A study conducted by Marketing Metrics showed that the average probability of selling your product or service to a new prospect was 5-20%. If that sounds impressive, consider this – the probability of selling to an existing customer is a whopping 60-70%. Customer loyalty is not just a buzzword – it is the ultimate channel to get new business at the lowest cost.
A number of businesses, in their quest to build a sustainable business model, put too much focus on new customer acquisition. The rationale here is that if your business has mastered the strategy to win new customers, then it becomes sustaiable. While this is definitely a good strategy to adopt, business owners must also remember that a higher rate of repeat customers spikes up the average customer lifetime value. This eases your current margins and gives a higher leeway for experimenting with new marketing strategies. Here are some tips to help you boost your number of repeat customers.
Have an attractive membership model
We all buy razor blades now, don’t we? Although most people have their favorite brands that they keep going back to out of habit, as a retailer, you may not have much control over which shop your customer buys their razor from. The Dollar Shave Club changed the rules of the game by launching a membership model – by subscribing to a monthly fee, you get access to new blades every month. As it is with any other razor brand, the customer still retains their loyalty to the same blade manufacturer. However, from a retailer’s perspective, this model provides the business owner with a loyalty that is not unlike anything else. Today, there are ‘subscription boxes’ for almost everything under the sun – from beverages to pet supplies, baby products and even hot sauces.
If you are in the service business, the equivalent strategy is to move to a retainer model. Popular in the legal and PR industries, a retainer is basically a monthly subscription-like agreement where the provider agrees to perform a set number of tasks each month.
Follow up with customer
One of the easiest ways to get repeat customers is by reaching out to them when they need replenishment. Let us say you help clients file their tax returns. In this industry, your clients typically need your service once every year. One way to ensure repeat business is by calling up your client around the time of the year and reminding them about their tax returns. By doing this, you not only ensure that clients do not miss out on filing tax returns, but also enhance the likelihood of being hired again.
Follow up with customers is an effective tactic that is used across several industries. Remember the email you got from your insurance provider about the time your insurance was about to expire? That is an effective nudge to customers to make a repeat purchase. According to Solution Reach, a vast majority of patients miss their appointments simply because they forgot. Setting up an appointment reminder system in hospitals was seen to immediately reduce missed appointments by as much as 80-100%.
This is a strategy that is often used by pizza chains to force repeat purchase. Customers who order pizzas are often provided with discount vouchers that they can make use of while ordering the next time (often within a short expiry time). Pizzas fall in the ‘convenience’ food category and many times, the pizzas from the various competitors do not taste very different from each other. By providing discount vouchers with every purchase, these pizza chains not only force a repeat purchase within a short period, but also keep the customer away from rival outlets.
Offer the best customer service
A study published by Bain & Company showed that a customer is four times more likely to defect to a competitor due to a service related problem compared to price or product related issues. Customer service is one of the most important aspects of running a business and mastering this area could really help with improving repeat purchases.
Zappos is an online retailer that is extremely popular for being a customer service oriented company. A study conducted by Chris Malone, the author of The Human Brand found that nearly 75% of the company’s daily sales come from repeat customers.
Reward repeat buyers
Simply put, human beings love to be appreciated. If you are benefiting from a customer who purchases from you instead of your competitor, then rewarding them for the act helps them stay loyal with your business further. Besides this, rewarding loyal customers also pushes your other customers to be loyal. There are a number of ways to reward repeat purchases and discounts for second-time buyers is just one of them. Other ways to do it are by providing loyalty points that they may redeem in cash or kind and sending out thank-you postcards and seasons’ greetings to customers. The point is not to monetarily reward them for making a purchase. Instead, it is to send out an appreciation from your end and this is alone sufficient to make a personal touch and nudge them towards becoming a loyal customer.
The points above are just a few select strategies that are popularly used by businesses to trigger repeat purchases. If you are a small business that is already running on wafer thin margins, you may tend to believe that such marketing strategies might cut into your profits further. After all, even making a phone call to dozens of previous customers costs time and money that not everyone can afford to.
In such cases, remember that one of the best ways to secure a customer for life is by establishing a personal connect with them. Customers tend to buy from businesses who they trust and have an emotional connect to. By filling this need, you can cater to the most basic human instinct and ensure that customers stick with you through your highs and lows.