Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. New customers invigorate your brand and help it grow while returning and loyal customers maintain your success. When new customers stop showing up and your loyal customers go elsewhere, your business will start to fail.
That being said, one of the biggest challenges that companies face is building up a solid customer base – especially new businesses that rely on these customers to sustain the early struggles.
Fortunately, you can acquire a steady number of new customers and retain your current ones with the right management strategy. Follow these steps to grow a solid customer base.
Develop a Targeted Marketing Strategy
Your audience and your leads are essential for building your customer base. If you aren’t able to reach new people and guide them through the sales funnel, then you will never be able to grow as a business.
When you are first starting out, test different marketing channels to reach new customers. Look at social media, influencer marketing, and other digital marketing opportunities that reach a mass audience. Then develop more niche marketing programs through email and text marketing to hone your message and reach the best audience possible.
The best way to track your leads and customer nurturing is with a strong customer relationship management (CRM) system. CRMs will allow you to track the progress of your marketing efforts, contact customers, and analyze your growth. Many companies notice significant increases in their customer base and business success once they start working out of a CRM rather than in spreadsheets and individualized analytics platforms.
Develop Excellent Customer Service
One of the best things you can do for your company is to have strong customer service. People remember good customer service. They tell their friends. They feel excited about your brand – and the numbers prove it.
Studies have found that customers are willing to spend 17% more on companies that offer good customer service. Plus, customer service is expected to take over price and product as the key differentiator between brands by the year 2020.
Consider each touchpoint of the customer experience. How are customers treated? How does your staff respond? Simply improving and maintaining good customer relations can go a long way toward improving your brand.
Turn New Customers into Loyal Buyers
New customers are important to your brand. They provide a steady flow of buyers needed to grow your business. However, you need to convince these customers to return, become loyal to your company, and eventually turn into brand ambassadors.
It is significantly less expensive to retain a customer than it is to acquire a new one. Additionally, returning customers are more likely to convert and spend more when they do. Simply improving customer retention by five percent can grow sales by 25-95%. If you want to run a successful business, then you need to create an experience that makes customers come back.
Customer retention is a huge focus for the sports apparel company, Smack Apparel. They are a small business that relies on repeat customers and brand ambassadors. When the owner and founder, Wayne Curtiss, was asked how was able to turn new customers into repeat buyers, he said:
“It’s all about delivering more than your customers expect. Our customers love our product, but even more so – they love our creativity, passion, and continued focus on delivering an experience and value unlike any other sports apparel company on the market.”
Good customer service is one way to retain customers, but there are other ways to accomplish this feat. Consider investing in loyalty programs to reward people from coming back. You can also work to re-engage customers and win them back before they leave you forever. The fewer customers you lose, the faster you can build yours up.
Prove That You Are Listening to Your Customers
Do your customers feel like you really care about what they have to say? More brands than ever send out surveys and request feedback from customers, but consumers rarely feel like the company hears their feedback or takes it to heart.
Showing that you pay attention to what your customers have to say can go a long way toward improved retention. About 70% of customers are lost due to neglect. They feel like the company takes them for granted or that they aren’t important, which is why they go somewhere else.
By listening – and proving that you are listening to your customers – you can show how much you value their business.
Stay on Top of Industry Trends
Good customer service and impressive marketing can go a long way, but at the end of your day your customers still hold your products to a high standard. Many successful businesses have faded into history because they didn’t keep up with what customers wanted.
Don’t try to force your products on your customers. Look at their needs and try to fill them. As their needs change throughout the years that you are in business, rise to meet them. Show your customers that you are on top of industry trends and know what they want.
Running a business can feel like you’re walking a tightrope, but managers who follow the basic principles of good business can watch their customer base grow and develop a successful foundation to build upon.
Christine Soeun Choi is a digital marketing associate at Fit Small Business. Currently based in NYC, she has a background in business studies and math with a passion for business development. Outside of work, Christine enjoys traveling and exploring art.