Small businesses who spend all their time and efforts on acquisition are missing out on the most valuable part of ecommerce. That’s because, whether you believe it or not, turning your past sales into loyal, repeat customers are much more valuable to your business than simply getting more one-time shoppers.
Using small business customer retention strategies to take your existing customer base and turn them into long-term members of your brand community can make or break your long-term success. If this concept is new to you, or if you’ve already started building your retention playbook, here are three of the best ways to start turning your own existing customers into loyal, repeat ones.
Build relationships with a loyalty program
It’s becoming more clear to businesses big and small that consumers buy with their emotions from the brands that create communities built on joy, trust, and belonging for them. When customers feel like products are being pushed on them it comes across as inauthentic and corporate, and no brand is going to win or keep customers with that tactic.
Rather than using traditional ads to point customers back to your store, implementing a rewards program will start turning shoppers into engaged members of your brand community. It might sound too good to be true, but loyalty programs are based on psychological principles that have stood the test of time. The science shows that it works. How does it work though? The feel-good action of earning points nudges your members’ brains to do it again and again, forming habits of engagement. When they know they can interact with your brand and get something valuable out of it, you can make your brand part of your customers’ everyday lives.
When you’re seen as more than just another ecommerce store, you don’t have to keep acquiring expensive new customers. Instead, your loyal, existing ones can contribute more than their share of your bottom line
Win back long lost shoppers with win-back campaigns
You already have a database of all your past customers who have opted into your marketing communications, so why just let those relationships go cold in the days, weeks, months after a sale? Instead of just sending the same old promo emails and crossing your fingers, create a special win-back email campaign designed to get them back to your store. The best thing you can do in this email is to show off your brand’s personality, and remind them why they bought from your store in the first place. There’s a reason they were captivated enough by your brand to make that initial purchase, and getting that reason back in front of them can be a huge motivator to bring them back.
To get value out of a win-back campaign, customers need to also feel like they aren’t just receiving an automated email. Making it feel personalized will reinforce the sense of community that they will want to keep being part of. One great way to make that happen is by including product recommendations in the emails. Even if they aren’t tailored to the individual, they can appear to be and reinforce that personalized feeling. At the same time, to really multiply the impact of a win-back campaign, you can run a bonus points campaign if you have a loyalty program already to make it even more worth their while to come back. Once customers are enticed into earning points, it creates a switching barrier, using the power of FOMO, to keep them from losing their points, and motivates them to earn enough to cash in for one of your great rewards. Whether you go with a simple campaign or a personalized, bonus points one, emails that remind customers why they loved you in the first place are bound to bring them back for more.
Create content that matters to your repeat customers
If you want to start using strategies that not only help you win back customers but also makes sure that they never go far enough to need winning back, value-add marketing is the way to go. Not only are you likely doing some of it already, but there are endless examples of ways to do it for any type of business.
What is value-add marketing though? It’s simply anything you do that goes beyond customer expectations. That seems vague, but that’s because there are so many ways you can provide value! Before you can add value, first you have to find out what your customers actually find valuable, and tailor what you do to what speaks to them. No two customer bases are the same, so figuring out how to speak in ways that resonate with your target customers is vitally important to creating an experience that keeps them coming back. Creating more of the blogs, videos, newsletters, and social media that your existing customers already find valuable will keep them coming back to your brand when they aren’t yet ready to make a purchase. There are other less obvious ways to provide value that can be just as or even more beneficial than traditional methods, like prominently displaying testimonials, improving product photography, or sending push notifications.
When customers are eventually ready to buy again, you’ll already be top of mind because they’ve been coming to you for other things in the meantime. Being a brand that they find value in apart from your products solidifies your relationship with customers, motivating them to engage with your brand any chance they get.
Don’t miss out on your most valuable customers
While there are lots of ways to engage with your customers after acquiring them, the engagement itself shouldn’t be the end goal. Moving customers from acquisition through engagement and ultimately retaining them is the only way to put your hard-earned marketing efforts to work for you to enable long-term success. With a wide variety of value-adding marketing content, perfectly personalized win-back emails, and a loyalty-building rewards program, you’ll be well on your way to turning all your past sales into repeat customers that not only purchase from you, but love being part of your brand community while they’re at it.
Tim Peckover is a Growth and Content Marketer at Smile.io who lives for a good book, strong cup of coffee, and building community.
Smile.io provides easy-to-use loyalty programs to help businesses transform one-time sales into repeat, loyal customers.