Bringing Customers Back from the Dead

Alden Morse
October 29, 2015

Customer retention is hugely important in the world of wholesale distribution, where businesses depend on strong ongoing customer relationships. After all, according to Forrester Research, it can cost up to five times more to find a new customer than to keep an old one. Sometimes, however, things don’t always go as planned. There those customers who gradually reduce their reorder frequency until they stop placing orders all together. Every wholesale distribution business has its own graveyard of these lost customers––a graveyard of order errors, missed delivery dates, and lost commissions. While it may be tempting to forget all about these lost customers, there’s hope of bringing them back to life. New technologies are helping businesses revive old business relationships, meet customer needs, and provide a better customer experience than ever before.

Bringing Customers Back from the Dead

1. Stay in Contact:

If you haven’t already, invest in email marketing. According to the recent 2015 Wholesale Technology & Sales Trends Survey Report, email marketing software was the number one technology wholesale distributors invested in last year. For smaller businesses, low-cost email marketing tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact are a good option to get started. Be sure to add all of your existing customers (as well as new ones) to your email list in order to build a strong database. This allows you to stay in touch with all of your retailers, share relevant content, easily reach out to those who may not have placed an order in a while, and direct retailers to your B2B eCommerce portal, which brings us to…

2. Invest in B2B eCommerce:

B2B eCommerce is offering wholesale distributors a new way to stay in contact with their retailers and bring back customers from the dead. By providing a portal through which customers can place orders online 24/7, wholesale distributors are not only offering a more convenient way to place orders, they are providing a way for customers to browse their entire catalog and get product information––even when a sales rep is unable to see them. As B2B buyers get used to the ease and convenience of online ordering in their consumer lives, they are increasingly demanding that same level of convenience in their work lives. By providing the experience that B2B buyers are looking for, you will have a compelling reason for them to come back. Within just two months of adopting B2B eCommerce, one Australian toy distributor saw numerous dormant customers begin placing orders once again, attributing the “resurrection” to speed and ease of use.

3. Use Content to Your Advantage:

While content marketing is common in B2B sales, many wholesale distributors aren’t taking enough advantage of the opportunities it presents. In a nutshell, content marketing is the creation and sharing of content in order to acquire and retain customers. While you may already have an email database, you may not be keeping in regular contact with your customers. Create a content calendar that aligns with your overall marketing and eCommerce strategies. By using your B2B eCommerce portal as a destination for email marketing campaigns (much like eCommerce retailers do with their consumer databases), you’ll be able to build customer loyalty, encourage customers to view new product lines, and use marketing promotions/incentives to your advantage. While bringing customers back from the dead is no easy task, a tightly aligned strategy of email marketing, online sales, and content marketing can be the key to reviving those old customer relationships. Questions about anything we covered in this post? Let us know in the comments.