Welcome back – – – – – . Um, I suddenly find myself lost and I have only just begun to write! Does anyone know what people who read blogs are referred to as?? I’m stumped so have omitted a tenuous, made up name in favour of a few dashes and will ask that if any of you lovely readers do know the answer whether you would be so kind as to let me know…please, pretty please.

Anyway, moving swiftly on. This week’s topic is the natural marketing route of progression for sales and aims to answer one of the big Qs in business – how to get repeat custom and keep it. It’s like the holy grail of selling and referred to in marketing as ‘customer retention’. The idea of returning customers is enough to excite any business owner as it will not only keep their customer acquisition costs down whilst putting their sales up but it also shows them that their product and service are in demand. The ultimate aspiration surely?

Let’s start with an easy one that everyone is capable of doing; creating an unforgettable experience that your customer will want to enjoy again and again. This is quite simply down to product and service, they have to be the best they can be…all of the time. Not only will this create more orders, and repeat ones at that, but the chances that your satisfied customers will tell their friends is quite high so you will also benefit from word of mouth marketing absolutely free.

*So now that you have them where you want them, how are you going to keep your customers. Well, there are a number of ways in which companies do this with much success and one of the most simple and cost effective methods is to offer money off the customer’s next purchase. You will find that most companies add this offer, usually by means of a flyer with a promotional code, in with the customer’s first order with the benefits being two fold. One, to remind them of you and your contact details by giving them something tangible that is branded and two, to save money on marketing by combining postage and packaging costs. This method is extremely popular but does benefit from having a time limit applied as more people are likely to take up an offer if they think they are going to miss out.

Another way to get customers to return is by offering a loyalty scheme. The basic principles of these don’t really vary very much and you can set your own parameters but make sure you make it worth their while.

Staying on schemes, you can also offer recommendation or introduction schemes. These work by your existing customers introducing a new customer, usually a friend, in turn for a voucher or special offer of some sort. When coupled with an introductory offer for the person being recommended and money off their ‘next’ order (see point one*) you are immediately doubling your chances of return customers and repeat sales.

You can also try asking for feedback and offering a thank you. By doing this you are gaining a valuable insight into how your customers perceive your business and product and whether they would change anything giving you building blocks for improvement. You will also gain more data on your customers and give yourself the opportunity to move onto something a little more complex…

…personalised promotion. This is often seen in the form of birthday promotions but can also work if you are in partnership with a company that offers products you think your customers will like based on the information they gave you in their feedback

And last but not least, and a very clever one if you ask me, is to use analytics to target offers based on items your customers have bought previously. As well as running promotions on their favourite products you can make suggestions of new products they may like thus ultimately increasing their selection and potentially their spend.

The next time you buy something take note of any additional offers the company make and use these to start forming a bank of ideas you can use towards your own marketing. Next week I think it’s only right that I talk about the top ten tactics used by companies to boost their sales and customers’ interest, see you then.

How to repeat business success

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