More customers mean more sales, and an eventual increase in your profitability. But many business owners are so focused on going after fresh clients that they neglect the ones they’ve already managed to attract. Given that it typically costs five times more to acquire a new customer than it does to hang on to a current one, it can be well worth your while to explore the enormous income potential offered by previous buyers.
Why Return Customers Are So Valuable
Not only can reconnecting with former customers give your sales a welcome boost when you need it, they can be instrumental in adding to your bottom line on a regular basis. Why? Because research shows that while customers who only shop with you once have a 27% chance of making a second purchase, someone who has purchased from your company multiple times has a 59% chance of returning.
If you can entice return customers back to your business, there’s a better than good chance they’ll become regular, repeat buyers. So, let’s take a look at how you can reestablish contact with previous customers and convert them into long-term clientele.
Reconnecting with Previous Buyers
Even if your business doesn’t actively pursue customer loyalty with the help of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, you can often find lost or inactive clients hidden away in archived emails or lying dormant in your data base or filing system.
In many cases, these will be single-transaction customers who made a purchase and vanished - but you may also stumble across repeat buyers you haven’t heard from in a while. Here’s a simple plan for reaching out and reconnecting with them.
Segment Your Inactive Buyers
Comb through your records and create a targeted contact list of customers who haven’t bought from you recently. Depending on your normal sales volume, that might mean separating out clients who’ve been inactive over the past month, or over the past year. Either way, the key is to compile as much information as you can about what, when, why, and how those customers purchased from you in the past.
Find Out Why They Disappeared
Clients come and go for a variety of reasons, so it's up to you to figure out what those reasons are and defuse them. Some common explanations for why buyers disappear include:
- dissatisfaction with their purchase,
- poor treatment by sales or service personnel,
- discovery of a more attractive deal or offer somewhere else, and
- lack of appropriate customer follow-up
Despite our best efforts, many first-time buyers will simply remain one-off clients. But it’s always worth pushing for that second sale because return customers are more than twice as likely to buy from your company a third time – and so on down the purchasing cycle.
Personalize Your Contact Approach
Once you have an informed customer list to work from, it’s time to take a personalized approach to reestablishing contact. Whether you use direct mail postcards, reach out through email, or go old-school and call once-active clients, you’ll need to give them a good reason to come back. Extending a coupon, discounted offer, or private flash sale often yields the best results. Just make sure it’s relevant in terms of what you’ve learned about your customers’ buying habits.
Make it Easy for Return Customers to Keep Buying
Customers who feel valued by the companies they deal with typically spend up to three times as much as single-purchase clients do - and are happy to recommend these businesses to others. So, once you’ve successfully enticed former buyers to return and buy from you again, it’s essential that you give them every reason to stick around.
To achieve this kind of brand loyalty, you’ll need to work at putting customers first in every business interaction. Here are a few tips for promoting customer delight both during and after a purchase:
- Simplifying the decision-making progress - by making it easy for customers to weigh all their options at the time a purchase is made – has been shown to generate greater overall customer satisfaction. One way to do this is by offering a variety of scheduling, shipping, or payment options.
- Asking for customer input on everything from how user-friendly your website is, to how you can improve your products or services, shows clients you value their opinion and appreciate their business.
- Make a point of following up every transaction with a sincere thank you. After all, research suggests that customers spend more when they’re on the receiving end of regular gratitude.
Consistent customer relations are critical for hanging on to return clients once you’ve reconnected with them. Not only does striving for excellence in this area promote repeat business, prompt and friendly customer service has been identified as one of the top reasons why customers will pay more to deal with a company they trust.