Act! Blog

10 Techniques to Build Customer Loyalty

You’re wondering how to get customers to buy from you on a regular basis but you’re not sure how to get started? In this article, we’ve compiled the 10 best techniques to keep customers coming back to your business and reduce your churn rate.

Technique #1: Deliver an excellent experience from the get-go. Like a first date, your business gets only one chance to make a first impression. In the digital world, those impressions are created online, whether through your company website, social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter, or ratings on hubs such as Google and Amazon. Ensuring prospects come away with a favorable impression is critical to building brand loyalty, even if they don’t make a purchase the first time (or even the first few times).

Technique #2: Craft the post-purchase experience. A single purchase is never “one and done.” To drive repeat business from current customers, it’s important to understand as much as you can about them so you can craft effective follow-up communications. You can send a survey to gain customer feedback, suggest a product or service related to the one they purchased, or perhaps offer free shipping or a discount on the next order. Determine follow-up touch points and when and how to engage.

Technique #3: Deliver what you promise. Customer satisfaction is about much more than the sale. When you go above and beyond, even in a small way, new buyers often turn into repeat customers. For instance, adding a small product sample to an existing order not only makes the customer feel like they received more than they paid for, it may also entice them to try a new product next time. Of course, it’s more important to ensure customers receive the actual product or service they were promised. If things fall short, make it right by delivering great customer service experience quickly and without a hassle.

Technique #4: Personalize communication. This typically requires you to segment your marketing lists to avoid sending generic spam-like messages or worse, advertising a product or service a customer already purchased. A marketing automation platform can help you easily segment your customers into relevant categories based on demographics, purchase history, and other factors. Then you can follow up with communication and offers that are more compelling and relevant. You also need to determine a follow-up schedule of offers, emails, and phone calls to ensure you stay engaged.

Technique #5: Encourage happy customers to talk about you. In the digital marketplace, testimonials and word-of-mouth are everything. This is why a well-crafted voice of the customer (VOC) strategy is essential. Not only does a VOC strategy provide a way for customers and prospects to post questions and answers, they can also access ratings and reviews about your company. It’s especially important to give happy customers a place to talk about your company with other customers and prospects in your community. Online reviews and customer referrals are no longer optional — they are critical in today’s all-digital sales environment.

Technique #6: Continually refine customer communications based on feedback. It’s not enough to just enable online reviews. You need a way to effectively respond to valid feedback — good or bad. Is a reviewer complaining about poor customer support, a rude associate, or a product defect? Or has someone offered a glowing, detailed review about a recent purchase? Be sure to track responses to determine what’s working and how to improve the customer experience. Sending verified customers a personal note can also be an effective way to improve customer retention.

Technique #7: Enhance the customer experience with different types of touchpoints. If you primarily rely on email to communicate with customers, have you considered a different way of reaching out? For instance, you can enhance the in-store experience with product demos, free samples, or mobile checkout to expedite the purchase process. For eCommerce customers, you could send a post-purchase thank-you card with a discount code for future purchases, which also helps to personalize the experience. The overall goal is not just to drive awareness and sales, but to create an engaging customer relationship that makes them want to come back.

Technique #8: Customize the journey. A customer journey includes all of the experiences customers have as they go through each interaction with your brand, products, and services. As you know, not all customers are the same, and some are more valuable to your business than others. How can you identify and segment customers in a way that allows you to give them the most value from your brand, while also building their sense of loyalty? Marketing automation enables you to segment by criteria such as type of audience, where they are in their customer journey, which products or services they are most interested in, and their demographics such as geography, age, income level, and more. Using this explicit data, you can target content most likely to engage customers across every stage of their journey so they enjoy the most relevant and personalized experience.

Technique #9: Consider different payment plans and payment options. Depending on your business model, customized payment plans based on monthly or annual subscriptions may entice customers to stick with your company instead of switching to a competitor. For some businesses, allowing customers to pay in installments for a high-priced item or service, such as a summer wedding event, can also help retain customers. While some companies may not want to finance customer purchases, installment plans can help certain types of businesses stay afloat during slower times of the year. For instance, some local farms offer community supported agriculture (CSA) boxes, which are weekly offerings of local produce that customers pay for up front each season. By enticing customers to pay at the beginning of the season, farmers have a more reliable income stream during that period and customers know they will get first pick of the crop.

Technique #10: Reward customer loyalty. Of course, the most obvious way to retain customers is through customer loyalty programs. When customers have so many choices today, a rewards program with concrete perks not only shows your appreciation, it delivers benefits that give customers more incentive to stick around. To be successful, loyalty programs should be easy, cost-effective, and convenient to use. Don’t make customers jump through hoops to reap their rewards. For instance, if you offer a “buy 9, get the 10th free” offer on your website, automatically populate the cart with the discount (or at least make the discount code easy to find and use). There’s nothing more annoying for customers than to realize a simple glitch prevented them from redeeming their perk. In addition to convenience, make sure your loyalty program reflects their interests and purchase history. Don’t tease them with a “free” offer of something they’ve already purchased. Ultimately, if you show your customers how much you appreciate their patronage, they’re more likely to reward you with repeat business.

Ready to take the next step on your customer loyalty journey? Find out how Act! can help. Sign up for a free 14-day trial to see how our unified CRM and marketing automation platform can work for you.