New Leads vs. Loyal Customers

New Leads vs. Loyal Customers

Are you leaving money on the table by only marketing to get new leads? Speak's Strategy Manager and Senior Brand Strategist, Abi Devins, thinks so. In this episode, we'll make the case that creating loyal customers is just as important as gaining new ones.  

Roberts: Hello everyone and thank you for joining us. You're listening to A Little Off Topic, one agency's water cooler chat on digital marketing, business, and all the things that get in the way, presented by Speak Creative. Let's get into it.

KindraWelcome back to A Little Off Topic. We are so excited today to have our strategy manager and senior brand strategist Abi Devins on the podcast today. Abi, thank you very much for being here. Abi thinks you're leaving money on the table by only marketing to get new leads, instead of marketing to create loyal customers. So we are excited to talk to her today. That's a bold statement, Abi. I agree with it. Let's jump in. Can you tell us why you think marketing to build loyal customers is important?

Abi: Yeah, I found a statistic that said 80% of companies spent over 70% of their marketing budget and lead and demand generation. So that means less than 30% of those budgets go to customer retention upselling and cross-selling to previous customers. So while lead generation is great and really important, I'm not downplaying that, I just think customers who have had a good experience with your product or your service or an experience that you provide present a large opportunity for more revenue. You already have a relationship with them. Even if they have a bad experience or are dissatisfied with your product, there's still an opportunity to take that customer and turn them into a loyal one by making it right. Granted that's a little bit more work. But loyal customers spend more money over time. They're better referrals. They're just better advocates for your organization. Lead generation is casting your net wide and hoping you're picking up the right people, when you have efforts that are geared towards your existing customers and making them brands loyalists. You know 100% that they are aware of who you are and what you are.

Kindra: Well, first of all, that stat made my heart palpitate a little bit. It is insane that people aren't investing in their current clients, and second of all, how about that brand strategists coming with stats and figures right out the gate, dropping knowledge on us. Love it.

Roberts: It's one of those things where if you pay attention to just sales or marketing metrics, depending on the stat that you, it's anywhere from 6 to 10 times more expensive to get business out of a new client than it is to get business out of a current client. So there's that tension of always wanting to acquire a broader bigger base of clients. But when you're actually looking to be most efficient with your marketing spend with your limited efforts, we're all time limited, your best most efficient place to start is with the folks that you already know and do business with. I think that's such a valuable reminder to us that the folks that we work with every day, like you said, even if you've gone through a bumpy patch, they're still the ones that are easier to sell to. They already get you. They already know how you work. You're not having to re educate them on a process. That's a really great place to start if you're looking to really look at building revenue.

Abi: Matt, I think about even just internally for us. Customers that we are clients that we already have a relationship with. It's always really great working on projects with them again, because we have some history, we know about them. I can ask about their family and things like that. We have some passion behind the project because we're already a little invested in it as well.

KindraWe're invested in their success because we know what's possible.

Roberts: Looking at our own client base, one of the things that we almost always hear is, whether it's a new client or current client, there's just some amount of satisfaction in knowing that we've worked with somebody like them before. To look at your client base or any individual client and know that if you're going to work with them, it's going to be easier than the first project you did with them, because that learning curve is generally over, and the relationship is there. The personalities gel better, there's not the get to know you period. It's just jumping in and being effective for them. It's not just the acquisition of the new business that's less expensive. If you mapped out the actual amount of time spent in a project for a repeat client, you're probably more efficient in working for that client over time as well.

Ervin: This is going to sound a weird flex, I think, but I knew that that was the case just in general. I didn't know the stat, but new customers are more expensive to acquire than existing customers. Why do you think it's so frequently overlooked?

Abi: I think there's this urgency to fill the pipeline. Should customers not remain loyal, should you not have the confidence that they will continue to be a loyal customer, you want to have that pipeline filled. There also might be pressure from people upstairs saying, "we need this many leads every month" or there just might be some KPIs involved, like Matt Roberts, that are putting pressure on lead generation, should those customers not produce the revenue that an organization is hoping for.

