Politics and Business

How to Guarantee a Return Customer | Business Owners Share Their Tested Advice

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The world’s most successful brands are adored by millions of loyal customers, people who will always line up for the next product release and eagerly wait to buy. This is the dream for every small business owner, and return customers are valued from the start.

Of course, ensuring repeat business from customers is never a guarantee, especially in competitive online marketplaces. Still, these business owners had some interesting input on the subject and offered some tips to keep customers coming back.

Incentive to Return

Sure, the products are great and the experience is smooth, but beyond that, what is compelling customers to return to your business? These days, it takes some more incentive.

“A great strategy that we like to use to create a larger community of buyers, is to offer incentives to purchase our products again,” said Lo Bosworth, CEO and Founder of Love Wellness. “After the purchasing process and the delivery process, our consumers will receive a few personalized emails disclosing a private promotional code for a discount on their next purchase. Once a customer purchases their first product, they are a qualified lead each time they visit our website. If you can lock those consumers into purchasing again, they are considered an even more qualified lead, and the cycle continues.”

Use all the tactics at your disposal to incentivize repeat customers, especially through digital marketing channels.

Lifeblood of the Business

It’s helpful to recognize just how much customer loyalty impacts your business. Run the numbers and try to determine the revenue you can lose or gain just by earning or losing repeat customers.

“Return customers are extremely important to your company’s bottom line, plus there’s not a huge monetary investment, meaning that your ROI is fantastic,” said Travis Killian, Owner and CEO of Everlasting Comfort. “To guarantee that a customer purchases from you again, provide a customer experience that is unparalleled, and train every employee you have on how to provide it. From securing the lead to making the conversion, be prepared to answer any questions in deep detail, and help them remember why they chose your company and your product line in the first place.”

When you can identify the factors that earn repeat business, then you can double down on those strategies and generate more loyalty.

Service vs Selling

There is a time and place for selling customers on new products, just as there’s a time to provide support and service. Know the difference and master both sides of the equation.

“Is your business managing loyalty and retention in exactly the wrong way?” said Author and Speaker Anne C. Graham. “Don’t focus on selling when you should focus on service. And don’t focus on service when you should be concerned with selling.”

You can track analytics to see how customers behave on their site based on intent, so use that data to your advantage.

Paid and Organic

Without a firm grip on digital marketing concepts and best practices, you’ll have a tough time keeping loyal customers in today’s competitive arena. Make this a priority if it isn’t yet.

“Have an understanding of paid advertising and SEO marketing,” said Tyler Boyd, CEO and Co-Founder of Squeeze. “Using both methods of marketing will ensure you are maximizing your outreach potential. You are gaining consumer tracking from your SEO work, and then you are securing your qualified leads by continuing your market tracking and subjecting them to these said advertisements.” 

Do it in-house or outsource, but don’t neglect any aspect of paid ads or SEO.

Showing You Care

Today’s customers have a keen sense of how much companies care about them, and this can be conveyed in many ways. It’s not always easy to do digitally, but you can get creative.

“Customer retention can stem from creating a personal relationship with your consumers,” said William Schumacher, CEO and Founder of Uprising Food. “I want to show each and every customer that buys from us that we, as a brand, genuinely care for their health and wellbeing. We have tried many strategies in an effort to make our company as personal as possible, one of those being sending a thank you email to everyone that buys from us. Along with that, I give them my personal email so they can discuss with me anything they’d like, whether it’s sending me a review or asking me questions about our product.”

Is there a way to make your customer experience more friendly and personable? Pick the right channels and connect on a human level.

Track Leads and Loyalty

The old-school method of remembering faces and names just doesn’t cut it anymore. If you don’t already have software to track and manage customer relationships, now is the time.

“To just simply have a relationship with your consumers is important,” said Tirzah Shirai, CEO and Founder of The Blink Bar. “Taking it one step further by tracking your relationship with both current customers and potential leads is an essential skill in modern day marketing. CRM software is a great tool for understanding your website traffic and your qualified leads. Not only does a CRM organization assist with adjusting marketing strategies, it also gives you the opportunity to excel in customer service with personalized client experiences.” 

