Is it just me or does collecting customer contact information oddly remind you of your teenage days and strategizing how to get a phone number from a potential date? (I should apologize now, there will be some brief courting advice in this article). She’ll need an incentive, she’ll probably want to know why, and if you don’t ask now you may blow your chance at repeat engagement! Not in this business, baby! Let’s talk strategy…
First, let’s quickly review the importance of collecting customer data, (phone numbers, email addresses, frequency, time of purchase, etc.) I think most businesses owners would agree that a significant portion, if not most, of their revenue comes from repeat customers. It’s hard work finding new customers day in and day out. Capturing contact information allows you to stay in contact with customers and make sure they are thinking about you. When it comes to business, a lasting relationship is better than a series of one-night stands.
Here are some tips to building that contact list:
- Open your mouth. The first part of collecting contact information is asking for it. Seems obvious, right? So why are nearly 90% of businesses NOT ASKING FOR IT? If you really want to build a network of customer contact data you need to verbally ask for it, have your employees ask for it, and post in on your website. Write down a single phrase such as “Would you like to get text and email offers?” and ask every person as they check out. Worst case scenario is they say no thanks and no harm is done. You can optimize the process later but start asking customers for contact information today. You don’t want to miss out on your dream boy/girl because you forgot to ask.
- Offer an incentive. While many of your customers will give you their phone number/ email simply from you asking for it, even more will give you their contact information if there is an incentive to do so. Don’t get too caught up in the desire to incentive customers with a discount for next time, the best incentives are given on the spot. You will always have the chance to drive customers back now that you have created an opportunity for a repeat engagement.Think about upgrades, added benefits, small discounts, etc; anything that you can offer a new customer that would get them to share their info. Even a dollar off goes a long way when a customer only is required to give you a phone number. Add the incentive to join your email and text club into your memorized phrase (discussed above) and once again invite every customer to participate. Keep it simple such as “Can I add your number to our text club? You get $1 off today and discounts on your next purchase.”
- Make it easy. I can’t express this enough. M A K E I T E A S Y! If there are any complications to joining, such as a credit approval, long application, app download, etc, your participation rate will suffer. Remember, now that you have repeat engagement with the customer, you can start working on the additional info you are seeking.Here’s a tip that will put your participation rate through the roof: use your customer’s phone number as their account/membership number. Customers typically enjoy the simplicity of this since they don’t have to remember a new number and it is unique to them. While giving you their phone number doesn’t authorize you to send messages to them, it’s much easier to get consent to send offers and updates after they have already given you a number (Click here to learn more about text and email marketing regulations.) It goes something like this:Employee: Hi, how are you? May I get your phone number, area code first? (asked confidently).
Customer: Sure, it’s 555-555-5555
Employee: Great, would you like text offers? You’ll get $1 off today for checking the box.
Customer: Why not.
Employee: BANG A RANG!
- Get it in-store. If you don’t get contact information from your customers while they are in your store, you’ll likely never get it at all. This is like handing that dream date a card with your number on it and assuming she/he is going to call. Don’t put the ball in their court, follow up is your responsibility. If you ask customers to go home and register their card, or go find you on Facebook, you’ll likely never see them in your network, even if they had good intentions to do so when they left your store. If you need more information than what a customer can give you while they are in the store, simply get an email and/or phone number and collect the rest of the information afterward. There are several software solutions that allow you to have people fill out forms by simply clicking on a link in a text or email (cough, cough, CityGro).
- Tell customers why. There is no need to hide what you are trying to do. Customers actually prefer to know exactly what they will be contacted about. Tell them what kind of emails they’ll receive, how often, and any other information that seems appropriate. Since they are standing there in your store, there is a good chance they love your business and would enjoy the communication you send them.
Your network will be well worth the time you put into it. Start today and don’t let another customer walk out the door without getting a chance for a repeat engagement. Thanks for putting up with the lame dating comparisons and good luck out there!