How to Build a Loyal Customer Base

The costs of acquiring customers is skyrocketing. One estimate pegs the increase at almost 50 percent in five years, and 40 percent of salespeople say that getting a response from prospects is much harder than it was two to three years ago. The solution? Try to keep the customers you have. In fact, another study underscores customer lifetime values—showing that more than 60 percent of revenue comes from repeat customers.

As business owners consider their progress in Q1 and cement their strategies for the remainder of 2019, the time has come to focus on customer service with a strategy for marketing to your best customers. If you consider that the “customer retention definition” is inspiring existing customers to buy more and more often, here are four strategies that can help in customer retention.

1. Understand what your customers want

You can do a deep dive through various touch points to find out where you can improve—whether it’s creating a more intuitive checkout process or a faster load time on your website. Good customer service means paying attention to the little things, like letting customers adjust the frequency of email marketing, which can make them feel like they are being listened to—and keeps them from opting out altogether.

There are a number of strategies for customer retention that will allow you to collect data about customer preferences, from online or paper surveys, to scouring product and store reviews and studying web analytics to find out what brought them to your site. One of the good and time-tested ways to seek customer feedback? Just ask! You can give your employees tips for how to start customer conversations and then reward associates for sharing these valuable insights as a strategy for marketing.

2. Tempt them with something new

Every customer feels content to know their fave items are always available. But sometimes they want to branch out—whether it’s a new specialty coffee drink or brand of lipstick—and you don’t want them defecting to a competitor to find it. Use in-store signage, social media and email marketing as a customer service tool to try to keep them apprised of new products…maybe even offering a discount to get them to sample something fresh. Who knows—it may just become the new staple they rave about.

3. Find ways to increase customer loyalty

More customer loyalty equals higher potential customer lifetime values. Not only are loyal customers more apt to be repeat users of your product or service, but they are likely to tell a friend—bringing you crucial referral traffic. In order to help cultivate a stronger relationship with the customer, you can create loyalty programs that help you identify your most loyal (and lucrative) candidates and offer them special perks—from a special customer evening to swag, whatever might resonate best with your audience. Try to make it easy to become a member by offering various formats for your loyalty program, whether they want to carry a card, use an app or store their information in your system.

4. Personalize their experience

Consider this the gentle art of “upsell” as you build your relationship with the customer. Personal recommendations help customers feel they have been heard and understood—and that can translate into a closer relationship with the customer. In fact, one study found that 44 percent said they were more likely to become repeat customers after a personalized shopping experience and nearly half bought something they hadn’t planned due to a recommendation.

Depending on the size of your company, one smart strategy for marketing to customers is a “customer relationship management” system. What is customer relationship management? It can be as high-tech as software that reminds you when and what to offer a customer, all the way to a simple planner that you use to jot preferences and notes from past discussions as a way to remind yourself when it’s time to reach back out.

Whatever strategy for customer retention you use, you’ll find it’s well worth the effort for increased customer loyalty.


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