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What Does It Mean to Nurture a Customer?

What does it mean to nuture a customer?

Starting and then strengthening relationships is a critical part of successfully growing any organization. At the heart of this goal is the concept of “nurturing”. Let’s explore what it means to nurture a customer, focusing particularly on engagement before the first sale and how nurturing can lead to new opportunities and long-term benefits after the sale.

What does it mean to “nurture” a customer?

Traditionally, organizations have taken a siloed approach to nurturing. It was all about doing what was needed to move a lead to a sale as quickly as possible. Wash, rinse, repeat.

This approach isn’t really about nurturing though. It’s about applying pressure. These days, customers won’t tolerate aggressive sales tactics that pressure them to make a purchase. Nurturing isn’t about applying pressure at all. In today’s world, it’s simply about adding value. Customers are seeking guidance and support as they attempt to navigate their options and make decisions. They need help. This approach ultimately leads to the establishment of trust, and this is critical. This is the starting point that enables organizations to achieve the all-important goal – the beginning of a relationship with their customer. Only then will a customer commit to a purchase. 

It doesn’t end with the first purchase though. Modern customers are looking for organizations that provide consistent value throughout their entire customer journey – especially after the first sale. 

Modern customers

In a nutshell, nurturing is all about being helpful and human from the first touch. Only then can you attract, engage, and ultimately delight your customers. This is what creates sales. But effective nurturing throughout the relationship also creates opportunities for repeat sales, upsells, retention and advocacy – and this my friends, is how you grow.

Customer Nurturing Before the Sale

Attracting potential customers is the first step in the process. When you’re talking about using digital marketing tactics to attract new customers, creating valuable, relevant content is crucial for capturing their attention, as well as tactics like pay-per-click advertising. These tactics create awareness and help customers  begin to explore their options.

Once the customer is aware of you, then you can begin the nurturing process. Once they’re aware of you, this is where you can engage them, help, and support them as they take the next steps toward a purchase.

To effectively “engage” and “nurture” a potential customer you must help them. This can mean many different things. Sometimes customers don’t really understand the problem they’re trying to solve. Some customers know the exact problem and what they need, but they’re trying to explore and distill down their options. Even when customers know exactly what they need and have a full list of options, it’s your job to help them make their final decision. 

Here are are a few basic tips:

Nurturing before the sale

Understand the customer’s needs and pain points 

You must first conduct market research and analyze existing customer feedback to identify the primary challenges your potential customers face. Use these insights to personalize your messaging and product positioning. You might think that you know your customer’s needs, but many times you can gain some valuable insights from a little bit of research and feedback.

Create a wide variety of valuable and helpful content 

When a customer is trying to solve a problem, you can speak to them directly, 24 hours a day, and help them by providing personalized content. What types of content that people need vary widely. It will also will depend on where they are in their own customer journey. It might be the core content of your website that explains what you do. But it could also be topical articles, educational videos, informative graphics and images, free webinars, downloads, or even long-form podcasts that they can consume “on the go”. 

This content is a critical part of engaging your customer and nurturing them to take the next step in their own customer journey leading up to a purchase. 

Personalize your communication with segmentation 

Segmentation allows organizations to divide their audience into distinct groups based on demographics, behavior, or needs. This enables more personalized communication that resonates deeply with each segment. For example, a SaaS company might offer different messaging for startups than for enterprise-level clients. 

Use automation to provide value to the customer 

Automated tools like chatbots and drip email campaigns with educational content can nurture potential customers over time. Chatbots can provide immediate help and suggest resources based on user queries, while drip email campaigns can deliver valuable information at regular intervals, gently helping and guiding prospects through the decision-making process.

If you can nurture your customers through the process and provide the value and support that they need, you’ll be formally added to their list of final choices. Then, if you continue to nurture your prospects, you’ll ultimately get the sale. This is the goal, but only the beginning of the opportunities and benefits. 

Customer nurturing after the sale

After the sale, the work of nurturing is arguably more important than the process leading up to the first sale. The potential benefits that come from ensuring that your customers are continually happy and satisfied can be massive. Nurturing them starts immediately and it must never end. 

Here are a few tips:

Immediately connect with the customer

Nothing is more simple and powerful than sending an immediate email or personalized note to the customer after they commit to a purchase. As we all know, when we make an online purchase, it’s nice to get an email that confirms the purchase and documents our next steps. But let’s say that someone purchases a service like weekly lawn care. Even though this is a service and not a product purchase, the best thing that you can do is connect with the customer immediately with a message of thanks, a receipt for the first payment, and a confirmation about when the first service will take place.

This may not feel like “nurturing”, but remember that nurturing is all about creating strong and lasting relationships built on trust. The best thing you can do to accomplish this goal is to do everything you can to solidify that foundation from the very beginning. 

Establish a clear and consistent onboarding process

A seamless onboarding process is crucial to ensuring that customers feel confident and positive about their purchase. This could be simply ensuring that they get an automated email that confirms their purchase and next steps. It could equally mean rolling out a specific sequence of activities that welcome your customer and guide them step-by-step toward serving them on a recurring basis. 

Onboarding can mean many many different things. The most important thing is to ensure that you simply have a process that helps customers get started with minimal friction. You can offer personalized assistance through customer success managers, automated emails to create trust, or even some kind of formal welcome gift. Whatever it is, make sure that you have a process and that you do it consistently so everyone feels great about getting started.

