Customer communications life cycle: acquisition
Customer communications are difficult to get right, in part because they have to cover many different bases and meet a variety of customer needs.
Dividing customer communications into groups or stages can be a helpful way to think about what customers need (and what we want to achieve) at each stage. This can help to focus efforts on the most essential tasks at each stage.
One common approach to segmenting communications is to use the customer lifecycle:
- Acquisition – getting new customers to sign up.
- Retention – keeping your customers happy.
- Departure – dealing with customers who want to leave.
- Re-marketing – enticing former customers to return.
We’ll look at each stage in future blog posts, but for now we’re going to look at the first stage: acquisition.
Customer communications during the acquisition stage
The early days of a customer could be compared to a new relationship.
It involves getting to know each other, figuring things out, and looking for signs that you’ve made the right decision. When talking about the acquisition stage we’ll include all the communications from the first point of contact through to the first sale and during any onboarding that your customers need (welcome packs, policy documents, product support etc).
Your communications during the acquisition stage will need to work hard to attract hesitant customers. You need to show off your best side and remind people of your USP. Build on the customers’ knowledge of your brand and ensure you offer a consistent vision of your offerings. Make sure you talk about products and services using the same language and terminology used in your marketing materials.
The more you know about your customers, the better you will be able to appeal to their interests, desires and needs during the acquisition phase. As we discussed previously, user research is essential – unless you want your customer communications to be based on guesswork.
We’ve already mentioned this, but it’s worth repeating: remind people of your USP in your acquisition communications. Imagine that a customer is wavering, unsure about choosing you. They may be tempted by your competitors or doubting whether your offer is worth their investment. Reminding them of your USP, and the benefits they will get, is a good way to improve your sign-up rates.
Know your competitors
You may not know much about your competitors. But you can bet your customers do. Your customers have done their research. They’ve read about your strengths, and your weaknesses. They know all about your competitor’s special offers, and the benefits of their products.
Knowing more about your competition can help you overcome any hesitancy or resistance that might come from comparison with a competitor. For example, if you know that your rival is thought to have a superior service, you can address that in your communications, and highlight the strengths of your own offering. Without ever mentioning the rival, you can diminish the belief that they are superior.
As well as knowing about the products and services you’re competing against, it pays to understand what kind of sign-up and onboarding experience your competitors are providing. Customers care about this, and they talk about it too. Clearly, you want to be famous for a simple sign-up, not notoriously difficult to use.
How many customers drop out during the first purchase? And how many of those pause because of doubts about their order?
You may be able to reduce your abandonment rate by peppering your communications with reminders of what your customers are getting – and why it is valuable (the USP again!). Reassure customers that they’re in the right place and making the right decision.
For those customers who are wavering, explain your cancellation or returns policy. If unsure customers feel confident that they can always back down later, they will be more confident about placing their first order.
Staggering messages and avoiding overload
As we’ve seen, your customer communications have many competing demands. And while they need to include lots of elements, they must also avoid overloading people. If you try to get someone to remember everything, they will probably remember nothing.
Consider how to space key messages so that they appear at the most relevant time, but never compete with each other for attention.
Rather than relying on text to convey all your important messages, could some information be conveyed with pictures, graphics or video?
And if a message is too important to miss, you may need to give people more than one chance to read it.
Your customers may not need help when you send them a message, but support needs can arise at any moment. Make sure there are easy routes to additional information and support, so customers can quickly resolve queries and get the most out of your services and products. This might be as simple as including a link to your support documentation or a phone number in order confirmations.
Keep it simple
New customers can easily feel overwhelmed by new information, opportunities, rules and conditions, so try to keep your communications as simple as possible. Try to take work away from your customers and make it easy to get on-board.
Pop back next month (or sign up for our newsletter below) when we’ll look at the retention phase of the customer lifecycle.
Optimise your customer communications with DocCentrics
At DocCentrics, we help organisations create, deliver and manage large-scale customer communications. Our platform is omni-channel, so you can use a single tool to create and send messages to your channels. We can help you digitise your customer communications and maximise the reach of every message.
Get in touch if you would like to know more.