As a Digital Marketer, I often find myself in the trap of building a campaign with the focus on attracting new clients, but then I always remember about the other customer base I’m leaving out, the returning customers. It’s important that we are maintaining a relationship with existing customers, in fact, it’s probably more important than attracting new ones as its more cost effective.
It goes without saying, repeat customers are the bloodline of any business and with the help of social media and their words, they have the power to become an ambassador for your business. It’s important we really have a strong focus on them.
Over the years, I’ve learned some great ways to keep customers coming back, and here are 8 of them.
1) Make it easy for customers to contact you
Probably one of the most important ways to lose customers is an arduous way to contact you. A contact number is great and all and so is an email address they can write too, but it’s 2019 and nobody wants to wait 24-72 hours for a reply or pick up the phone and engage in a conversation.
Social Media makes it easy for customers to contact you, be that they send you a tweet, slide into your DM’s or send you a Facebook message. We live in a social era and more and more customers prefer the quicker interaction Social Media brings.
That’s why we always recommend using chatbots, or AI-Powered chat bots built into your website. Chatbots can be set-up to answer most of the common questions you may be asked such as your opening times, returns policy, information on a product. It cut’s down a lot of time and most importantly, it replies instantly to your customers meaning they don’t need to wait around for information.
2) Build an award-winning team
This really applies if you have a physical store. Your product offering may just be the best damn thing since sliced bread, but if the person your customers are interacting with is not engaging, lacks-information or is even unpleasant to deal with, your customers will be driven away over time.
Training is very important, make sure your team knows your brand and its products inside out, ensure that the people on your team deliver professionalism, friendliness, efficiency as well as a personalised service. Make sure your team get to know your customers too.
Customers love great interaction, don’t see them as a customer, see them more as a friend, treat them with respect and you’ll have a customer for life.
Customers love to collaborate, whether that’s helping you to raise money for a local charity or even donating items for a local shelter.
Do great things with your customers, if they feel like they are doing a good deed, they will feel like they are doing great business with you.
Equally, customers love their 15 minutes of fame and this is where user-generated content comes in. If a customer sees their photo or review highlighted on your website, social media or even in your shop window chances are they will share this with their friends and family and then remember your brand.
If you sell photo frames, instead of having stock imagery in there, why not ask customers to donate photos for display frames, or even ask customers to provide photos of them using their products for galleries on your website and social media profiles.
Not only does it create a great rapport with your customers, but it also builds something really strong between you, your business and your customers and that’s a community.
Listening to your customers is also very important. But this isn’t just listening to them when they have a complaint. Listening requires multiple steps such as paying attention when they have feedback or a complaint and proactively asking them what they think about your brand, it’s products or the customer experience.
Sending surveys to customers are a great way to gather loads of feedback, it gives your customers the chance to help you improve as a business but it’s also a fantastic way to see how customers see you as a brand. Another way of doing this is by creating polls too.
If you show a customer you have listened to their feedback, they are more likely to keep coming back because they see you actually care and don’t just want to take their cash.
5) Assume they will not remember your business
A customer may have purchased from you once, but this does not mean they will remember your brand at all. There are probably hundreds of businesses doing the same thing as you which means you are constantly battling for attention.
Build an experience that will make your customers remember you, offer something that none of your competitors is offering - this leads us perfectly into our next point.
6) Stay in front of your customers' eyes
Staying in front of your customers' eyes is very important. Yes, having a presence on social media is great but your customers will follow many other brands, have pages they like, groups they are a part of and friends and family so their timelines will be content-filled all the time.
Building great digital campaigns that ensure your brand and its products or services are always visible to the customer is important in making sure your customer remembers you.
For example, when you browse on Amazon and then head off to another site, you’ll most likely see an ad served by Amazon and this will either be a generic ad or product specific. This is called retargeting.
Retargeting is a great way to not only build repeat customers but also capture abandoned sales. You should always have abandoned basket emails set up to nudge your customers back to your product.
It’s also important to keep in touch with your customers, be that via social media, newsletters or even printed materials posted through doors. If your brand is always in front of customers, then you’ll quickly improve your brand awareness and customers will keep flocking back.
7) Keep relevant
The world is changing so quickly around us and so are shopping habits. Give your customers a reason to keep shopping with you. Make sure you are always honing and improving your offerings and remember to show existing customers what’s new.
Changes to your business and general updates are a great reason to interact with your customer base, so, make sure you are always reviewing new practices and see how you can make this work for you and your business.
Keeping your brand, it’s offerings and the customer experience relevant is crucial in keeping existing clients because as soon as something more on-trend comes along, you can bet those repeat customer sales will begin to decline.
8) Show your appreciation
Customers are people, people love rewards and recognition. This can be done many ways;
- Sending a thank-you note after they purchase
- Sending a thank-you note or email after a customer purchases shows the customer that you actually are thankful for their business. It also gives you a chance to offer more information about the product and give some tips for getting the most bang for their buck. This creates a strong relationship between you and your customers because it brings in a personal touch.
- Sending a discount voucher to use on their next purchase
- A sure fired way to get repeat business is to thank your customer for purchasing by rewarding them with a discount off their next purchase, you’ll often see this with fashion retailers who will send you 10% off your next order.
- Rewards for repeat business & referrals
- Loyalty cards are also a great way to build repeat business, think about Starbucks when you use your card more and more, you rack up points which can be redeemed for a free drink. Think about how you can adapt this to your business, if you serve coffee maybe you could have a stamp card, for every qualifying coffee they receive a stamp and once they collect 10, they get a free coffee up to a certain price point.
- Exclusive invites to a product launch/first to buy experience
- A sure fired-way to launch a new product with a bang is to hold a “press-event” where you invite exclusive people and local press who get a glimpse of the product before it launches to the general public. By inviting repeat customers to these events, you create such a strong connection with them that they become loyal and engaged customers. It also gives them the chance to buy the product before anyone else, which in turn creates bragging rights and helps to promote your product to a wider audience.
- Sending birthday cards
- Everyone has a birthday, these happen every year, but you don’t need us to tell you that. By sending your customer a birthday card via email, or even in the post is a great way to show your customer that you care about them. You could even go one step further and include an exclusive birthday gift in there, which could be something for free or discount off their next purchase.
So in conclusion, don’t just focus on winning new business, focus on maintaining repeat business too, don’t see your customers as customers, recognise them as people and build a community. Invest in your staff and invest time in your customers.
If you solely trade online, take a customer-first approach to everything you do. Make sure you utilise all the tools available to you from newsletters and social media to user tracking and analytics. Don’t just take a sale, build a connection after that sale. Remain at the forefront of your customers' minds.
Taking the time to truly getting to know your customers makes the world of difference. It improves your chances of building loyal customers and loyal customers are your brand advocates. Those are the customers that will post about their purchase on their social media and happily brag about you to their friends and family.
Originally published 2019; updated 2021