Getting More From Your Online Customers

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Most online marketers are continually chasing new customers and spending a lot of time and effort on marketing strategies aimed at getting traffic to their site. Even if you don't have a website and just sell a few of products on eBay as a moneymaking hobby, it is a very inefficient way to make sales when you consider that it cost six times more to get a new customer than it does to sell to an existing customer. Just by nurturing the customers you already have, you can increase your sales by 50 percent with very little extra effort.

One of the best ways of getting repeat business from your customers is to build a positive relationship with them from the first contact. Whether you have your own website, or whether you sell from eBay, Amazon, Craigslist or whatever, you should aim to be very professional and do all you can to build trust and credibility for yourself and your business. Let your customers know what it is that qualifies you to sell certain products, whether you have any relevant expertise and reassure them with your website or your eBay page that you take a very professional approach to business. Even if you are selling something like some old china tea plates from the kitchen, you can reassure your customers that they have been well cared for and that they will be packaged properly and securely before they are sent out -- add lots of pictures of your product as this always helps people to connect with you and with the items you are selling. Pictures can help to build trust and as well as words.

Once customers have bought something from you, or won an item on an online auction, you have a great opportunity to connect with them and build trust. Start by thanking them to their purchase and reassuring them that you will be sending it out ASAP (try to send out items within 24 hours). When you package the item, make sure it is secure and appropriately wrapped in professional looking packaging. Include a note thanking them for their purchase and include a little bonus if you possibly can -- maybe some teabags go with the china teapot. It doesn't cost much but it can go a long way to creating a really good first impression. Don't forget to include your contact details and a brochure of any other items you have a sale -- don't miss this opportunity to let your customers know where you are and what else you have for sale.

Give your customers positive feedback as soon as you have sent out your package and if your customer hasn't given you positive feedback within a week or so, you could give them a gentle reminder and ask if they are happy with their purchase and if you can help them with anything else.

Stay in touch

Most marketers will just keep going looking for new customers once the sale has been made, but clever marketers will stay in touch with their customers and make the effort to build a relationship by ongoing communication. You now have a satisfied customer and all their contact details, so keep a list of all your customers with some details of the transaction such as what they bought, how much they paid and so on. There are various ways of staying in touch with your customers without being overly pushy about making further sales -- your aim is to keep the lines of communication open and hope to make further sales in the future. So how can you stay in touch with your customers?

Remember their birthday: if you have collected information such as date of birth, you can contact them on their birthday with a birthday card as a reminder of you and your business.

Write a newsletter: it doesn't have to be anything long or involved, but a little newsletter which is relevant and useful can serve as a reminder and offer something of value to your customer. Make it relevant to the item they bought and make sure they know are receiving it for free.

Conduct a survey: not only is it a good excuse to get in touch with your customers again, but their opinion can also be very valuable for you and can help you understand what your customers want from you in the future. It can be a great market research tool.

Refer a friend: you could offer your customer a small bonus for referring a friend to your company. This not only reminds them of you but could produce further sales from referrals.

Invite your customers to your blog or social media site: if you have a blog or a Facebook page, Twitter account and so on, invite your customers to join you there. It's much easier to stay in touch with people through social media and often more acceptable than sending e-mails or postal mail.

You should aim to offer enough value to your customers that they will seek you out voluntarily -- one that starts happening, your business is sure to succeed.