Getting new customers is essential to any successful business strategy. Sometimes, however, we get so focused on attracting new customers, that we forget to nurture those who have already shown an interest. So while you’re looking for ways to grow your reach, you should also be looking for ways to keep those you’ve already reached coming back. Read on to find out why customer retention is so important, as well as the actions you can take to keep your customers happy and willingly coming back for more.
Why Keep Customers Coming Back?
Once visitors become customers, they have crossed an important threshold. They’ve indicated that they trust you (and your products/services) enough to put money on the line. Even if it’s just a dollar, the difference between a visitor and a paying customer is enormous. Below are just some of the many reasons to invest in keeping your customers coming back.
A customer who knows you is more receptive to promotions you offer. Since they have already purchased from you before, they know that your products and services can make their lives easier.
Not only will your existing customers be more likely to engage in your promotions, but they will also share your promotion with potential first-time buyers.
Customers who bought an entry-level product from you are much more likely to upgrade to a bigger package or tier. As with promotions, they’ve already seen that you bring value to their lives, so the resistance for upgrading is much smaller than the initial purchase. You’ve started to build more trust, so a returning customer will have fewer objections to a higher tier, where you provide more value at a higher price.
Longtime customers can become brand evangelists for your company. Think about the last time you had a truly exceptional experience with a company. You probably shared that experience with someone else you thought could benefit from the company, especially if you had a positive experience time after time.
Customers who are loyal to your company sing your praises so you don’t have to. They are like a team of individual marketers, making your business look good, without your asking them. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Now that you know some of the benefits of returning customers, what strategies can you implement to encourage them to keep coming back?
For all this to work, you want to make sure you are focused on the long term. This post isn’t about how to “lure” customers in, then trick them into coming back; it’s about building relationships.
While you are ultimately in business to make money, you can still establish mutually beneficial relationships with your customers. To do that, you’ll need to create a trustworthy environment (a secure and reliable website, for example), then provide a reliable and rewarding product or service.
If you keep the process simple, secure, stress-free, and predictable, customers will want to come back. It will be easier for them to come to you for their needs rather than risking a bad experience with another, unknown company.
The best strategy is to ensure that customers enjoy their stay in the first place. The longer they stay, the more likely they’ll be ready to return soon.
For a brick and mortar location, you’ll want to create a pleasant environment and memorable experience. Make sure your team knows how to show customers that they are important.
For your website, the same principles apply. Your site should be easy to navigate, providing useful information and a frustration-free experience. Try to answer the most common questions your customers have, and make that information easy to find.
Whether you want customers to return for more shopping, to receive service, or to get information, you want to make that return as easy as possible. Be sure that your communication is quick. Prompt phone or email responses make a big difference with customers. It shows that they are a priority.
You should also provide 1-on-1 support when possible. Consider adding a chat feature to provide immediate access for questions or comments. These strategies are more time/energy intensive, but that contact builds relationships.
You don’t just want customers or clients. You want to build a community. Customers can stay in your database or email list for ages without engaging. They are like window shoppers who never really commit to your product or services. A community interacts with you and other customers.
To give your customers a reason to actually stay active, use engagement initiatives to promote interaction and loyalty. You can try rewards systems, punch cards, points systems, etc.
Promotions and seasonal offers also help keep you top of mind when your customers might otherwise forget your value (check out our Holiday Marketing Ideas eBook for ideas). When you have the chance to host an event or contest, do so. They provide an excellent opportunity to motivate customers to re-engage with your company. Just be sure that you continue providing information and value, not just a chance to win something.
If you really want customers to keep coming back to your website or location, you need to know why they’re customers in the first place. Since this is different for every industry and business, reach out to get feedback.
Find out what your customers love and what they would like to see improve. Then do more of what they want and less of what they don’t. You’ll enhance their experience, and they will appreciate that you listened.
We’re all busy, and sometimes we just forget about the stuff we enjoy. So stay in touch with your customers via social media, email marketing, and retargeting ads. You might feel like you are overloading customers, but if you adhere to email best practices and are giving them more of what they love, they will appreciate the reminder.
Loyalty programs are effective, but they are even better when you can make them specific to individuals. If you have particularly loyal customers, for example, offer them exclusive discounts or send them a freebie they’ll remember. Be sure to let them know why you’re rewarding them too.
Even if it’s just between you and the customer, building solid relationships benefits your business environment and atmosphere. Plus, they are sure to talk about it with their friends and colleagues, and a strong testimonial from your ideal client is the gift that keeps on giving.
With all the outreach tools available today, it’s easy to focus on building a newer, larger audience. Just don’t forget that your current customers have already shown you that they are interested in what you offer. If you implement just a few of these strategies, you’ll be well on your way to nurturing a loyal fan base that grows itself.