When I think of loyal customers, what comes to mind is the renowned Cheers theme song, “Sometimes you want to go/Where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came.” Now if only we could all have loyal customers like Cliff Clavin and Norm Peterson at our businesses every day.
What resonates with this song is that “the experience” is as important for customers as it is for your business. There is a tremendous value to fostering great relationships, providing excellent customer service, and building and maintaining loyal customers.
Why are loyal customers so integral to businesses? Studies show that loyal customers outspend others by a 13:1 ratio. In addition, Fred Reichheld – author of The Loyalty Effect – discovered that a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-100% increase in profit for your company.
As with most things in life it comes down to who you know and strong relationships. The reality is that many daily deals have dissolved relationships, thereby creating fragmented loyal customers.
The following are some ways to mend those relationships and build your base of loyal customers to help your business grow.
- Create Loyalty
According to studies, there are 2.1 billion loyalty memberships in the United States.
Implement a loyalty program that targets your specific audience and can capture analytics. Maximize your relationship with your present customers by inviting them to use your business at least one more time per month. Use traditional punch cards, a mobile app, or a Point of Sale (POS) System that incorporates a built-in loyalty tool.
Keep it simple and consistent by building the program and letting it grow and making tweaks along the way. Pick something applicable to your business type and communicate clearly about what your customers can expect the program. Research indicates 81% of loyalty member were not aware of the program benefits or details of how they will receive rewards.
- Offer Incentives
Bring your customers back with an incentive. This should be determined based on your audience and can be as simple as a percentage of their next purchase. You can also have fun and engage your customers by offering a game for them to play. Be sure there is at least a 25% chance of winning and what your customers are purchasing are reasonable.
Consider forming a partnership with another company – such as a product vendor – to provide deals for both businesses and your customer(s). This is a win-win situation for both companies and your customers, and shows your customers that you identify with their needs and wants.
- Award Your Customers
Provide your customers something they need and that they can take home. Give a small gift and make it special. Perhaps it is a bottle of lotion or other skin care product presented in a gift bag with tissue paper and a simple hand-written “Thank You” gift tag.
- Provide Great Service
There’s an old adage, “If we don’t take care of our customers, someone else will.” Always provide great experience and fabulous service to your customers, whether they are new or existing ones. Taking extra steps to make sure your customers feel valued and appreciated can go a long way.
- Say Thank You
Show your customers you appreciate them. A “thank you” goes a long way. It shouldn’t be saved for drumming up business when times are tough. It should be part of your culture and daily business practice. Send out a thank-you letter, postcard or email customers who use your services. Include social media as well such as posting a customer “shout out” photo – with their permission of course – on your company’s Facebook page. Or simply, post a “thank-you” image and include a message thanking all of your customers for their business.
- Keep In Touch
Stay connected with your customers through email. Be consistent, but not overwhelming. Research shows 69% of United States email users unsubscribe from a business or non-profit email because the organization sends too many emails.
So how frequently should you email you customers? Once a week or at least twice monthly is a good rule of thumb. It can be effective and creates a balance of avoiding falling off your customer’s radar and bombarding them. Keep content interesting and vary your email communication. This can range from a thank-you email and eblasts with special offers to a monthly e-newsletter. If possible, segment your audience so that you can target email communication to them. For customers who visit your business, send them a follow-up thank-you email. For those who haven’t been in for awhile, send them a targeted incentive to bring them back.
As with any marketing approach, devise a strategy that works best for you and your audience based on what you want to send through email and other communication channels.
- Bring In the New
Loyal customers are not just your current ones. You can also build loyalty with new customers – and in particular new residents. New residents in your area are a group of potential customers like no other you have approached before. These customers are actively seeking out businesses and retail venues to provide them with services and products to fill their daily needs. The best part is that you don’t have to look far. Research shows that 75 percent of your customers and prospects are only 10 minutes away from your business location.
According to studies, new movers spend more on average in their first six months than a typical consumer does in three years, totaling nearly $170 billion every year. Since families who move are five times more likely to become loyal than the average, established consumer, new residents are an extremely valuable audience and a source of long-term revenues.
Creating loyal customers out of new residents can boost your business with additional profit to rapidly grow your business or simply add dollars to your pocket.
- Customer ROI
You get what you pay for. Loyal customers will give you more in return in the end. On average your current customers spend 67% more than a new one.
Since they also are good referral sources, create incentives for customer referrals. These can range from, but are not limited to, discounts or a giveaway item or even a contest drawing. Be sure to vary incentives to keep it interested for your top-referring customers. This can also be applied to employees who refer customers. As with any marketing feature, incorporate this into to your communications plan to promote to your audiences via your website, emails, marketing pieces and direct mailings, receipts and even on signage placed prominently at your location.
As you prepare to build loyal clients and grow your business, remember to have a strategic plan. Identify your audience; determine what you want to implement and when; assign the appropriate employees to help out; and even assemble a mini focus group. Seek suggestions from your staff as well as family, friends and other business associates in terms of what works well for them and what they like and dislike when it comes to incentives, loyalty programs, etc.
With some effort, creativity and coordinated planning, you’ll be on your way to establishing a maintaining a loyalty marketing program that will benefit your business and customers for years to come.
Welcomemat Services is a franchise brand based in Atlanta GA, offering franchise opportunities to individuals throughout the United States.