There’s a difference between generating leads, converting sales, and generating repeat business. The most successful business owners can do all three, but the latter deserves some more attention.
Perhaps the first question to ask is simple: Do you measure your repeat customers? Then, consider how successful you in creating loyal customers for your business. How many first-time buyers love what you do and end up coming back for more?
The secret to a successful long-term business is to create a raving base of supporters for your product or service. As Kevin Kelly said, all you need is 1,000 true fans who will buy from you time and time again.
But what’s the secret to doing that? How come some businesses are masterful at generating leads and converting sales but can’t get anyone to stick around?
Let’s look at some tips on how you can get more repeat business. And if you’re just starting off building your E-commerce store, start here.
When Should You Focus On Customer Retention?
First, when is it appropriate to focus on keeping customers? It’s a good question, and always a strong principle to start with why.
There are 3 cases when you should focus on building your long-time customer base:
- When you’re just starting. It may seem overwhelming to already be thinking about the next sale, but that’s what good businesses do. It’s also a good thought exercise to help you make the first customer experience memorable.
- When you’re gaining traction. Things are going well, so now you have some time to engage customers and encourage them to come back. Even starting with a strong email marketing campaign can make a huge difference for repeat customers.
- When things are going well. As the old adage goes, “If you aren’t growing, you’re dying”. Keep your foot on the pedal as you get sales, and don’t just settle for the fruits of your incoming new customers.
Now, let’s look at some specific ways to grow customer loyalty.
1. Build A Story Around Your Product
With the emergence of Amazon as the one-click empire of the buying world, it’s really hard for a business owner to compete with the convenience factor that big companies can offer.
However, there’s one thing that a smaller business can do that the large brands can’t always afford. Build a story around your product, and share why it’s so special to you and your customers. Millennials are proving more and more that brand matters less. What matters is the cause being supported or the story behind the product, and that’s a place you can capitalise on.
Think about it this way. You take the time to build a story behind your product. You share that it’s sentimental to your own life because “insert your story here”. You share how some of the proceeds go to help people in another country.
Then one day, someone is trying to decide where they’ll buy a product from. They have the option of a one-click purchase, which is admittedly very convenient. Then your story pops into their head. They know their money will do some good. What do they do?
Maybe they buy, maybe they don’t. But the ones who do are far more likely to come back if their customer experience is great and they’re able to help other people.
2. Give An A+ Customer Experience
This may seem like a given, but the truth is that the best customer retention model is to make their first experience (from lead generation to sale) seamless and enjoyable. People are more likely to buy again when their first interactions bring up warm, fuzzy feelings about you and your product.
You can gain customer service by thinking about the long game. As you build your sales funnel, consider where it might be appropriate (or advantageous) to get people to become ambassadors of your product or service.
For example, could you offer them a discount in the future if they share their favourite experience about your product on Facebook? They’re able to engage with their social network, spread the word about you, and save money down the line. The rare win-win-win for everyone.
Know Your Customer
One actionable piece of advice for improving customer experience is to know your customer, inside and out. What are their wants? What are their needs? Who are they? What keeps them up at night?
Here’s something you can do. Create a customer avatar— or profile– that details everything you need to know about your current ideal customer. Not only will this help you get clear about who you’re selling to, but it might also turn over some rocks that give you new ideas for how you’ll try to gain repeat customers.
3. Measure Everything
What gets measured gets managed. That’s as true when it comes to weight loss as it is to measuring customer loyalty. But how should you measure second, third, and lifelong buyers?
First, ground yourself in data and facts. Which of your most lucrative products sell the best? Which of your products typically lead to the most repeat customers? Don’t assume you know this information without digging through the numbers and getting clear about the truth.
Pinpoint common patterns and see if you can leverage those to engage people in new ways that get them to come back.
Finally, one very important tool you always have at your disposal is to ask. Ask questions and ask for feedback. Treat that information like you treat the data. When you go to the horse’s mouth, it often gives you a clearer picture of what is really going on with your ecommerce store.
4. Promote, Promote, Promote
The standard wisdom is that a person needs to see an ad seven times before they make a purchase. Apply the same logic to your repeat customers by being everywhere and promoting your service or product.
Always keep in mind that you need to promote in a fashion that’s appropriate to the platform you’re using. For example, it would be almost useless to your followers (and potentially harmful) to repost an audio clip with no links in it to Instagram. Instagram is a platform where people go to see pictures and click the “Link In Bio” callout.
Social media is also a great spot to give your repeat customers a way to show themselves. If someone really enjoys what you do, consider entering their names for a giveaway when they post themselves using your product or leave a review.
A good product solves a specific problem. A great business owner does a masterful job of educating their customers on why their product is the right one for their needs.
If you find that people aren’t buying more of your products, perhaps you should shift your approach from “selling” to one of education and connectedness. Do people know the logical step from their first purchase to another product you have?
For example, pretend you sell a home appliance. You also sell add-ons that elevate the experience of the original home appliance. Do people know you sell the add-ons? And more importantly, do they know the value that can come from them?
It’s your job as the business owner to educate people and give them a reason to take an initiative. Show them what they’re missing through education and you may find more people take an interest in coming back to you.
Gaining Repeat Business- Wrap-Up
The truth is, gaining repeat business is a pretty simple process. Like anything with your business, it requires intentional effort and a little know how. Maybe some “know-when”, too.
As you build your e-commerce store, keep the following tips in mind for gaining loyal customers that keep coming back:
Build a story around your product. Give people a reason to set convenience aside for what your product or service can offer.
Give people an A+ experience. The truth is, a second sale will never happen if the first one isn’t good. Always keep this in mind and constantly tweak and refine your customer experience. A customer avatar is a good exercise to get you started.
Measure everything. What gets measured gets managed, and customer loyalty is no exception. What gets managed can be improved.
Promote your stuff. Social media is the key these days. Be on it, respect each platform, and find new ways to get people to see your stuff.
Educate your customers. Perhaps your second sale is due to the simple fact that your customers don’t know what they’re missing. Sometimes good business leadership is about good, simple education.
Thanks for reading and good luck with your building. If you have any questions, here’s where you can get in touch.