Walter van der Scheer

Friends are worth more than visitors

Written by Walter van der Scheer on

Come againThe biggest turnover and profit increase lies in long term relationships with customers. People are social creatures. Most of us like interacting with one another, building a relationship while getting to know each other. As individuals, we all like being truly seen and noticed.

For customer relations, this is no different; Creating traffic to your site is essential, but ultimately, a website visitor is nothing more than a passer-by. There’s no commercial value in visitors alone. The commercial value is in the authenticity of friendship.

And that is where we hit a grand paradox: commercial value and authentic friendship mix together like oil and water: they just don’t blend. Or do they?

Commercial value and authentic friendship

A little bit of desk research unveils the secrets of making friends. In order to make friends you should:

  1. Join a club where people with common interests meet
  2. Make eye contact & smile
  3. Start a conversation
  4. Introduce yourself at the end of a conversation
  5. Initiate a get-together
  6. Put emphasis on your own unique qualities
  7. Don’t pressure someone into being friends
  8. Be loyal
  9. Be reliable
  10. Keep in contact

With a bit of common sense we could have made that list up ourselves as well, couldn't we? If this is so simple, and we agree that having friends rather than visitors is more valuable, why don’t all business apply this to their marketing consistently? And optimize customer value along the way?!

There’s lots of reasons for not focusing on building a sustainable friendship with clients. With the most common and tenacious reason being too much focus on short-term commercial success.

Which brings us to one of the most important secrets of making friends: building a lasting friendship takes time, for the simple reason that getting to know someone takes time.

A good relationship is built on mutual respect, understanding and trust. In marketing, this would translate into being timely and relevant, by collecting information from your relations. As in real life, not only personal data is important, behavioral data especially is invaluable.

Marketing tactics like lead scoring and customer journey automation mimic interpersonal interactions and ultimately will bring a lot more than just a one-off sale.

Brands that have been building lasting relationships with their clients have seen return on marketing investment going through the roof.

Results of brands making friends

For example one of our sports apparel customers has shared an insight in their marketing investments and revenues with us. The following graphs are based on their real data:

While over 85% of the total budget (!) is being spent on Adwords and Affiliate Marketing, together they return only 163%. Email, on the other hand, nibbles just 6% off the budget, but proves to be extremely rewarding with an enormous return of investment. You might want to sit down for this one, because the total ROI on email marketing for this client is a jaw-dropping 1272%.

Reason for this? Simple.

    1. Low cost per contact for email
    2. High individual targeting of all campaigns

In another example, FitForMe used segmentation to define different contact moments for their personalized vitamins and nutrition supplements store. One of those moments is their ‘resupply email’. From a service perspective, Fitforme is able to warn you when you will most likely run low on vitamin supplies. At the same time they kindly offer to resupply you within 24 hours. With all the data intelligence every time Fitforme is able to communicatie with it's customers in such a relevant way that clients actually thank Fitforme for reminding them.

Good things always come in three, so for the last example: Coals2U.

Coals2U, UK's leading coal merchant, shares the experience that targeted emails during a customer journey deliver far better results than inbound marketing. Conversion rates of their best performing campaigns were over 20%! Now try to do that with Google AdWords.

As Jon Carter, Marketing manager for Coals2U puts it: “We have improved the sophistication of our marketing over the past few years and from profile based automated email marketing we have found great improvements in our conversion rates & repeat purchases. We are working closely now to optimize our current conversion rates to deliver the highest ROI.”


Get to know your website visitors. Increase website conversion. And perhaps you'll pick up a friend or two along the way.