A first-time customer making an isolated purchase is great. It allows you to expand your footprint and temporarily increase revenue. However, a first-time customer that ultimately becomes a loyal, repeat customer is far better.
How to Encourage Repeat Business
Customer acquisition is a necessary component of any business – especially a startup or company that’s trying to aggressively scale up – but to make it the primary focus of revenue and growth is a major mistake.
“It initially makes sense that we spend more time and money on acquisition as opposed to retention. Acquiring new customers is critical to business growth—but it comes at a high cost,” entrepreneur Savino Longo warns. These expenses include things like outbound marketing (advertising, direct mail, cold calling), inbound marketing (SEO, social media, blogging), formal sales funnels, and event marketing.
Once you get past the initial formation of a core group of customers, it’s far more cost-effective to focus your energy on customer retention. Research from Harvard Business School shows that even a 5 percent increase in customer retention can lead to a 25 to 95 percent lift in profits.
The issue most businesses struggle with is encouraging first-time buyers to become loyal, repeat customers. While it can be challenging, here are some practical tips to encourage you:
Implement a Loyalty Program
While they can be complicated to launch and manage, loyalty programs are popular for a reason. In addition to building rapport with customers, they actually encourage repeat business by incentivizing people to make purchases.
Tiered loyalty programs work best, hooking into the basic human response to reward reinforcement based on input. If you’re going to launch a loyalty program, make sure you research the different models and choose one that compliments your style of business (as well as specific revenue goals).
Offer Incentives for Future Purchases
When someone makes a purchase, you have the opportunity to invite them back for more. A lot of businesses find success in printing incentives directly on the receipt. You’ll see this a lot at fast food restaurants, where they’ll say something like, “Bring this code in and get $2 off your next meal.”
Advertise a Future Sale
Sometimes the simplest strategies work best. While you can certainly launch a sophisticated loyalty program and use it to encourage repeat business, this isn’t always necessary. Retailers, for example, often use much more straightforward approaches.
If you run a brick and mortar retail business, you might consider printing some flyers and sticking them in customers’ bags – or attaching them to receipts – to advertise an upcoming sale (ideally one that occurs within the next 3-10 days).
Sell Complementery Products
While some businesses want to encourage repeat purchases of the same product, this isn’t always the target objective. Another strategy is to sell complementary products that get the customer to return and make additional, related purchases.
There are lots of different examples of complementary goods. For example, if you sell TVs, you might also sell DVD players, HDMI cables, sound bars, and gaming systems. If you sell razors, complimentary products would include replacement cartridges, shaving cream, and aftershave.
Develop Better One-on-One Relationships
It’s not just the product that draws people to a particular business. People are also attracted to good customer service and will offer their loyalty to companies that offer value on this front. If you want to encourage first-timers to become repeat buyers, invest in stronger one-on-one relationships between salespeople and customers.
Adding it All Up
At the end of the day, encouraging repeat business from customers is all about conveying value. From the first impression to the quality of the product, everything you do for your customers should show them there’s value in working with you. If you’re having trouble conveying value, then it’s time to go back to the drawing board.