business with brands who make their shopping experiences more relevant.
4 - Get social
Social media is the perfect way to quickly shout about how great your customers are. Find out their Twitter handle, sculpt your loving tweet, and away you go!
Social media is also great for feedback and solving problems. Here are some of the best social media customer service examples.
5 - Thank your customers
Manners go a long way. If you’re stuck for an email campaign, try thanking your customers for their loyalty.
You can combine it with an offer, or just give a simple thank you. Here’s how Swiss running shoe company On made it work.
6 - Don’t overdo the love
There’s an age-old debate in marketing about seasonal campaigns: are they attractive, or are they tired?
Valentine’s Day email volume is second to Christmas, so the temptation for puns and clever graphics can be tough to ignore.
However, don’t lose sight of the aim: to attract customers.
While Experian found that ‘sweet’ subject lines were the most opened around Valentine’s Day, even their advice is to avoid sacrificing clarity for a joke. I concur.
7 - Maintain a smooth mobile experience
Studies show that 30% of adults use a smartphone or tablet to research Valentine’s Day products, with 26% likely to use their mobile device to purchase a gift.
Make sure your mobile channels operate smoothly from start to finish, and that customers are guided to products relevant to them.
8 - Feature customers in your marketing
Got a customer who you love? Then let the world know about it!
You can showcase customer case stories in your marketing, or customer reviews on your website. If you’re using Trustpilot widgets, remember to follow the rules - but essentially, it’s easy.
Positivity packs a punch - having a handful of positive reviews or comments could increase conversions by 30%.
9 - Ask customers for feedback
It’s hard to maintain a relationship with someone who builds barriers.
If you’ve got customer reviews, you’ve got a solid foundation for a sales relationship. Statistics show that 61% of customers read reviews before making a purchase.
Eighty-eight per cent consider reviews very influential when purchasing something new from an unfamiliar brand. If engaging in a positive conversation with customers isn’t the equivalent of business-customer flirting, then I’m not sure what is!
Are you ready for love?
You should have a few ideas now on where to get started. Now it's up to you to build a customer relationship through reviews.