In every business, there are levels of customers that you have to understand which are crucial for the company to prosper. Perhaps you didn’t know that your existing clients have started as suspects since every business has a different approach to getting customers.
Clients always start off, whether B2B or B2C, as suspects before you discover if their profile perfectly fits as the next target for your products or services. Once you’ve found them interested in what you offer, that’s the time they become your prospects.
Suspects and prospects are the first two levels of customers and now that we already have an overview of it, let’s dive in more on these two and the four other levels. These are significantly important for the success of your direct marketing so keep on reading.
Levels of Customers
#1 – Suspects
These are the people that you think may be interested in getting your goods or services. If you have experienced using a marketing automation platform, sure you have used their filters to start targeting those who you think will respond to your advertisement. One of the most precise examples is using the Facebook Ads. You can target companies or individuals based on their demographics, locations, interests, behaviors, etc. This way, you can have a high probability of getting a higher response rate.
Moreover, suspects are the people who are not aware that they have an existing problem to solve. All they want is to learn more about the specific things that they are interested in yet they’re not ready to receive a pitch from you.
So basically in this level, what you have to do is to be at the top of people’s consciousness and let them take some specific action. They just want to “learn more” and if you have assessed them fit for your products and services, that’s the time they become your prospect. This would also be your time to change the tone of your voice to evoke their immediate response. Again, they’re not yet ready for your pitch.
#2 – Prospects
We are now dealing with the people who already showed an interest in your products or services. In this stage, suspects become prospects for being aware of their problems and aiming to solve them by opting into your email list to join the newsletter, to receive ebooks, guides, whitepapers, tutorials, checklists, and other value-packed offers.
Prospects want to opt-in to get into the funnel and it’s a good sign to look for new business opportunities. However, similar to suspects, they’re not ready to receive any pitch from you at this level.
#3 – Leads
The definition of this stage has confused many people as for some businesses they considered leads as prospective customers while for other companies, leads are already potential sales contacts. Here, we’ll stand on the latter.
As we mentioned in the preceding level, prospects are not yet ready to get a pitch from you, making them not suitable to be treated as sales contacts at the said level. But one thing that makes them similar across definitions is that their leads will potentially become their future customers.
So leads, this is where you’ll hear people saying “this is something that I’m considering and I just want to ask a few questions before I make the decision to get your goods or services.” Leads have learned the solutions they prefer and they’ll be taking their next actions once they heard what they needed from you, more like an assurance that you’ll be able to help them. This is the time when people are ready and willing to hear your pitch.
#4 – Buyers / Customers
These are the leads who successfully hired your services or bought your goods at least once. It could be in any forms of communication where you and the leads have talked about making a purchasing or getting your services, through emails, phone calls, webinars, or through an online offer. Buyers/Customers are usually people who click the “I want to hire you” or “Shop Now” or “Buy Now” buttons because they have fully identified what they really needed to help them solve their problems.
One thing that sets these people apart from being repeat buyers or clients is that it is their “FIRST TIME” to have a transaction with you.
#5 – Repeat Buyers / Clients
These are your customers who bought from you or hired you more than once. In this level, your customers might want to try your services again for two reasons. It’s either you want them to 1) give you another chance to prove yourself if you can still be of help to solve their pains, or 2) you just satisfied them with your offer.
To make it even relatable to you, we’re all customers most of the time, I bet. And there were times that we’re not really happy with the goods or services we received. But because we have gone through the process, from being suspects, prospects, leads, and finally customers, we’ve already conditioned our minds that the offer is the perfect solution for us. That’s why we want to give it another shot.
But purchasing from you or hiring you for more than once doesn’t necessarily mean your repeat buyers are already loyal to you. You’ve got to satisfy them and prove yourself that you can deliver a great service. You need to put an extra effort to reinforce your connection with your clients.
#6 – Fans / Advocates
These are your repeat buyers who are very much excited about you. They’re the most loyal and they would always want to tell other people that they care about you and your business. This is where the “word of mouth” usually starts. Fans/Advocates are the ones who follow your company to get instant updates on your next product launch or services. They most of the time are less sensitive to your pricing since they trust you a lot to give them another great goods or services.
However, your transaction with them doesn’t stop there. There’s a stiff competition in the worldwide market today and you have to keep your clients loyal. You have to make them a precious commodity by sending them loyalty rewards, discount offers, or anything that will make them feel you value them as your loyal clients. Strive to always keep them at the level of satisfaction.
Bear in mind, it’s less expensive to market to fans/advocates compared to other levels of customers
Whatever your business is, especially if you are operating online and using digital marketing, it’s very important that your strategies will move your targets from being suspects and prospects to be your fans. Always try to move them into the highest level of a customer because it will definitely give you a sustainable ROI.