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15 Small Business Tips for Gaining More Return Customers

Customer retention rate has a dramatic impact on your bottom line. Check out these powerful tips to help your small business win more return customers.

GoSite Team

Most small and local businesses invest their resources into an “acquisition at all costs” strategy — boosting efforts to attract new customers and keep that flow going. But without focusing on customer retention, your business’s profitability will suffer in the long run, no matter how many new customers you acquire.

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Why Customer Retention Matters for Small Businesses

Getting new customers on board will always cost you more than what it takes to retain existing customers. Acquiring a new customer can be 5 to 25 times more expensive than holding on to an existing one, according to the Harvard Business Review.

The Cost of Acquiring New Customers Vs the Cost of Keeping Customers

The cost of acquiring new customers vs the cost of keeping customers.pngSource: 

Improving your customer retention rate is one of the best things you can do for your ROI. Not only do repeat customers lead to lower costs, but they also buy more. Research shows that a 5% increase in customer retention increases profits by 25% to 95%, with 60 to 70% of sales coming from repeat customers.

Should You Try to Make Everyone a Return Customer?

To reduce customer churn and achieve small business growth, you must consistently strive to build a loyal customer base and provide exceptional customer service. On the one hand, you should want to retain as many customers as possible. That said, not every customer is your ideal customer.

Here are some things to remember to avoid customer attrition (that is, losing your best customers) and convert more leads into loyal customers.

Know Your Audience

 Should You Try to Make Everyone a Return Customer Know Your Audience.pngSource: Autopilot

A good marketing strategy won’t be able to reach out to everyone. To increase sales and effectively compete with larger brands, your business must first determine who, exactly, you are talking to.

Targeted small business marketing allows you to engage a specific group of people who are more likely to buy from you. Start with identifying the demographics of your target market — age, gender, education, income, etc. Then, analyze their behaviors, preferences, attitudes, and beliefs. Know their challenges, pain points, goals, and desires.

Know Your Product

Imagine getting a call from a prospective customer who had some questions about your products or services and you failed to answer them. If you can’t clearly explain the features and benefits of your offerings to all your customers, you’ll lose them out to the competition.

Another key piece in knowing your product is understanding that your product isn’t for everyone. Similar to your marketing message, it’s critical that it be clear to you, your team, and your customers which specific set of problems your product or service solves.

5 Ways to Make an Amazing First Impression with Customers

1.   Maintain 2-3 social media channels with regular, informative posts.

5 Ways to Make an Amazing First Impression with Customers Maintain 2-3 social media channels with regular, informative posts.pngSource: Hootsuite

Did you know that 74% of consumers look to a business’s social media profile before deciding to make a purchase? Maintaining a strong social media presence should be on top of your business growth strategies. But that doesn’t mean you should post just for the sake of posting.

Practicing meaningful posting on all your social media channels will help you widen your reach and connect and engage with current and potential customers on a more personal level. Leave a great impression on customers through social media content that adds value to your target market.

Post regularly to keep in touch with customers and what they want, but prioritize quality over quantity. Make sure that the goal and purpose of each social media post tie back to your overall brand strategy.

2.   Be easy to find online.

86% of people look up a business location on Google Maps, and Google has over 97% of the search traffic. That’s why it’s so important that your business shows up on search engines and online directories.

A comprehensive local SEO strategy is the key to pushing your business pages to the top of Google. Verifying your location, keeping your business hours and other relevant details accurate and up to date, and optimizing your website are just a few of the steps you can take to improve your business’s online visibility.

While you’re at it, make sure that you claim your listing on major directories and review sites like Bing, Yelp, Thumbtack, etc.

3.   Gather good reviews.

Customer reviews and digital word of mouth are more powerful than ever when it comes to influencing people’s buying decisions.

98% of customers read online reviews for local businesses, and about 91% of 18-34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to the recent Local Consumer Review Survey. 

More often than not, the average consumer will go with the business with the most positive reviews. But good online reviews do more than just assist consumers in their decision-making. Google and other search engines also consider customer feedback as a factor that can affect your business’s online ranking and reputation.

Simply put, as more people talk about your business online and as you generate more positive reviews over time, you’ll have greater chances of listing higher up in the organic search results. Four and five-star reviews will work wonders for your online reputation. These reviews will help you build that immediate trust that converts potential customers into repeat, paying customers.

