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Internet Communication

In the previous issues, I wrote about internet providers, websites and how to market your website to gain new customers. This issue, I will write about retaining your existing customers.


September 30, 2009
By Max Fanderl

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In the previous issues, I wrote about internet providers, websites and how to market your website to gain new customers. This issue, I will write about retaining your existing customers.

Once you have a customer base, the next best marketing approach is to stay in touch with those customers. This is even more important than continually trying to get new customers.

Once you have a customer base, you must attempt to stay in their minds and remind them about your services. It takes less effort and cost to retain a customer base than to continue looking for new customers. This marketing approach is vital and gets missed by a lot of small businesses.

A lot of companies promote customer appreciation days and run ads in local papers or print newsletters/brochures to stay in touch with their customers. This can be very expensive for small companies and the cost may not be justified in the end. A more efficient way of staying in contact with your existing customers is by using online tools. An example of this would be to create an online newsletter.

Get your customer’s attention by sending regular on-line newsletters containing; news/trends, homecare recommendations, new services, and staff changes/additions.

There are several ways to send out a newsletter. The first is to send e-news to each customer individually or to send the newsletter to more then one recipient. If you do this, send the e-mail to yourself and enter the recipient as a BCC (blind carbon copy).

This way the recipient will not see who your other recipients are. This method only works marginally.

First, your ISP only lets you send out a certain number of BCCs per e-mail. Second, many of your customers will not accept it if the e-mail is not sent directly to them as a recipient (e-mail filtering).

The best route for sending out a newsletter is to use an e-mail list-server. A list server allows you to import your customer list for e-mail campaigns and visitors from your website can subscribe to your e-mailing list on-line.

List-servers are one of the best communication tools for your business and website if you use them correctly.

List-servers offer many valuable tools, such as a newsletter creator (plain text and html mailing) and reporting tools, to keep track of how many of your newsletters were read.

List-server software may be offered by your web-host or you may be allowed to install it to your web-hosting package. However, many web-hosting companies do not support list-servers anymore due to ongoing spam complaints. The best route is to subscribe to this service.

You can save a lot of time, money and hassle by subscribing to a list-server application instead of making sure to use the right software version with the latest security patches and working with the never-ending spam control regulations.There are several companies who offer this service.

For example, www.godaddy.com offers a list server that allows you to buy a set number of e-mails in bulk and you then have one year to use them. This is a very inexpensive way of sending occasional e-news.

Godaddy.com has strict regulations and you can only send newsletters to people who have confirmed via e-mail they want to be on your mailing list.

I also like www.constantcontact.com. They allow you to import your customer list without customer confirmation, plus, they have excellent tools and tips on how to create effective newsletters. Constantcontact.com charges based on the number of subscribers you have on a monthly basis.

Once you have selected your list-server, it is vital to create the right content and volume of newsletters. If this is done incorrectly an e-newsletter can actually harm your business.

Here are a couple pointers about newsletters:
Do not send out too many. This may begin to irritate your reader and they will remove themselves from your list and will not be impressed by your business practices.

Try to include interesting information that will even prompt your clients to share it with friends and family, i.e., conditions that are improved by the use of massage therapy treatment. Homecare ideas including stretches.

Keep them short and precise. If you would like to include more content, create a link from the newsletter to your website displaying extra details. Always remember, newsletters are intended to inform your customer.

Newsletters with information that keeps your customer interested will increase business from existing customers as well as create new customers from referrals.
Another great way to keep your existing customers coming back to your website is by offering them an on-line appointment scheduling system (www.BookingCalendar.com).

When your customers want to book an appointment, send them to your website first where they will be exposed to your news, treatment modalities offered and business hours. One example of this is on-line banking. This is a customer service, but it also serves to create more traffic and exposure on the bank’s website.

You will also increase business with this Booking Calendar with improved customer service and convenience. (Stop playing telephone tag).

More valuable information can be read in a recent article in Massage Magazine (www.massagemag.com), Issue 122/June 2006:

“…. For someone who charges $60 per appointment, a daily missed appointment equals $300 in lost revenue per week and $15,000 in lost revenue each year.
In short-term cost of missed appointments is easier to measure then the long-term costs of customers who stop calling as the result of an inability to reach you on the first call….”

For more articles and testimonials about on-line appointments, please visit http://www.bookingcalendar.com/Testimonials.html. Or simply try it out with a free trial.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my series of “Internet Communication Tips and Tricks” articles in Massage Magazine Canada, and that you have obtained valuable information. These articles are also available online at www.BookingCalendar.com/massagemagazinecanada

Please feel free to contact me if you do have any questions, or you can join the “Internet Communication Tips and Tricks” workshop at the Massage Therapy Expo being held in Burlington ON, November 4-5. www.massagetherapycanada.com/events.php

Max Fanderl, www.DiscoveryWeb.com, www.Book24-7.com


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