Roberts: Yeah, in our business model, there's just the reality that if we build a website for somebody who's new to us, the opportunity once we finish that project, our opportunities are obviously to expand our services that we offer to that client. But the the opportunity to design a new website for them is gone for at least usually a couple or three years before they're ready to start that conversation, unless they want to get into an active engagement where we're measuring results and making changes on the fly throughout the year, which is obviously something that we love to do and would love to do more of. I think the pipeline answer is a really good one because there's that desire for steady utilization of your team and not knowing where you can predict that coming from current clients. There's always that thought of "well, let's go out and hunt somebody down who can help us fill our pipeline."

Kindra: Roberts, you and I have been talking publicly a little bit recently and collaborating on what we're saying. I think that it's important just to go back to that marketing funnel. As basic as it is, but just look at the funnel and understand where your clients are in the funnel and then understand what the next step is for them, because it really makes you think, "okay, how do I drive them from that conversion or that sale into the loyalty part? How do I make them advocates of our brand?" And it's definitely overlooked, but it's such a basic marketing concept that I just feel is really important.

Roberts: Yeah, it really is. I think too many of us, and I would put myself in this in this category as well, but I think too many of us just hope that the experience generally that a client had with us gets them to that place of loyalty. I think there are a fair number of folks who do get to that place, but that's the wrong way of looking at it, is I guess what I'm getting at. In the fact that that can be nurtured, relationships can be nurtured. Clients can be won over. It's the difference between a client liking you and being a fan, being able to create a fan is something that requires some investment from the organization, from your business, into that client.

Kindra: You're channeling Ben and Leslie from parks and rec. I love you and I like you. So Abi, we agree that both are important, but what are your recommendations for building that loyalty with clients?

Abi: Yeah, a couple of things there. It really depends on your organization. I'm going to go with attractions here. If you are a zoo, aquarium, a big park, or something of that nature, you have to look at the experience they had on their first visit. Whether that was maybe something that was virtual or in-person, you have to look at that first visit and then say, "how do we make that better for them, even if it was just fine?" They're going to want that dopamine rush of something better next time. They're probably not going to just want the same thing over and over. Interesting events are always good. Staying in contact is 100% necessary. If someone comes and has some sort of interaction or engagement with your organization, if you don't follow up with them, you can't count on them following up with you. Email marketing, staying connected through social media, direct mail (as old as that seems), but just engaging with those people on a consistent and frequent basis is how you're going to keep that communication going. So say someone comes to your zoo and they bring their family, what's going to bring them back? One: free time. But you have to create that want or need for them to come back. If they bought tickets for adolescents, get them on the email list for events for families and children. Show them that if they'd buy tickets at full price again, a membership is already paid for. Just get a membership and then you'll have access to these extra things on top of that. Create a need for them to come back. I work at a gym and something we always talk about is what we wear while we work out. Whether that's clothes, shoes, whatever, that's all we talk about every day. Who has the favorite leggings that are the best for when you're working out? I'm loyal to one brand of leggings and as much as I bought them, I had a deal the first time and I keep buying them, but I don't buy them at full price because I get emails all the time of specials and deals that pop up. I only got those because I bought a pair.

Kindra: But you've spent way more at this point, I'm sure. Right?

AbiYeah. I wouldn't have bought another pair unless I got that deal, even though I love them. I wouldn't have paid for them at full price because I didn't the first time. So there's constant communication. I get ads from them on social media. I follow them on social media. I get Instagram stuff. I see them on YouTube ads. Not only am I reminded of the brand all the time when I wear the leggings, but I also see them on my phone and on my computer on an almost daily basis.

Kindra: B2C is certainly important, but even B2B. If I could give away the Speak trade secret, I don't think it's too much of a secret because we do talk about it quite frequently, but we say that we like to be a partner to organizations what that means is we want to bring that added value, whether that's consulting on the direct mail piece, even though we built the website or giving them a campaign idea that they haven't even thought about for some holiday we think they should celebrate. I mean, those added value pieces really do create that loyalty because then you not only got something the first time, but we're still providing that value to you at a consistent basis, which makes you want to continue the relationship

