Customer Retention rulesYou’ve heard it before: it can cost 5 to 10 times more to get a new client or donor than to keep an existing one. So let’s think about this for a second. While you’re out there searching for new clients, are you letting your existing client relationships whither on the vine?

Acquiring a new client or donor takes so much more money and effort than keeping your existing roster happy and engaged. It’s simple math. But you’d be surprised how many organizations allocate an astounding amount of budget to “business development”  while giving retention efforts next to nothing. It’s what I like to call Retention Deficit Disorder (RDD) and it’s endemic.

If you know the value of an existing donor or customer along with the revenue they bring in, set a realistic budget for keeping them engaged, instead of constantly sending out sales scouts looking for replacements.

[bctt tweet="5 Steps to Fixing Your Retention Deficit Disorder #donors #nonprofit"]

Here are five tips that could help whip your client/donor RDD:

  1.     Segment your data and engage each segment appropriately.

Segment your data using common factors such as how recently, how frequently and how much  (or other preferences that are important to your constituents). This commonly  referred to as RFM segmenting.  Flag your segments in your CRM tool or data-select queries so that you can communicate appropriate messages to each category.

  1.     Use the mail to send a valued message.

An actual letter or card is meaningful in a way that email just isn’t. Effort is implied. If you want to make a statement that you are grateful for the business or donation, write a thank-you note. Send it in the mail and wait for the calls from your clients thanking you for the thank-you note.If you are doing just a few at a time there is a handy online site called SendOutCards that lets you send out personalized cards from your computer.

  1.     Use the phone to send a valued message.

A phone call also implies value. If you take the time to call and leave a meaningful message, an invitation or a thank you, then you’ve said that you care. How much work does it take to send an SMS or email message? The perception is very little, therefore the message it carries is also of low value. Only a small percent of email marketing messages get opened on a good day. The phone works very well in retention and does not have a negative intrusive impression when used this way.

  1.     Be consistent and disciplined.

Resolve to be consistent with your program. Start small, say, a thank-you note and a follow-up phone call to say thank you to your preferred segment. The results can only be realized if you consistently apply your strategy and let your donors and customers know, in a consistent fashion, that you care, that you do great work and are worth keeping in touch with. Set a plan, schedule communications, and stick to it.

  1.     Automate if possible.

This part gets a bit “techy” but it is worth considering. It falls under the popularly termed “drip marketing” or “marketing automation” category.

We’ve all received the automated email thank-you message that comes seconds after purchasing online. There are now ways to automate the messages you send by using the CRM tools at your disposal.

You may have a CRM system that allows for workflow automation (that is, it could schedule a report to run each week on a specific date with the names and details of all the people you need to send a thank-you note to or would like to call).

Automation might let you send that report to your call centre every Monday at noon, or forward the list of recent donors to a print/mail-provider each week so that mail could be prepared for the post.

An automated email is often available, but not everyone reacts the same way to email or opens them. However, if some of your clients really like email, make sure you reach out to them with their preferred channel. That makes them an email segment, get it?

Automation is worth digging into because it helps with point #4 — consistency.

The more recent CRM tools and databases make exporting data based upon special selections very accessible. Ask some questions about how you collect data now and see if your systems allow for this. It will be a great asset to your success.

Those are just a few simple tips to help you make a real difference and stand out from the crowd.