You can’t please everyone (and you shouldn’t try to): converting customers into fans

How to focus your marketing efforts where they’ll be most appreciated.

Brace yourself for a hard truth: if you’ve ever shared your thoughts to an audience – online, in a public speaking context, or even loudly in a pub after a few pints, 10% of that audience hated it. 

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 10% of people also hate what we’ve got to say. Believe it or not, 10% of people even hate David Attenborough and cream teas (they’re wrong, of course, but they do).

This is an unfortunate human average that remains more or less true no matter what. 10% of any audience larger than 20 or so people will hate the speaker/writer/performer/artist/whatever. 

What’s the point of telling you this depressing fact? Why would we bring you down like this?

Because we’re here to tell you to sod that 10%. They don’t matter. You’re never going to please the haters, so stop trying. 

By turning your back on the troublesome ten percent, you can boost everything from your follower count to your confidence.

Let’s dive a little deeper.

Do 10% of my audience really hate me?

Well, it’s an average. If you really want to torture yourself you could send out a questionnaire to your entire audience and figure out the precise percentage of people who hate you, but we don’t recommend it.

Instead, work on the assumption that:

  • 10% of your audience hate you
  • 80% of your audience don’t mind you
  • 10% of your audience absolutely adore you

This is a useful set of averages to have in your head because it helps you to understand where to concentrate your marketing efforts for best effect.

We know what you’re thinking: “I should work to convert that 10% of haters!” And we get it. It’s not nice to be hated. But here’s the thing: they’re not worth it.

That’s not just the kind of soothing hyperbole that your mate would give you if you were about to lose your rag at some prat in the pub. It’s a solid truth. That 10% have 0 value for you or your business. You will never convert them, and efforts to do so will be a frustrating waste of time and resources.

Take us, for example. A vocal minority are aghast, appalled, and utterly dumbfounded by the fact that we use the terms ‘bullshit’ and ‘bollocks’ in our brand statement. They’d much rather we toned the language down a bit. But that wouldn’t be true to who we are. 

We wouldn’t be a ‘no bullshit’ agency that doesn’t deal in bollocks if we ‘toned the language down’. And we wouldn’t get the kind of customers that we work best with (i.e. the kind that don’t appreciate mealy-mouthed pandering and prefer our straightforward approach). So, we’d lose customers that we love, with very little chance of bringing the haters on board.

So, the swears stay, and the haters just have to deal with it. 

All in all, that first 10% are quite genuinely and in every sense of the term, not worth it. So, ignore them. 

Instead, focus your efforts on the remaining 90%.

What about that 80% in the middle?

80% of your audience don’t mind you. They might have used your product/service in the past, and will probably convert again…if nothing better comes along. But they’re not loyal. If something better does come along, they won’t hesitate to jump ship.

The 80% are worth focusing a decent chunk of your attention on – this is where you can definitely try converting customers into fans. The right marketing tactics can bring them closer into your fold and transform them into loyal brand advocates. Try things like:

  • Personalisation. Modern audiences have a LOT of brands competing for their attention. They can pick and choose where to devote that attention – and they tend to opt for marketing that’s directly relevant to them. So, play into that by personalising your marketing as closely as possible to your target audience. You can learn more about how to research your customers for personalisation purposes here.
  • Re-engagement campaigns. These are designed to bring back past customers who are drifting away. Common re-engagement tactics include: introducing new value for customers (for example, by offering new features/services); sending out highly personalised campaigns that show specific groups of customers just how well your product/service works for them; offering free upgrades; and bribery (more on that in a moment).
  • Email. Modern marketers tend to focus a huge amount of effort on social media and neglect email. In fact, email has the highest ROI of any marketing channel. It’s personal, it’s direct, it’s versatile, and it’s a lot more manageable than many social channels. So, to reel in that 80%, consider ramping up your email marketing.
  • Website optimisation. Well, we would say that, wouldn’t we? Websites are our thing. But trust us, we’re not advising this out of vested interest. A good website is the equivalent of a good shop window. Customers will judge you on the quality of your website. To tip that ambivalent 80% over into converted customers, a high-quality, well-written, smoothly-performing website is just what you need.
  • Incentives. Nothing like a bit of bribery every now and again. Entice the unconverted with special offers and free gifts.These are especially useful when getting people to sign up to things like your newsletter. Once they’ve subscribed to your content you can wow them with your brilliantly creative marketing. Speaking of which…
  • Brilliantly creative marketing. Don’t stint on marketing content. Make it as high-quality, exciting, engaging, relevant, personalised, innovative, and attention-grabbing as you can. We can’t tell you exactly how to do this, as every brand and audience is different. But a good place to start is with some serious audience research. Find out what appeals to the targeted 80% and work from there.

Should I ignore the final 10%, too?

Ignore your most loyal customers? Absolutely not!

This is where a lot of modern marketers go wrong. Once customers are ‘in the fold’, so to speak, marketers think ‘job done!’ and turn their attention back to bringing in brand new customers.

In fact, acquiring new customers can cost up to 10 times more than re-converting existing customers. And there’s no guarantee that those new customers will have decent CLTV (Customer Lifetime Value). 

On the other hand, re-converting that 10% of customers who already love you is relatively easy to do, and has the added bonus that the 10% are almost certain to have high CLTV. Keep these customers happy and they’ll convert again and again and again. 

How can you keep these delightful, loyal, valuable people happy? Well, a lot of what we’ve just recommended for the 80% will be appreciated by the final 10% as well. Personalisation is always a good idea, as is bribery. But for your very best customers you can go a bit further.

Here are some ideas:

  • Set up a loyalty scheme. Loyalty schemes are a fantastic way to show your appreciation for your best customers. Through a loyalty scheme, you can pamper your loyal 10% with the kinds of treats and discounts they deserve.
  • Remember important dates. Send thank yous (or perhaps even small gifts) on dates like the anniversary of each customer’s first purchase with you. You could even ask them for their birthday (or some other meaningful date) and send them an e-card to mark the occasion. 
  • Build an online community. Ultimately, people are most loyal to brands they feel like they have a good relationship with. And, like any other relationship, the brand-customer relationship is built on things like trust, mutual appreciation, mutual interest, and mutual engagement. One of the very best ways to get that kind of engagement etc is through an online community. So, use things like social media to engage with your customers. Ask questions, hold competitions, give out prizes, and generally be socially active with your audience.

Forget the haters. Focus on the customers that bring you joy (or, at least, conversions).

It’s tempting as a marketer to hoard audiences. But, rather than cluttering up your campaigns with unconvertible customers, we advise you to do a Marie Kondo and get rid of those that don’t bring you joy (and by joy, we mean conversions).

Ignore the 10% who hate you. If you can identify any of them, delete them from your lists. They’re genuinely not worth your effort.

Instead, focus on boosting the loyalty of 80% of your customers, and keeping that perfect 10% sweet.

Here at Sox, we love each and every one of our customers. If your web guys don’t make you feel as valued and supported as you deserve, give us a shout!