This might strike many of you as obvious, but acquiring new customers (especially for a B2B biz) is incredibly hard. I see a lot of entrepreneurs at early-stage companies pouring massive amounts of marketing dollars into acquiring new customers through various channels. If you are like most Internet entrepreneurs, you realize how expensive and competitive it is to compete for a potential new customer’s time.
Over the past few months, my company and I (Scripted.com – a marketplace for business to hire freelance writers) have learned a few important lessons about lead generation and customer service:
1. Keeping existing customers happy is less expensive than acquiring new customers. In our case, we were missing a key feature of “topic pitching” that our customers requested, so we spent a week building it instead of increasing outbound sales. As a result, existing customers started posting 46 percent more jobs, plus a 15 percent increase in one month of customers posting more than one job on the site. Overall, customers also reported being happier with our service.
You probably have a similar lever in your business; you just have to figure out what it is. Plus, because of the 46 percent increase in number of jobs businesses post, revenue swung drastically positive (without any investment in marketing or sales).
2. Keeping existing customers happy means more referral business. One thing that entrepreneurs often forget is that your best salespeople are the ones who love your product. The introduction of the new “topic pitching” feature not only resulted in more job postings from businesses, but also more new referrals. We started receiving a lot of inbound leads from current customers.
By shifting our resources to creating a feature that our customers demanded, we learned that we can get our own customer base to naturally increase lead generation. Referrals, as a percentage of total revenue our business generates, shot up to 55 percent in recent months. You build a lot of great karma with your existing customers if you build what they ask for and keep them happy.
3. Keeping existing customers happy is easy with online tools. We started using a great tool called Customer.io for retention programs, and it is making a huge difference. There are a lot of other similar tools out there, but this one essentially takes the work out of building “logic” around your retention programs. We now have emails going out to customers regularly if they become idle or behave in certain ways on our site. In our case, what if a customer posts a job, but is idle for 30 days? Is it because they were not happy with the service they received, or for some other reason? Once you start dissecting that data, it paints a really interesting picture of your business and helps you improve in ways you hadn’t imagined before.
All of the tools are out there for you to keep your existing customers even happier than they already are, so definitely take advantage of as many retention tools as possible!
Sunil Rajaraman is the co-founder and CEO of Scripted.com, a marketplace for businesses to hire freelance writers.
The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only nonprofit organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, the YEC recently launched #StartupLab, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses via live video chats, an expert content library and email lessons.