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Repeat Business: 5 Ways to Keep Your Customers Coming Back

business.com editorial staff
business.com editorial staff

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

  • Repeat business is a term used to describe when customers shop with your company repeatedly.
  • Some ways to earn repeat business include starting a loyalty program, offering personalized customer service, giving out coupons for future use and offering freebies.
  • Experts assert that a 2% increase in customer retention is equivalent to cutting costs by 10%. 

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.

What is repeat business and why is it important?

Also known as customer retention, according to Business Dictionary, 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.

In terms of why repeat business is important, according to Constant Contact, some of the reasons are as follows:

  • 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: Another reason repeat business is important is that loyal customers 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 followings.

  • More money: A great benefit of repeat business is that it allows you to make more money. Customers are more likely to spend more money at businesses they feel they can trust and rely on.

  • Eager customers: Additionally, repeat customers are often easier to sell new products and services to as well. 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. Studies have shown that it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, and it costs 16 times more to bring new customers to the level of spending of your current ones.

5 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 five 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.

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. 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.

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.

5. Offer some freebies.

The key to driving repeat business is to stay on the 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."

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
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