Roberts: Well how many times have we talked to a client like a zoo, using Abi's initial example, how many times have we talked to a client who gets people coming through their door every day and they get shoutouts on Instagram or whatever, it drives me bananas. It is the easiest thing in the world for that organization to reply and say, "thanks for coming today. We hope you had a great time" or putting their post up on their story or whatever. I mean, just little tiny ways to engage on social media. Going back to Abi's dopamine rush. That's the thing, right? It's like, if I'm sharing something on social media, like, "I went to the Nashville zoo today. It was great. We had a great time." Then you see your post on the Nashville zoo's story they're like, "woohoo!" whatever, even that engagement. It's getting back the strategies and tactics of how you engage with your customers. It can be as simple as just paying attention to the people who are already talking to you. That builds on all the efforts that you've got, where you are spending money, discounts obviously cost you something, but, attention on social media, which is what basically everybody's craving is essentially free. So, I mean, just put the work in and pay attention and get the blocking and tackling right.

ErvinI'll go ahead and tell you guys, I am going to start a band called "dopamine rush" if you see that show up.

Abi: Yeah. I think, Matt, every social media manager or communication manager's dream is user generated content, because it's free and it fills their social media feed without them having to do much leg work, other than reposting or responding. If you go to zoos and aquariums and museums now, you'll see tons of "tag us" or hashtags or little photo ops that are built for social media, because user generated content is huge. There's lead generation there because your loyal customers are going out and doing lead generation for you.

Kindra: Something I like to tell clients is that if you have a small team or limited resources, letting your audience be part of your marketing team is really valuable. It's a great way to amplify your marketing. Just like you were saying, Abi, "share, comment, tag us" are all great ways to have other people help you with your marketing.

Ervin: We've talked a lot about how valuable it is to generate loyalty and create loyalty with your existing clients and customers. Abi, what are some of your go-to or favorite ways to do that or some of the more creative approaches that you've either seen or used?

Abi: Yeah, automate, automate, automate. As much as you can do ahead of time. Once a customer leaves your facility or their product is received in the mail or the project is over, automate as much as you can. Get them on email lists. Make sure that if you're going to do some direct mail, make sure that's all lined up. I think about some things we've implemented here at Speak just internally with our clients to facilitate that after a website launches or something that where we have some follow-up where there's organic conversations happen afterwards to build that loyalty, but also, we get them on email lists where we have announcements and updates in the world of what we do. I think about how texts are important. People have many emails that they ignore on a daily basis. If you get someone's phone number information during a process, texting is a huge opportunity to get right into their phone where they're not as likely to just archive it without ever opening it. If you can grab their contact information that way, it's good. Now, if it's something high value, going out of your way calling and checking in or sending a thoughtful email that's personal to them, that's not automated, but if you can get the reminder of it at a set time to be automated, that won't fall off your radar. The lead generation is going to keep you too busy to go in and do that. Something that I like and I'm going to go to the product side of things here, I spend a lot of time on social media, this may be personal to me. But it's just seeing how other people are using the same thing that I am. I'm going to go back to the leggings. There's lots of other people that wear these same leggings. It's called girlfriend collective, very great legging if you're interested. But other people throughout the world are wearing them and they're going through different life experiences and these leggings, and it seems cheesy, but there's a storyline there then I connect with that. How does my story fit in there if I really get thoughtful with it? There's that side of things. You don't have to overthink it. It doesn't have to be this over the top, roll out the red carpet for your previous customers. Just make it genuine and automated and efficient. Because you've already got your foot in the door. You don't have to necessarily bend over backwards to close that lead you did the first time.

KindraYeah the picture you've painted here, Abi, is that if we can invest in getting our loyal customers to activate their loyalty and share it, ultimately we're creating new gen new lead gen anyway. We're going into, getting new customers, you see how people are using the leggings, you've seen them recommend it. now you're going to try them you're going to tell your friends who are going to try them. Ultimately, it all goes back to what we were trying to do in the first place.

Ervin: And somebody may have a significant other's birthday coming up soon that is just about to buy a pair of these.

Roberts: There you go. Nice.

KindraWord of mouth gets them every time.

