Newsflash! Customer retention is more important than customer acquisition. In layman’s terms, repeat business matters more than new business.
As a business owner, you may be thinking how that makes sense. After all, your goal is to grow your business and get your name out there, right?
You might find shifting your focus to repeat customers instead of new ones completely counterintuitive. You want to expand your customer base, not limit yourself to a small, segmented audience.
And you’re not wrong.
You should absolutely pull all the stops when it comes growing your business.
Instead of pouring most of your resources into strategies and gimmicks to chase down new customers, you should devote just as much — if not more — time to selling to your current customers.
I’m here to tell you why:
A repeat customer is cheaper than a new customer.
Here’s a fast fact: it costs anywhere from 5 to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. And the effort it takes to get that new customer to reach the spending level of a loyal client costs 16 times more.
What do these numbers mean for your business, you ask?
If you’re a small business, you might be frittering away a huge chunk of your marketing budget on finding ways to entice new customers when in fact, increased profitability hinges on the customers you already have.
You might be spending a ton of money running ads or full-blown campaigns to get the attention of new people when it’s a lot cheaper to target customers that have already bought from your store.
All it takes is offering them a special discount code or send them an email to tell them that you miss them, and that can do the job to get them to come back.
Even if you do manage to pull in new potential customers, the success rate of selling them is only at 5 to 20%, while the probability of selling to existing customers clocks in at 60 to 70%. That’s a huge difference!
If your primary focus is to generate more revenue, look towards your existing customer base.
Repeat customers double as your marketing vehicles.
Four words: WORD OF MOUTH ADVERTISING.
It’s the best kind of advertising a business could ever hope for, whether you’re a small online operation or a massive conglomerate.
See, repeat customers serve as your walking advertisements.
Think about it; if a customer consistently buys your product or uses your service, then that must only mean one thing — they already trust your brand. They have instilled their faith in your business, and that’s the biggest reason why they keep coming back for more.
With that being said, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that they would be raving about your brand to their friends and family. They would double as your ambassadors, influencing the people they know about your product. The more they buy from you, the more likely they are to refer you to people they know.
A study conducted by Bain & Company found that just after a single purchase, a shopper is likely to make three to four referrals. But when they reach their 10th purchase, the same customer can yield 10 to 13 referrals. That’s a whole lot of referrals if you ask me.
And well, don’t you just love the feeling of receiving referrals? Doesn’t it feel great that your existing customers advocate for your brand because of how pleased they are with what you’re providing them?
By building a community of happy and loyal customers, you won’t have to worry about hiring and paying influencers to promote your business. Your customers will already do it for you — even without you asking them to.
One of the best ways to express your gratitude towards loyal customers for promoting your brand is by granting them rewards. A huge proponent of this system is Glossier, an Instagram-born beauty brand who’s successfully built a cult following both online and offline.
The run a representative program in which they tap into their most loyal customers and give them ambassadorship. This elite group is then given first dibs on new products, and each member is provided with their own page which they are encouraged to promote to other people. When someone purchases a product of their page, the rep gets a commission or store credit.
Here’s one of Glossier’s ambassadors showcasing their products
Glossier also runs an exciting rewards system for all of their customers.
Each customer gets a referral link that they can send to anyone they choose, and they earn $10 store credit when someone uses their link to make a purchase. The recipient gets an even bigger discount — 20 percent off. It’s a win-win situation for both parties and a bigger win for the brand.
Glossier also offers a referral program for their customers
Have you thought about creating a referral program yourself? Bloggers and influencers are great, however, you can start with your existing customers by building a referral program.
Here are some referral software companies that can help:
- Ambassador claims to be the world’s #1 all-in-one referral software, you build affiliate marketing, partner marketing, influencer marketing, and advocacy marketing campaigns that work best for your business.
- ReferralCandy allows you to build a referral program no matter what size your business is.
- Invitebox offers a fuss-free way to incorporate a referral program to your business. You just have to copy and paste a widget into your website and it takes care of the rest.
Repeat customers are likely to spend more
Customers are more likely to spend more money on a business they’re already familiar with. Just how much? 67 percent!
The same Bain & Company study asserted that loyal customers are also more likely to expand their purchasing, meaning they’re the part of your audience that has the biggest potential to buy your new products or try your new services.
Since these customers have established trust in your business, they are now less anxious to try what else you have to offer. It would make more sense for you to make these people the target of your marketing efforts (for new products, at least) rather than people who have never interacted with your brand.
