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Keep Them Coming Back: How to Cultivate a Base of Loyal Customers

lisa-kemberBy Lisa Kember

Turning one-time customers or clients into loyal fans and business advocates can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Not only will you be receiving their business again and again, but these loyal customers are likely to refer and spread the word about your business to their like-minded friends. This equals more new customers that you can then turn into loyal fans—and so the cycle continues.

But just how do you accomplish this? The foundation is providing a great product or service, with a positive customer experience—you need to have those key ingredients. But there are specific activities you can do that can further bolster your likelihood of creating true business advocates. Here are a few to implement for your business:

Ask for feedback at the right moments

When done correctly, asking for feedback can be exactly what you need to keep people engaged and interested in your products and services. One of the ways you can use a survey is to get people interested in something new you have coming up. For example, you might send a survey to gauge interest around a new line of executive giveaways before introducing them. By involving your audience in the planning process, you’ll have a higher response rate when you’re finally ready to promote the new items. You can also send a survey designed to improve the effectiveness of your other marketing efforts. Based on the results, you can come up with special offers on services to help address common problems, or create content and share it with fans and followers on social media channels.

Start an email newsletter

This probably isn’t the first time you’ve received the advice to start an email newsletter. There’s a reason for that — newsletters work. With a regularly scheduled newsletter, you have the chance to stay top-of-mind with the people who already know your business. It’s effective because you’re reaching them in the place they’re already going everyday — their inboxes. People do business with people that they know, like, and trust. By sending a newsletter with helpful information and advice, you’ll have a chance to build the loyalty and trust you need to keep customers and clients coming back, and avoid losing them to the competition.

Run a social media promotion

If you’re already using sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to promote your business, you know how valuable they can be for staying in touch with your audience. But when it comes to turning those online interactions into new business — that’s when things get a little tricky. One of the ways you can do that is to run a special promotion, targeted at engaging your audience and getting them to take action. Separate from your everyday scheduled posts, these promotions are designed to give your audience something they can act on right away.

Create an offer that people will share

Creating a share-worthy offer starts with understanding the needs of your audience, and coming up with something based on those needs to help you reach your goals.

Consider these questions when creating your offer: What does your most loyal customer want or need? What type of incentive has inspired this customer to take action in the past? What is it about your business that would make this person want to refer you to a friend?

By answering these questions first, you’ll have a better chance of getting people to pay attention and act on the offers you send out, because you’ll be giving them something that they are interested in.

Host an event

With so much attention spent on what you can do online, it’s easy to overlook the offline component of your marketing efforts. Hosting an event, gives you the chance to take all of the hard work you’re doing online, and turn it into meaningful face-to-face interactions. This is a great opportunity to meet your fans in-person if you don’t have a physical location where they can visit you. For a retail business, the event could be something as simple as a monthly sale. But you can also use events as a way to offer training and build loyalty through education. For example, you might host an event that offers your customer advice on brand consistency or invite one of your customers along to talk about how they use promotional goods to raise their brand awareness. You can also use this as an opportunity to encourage attendees to sign-up for your newsletter to receive updates about future events.

Whether you’re trying to attract new customers or build relationships with current customers — all of the tools you’re using to market your business need to work together. Create a plan to bring new customers back again and again, and get the helpful information you need to succeed!

Lisa Kember is the Regional Director for Constant Contact in Eastern Canada. She can be reached at [email protected]

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