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Getting a customer is not easy.
Getting a visitor to decide that he or she wants to buy the product or service you're offering, getting out their credit card and giving you their hard-earned money is not a piece of cake.
Most visitor's to your Internet site, 97 - 99% of them if you're lucky, will not buy your product. They turn away from your site, your offer...and they will probably never return. In other words - if you work hard, if you use the right techniques and if you're talented maybe you'll get 1 - 3 % of the people who visit your site to buy. But it's not easy.
First you need to make sure you actually get enough visitors to your site. And if you use paid advertising, like pay-per-click search engines - this will cost you money. If you plan on getting visitors for free, this will take you time.
You need to make sure that your visitor is persuaded to buy. And if he or she won't buy the very first time they visit your site, you need to get them to come back again later.
Getting a customer - a "first-time" customer - takes a bit of effort.
But the efforts are worth it. Because once you have that customer, he will be a valuable asset.. Your customer will become your main income source. Why? Because your already existing customers are much more likely to buy from you again and again.
By calling this "customer life-time value", you're putting a name to it. And a value. How much will your average customer buy from you over the next 10-15 years? Customer lifetime value. The online businesses that make the most money are the ones that know how to use their existing customer base to maximize profits.
I guess the old saying that you need to take care of your customer, is particularly true on the Internet.
I'll give you an example.
A guy called John runs a site where he sells a product for $ 100. He gets a small amount of visitors - 100 visitors a day; that's 3000 visitors a month. He manages to sell to 1% of his visitors, which means he sells for $ 3,000 a month. He gets 30 new customers a month.
After a year he's earned $ 36,000 from his 360 customers.
His friend Neal runs a site, too. He gets 100 visitors a day and sells a product that costs $ 100 and manages to sell to 1% of his customers. 30 new customers a month; 360 customers a year. What a coincidence, right? Anyway, Neal has got a really nice product. A product people love. He also offers great customer service. Neal's customers like him very much.
They wouldn't mind buying from him again.
After his first 12 months online, Neal sends all his 360 customers an email offering a second product. A so-called back-end product.
This doesn't take him long. After all, it's just ONE email.
The second product is a little more expensive, it costs $ 300, but it is a product that his customers really need. A product they want. (He knows this because he asked them in a survey what product they would be interested in; what products they really needed.)
Since Neal is a great guy offering great products and excellent customer service, as many 30 % of his customers buy the second product. That's 108 people.
Now here's the interesting bit. The second product costs $ 300, which means that Neal has an additional yearly income of $ 32,400!
Look at the figures! Neal has doubled his yearly income just by selling a second product to 30 % of his customers. He hasn't had to go to great lengths to get new customers, but he's using his existing customers to double his profits!
John makes $ 30,000 a year, Neal makes $ 62,400.
And the one and only difference is that Neal sends out one extra email!
Neal still only gets 100 visitors a day. He still only gets 1% of them to buy his first product, but he offers them all a second, back-end product. He maximizes the profit potential of his customer base.
Strategies like "back-end offers" and concepts like "lifetime value" shifts the focus from the short sighted "take the money and run" strategy that is so much in use on the internet today. You've seen these sites all over. They only focus on getting a massive amount of traffic and then selling visitors an overpriced product that doesn't deliver what is promised.
Customers feel fooled. Why would they ever want to buy from this salesman again?
The more successful sites focus on building a strong relationhip with their customers. And your main goal shouldn't be to make sure your customers are satisfied...you want them to be extremely satisfied. If you deliver the goods, your customers will trust you more. And if you have their trust, you can sell them anything.
Here are a just few pointers of how you can establish a great relationhip with your customers:
1. Delivering a great product
Give your customers exactly what they want. And then some more. One of the best ways to get people to buy from you again and again is to only sell high quality products. If you ever conider selling a crap, overpriced product, ask yourself why you'd want to loose all that future income from your customers.
2. Responding quickly
When you run an online business, you'll get a lot of email. People will ask you about all kinds of things, and they will expect answers immediately. Set up autoresponders to make sure they get a pre-written email the minute they send you one. Tell them that you've gotten their email and that you will read it within the next 24 hours. And make sure you do. When you've read it, always reply to them, even if you can't answer their question.
3. Taking care of customers after purchase
Too many online businesses forget about their customers once they've bought the product. And if they take the time to write to them again, it's only because they're trying to push another product. Don't get me wrong, you want to push that second product, but conider at least pretending that you care about how your customer is doing. Sending an email doesn't cost a penny. Why not send more emails where you're not trying to sell them anything. In the long run, this strategy will make you sell more! Ask how they're getting on with their product, give them tips, give them a free gift, congratulate them on their birthday etc. Care more, and you'll sell more.
The bottom line? Think long-term. Realize that your existing customers will buy from you again and again if you just let them. Let them.
About The Author
Steve Atlas writes regularly for the Internet Marketing Dictionary - http://www.internet-marketing-dictionary.com
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