By Adam Robinson, Cofounder/CEO, Robly Email Marketing

Stealing your competitors’ customers can be a tricky business. They’re not easy to find, they’re usually pretty happy with the product or service they’re using, and if they’re not happy, they’re usually too busy to switch.

However, if you can find you competitors’ customers and present them with legitimate value that justifies the effort required of them to make the switch, the pitch is infinitely more straightforward than selling to new entrants.

Over the last several years through trial and error in the hyper-competitive email marketing space, my colleagues and I at Robly have learned many things that work, and a few that don’t, about stealing customers from your competitors.

Secret One: Once they decide to try you out, you are competing with time (your customers’ jam-packed schedules), not your competitor.

We’ve learned that migrating customers from our competitors’ platform has two major advantages over seeking customers that are new to the space:

  • Our customer base has already identified the need and value of the product we’re offering
  • They already know how to use our product, which decreases resources spent educating customers during the onboarding process

However, there is one devastating negative. These potential customers all have a solution that is currently working for them.

We realized early on that we weren’t necessarily missing conversions from people that decided our competitors’ solutions were better in the end … We were losing out on people who just flat out didn’t have the time and energy to get set up to try something new. If someone used our system start to finish, they would stick with us, end of story.

If you’re stealing customers from your competitors, it should take those customers as little time as humanly possible to make the switch. That’s fairly straightforward. However, since these customers already have a solution currently working for them, you must give them a little something extra so they feel like they owe it to you to spend the incremental energy necessary to switch.

If you don’t, they’ll just blow you off. Trust me on this one.

What made the most sense for our business was to start offering full, white-glove account migrations to our higher value customers, along with free template upgrades. We found out quickly that channeling that much energy into someone considering a switch would almost always result in that customer at least trying our system, which was all we were after.

Secret Two: Price may win some customers, but value gets you many more.

When we originally launched our product, we assumed that having a tool that was “just as good” as our competitors’ product at half the price would be a magnet to their customer base.

We did get a bunch of customers to switch to Robly, but most of them were upset with the competitor for one reason or another, and just didn’t know where they should go until they heard from us.

We found that satisfied customers require value well beyond what they are currently getting to switch, not just a better price.

For Robly, that meant adding list segmenting based upon subscriber behavior, a tool that automatically collects reviews for your Facebook Business page and syndicates them to Google, and a tool that allows you to see the email you’re about to send in all the different types of inboxes you’re about to send to.

What should that mean for you? Just make sure you’re doing things in a truly differentiated way. Cheaper isn’t enough, and if you are in a super competitive space like we are, great service isn’t enough either. As the legendary Seth Godin insists so accurately, you have to come up with a Purple Cow.

Does anyone else out there have a secret about stealing customers from their competitors they’d like to share? I’m all ears J.

Adam Robinson is cofounder and CEO of Robly (Switch to Robly – Five Minutes Will Save You 50% on Email Marketing). Follow him at @Adam_L_Robinson.