It might seem impersonal to manage customers in a massive database, but it leads to much better outcomes for everyone.

Product Strategy

If products are selling as you expected, it might not be a problem with the item itself. Sometimes you need to revise how the product is sold to encourage loyalty.

“Proper Wild has found a lot of success through bulk sales,” said Vincent Bradley, CEO and Co-Founder of Proper Wild. “We introduced a subscription model alongside our bulk discount program, which lowers the price of our clean energy shots below the market standard. Not only are our subscription prices competitive, but they also ensure repeat customers by automating subsequent purchases. We’re expecting a couple million in sales from our online store, thanks in large part to our subscription program, although this does remain more of a supplement to our traditional brick-and-mortar retail efforts.” 

Switch up your product sales models and services to spark loyalty and boost sales.

Warm Tonality

It’s always tough to connect with customers over the phone, especially if they’re unhappy with their experience. This is where a lot of companies struggle to retain customers, and a new approach may be required.

“Those speaking to customers verbally need to really sell the company through their demeanors and in the tones of their voices,” said Ben Teicher, CEO of Healthy Directions. “Ideally a customer should speak to someone from the company who displays warmth, enthusiasm, and professionalism. With a healthy balance of all three of these key elements, customers will surely not have any issues contacting the company again if needed.”  

The company that can turn an unhappy customer into a repeat customer will have no problem speeding past the competition.

Irresistible Products

Some products will speak for themselves, and customers will simply return for more when they’ve run out. These are (healthy) addictions that customers are happy to indulge.

“I am strong in my belief that what keeps our customers coming back for more is our complete dedication and love for Sichuanese food,” said Jing Gao, CEO of Fly By Jing. “When you create something that has so much heart in it, people always notice. I spent years perfecting every detail of my product and researching the perfect flavors to make it all come together. Fly By Jing started as a pop-up dining experience where I shared my flavors in person with those who choose to attend. All the effort and care I put into what I do resonates with our consumers, and always keeps them coming back for more.”

Not every product needs replenishing, but there are creative ways to earn customer loyalty in all industries.

Beyond Satisfaction

A referral or a recommendation is a level up from customer loyalty, and that’s what every business should aim for through great service and customer satisfaction.

“Merely satisfying customers will not be enough to earn their loyalty,” said Rick Tate, Senior Managing Partner at Impact Achievement Group. “Instead, they must experience exceptional service worthy of their repeat business and referral. Understand the factors that drive this customer revolution.” 

Referral programs have also been shown to boost loyalty, so give them a try, too.

Wants and Needs

The most successful products aren’t the ones that are overly flashy and unnecessary. They are things that people need to be happy, healthy, productive, or any combination of those things.

“When you want to guarantee a return customer, be sure that you offer products that your customers NEED, and not what you WANT to sell them,” said Rachel Jones, Head of PR at Hope Health. “Too often, ecommerce sellers put together a product line that is the most profitable for their specific niche. However, if you’re not offering products that fulfill the needs of your customers, then you won’t be seeing any revenue. Look at your customers’ purchase patterns, and be sure to offer the options and features that will be of most benefit to them.”

If you’re struggling to sell online, it may be time to simplify your offerings and tap into more basic needs instead of wants.

Consistent and Direct

Today’s customers will visit sites, browse around, enjoy some content, and maybe even add products to their cart before bailing. If you can use this data to your advantage, capitalize on methods like remarketing and personalized ads.

“Do not underestimate the power of remarketing!” said Divya Gugnani, CEO and Co-Founder of Wander Beauty. “When your advertisement is consistently shown online, you are creating brand awareness. Consumers are more likely to go to your website or discuss your advertisement because they have seen it multiple times. The key to remarketing is to get a singular message out to your consumers consistently.” 

Privacy rules are changing fast with regard to these tactics, so be aware of policies and be ready to adjust if needed.

Know Why They Buy

It’s thrilling to watch sales roll in, but to maximize repeat business, you need to figure out the reason why customers shop with you and make sense of these patterns.

