Regardless of the business or industry you’re in, strategic marketing plans have long referenced initiatives for both customer acquisition retention and reactivation. Strategies and tactics are focused on either gaining new customers or keeping them.
The pandemic has caused (among many other things) an entirely new customer focus that has been receiving a lot of attention among marketing departments; reactivation. Simply put, reaching and motivating existing customers to once again use your services. For any business that is not solely online, this is a critical objective that has significant impact on revenue and growth.
The concept of customer reactivation includes other key differences than those of its acquisition and retention counterparts:
Customer reactivation brings on a whole new level of competition that has nothing to do with your competitors. Basically, you’re not competing against other businesses or organizations – you’re competing against your customer’s desire to NOT DO ANYTHING. Hospitals, physicians, dentists, and other healthcare professionals are all trying to convince patients that it’s safe and important for them to reactivate and come in for necessary health-related services. Restaurants, retailers, health clubs, and other personal services, are seeking to convince customers to return and use their facilities. Your customers are not going elsewhere, they’re just not going.
Another important difference of reactivation is in messaging strategies. Customer reactivation requires the need to motivate people (not educate) and convince them it’s safe and important to reengage. Customers already know about your services and benefits; what they need to know more about is how you’re making it safe and the concerns that arise by not doing anything. Healthcare marketing professionals have spent the last two years trying to convince patients not to skip important check-ups and follow-up visits. Many consumers, ironically, have put off life-saving procedures for fear of their safety! Other key pieces of messaging in the reactivation phase are understanding and empathy. The “story” is not about you…it’s about letting your customers know you get their concerns and recognize why they’ve stayed away. And, importantly, there’s no judgement – just encouragement to get back out there and in to see you.
Similar to messaging strategies, customer service takes on a new role in reactivation, especially within service industries. Front desk staff needs to be sensitive to returning customers and patients and withhold judgement. For example, a dental patient shows up for her first cleaning in two years. The receptionist needs to welcome her back and not reprimand her for going that long without an appointment or for prior cancellations. Brands should evaluate their environments to ensure they are welcoming and inclusive. #nojudgement
Reactivation requires more personalized communications because you’re talking with people who already know you and prefer your services. Accordingly, you know who they are, where they are and how to best reach them. Your arsenal is actually quite broad in terms of communications channels; direct mail, social media feeds, text messages, phone calls, emails…they have given you access to their personal information and – as appropriate – you can reach out and invite them back to your brand. This is not a “To Whom It May Concern” message strategy.
As we wind through another phase of the health pandemic, businesses are going to go through a series of starts and stops. Consumers, too, will remain cautious about returning to their favorite and/or preferred providers. Recruiting and retaining new customers should not be the sole focus of your marketing strategies for the next quarter. Encourage your current customers to once again use your services. Not only are they familiar with you, but you know how to reach and speak to them. Customer acquisition retention and reactivation is a critical business strategy that gives you the fertile foundation from which to flourish once the path for new growth is clear again.