4.   Be responsive to customer inquiries.

5 Ways to Make an Amazing First Impression with Customers Be responsive to customer inquiries.jpegSource: HubSpot

In the age of instant gratification, “faster response times” are the norm. How quickly you reply to customers’ questions can make or break your customer experience. Fast, straightforward, and personalized replies are key to maintaining strong business relationships and getting your customers to return again and again.

Strive to be as responsive as possible on each communication channel. Even if you can’t solve a problem right away, it still pays to respond to the customer as soon as possible. Manage customers’ expectations by letting them know that you are actively working towards a solution. Set timeframes and get back to them as soon as you have the answers.

5.   Make your online and in-person shopping experience as pleasant as possible.

 86% of consumers are willing to pay more for a great shopping experience.

If you want more customers to buy from and engage with you, your focus should not be on a single purchase. You must ensure that feelings, emotions, and sensations work well together to make your brand stand out and encourage customer loyalty and trust.

Some of the things you can do to improve customer experience in the digital world include:

  • Making sure that your site loads quickly across all devices
  • Allowing easy navigation on your website
  • Having great photos and content for shoppers to browse
  • Providing live chat support
  • Offering more, easy, and digital payment options
  • Using the occasional discount for holidays, new products, etc.
  • (if applicable) Optimizing your in-store shopping with omnichannel tools and aesthetically-pleasing layouts

5 Sales Techniques That Make Customers Feel Empowered

        1.   Pay attention to the details about your customers.

You need to fully understand who you’re selling to if your goal is to add value and make a positive difference in the lives of your customers. Get to know your customers beyond their names, titles, ages, incomes, and emails.

As you collect these details, storing these details in a user-friendly customer database makes it easy for you to recall as needed.

2.   Ask a lot of questions to understand them.

You need to know what your customers are thinking to truly understand them in an authentic way. To do that, you need to dig deep and ask critical questions.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to your customers through surveys in-store or via social media. Frame your questions in a way that goes back to your goal — to increase the loyalty and satisfaction of existing customers so that they keep coming back.

3.   Always provide value before you ask them to pay for services.

People are looking for superior quality products and services at an optimal price. But it’s not enough to offer the “perfect” product at reasonable prices. In general, customers are willing to pay more if they feel that the business is creating the most value for them.

Provide exceptional value for your customers by engaging in relevant conversations and interactions. Give them the confidence and reliability of knowing that you’re committed to creative, targeted solutions that meet their needs and expectations.

One of the best, low-cost ways to provide this value for free is by creating great content on your website and social media. You needn’t do anything fancy (unless you really want to). Just offering practical, expert advice in an authentic way is enough to dazzle your audience and build your loyal customer base.

4.   Never bash the competition.

Saying that you are better than someone else will not earn your customer’s respect. It’s a mistake that may backfire on your business.

For one, it’s a waste of time. You should focus on gaining the attention of your customers by addressing their needs — and NOT concentrating on what’s wrong with the other business.

Plus, by mentioning a competitor’s name, you are giving visibility to their brand. Your customers might check back with your competitor to learn more about them. Instead of comparing yourself to others, work on presenting your business in a fresh, innovative way.

5.   Make it easy to pay.

5 Sales Techniques That Make Customers Feel Empowered Make it easy to pay.png

Source: VoPay 

Ease payments are a crucial part of the customer’s buying experience. By adopting digital payment methods, you’ll can unlock new customer value and widen your reach. That’s because customers prefer interacting with businesses that have fast, flexible, and seamless payment experiences.

Don’t frustrate your customers with outdated payment options. Switch to online payment methods to make the buying process more convenient for you and your customers. Give your customers access to multiple payment options, including credit or debit card transactions, Apple Pay, etc., so that it’s super easy for them to do business with you over and over again.

5 Customer Services Tips for Keeping Your Best Customers

            1.   Ask for and listen carefully to feedback.

Feedback gives you valuable insights into why your customers may not be returning. Give them a platform to express how they feel about your products and services and what they think should be improved. That way, you’ll be able to figure out how to better fulfill their demands and expectations.

Earn your customer’s appreciation by following up and letting them know that you value the time they spent giving you feedback. Give them updates about how you’re addressing their concerns.