Roberts: One thing that I think, and this may be old man of me which is usually coming from Ervin, but one thing: you wouldn't believe how far just a handwritten note in an envelope sent through the mail goes. Just to be able to say, "Hey we really enjoyed working with you. I was working with somebody else the other day, and there was an idea that came across the table. I remember us hashing through that and it just made me think about you guys, hope you're doing well." Whatever that looks like. 9 times out of 10, I'll get an email back within a few days saying, "oh my gosh, I got your note, that was thoughtful. Love you guys, hope you're doing well." It's just different little ways. There's nothing at all wrong with writing an email, but just something that feels a little out of the ordinary. But doesn't require a huge investment like Abi said, those are things that you can put on your calendar. You can schedule ahead of time and just be disciplined to do those things, you'll keep a client and they'll keep doing business with you because they know that you get them, you understand them, and they feel a connection to you. So that loyalty really makes a difference.

Abi: Something I think small businesses do well and now larger businesses have started with this is when you receive something, before a customer even has a chance to be loyal, this is in the early stages of them being a customer, that handwritten note of, "I hope you enjoy this. This was made with love, or this is what I'm passionate about. Please let us know if you're not satisfied or if you are, share it with your friends." That can go a long way because it's not something's just from a robot, there's humans behind it. When you can have that human to human connection, even in B2B, that's there. Something that was written from a pen or a pencil onto a piece of paper really sticks out.

Kindra: Alright, Abi. This is the point where we do get a little bit off topic and talk about something that interests you. There were a couple of topics that came to mind, but ultimately we settled on dogs. I know you have a small little obsession with your dogs. Tell us about them, tell us their names and what we need to know.

Abi: Yes. I have one of my own dogs. Her name is Coco. She is a Great Pyrenees. Just think of a polar bear or if a polar bear and a golden retriever ran into each other. They are farm dogs. I also foster a great pyrenees. So right now I have my good friend Maverick. He's two years old. He came from Flint, Michigan. He's the first one that hasn't come from Kentucky or Tennessee or Alabama. I usually have them for a couple of months before they get adopted. He's the fifth one that I've had. He's just a sweet little angel puppy and it's fun to have them. They are farm dogs. They don't fetch, they don't play, they don't run. They just lay there and bark, which works out for me. Because I also don't like to run or play. I just like to play around.

Ervin: Don't try to make fetch happen.

Abi: Good one, Matt. I do fetch things from the fridge and that's about it. They're really fun. They're the lights of my life.

Ervin: When you said he was a little puppy, about how much does this dog weigh?

Abi: Just like 135 pounds.

Roberts: Two of my dogs.

Kindra: More than both of my children combined.

Ervin: That would be 13 of my dog. If we're keeping count here.

Abi: I walk both of them together. So it's a combined 250 pounds of dog while I walk them. It has never ever happened where I have walked them, even if I walk them at 6 in the morning or 11:30 at night, people stop me and ask "what dogs are those and who is walking who?" And I hate that because I'm strong and I am walking them. They have pulled me to the ground before.

Roberts: Oh, the question sounds at least a little bit legitimate.

Kindra: It feels like it's founded for sure.

Abi: But I get stopped all the time because they are just so big and fluffy.

Roberts: How often do you answer polar bears?

AbiI usually just point to my headphones and shrug and keep walking. Sometimes if there's a kid, I know that my dogs are really friendly, especially with kids. If it's a good chance for them to have an opportunity to interact with a dog in a positive way. People will literally let their children hop out of the car as they drive by and pet my dog back into the car. I love that.

Roberts: That's awesome. That's cool.

Kindra: I've gotta say. There's foster dogs, but then there's the 130 pound foster dogs.

Abi: I have physically removed my dining room table from my dining room to make room for an extra extra large crate. Quick plug for fostering dogs. It's a great opportunity. If it's not working out, the organization will find a different foster home for them. It's always a fun and rewarding thing to do.

Ervin: When you said "extra large crate" you meant shipping container, right?


Roberts: From myself, our panel today, and all of us at Speak, thanks for getting a little off topic with us. If you liked today's episode, you'd love the content our team is cranking out on our blog. Head over to to check out the latest and greatest. If you enjoyed the show, subscribe and leave a review on your podcast platform of choice and see you next time.

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Posted by A Little Off Topic at 07:18