“Understanding why your customers are buying your products is a key factor in determining how you will continue to reach out to them to make more purchases,” said Brandon Kim, Co-Founder and Creative Strategy Head at Brevite. “If you are known for a specific product, it’s also a good idea to cater other product offerings with your main product in order to add value to what people are already interested in.”

Unlocking the meaning behind the data can be challenging, but so beneficial for your brand.

Make it Personal

While analytics can help you make sense of customer shopping patterns and enable some interesting strategies, there is also something to be said for good old-fashioned customer appreciation.

“At Nori, we’ve found that the best way to create a regular out of a first-time customer, is to genuinely engage with the customer,” said Annabel Love, Co-Founder and COO of Nori. “This can look like sending them a message after their purchase and thanking them for supporting your business, and maybe even include a unique discount code for their next purchase!” 

Earning repeat customers doesn’t have to be a science project if you’ve got good fundamentals.

Interactive Service

Many online businesses don’t have a brick-and-mortar presence nowadays, so they need to build personal connections with customers on social media and other channels.

“Customer service is something we take seriously at my company,” said Kaz Amor, Founder of VoCe Haircare. “Being interactive and engaging with your customers is exactly what it takes to keep them coming back. We do a lot of chatting with our customers via Instagram. It’s been a great way to hear out any requests or answer any questions regarding our products. Customer service deserves a seat at the executives table. Without outstanding customer service, businesses simply can’t survive.”

It might not be a substitute for real-life interaction, but digital engagement can do a lot for customer retention and overall success.

Custom Campaigns

Data and AI are driving so many decisions on the internet now, and you’re missing out on serious opportunities if you ignore this reality. Campaigns should be highly targeted when possible – try to avoid generic ads.

“Create display campaigns for potential consumers based on their search analytics,” said Joe Parenteau, CEO and Co-Founder of Fable. “Use social media and public relations to place your advertisement in a visible position. Having a presence online will catch your consumers’ attention either immediately or eventually; consumers are more likely to be considered qualified leads when they stop what they are doing to click on an advertisement.”

These custom campaigns don’t need to be elaborate, but well-placed and well-timed ads are definitely essential.

Sincere Appreciation

Many big companies struggle to personalize their messaging, despite having all the technology available to them. Small businesses have the advantage of being real and authentic.

“At Porto’s Bakery and Cafe, we’ve found that the best way to create a regular out of a first-time customer, is to genuinely engage with the customer,” said Raul Porto, Owner and President of Porto’s Bakery. “This can look like sending them a message after their purchase and thanking them for supporting your business, and maybe even include a unique coupon to receive a discount off their next purchase.” 

Think about what you’d like to hear from your favorite brand the next time you buy. What would make you feel good about your purchase?

Organic SEO Wins

Are you looking to take a break from paid ads and take a different angle? Funnel some of that money into organic SEO and give your website a strong foundation in search.

“By taking control of your search engine marketing tactics you are able to optimize your presence online without paying for advertisements to large online conglomerates,” said Michael Waxman, CEO and Co-Founder of Sundays for Dogs. “This is an organic way to gain interest leads based on their recent Google searches.”

All signs point to a future where organic SEO wins out, so don’t wait too long to get into the game.

Be an Expert

From product design to web development and customer service reps on the front lines, knowledge is power. The more everyone knows about your products and position in the market, the more that customers will be compelled to buy.

“Remember that when you’re dealing with customers, you’re representing the entire company,” said Chris Caouette, Co-Founder of Gorilla Bow. “Thus it’s crucial to show your expertise when interacting with your customers. If they have a question, answer it in full detail so that they feel confident in counting on the company for answers or assistance in the future. If you do not have enough information to fully assist your customers, they will not feel that the company is reliable or accountable.” 

There may not be a way to guarantee return customers, but there are certainly plenty of tactics and technologies you can deploy to increase your customer retention rate.

Remember these suggestions from business owners as you aim to earn those repeat customers and take your business to new heights. 

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