             2.   Respond humbly and proactively to negative reviews.

 5 Customer Services Tips to Keeping Your Best Customers Respond humbly and proactively to negative reviews.png

Source: Facebook and Broadly 

Even one negative review can have serious consequences for your business. The good news is that it can also lead to major benefits down the road.
First things first: never ignore online reviews, especially bad ones. Responding to a negative review is part of maintaining your integrity as a business. If you want customers to trust and respect you, you need to show your sincerity in building a connection with them even when they are not satisfied with your business.

You can start by letting your customer know that their feelings and concerns matter. Apologize (when appropriate) and invite them to continue the conversation offline. Every gesture of goodwill will help you towards winning your customer back after a poor experience. More importantly, people will see how well you handle criticism and respect the way you do business.

3.  Stay in touch with customers via email newsletters, social media posts, etc.

Social media is no longer optional for your business. It’s a vital platform that offers two-way communication — letting you interact directly with customers and giving them the chance to connect with your brand online.

Any meaningful interactions you offer only strengthens the connection between you and your customers.

Most business owners get better engagement and results by integrating your social media strategy with email marketing and text messaging. Using multiple communication platforms goes a long way for your customer retention strategy. Ask your email subscribers to follow you on social media (and vice versa) so they can stay in the loop about the latest promos, discounts, contests, product launches, etc.

          4.   Create a loyalty rewards program.

It pays to reward your repeat customers — whether that’s through loyalty points, discounts, and exclusive benefits. That’s because customers who subscribe to a business’s loyalty program spend more when they shop and are more likely to make repeat purchases.

Other ideas to get you started include: giving free subscriptions to additional products and services, rewarding those who leave reviews on your website or social media, and creating opportunities for customers to donate in their name to the charity of their choice.

5.   Deploy your most vocal customers as brand ambassadors online.

In a crowded marketplace where brands are vying for attention, customers are looking for brands they can trust. And they prefer buying from people rather than a faceless brand. That’s why turning your best customers into excellent brand ambassadors helps you humanize and validate your brand.

Think of them as the “cheerleaders” who can give your business a boost on social media. Get them to share positive personal experiences with your brand on their social channels. This positive word of mouth will increase awareness about your business, grow your reputation, widen your reach, and influence consumer sales.

Which Tech Tools Can Help You Reduce Churn?

Technology That Makes It Easier for Customers to Find You

In the era of hyper-digital connectivity, traditional marketing tactics no longer drive business. One of the best ways to leverage technology to encourage repeat business is to meet customers where they already are. You need to maximize easy-to-use, powerful digital tools that boost your digital presence.

Maintain a sharp, functional website, claim your online listings, and build social media profiles that amplify your reach to customers in more meaningful ways.

Technology That Makes It Convenient to Shop and Buy

Now more than ever, customers expect shopping to be easy and instantaneous. Delivering simplified, seamless, and top-notch shopping experiences gets you a step closer to winning more repeat business.

Some great examples of simple technology that makes it easier for customers to do business with you include:

  • Multiple payment options (online, in-person, credit/debit cards, bank transfers, mobile payments, etc.)
  • Automatic online booking
  • Chatbots
  • Messenger tool that consolidates customer inquiries and feedback from social media, email, texts, and more

Technology That Helps You Keep in Contact with Customers

It’s easier to turn customers into lifelong clients when you have one dashboard for all customer interactions, instead of having to toggle among several apps and screens. A reliable customer database (CRM) enables you to collect, organize, and analyze client information and interactions — from text messages to payments history — all in one place.

Streamline your business communications with a messaging tool that lets you connect with customers in ways they prefer. Take advantage of a multi-channel messaging hub that allows you to receive and respond to messages across all popular platforms.

Technology That Makes Your Life Easier, Not Harder

As a business owner who wears many hats, there are just so many tasks that you need to keep up with. Having the right digital tools in place will make your job significantly easier so you can focus on what matters most.

Not all technology solutions are going to be a good fit for your business. Having too much technology can make your life just as hard as having too little (or none at all). Take a moment to list all the tedious tasks that rob you of time throughout the day or cause your customers to fall through the cracks. Using that list, take a look at which digital solutions will do the best job of helping you solve those problems.

At the end of the day, technology should help you do more in fewer clicks, save you time (and money), and ultimately improve your quality of life as a business owner.


Improving your customer retention rate is key to driving revenue and profitability. Delighting your customers with simplified, memorable, and valuable experiences will make them stick with your brand through thick and thin. By following these tips, you can build a strategy that will enable you to convert your profitable customers into longtime advocates for your business.

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