Clothing brand Urban Outfitters does a great job in making the members of their VIP program feel valued.
They often offer exclusive discounts to their members. This gesture doubles as a token of gratitude because it shows how much you appreciate doing business with them.
Urban Outfitters offer their VIP members more reason to buy
If you already have a rewards program in place, you can boost its engagement by sending engaging newsletters to existing members. It’s not enough that you grant your customers access to a rewards system without encouraging them to actually use it.
Every now and then, you can send rewards members an email containing their points balance to remind them what they have earned so far, how much more they need to spend to redeem rewards, and a glimpse of the items or services they can enjoy when they earn enough points.
Sephora also knows how to take care of their customers to get repeat sales
Your customers are more likely to come back to your store and make another purchase if you remind them of your brand and your loyalty program.
Other tried and tested tactics include sending birthday rewards to show them that you care and motivational emails that will get them to rack up more points faster. There’s nothing that will drive a customer to purchase more than the prospect of getting something exciting in return.
Here’s one from Starbucks
There is now a plethora of loyalty rewards software designed for ecommerce that you can use to boost customer retention. Here are the top ones you may want to consider:
- Smile.io offers multiple customer retention tools that you can use for your business. They have a points program for rewards and perks, a VIP program for exclusive memberships, and a referral program for encouraging customers to be brand advocates.
- LoyaltyLion helps you drive repeat purchases by setting up a rewards system. It also features an analytics tool that allows you to identify your most loyal customers and those at risk of leaving.
- Swell is an incentive-based marketing platform that allows you to develop highly-customized rewards campaigns to drive more sales. You can build tiered loyalty programs, referral channels, tailor-made redemption systems, and more.
Repeat customers are less price-sensitive
Long-time customers also tend to be less price sensitive. If they trust your business, they’re less likely to raise concerns about the price changes you eventually have to make.
This means that you have to continue producing top-notch products and provide unparalleled customer service. You have to maintain customer satisfaction throughout your relationship with them so they won’t look elsewhere should you feel the need to increase your prices at some point. You continually have to prove that the premium price the customer is paying worth every penny and that they’re always rewarded with great experiences.
Repeat customers can be worth 18 times more than the average customer
A study conducted by RJ Metrics found that your top customers have the most long-term value. The longer they engage in business with you, the more they tend to spend. In fact, the top 1% of your most loyal customers will spend more than the lower 50% combined, and this statistic reverberates across all industries.
There’s no doubt about it: if you take care of your repeat customers, they will take care of you.
Repeat customers are more willing to offer valuable feedback
A repeat customer already knows the ins and outs of dealing with your brand and is therefore in a better position to provide consumer feedback.
They know what works and what doesn’t. They can tell you the precise reasons why they keep coming back, and inversely, they can also tell you which parts of your business might shun new customers away.
They can help you pinpoint which exact aspects of your operation (on the customer-facing side) needs further tweaking, and what you could potentially do to improve it.
Your repeat customers are valuable sources for actionable customer insights, so make it a point to let them know that you treasure their opinion.
Show tracking app TV Time has previously asked their users to try their new beta app and to complete surveys, and in return, the company offered them a free subscription to their VIP program.
TV Time get feedback from their customers to help them improve their service
To get your customers to provide feedback, make sure that you remind them why you need their response in the first place.
Citibank’s newsletter for their customers to get their feedback
This newsletter from Citibank is a great example because it reminds customers that their feedback is used to improve their overall experience. It doesn’t require the user to exit their email to answer the survey. They just need to choose from the numbered choices.
For a more in-depth survey, we suggest using Typeform or Google Form. Make sure that your customers receive something in exchange for their time and effort – even if it is a thank you email or a discount code for their next order.
This call for feedback from The Muse is effective in enticing customers to take the survey because it makes them eligible to win a special prize.
Repeat customers help you create better products
By implementing surveys and feedback forms as I mentioned above, you will be able to create better products, services, and solutions for your customers.
Monitor what repeat customers do and you’ll get an idea of what products or services they purchase the most. Ask them directly of what they expect to see from your business in the future.
Google runs an Opinion Rewards program where they pay users in exchange for answering short surveys. Of course, it’s not necessary that you offer something monetary to your customers; you can always reward them by offering discounts or first dibs on new products. They’re a big part of the reason why those products exist, anyway.
Google Opinion Rewards give back to their users to help them improve their service/products better
Make no mistake, customer acquisition is still important. But if you want to build a more profitable business, the secret is to leveraging your repeat customers.
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