It’s no surprise that a top initiative for business owners is to obtain net new business on a regular basis. Growing your organization and expanding your market share depends on it. But, all too often, organizations focus so much on the instant gratification of selling to a new customer that they forget there’s an entirely separate customer population that deserves some major TLC—your existing consumer!
Customer retention is a key piece of the proverbial “healthy business pie” and neglecting this segment can keep you spinning your wheels in a constant motion of trying to find new clients and customers. Creating a loyal pool of consistent buyers ultimately will help you establish a solid consumer base making your organization that much more stable and desirable to that new clientele we’re always vying for. So, how do you do that?
Customer Retention Programs
There are several tactics to increase customer retention. Effective customer loyalty programs focus on increasing the frequency in which you consumer buys from you.
Examples of this would be:
- Punch cards: come to our yogurt shop 5 times, get your card punched, and receive your 6th yogurt on the house
- Referral programs: wave membership fees for one month for each successful referral
- Points systems: award points to customers for every purchase and have them redeemable once they reach a specified amount (for use on a future purchase or choose a free item worth a number of points like an arcade does with tickets)
- Coalition programs: partner with a complimentary business by offering co-branded promos (ex: buy running shoes from my store and get a free week membership at the local gym). Directing customers toward other services they’ll find helpful lets them know you not only understand their needs but also care about them in a more holistic fashion.
How to Increase Customer Loyalty
Customer loyalty and retention, although in the same vein, are very different. While customer retention focuses more on fostering repeat purchasing behavior, building and increasing customer loyalty aims to build the emotional relationship your customer has to your business and in turn making that work in your favor.
Instilling a strong sense of loyalty to your brand makes your customers not only consistent in their patronage, but also puts feet on the street advocating for your brand. Take note that this is not something that will happen overnight so don’t expect to have super fans by next Thursday. Cultivating strong customer loyalty will take a consistent effort on your part.
In order to create customer loyalty you need to understand your typical consumer and decide where you can be of the most value to them and let the rest happen organically.
Customer Loyalty Ideas
To increase customer loyalty and retention, begin thinking of various ways you can bring value to your customer other than your primary service or product.
Provide Value via Monthly Newsletters
Think in terms of blogging on topics your customer would find useful (and update then often) or send out monthly newsletters with the same type of info directly to their inbox. So, if you own an exotic fish store, you could develop a cheat sheet on caring for salt water fish versus fresh water fish or educate your audience on a new species about to hit the exotic fish market.
Don’t have a fish store? Share other useful information to your customers to keep your business at the top of their mind. Make sure to provide value when you’re sending out email newsletters. Helpful tips and tricks will go further with your audience than constant sales pitches. Stick to industry related info in line with the interests of your audience.
Make customers feel valued by responding and engaging with them on social media. If someone tweets or mentions your business on Twitter or Facebook, comment on their status or photos and thank them for their business! Connecting with your buyer through mediums they use in their personal life also helps to establish your business as a familiar voice and makes it more human and relatable. Check out these customer appreciation ideas for your business.
Use Consumer Generated Content
Engaging with your audience through Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter by reposting your customers’ content will generate a feeling of appreciation and recognition for your customer. People like to be in the spotlight every now and again. Using photos that customers have posted in your own marketing; like reposting a photo on Instagram, is a great idea to make people feel loved! If you regularly call attention to the customers keeping you in business you’ll inspire similar behavior out of those just familiarizing themselves with you.
Facebook and Instagram Contests
You can take this a step further and tie it to a Facebook contest to get more consumer generated content and increase customer loyalty simultaneously. Engaging with customers through social media giveaways and contests increases the frequency that they’re interacting with your brand and adds some flavor to your marketing mix making you a company that’s fun to do business with!
Activities like these don’t take much of your time but go far in the way of building customer loyalty and increasing customer retention. Invest in your current customer, say thank you for shopping with us, and do your best to make them feel like you’re really hoping they’ll come back!