5 Ways to Generate Repeat, Loyal Customers
by Ellen Williams, Regional Development Director, Constant Contact
New customers are great, but what's even better is repeat customers. They become your business's cheerleaders that drive new customers your way, sing your praises, and buy from you again and again. Here are five things you can do to create loyal customers.
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As a small business person, I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how important repeat, loyal customers are to your success. Turning one-time shoppers into loyal fans and business advocates can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Not only will you be generating their business again and again, but these loyal customers are likely to refer and spread the word about your business to their like-minded friends. This equals more new customers that you can then turn into loyal fans—and so the cycle continues. But just how do you accomplish this? Well the foundation is providing a great product or service, with a positive customer experience. But there are specific activities you can do, that can further bolster your likelihood of creating true business advocates. Here are a few key ones:
1. Create an email newsletter
This probably isn’t the first time you’ve gotten the advice to start an email newsletter. There’s a reason for that — newsletters work. With a regularly scheduled newsletter, you have the chance to stay top-of-mind with the people who already know your business. It’s effective because you’re reaching them in the place they’re already going everyday — the inbox. People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. By sending a newsletter with helpful information and advice, you’ll have a chance to build the loyalty and trust you need to keep customers and clients coming back, and avoid losing them to the competition.
2. Request feedback
When done right, asking for feedback can be exactly what you need to keep people engaged and interested in your products and services. One of the ways you can use a survey, is to get people interested in something new you have coming up. For example, a retail business may send a survey to gauge interest around a new line of products before introducing them at their store. By involving your audience in the planning process, you’ll have a higher response rate when you’re finally ready to promote the new items. You can also send a survey, designed to improve the effectiveness of your other marketing efforts. Based on the results, they can come up with special offers on services to help address common problems, or create content and share it with fans and followers on social media channels.
3. Try a Facebook social media promotion
If you’re already using sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest to promote your business, you know how valuable they can be for staying in-touch with your audience. But when it comes to turning those online interactions into new business — that’s when things get a little tricky. One of the ways you can do that is to run a special promotion, targeted at engaging your audience and getting them to take action. Separate from your everyday scheduled posts, these promotions are designed to give your audience something they can act on right away.
4. Host an event
With so much attention spent on what you can do online, it’s easy to overlook the offline component of your marketing efforts. Hosting an event, gives you the chance to take all of the hard work you’re doing online, and turn it into meaningful face-to-face interactions. This is a great opportunity to meet your fans in-person if you don’t have a physical location where they can visit you. For a retail store, the event could be something as simple as a monthly sale. But you can also use events as a way to offer training and build loyalty through education. For example, a restaurant might host free cooking classes, or a book store might invite authors to do live speaking engagements.
You can also use this as an opportunity to encourage attendees to sign-up for your newsletter to receive updates about future events.
5. Create a share-worthy offer
Creating a share-worthy offer starts with understanding the needs of your audience, and coming up with something based on those needs to help you reach your goals.
Consider these three questions when creating your offer:
- What does your most loyal customer want or need?
- What type of incentive has inspired this customer to take action in the past?
- What is it about your business that would make this person want to refer you to a friend?
By focusing on these questions first, you’ll have a better chance of getting people to pay attention and act on the offers you send out, because you’ll be giving them something that they are interested in.
Putting it all together…
Whether you’re trying to attract new customers or build relationships with current customers — all of the tools you’re using to market your business need to work together. Create a plan to bring new customers back again and again, and get the helpful information you need to succeed!
Related article: Win back lost customers
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Ellen Williams, Constant Contact Regional Development Director, New York and Southern Connecticut
Ellen has over 20 years of technology and marketing experience and has presented to over 4,000 small businesses, nonprofits, and associations. Her advice on best practices help organizations understand how to build great customer relationships that inevitable grow their businesses.