You’ve opened your online store, spent hours and a good deal of money marketing the shop to potential customers and the orders are starting to come in.
As any successful entrepreneur will tell you, however, getting the customer just once is not enough. To see your business truly grow and thrive, you need repeat customers who will return and bring their friends and family with them.
Getting those repeat customers is not always easy though. You have to not only get it right the first time but also give them a reason to come back again. However, by implementing the following six suggestions, you can increase the chances that repeat business will be the backbone of your profits, as well as build a solid online reputation.
Learn From the Best
Ask anyone to name a company that provides great customer service, and certain names will be mentioned constantly: Southwest, Disney, Nordstrom, among others. A commitment to keeping customers happy is what sets these companies apart. Although you might not have the resources to replicate what the big names do, you can still learn from them. Study their business models and take the pieces that work for you, such as personalized recommendations, quick responses to problems and going beyond expectations to surprise customers.
Keep Things Fresh
Has your site been the same since you launched it two years ago? Do you offer the same products or the same content, month after month? If you do, you could be pushing customers away. By nature, humans want to see things that are new and exciting, so you need to treat your website as if it were a living and evolving entity. Keep it fresh by adding new graphics, featuring different products, and adding a blog to inform and entertain your customers. Include testimonials, ideas and instructions on your site to generate further interest.
Consider the Little Things
Often, it’s the small things that can bring a customer back, such as handwritten thank-you notes on packing slips, pre-printed shipping labels in case a return is necessary or even a follow-up call or email to confirm everything was satisfactory. Let your customers know that they are valuable to you and that you appreciate them.
Have a Rewards Program in Place
These days, almost everyone has some sort of loyal customer rewards program. Whether you offer a discount after a certain purchase threshold is met, a free product after a certain number of purchases or some other reward, such as free shipping or giftwrapping, doing so will keep your customers coming back.
Offer Referral Bonuses
Repeat customers are important to your business – and so are referrals. When you make your existing customers happy, they will tell others about your business, spreading positive word-of-mouth. Offer your customers some type of bonus or perk as thanks for referring others. You might give them a one-time discount or free shipping for each new customer they refer, for example.
Build a Community
One reason some brands are successful is that they build a community of loyal customers. Use social media, include a message board on your site and find ways to connect your customers to one another so that they can share their thoughts, ideas and their love for your company. For example, many online craft retailers let customers share their projects on the site, highlighting the supplies they purchased from the shop. Another option is to create a Pinterest board, where customers can add their own projects using your products to inspire others — and boost your sales.
Keeping your customers happy and coming back is an art, and you need to devote as much time to customer retention as you do to attracting new customers. By some estimates, it costs between $25 and $75 to attract a new customer; you don’t want to waste that money by driving the customer away with poor service or products. The time that you take to nurture your existing customers will pay you back fully as you watch your business take off.
Author Bio:- Small-business consultant and blogger Angela Lee has helped dozens of online businesses grow their customer bases, as well as their incomes, through ways such as pre-printed shipping labels and the previously stated examples above.