Don’t sell. Provide educational resources

To strengthen trust and reduce friction, develop free tutorials, webinars, or product documentations that help customers deeply understand the value and maximize their purchase. Providing these resources early can prevent dissatisfaction and reduce churn. All of this shows that you care and ensures that no balls are dropped when customers are just getting started.

This is also the point in the nurturing process where you can be begin to open their mind and explore additional upgrades. Again, using the example of a lawn care service, you can move them beyond basic mowing to fertilization, grub control and even extensive landscaping upgrades over time. Simply educating customers about their options without selling and directly pressuring them to buy is a great way to immediately start moving them toward an additional purchase.

Delighting your customers

As we mentioned, traditionally, organizations have always focused on closing the sale. This is a critical step as we all know. Maybe you’ve done a great job of nurturing in a non-salesy way to get to the first sale. Great! But, there is a world of opportunity after the sale. This is where many organizations tend to fail with nurturing. To tap into the potential revenue contained within every customer, you must continually delight your customers to maximize their lifetime value.

Delighting your customers

Delighting customers involves, not only giving them what they purchased, but exceeding their expectations with value, in every way, after the sale. Continually helping, supporting, and educating your customers can be an incredibly valuable investment. It takes work and it will cost time and money. But you must think of it like an investment – just like you do with your marketing budget to create awareness. Investing in delighting your customers reinforces trust and strengthens relationships. This in turn allows you to sell even more when your customers have a need, and it certainly enables recurring revenue. In the end, you can begin to experience the benefits of customer advocacy because the relationship is so strong – and that’s where your investment can really begin to influence the growth of your organization.

Here are just a few more tips to consider:

Provide exceptional Post-Sale Support

After the sale, offer responsive and knowledgeable customer support to resolve issues promptly. Train support teams to be empathetic and proactive, providing a positive experience even when problems arise. 

Every interaction is a real opportunity to nurture and strengthen the relationship by offering to help and continually working to educate the customer and return value.

Create content that delights your customers

Customers will need support. They will have questions. They might just need to clarify something simple. When they have a need, you can serve them quickly and effectively with content. Investing in great content isn’t just for awareness or nurturing leading up to the sale. 

Do you find that you’re continually fielding the same questions? Create a support section on your site that provides answers to frequently asked questions. Make it clear how to get to this information quickly on your website before the customer has to dig or call you directly. You could even create detailed articles and videos that provide the exact guidance that a customer needs and they can access this content without navigating a phone tree or waiting for an email. In turn, your team is freed from having to help customers with the basics and they can spend their time on more proactive support work instead of just keeping up with the basics.

Be proactive and continually connect with your customers

As we mentioned, many organizations spend most of their time and effort fielding common customer inquiries over and over again. Wouldn’t it be great to be more proactive instead of always waiting for a customer to come to you? Simply asking a customer if they need anything can be powerful. This outreach could even be automated so that your team is focused on more proactive nurturing activities. 

You can even help and keep customers engaged by sharing relevant updates, tips, and content. Whether it’s new product features or industry insights, continuous engagement helps reinforce the relationship and value that you offer.

Soliciting Customer Feedback

Gather customer feedback regularly to understand what’s working and what needs improvement. Use surveys, interviews, and reviews to collect insights that can inform product development and service enhancements.

This may also not feel like nurturing, but it’s another opportunity to touch your customer and make them feel valued. It’s an opportunity to connect with them and strengthen the relationship. It’s an opportunity to get ahead of any issues that might weaken the bond. 

In the end, there are layers of benefits that come from proactively asking for feedback and it can be a great nurturing activity to explore.

Long-Term Delight and Loyalty leads to Advocacy

One of the most valuable results of delighting your customers is loyalty to your brand. This is the holy grail. Loyalty is where customer lifetime value really comes into play where one purchase can turn into a lot of revenue over time. Loyalty that creates advocacy can be powerful.

One of the most powerful results of delighting your customers is a simple referral. Referrals are like webs that grow out in all directions. This can create a powerful effect that begins to grow your business with minimal effort and expense. This has been referred to as The Flywheel Effect and it is a direct result of creating extremely strong relationships that are continually reinforced over time.

To close things out, here are just a few more quick tips to nurture and delight your customers.

Incentivizing Repeat Purchases

Implement loyalty programs or exclusive offers that encourage customers to return. Discounts, early access to new products, and exclusive events can make customers feel valued.

Actively encouraging referrals and advocacy

Satisfied customers are more likely to refer others. Develop referral programs that reward customers for bringing in new business. Create a process to encourage positive reviews and testimonials to boost brand reputation.

Continually investing in value and strengthening the relationship

For long-term customers, you can invest in advanced resources and activities that help them to continue receiving value from your product or service. This could include personalized educational courses, exclusive webinars, or one-on-one consulting. All of this can be consumed and used as a vehicle to strengthen the bond, reinforce your value and indirectly sell without pressure.

In the end, customer nurturing requires an investment in a strategic and thoughtful approach that focuses on meeting the customer “where they are” within their own customer journey before and after the sale. 

By focusing on valuable content, personalized engagement, trust building and strengthening relationships, businesses can effectively nurture customers and reap the benefits of long-term loyalty and advocacy. 

If you haven’t already, consider assessing your nurturing strategies, identify areas for improvement, and implement new tactics to provide a nurturing experience that resonates deeply with your customers. The investment will be worth it and will ultimately be what drives growth in your organization.

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Chris-Auman
About Chris Auman:

Chris Auman is a veteran digital marketer with over 25 years of experience in the trenches. As Sanctuary’s founder and President, Chris has successfully guided online marketing efforts for companies large and small.

Learn more about Chris.

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