As a local business owner, you know that customer retention is important. In fact, studies show that repeat customers spend 3x more than first-time customers and are 50% more likely to refer others to your business.
So - how do you turn that one-time sale into a lifetime relationship? Here are seven digital strategies you can use to keep your customers coming back.
1. Be Human
In order to establish lasting customer relationships, you have to be real. Customers can tell when they’re talking to a machine, and staying true to your business’s core values is the easiest way to make your online interactions more authentic and to boost your online reputation management in general.
For example, let’s say your business values community.
Humanize your team members by including their photos and bios on your website. Post a group photo from the previous year’s holiday party or share news of your newest hire on LinkedIn. Overall, take a step back from your role as business owner to interact with your customers as people, rather than potential sales opportunities.
A staggering 93% of shoppers say they prefer local and small retailers. Why? Because local businesses are thought to offer a higher level of care and, by extension, a better customer experience.
When 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for better service, investing in a positive customer experience is a no-brainer. While it may not seem as straightforward online, there are several ways you can leave your customers with a lasting positive impression, starting with your website. Your website needs to be accessible in terms of content, but more importantly, functionality. 70% of consumers say page loading speed impacts their buying decisions and overall experience. Take HubSpot’s advice and improve your page speed by compressing any images before uploading them to your site. Further, make customer service efficient and convenient by offering support via a chat tool on your website. Lastly, make positivity a priority on and offline by hiring a team that is genuinely interested in what your business does.
Establishing a connection with your customers has never been more important. With thousands of online businesses to choose from, it’s not just about getting your customer’s attention, it’s about keeping it.
Social media allows you to connect with your customers on both a personal and memorable level. If you like following your favorite brands and shops on Instagram, chances are your customers do too. Everybody loves a good shout out - motivate your customers to talk about your product by featuring their content on your Facebook page or Instagram story. Get creative and let your team members run your social media pages for a behind-the-scenes look into your business. Use your platform to highlight what people are willing to share organically and, most importantly, don’t forget to tag your business whenever possible.
80% of consumers are more likely to buy from a business that delivers a personalized experience, and we are talking about more than just addressing customers by name. Take, for example, Netflix. How many times have you started watching a movie simply because it was recommended for you? It’s this level of personalization that makes us feel valued and appreciated as consumers. Luckily, as a local business owner, you have the advantage of knowing your community personally.
Studies show that 57% of consumers will trade data for personalized offers. Take advantage of this with tools like Privy’s Spin-to-Win campaign, which gives customers a chance at 12 different discount codes in exchange for their email address. This personalized interaction not only incentivizes engagement with your website but encourages a future sale. And, as an added bonus, it’s pretty fun to use.
Lastly, give your business interactions that final personal touch by always thanking your customers. Enclose a handwritten note with each purchase or send an email recognizing their contribution. It’s a traditional yet effective method of making your customers feel appreciated.
5. Ask for Feedback
Don’t hesitate to ask your customers for feedback. For local businesses especially, asking for reviews can have a significant impact on customer loyalty and overall credibility.
A BrightLocal study found that 76% of people asked to leave reviews for local businesses do so.
Why does this matter? The answer is social proof. People want reassurance before making a purchase, big or small. When buying a car, who are you going to trust more: the dealership that claims to put the customer first, or Lisa, who just had an excellent, first-hand experience buying her dream car? Clearly, you’re going to trust Lisa, and your customers will too.
Reviews generate trust and you should always strive for more. While there are multiple strategies you can use to increase your review volume, some are more efficient than others. In 2018, a survey found that 71% of consumers never turn off their mobile devices. Utilize this audience and widen your outreach by asking for reviews via text. If you make it known that you actively care about customer feedback, you are more likely to lock in that repeat sale.
6.Respond to Reviews
Whether your reviews are positive or negative, your response matters to your customers.
Consistent review response leads to about 12% more reviews overall. Why? Because business is a two-way street. If a customer shares that they had an excellent experience at your business, take time to thank them. Tell them how much their support means to your team. Similarly, if someone shares that they had a negative experience, make an effort to fix it. When 97% of customers that read reviews also read the business’s response, it’s safe to say that your online presence is something customers not only look for but expect.
*If you want to know more about what review response can do for your business, check out this article on How to Respond to Positive and Negative Google Reviews.
What customers want to see, both in-person and online, is that your business practices what it preaches.
If you want to strengthen your relationship with your customers, you need to manage online reviews then hold your business accountable by listening and reacting to their feedback. While it’s not feasible to take every suggestion a customer makes, making a serious effort to keep your current customers happy will pay off in the end. Remember, it costs five times more to obtain a new customer than it does to keep a current one.
One helpful strategy you can use for your business is to track common review trends. This will not only give you concrete goals but also make your customers feel heard. Even instituting a small change based on reviews - perhaps something as simple as offering a gluten-free option at your sandwich shop - can lead to a stronger, lasting relationship with your customers.
Overall, relationships take work. If you are actively listening to your customers and trying to improve your business tactics, you have a better shot at gaining their loyalty long-term. Whether you have thousands of customers or a handful of neighborhood regulars, you can trust Widewail to help keep them coming back.