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Repeat Business: 7 Ways to Keep Your Customers Coming Back

Sean Peek
Sean Peek

Follow these tips to make your customers want to return to your store.

It's incredibly difficult to earn a sale from a customer. Depending on the industry you're in and the price point of your products, it could take weeks or months to encourage a customer to do business with your brand. Even if you're in the retail industry where impulse buys are the norm, the first purchase is always the hardest to get. By retargeting and encouraging repeat business, you can grow your bottom line without significantly increasing marketing and advertising expenses. Some ways to earn repeat business include starting a loyalty program, offering personalized customer service, giving out coupons for future use and offering freebies.

What is repeat business and why is it important?

Repeat business is when a customer shops with your company repeatedly. In the best-case scenarios, these customers become loyal supporters of the brand and shop with you regularly over time.

According to Constant Contact, repeat business is so important because:

  • Businesses thrive with customer retention: One of the top reasons repeat business is important is that most businesses are built with the help of loyal customers who shop with them regularly.
  • Word-of-mouth promotion: Loyal customers will often promote your business for free. Once a customer has found a company that they love and frequent, they become far more likely to promote the business to their families, friends and social media followers.
  • More money: Customers are more likely to spend more money at businesses they feel they can trust and rely on.
  • Eager customers: Repeat customers are often easier to sell new products and services Given that they already trust your brand, it is much easier to sell them on new products and services you are offering.
  • New customer costs: Another benefit of repeat business is that new customers cost more to acquire, especially if you're trying to get them to the same loyalty level as existing ones.

Bottom LineBottom Line: Repeat business is a term used to describe when customers shop with your company repeatedly.

7 simple strategies to nurture repeat business

There are hundreds of ways to generate repeat business, but if you're looking for quick, simple and effective, the following seven strategies will serve you well.

1. Start a loyalty program.

One of the classic ways to encourage repeat business is to start a loyalty program. You can get as complex as you want, but simple is usually the most effective. All you need to do is gather a customer's information, give them a special account number or card, and then start rewarding them when they make a second purchase or reach a certain dollar limit. Not only do loyalty programs encourage repeat purchase behavior, but they also tend to increase the average transaction size.

Here are some tips for an effective loyalty program:

  • Make sure to have special offers exclusively for members of your loyalty program.
  • Offer special rewards for members who refer customers to your business.
  • Make use of a bonus point campaign.
  • Organize a prize draw for loyalty program members.
  • Make sure loyalty members are given top priority.

2. Offer personalized customer service.

These days, people are accustomed to being treated as nothing more than customers. You walk into your local big-box retail store, and nobody knows that you've been there 100 times before. Don't treat your customers like this if you want their repeat business. The level of customer service you provide during a customer's visit to your store will dictate their view of you. Another great method of personalizing service is sending personalized email marketing, which is targeting an email campaign to a specific subscriber based on the data that you already have about them. Personalized service with lots of attention goes a long way toward building positive rapport (and repeat business).

3. Give out future-use coupons.

A lot of customers come to a particular store looking for one item. If they find that item, they purchase it and then don't have much of a reason to return. You can capture these people and encourage repeat business by offering them future-use coupons.

For example, for every $50 purchase in your store, you could offer a coupon for 10% off that can be applied to a future purchase. This gives them a reason to return when they otherwise might not have had one.

TipTip: If a customer is using your store’s website, it would also be helpful to include online coupon codes that can be applied at checkout. This can encourage customers to return to see what other potential coupons they could use online.

4. Get customers' contact info.

It should be your goal to get some contact information from every customer who walks through your doors. With contact information – such as name, phone number, email address and mailing address – you can reach out to customers in the future, and make them aware of sales and deals. This allows you to engage them on your terms, not just when they decide to shop with you. This will also help to build a relationship with your customers. [Add a top text message marketing service to your marketing arsenal to stay engaged with customers.]

5. Offer some freebies.

The key to driving repeat business is to stay on top of your customers' minds. Once they leave your store, you have to make them remember you. This is why companies invest so much in free promotional materials.

"Those gimmicky pens and calendars really do work," says Linda Hamburger, a marketing consultant for On Call PR. "Lay in a supply of gifts that you can hand out to special folks as a way of showing that you value their patronage. Even an affordable pen with your logo on it can feel like a gift if it's given judiciously to a select few buyers."

6. Offer customers the opportunity to provide feedback.

Providing feedback opportunities will make your customers feel heard and as though they are more than just another number. There are many different methods available for getting feedback, but one of the most common is the use of anonymous surveys. When looking for feedback, it is important to ask for it often. Make sure you provide the opportunity for customers to leave reviews across multiple platforms.

7. Maintain an active social media presence.

Social media is uniquely valuable in developing a personality for your brand. It also helps to keep your business top of mind. Creative, eye-catching social media posts not only garner attention for your business, but also provide your current customers with material to point to when recommending you to other people. Video content is especially helpful in showing the behind-the-scenes work that you do in order to keep your business running smoothly.

Keep them coming back for more

According to the book Leading on the Edge of Chaos, a 2% increase in customer retention has the same effect on a company's profits as cutting costs by 10%. Think about that for a minute. By retaining just 2% more of your customer base, you'd essentially be doing the same thing as cutting costs by 10%. That's huge.

Additionally, the more times a customer comes back and has a positive experience purchasing a product from you, the more likely it is that they'll return in the future and tell their friends.

To earn repeat business, you need to make sure you're doing the right things. The techniques in this article are a great place to start.

Image Credit: imtmphoto/Shutterstock
Sean Peek
Sean Peek
business.com Contributing Writer
Sean Peek has written more than 100 B2B-focused articles on various subjects including business technology, marketing and business finance. In addition to researching trends, reviewing products and writing articles that help small business owners, Sean runs a content marketing agency that creates high-quality editorial content for both B2B and B2C businesses.