Did you know, it costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one? Showing existing customers some love will improve their lifetime value and will maximise return on your marketing spend. So, while you need to continue your new customer acquisition strategies, it’s vital to improve your customer retention rates, too.
There are lots of ways to improve customer retention rates – and they’re all very simple tips and tricks to help each customer to feel like a valued individual. Nobody wants to deal with a company where they feel ignored or unnecessary – so every touch point needs to be a valuable interaction. You can also deploy strategies to improve loyalty with simple print marketing techniques…
1. Use Customer Loyalty Cards
The first, and perhaps most obvious, way to improve customer loyalty is to introduce a loyalty scheme. This concept works particularly well with service based businesses, such as restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, or even handymen.
A loyalty card that allows customers to collect stamps is a great way to improve repeat custom. As the logic of reciprocity states: people are more likely to give if they expect something in return. So, if they like their coffee, but could get a free one every now and then, it makes sense to them to remain loyal to claim their prize.
2. Offer Personalised Discounts
Discounts and promotions are, of course, a popular marketing strategy to attract new customers and encourage repeat custom.
However, personalised discounts are those which hit home with your customers: they’ll feel more valued as an individual. This relationship-building tactic is what creates trust, the most important ingredient to customer retention (and the all-important word-of-mouth referral to their friends and families, too).
You could, for example, post flyers to customers in your local area with an offer based on their location. Or you could offer an exclusive freebie or discount when customers visit their local branch, in order to help to drive footfall to that store.
3. Encourage Repeat Custom With Vouchers
Whether you’re a shop or a B2B service provider, you should consider the idea of repeat custom vouchers. These work on a ‘buy now, redeem later’ concept, and are particularly effective for products or services that are related to the initial purchase (again, it’s all about personalisation).
For example, a marketing agency could send a voucher in their client welcome pack. If the client has purchased three months of social media content, the voucher could be for a free report, or a discount on a Facebook bundle which is redeemable in three months’ time.
Doing this creates a cycle of repeat custom without impacting your margin in the same way finding new customers in the same timeframe would.
4. Provide More Than The Product
People love, love, love to think they’re getting their money’s worth. “I’m going to spend over the odds and be happy with awful service,” said nobody ever.
Offering services or knowledge beyond your product or service does two things:
1) It helps show your industry authority by showing your knowledge and insights; and
2) It encourages people to continue to engage with you even when they’re not in a buy stage of the customer lifecycle.
Research has shown that companies with at least ten touch points with customers per year increased sales by 300%. All it takes is an extra email here, a blog there – and a little something extra every now and then.
For example, consider commissioning a report on your industry sector. When you’ve established the results and a whitepaper is created, instead of just sending it out via email consider printing a booklet with the results.
Sending your customers a physical object out of the blue is more likely to help them think positively of you: they’ve received something valuable and interesting, for free! This, once again, helps to build that relationship of trust that’s oh-so-important to customer loyalty and retention.
5. Say Thank You
If your business is small enough, or you want to single out particularly invested customers, a handwritten thank you card goes a long way to establishing loyalty.
In fact, a note of thanks and recognition of the customer as an individual is more effective in customer retention rates than a clear-cut loyalty programme.
After sending a personalised thank you note, or even a birthday card to your valued customer, follow up with them. Consider asking for a testimonial – now’s a great time to do it, as they’ll be receptive to your brand following the surprise gesture.
Provide something in return to cinch the testimonial deal, such as a future discount or promotion of their business on your social media channels. You can then use these testimonials on all of your online and printed sales media – because people like to buy from companies where the customers are just like them.
6. Personalise Direct Mail
In fact, 70% of people like receiving mail that offers rewards for loyalty. Think about what you could do with a simple product brochure or catalogue sent to all of your customers, which includes a compliment slip or a personalised voucher for a specific product based on their purchase history.
When Should You Start A Customer Loyalty Programme?
The answer here is simple: from the moment a customer purchases from you, sign them up. Pre-registration for a customer loyalty programme is the fastest and most assured way to encourage repeat custom.
It’s called the Endowed Progress Effect: if your customer doesn’t have to do anything in order to start receiving rewards, they’ll perceive your business as easy and pleasant to deal with, and enjoy the bonus of loyalty rewards to feel part of the club. The easier it is for a customer to join a loyalty programme, the more likely you’ll gain their repeat custom.
So as soon as you sell them a coffee, give them a loyalty card with two free stamps to get them on their way to their next free beverage.