It’s important for a business to retain customers. 50 – 70% of a business’s sales will come from repeat customers (source).
It pays to keep your existing customers happy and coming back for more.
Not only is it more revenue for your business, but repeat customers also increase profits.
It’s hard work to reach new potential customers and “convince” them to buy. It can require several marketing hours and dollars to convert a new shopper into your customer.
People who have already purchased from you are familiar with your business and products. As long as they have a good experience, they trust your business/products and don’t require as much convincing to buy again.
Not only that, loyal customers who love your brand will also help spread the word about your business.
This article shares a list of ideas to encourage your customers to come back and buy again.
1) Ensure customers use your product
If your customers never actually use the product they purchased from you, they’re obviously not going to come back and buy again.
The use of your product is in the customers’ hands. However, you can encourage, inspire, and remind them to use your product.
Consider your customers’ goals; what do they hope to achieve through the use of your product?
>> To dress or accessories more stylishly?
>> To improve their skin?
>> To decorate their home?
Then brainstorm ways you can help your customer achieve those goals, with your products.
>> Share styling tips and outfit inspiration ideas
>> Share skincare tips and the best way to use your products (e.g. at night? In the morning? Before or after other products? etc.)
>> Share tips on how to style a home like a pro, how to choose the right place for a piece of art or how to hang it at the perfect height.
A newsletter is the best way to stay in touch with your customers (start one today if you haven’t yet) and send them prompts to wear/display/consume your products. However, your social media posts can work as well; it’s just not as effective.
You may even include printed material (e.g. a postcard) with each purchase that shares instructions, ideas, tips, inspiration, etc. for customers to get the most out of your products.
2) Share your story
Today, consumers (especially those who shop at craft shows or on Etsy) care about purchasing from people, not faceless corporations (source).
Sharing your brand story and incorporating your personality helps customers feel a connection to you.
When your customers feel like they know you, they want to see you succeed and are going to do what they can to help. That may be purchasing from you again, or telling people they know about your business.
A great brand story will also help customers remember your business; they won’t come back to buy if they don’t remember your business.
3) Offer an experience
Think about some of the more successful businesses; their popularity doesn’t just stem from the products they sell.
Apple is one of the most successful companies in the world. They do sell a great product, but the experience from start to end is unique and special. Apple stores are bright and modern and forgo the typical store checkout experience. The packaging is clean and minimalist and it feels like a treat to unwrap a new laptop or phone. Setting up a device is simple as Apple does a good job of eliminating frustrating tech experiences.
From start to finish, Apple creates a unique experience its customers crave.
How can you make your customers feel good so they can’t wait to buy from you again?
Consider each step of the buying and using process your customers will go through and brainstorm ways to make it (even just a little) special.
>> Your craft show display may incorporate scents, sounds, and props that take the shopping experience to the next level.
>> The listings in an Etsy shop may be organized strategically to make shopping easy so customers find exactly what they’re looking for quickly.
>> At craft shows you may take extra time to talk to shoppers to make sure you understand what they’re looking for and help them choose an item they love. Online, you may respond to messages quickly and take your time to answer questions thoughtfully so customers feel well taken care of.
>> Orders placed in shopping bags or shipping boxes may have extra touches to elevate the unwrapping/unboxing experience.
How do your customers want to feel when using your products? Find a way to evoke that feeling each step of the way.
4) Offer products that work together
Once someone purchases from you, you need to keep the ball rolling. They should see several items on your craft show table or in your Etsy shop they would love to purchase.
That way, you have them thinking about their next purchase, before they complete their first.
Explore complimenting products you can offer.
For example, most consumers don’t buy more than one handbag per season. But if you’re selling matching wallets, cosmetic bags, keychain fobs, and laptop sleeves, your customers have other products to purchase before they need a new handbag.
It’s also important to keep your product selection fresh.
Offering the same handbag but in different colors, season after season, will get old to your customers. Try introducing new styles or new products each season or year.
Imagine you are your customer; what types of products would get you excited to buy again?
*Don’t venture too far away from your product niche or target market. Someone who buys a new pair of earrings may also want a new bag, but if you’re a jewelry maker, stick to jewelry making. And if your customers are buying your bohemian-style jewelry, don’t start making bridal jewelry; stick to your bohemian-style-loving target market.
5) Offer gift-worthy products
Your customers may not need to buy your products for themselves regularly, but getting them thinking “this would make a great gift” is a good way to encourage future sales.
Although extravagant packaging can eat into profit margins, when done correctly, it can encourage more sales and boost overall profit.
Imagine purchasing a bar of soap at a craft show or through Etsy. If the seller tosses the bar of soap in a generic plastic bag or a mailer envelope with a business card, chances are, the only thing you’re going to be thinking when you open that package is: there’s my bar of soap.
Now imagine that bar of soap is in a branded bag or a box filled with beautiful tissue paper. There’s a card thanking you for your purchase and it’s signed by the seller. The soap is folded in tissue paper that’s secured with a branded sticker and has a bow tied around it. There’s a small branded card explaining the benefits of the soap, or telling the brand story.
As you untie the bow, you’re likely appreciating all the small details.
Those are details that make gift-giving easy and make an item feel special to the recipient.
When you create a special “unboxing” experience for your customers, they’re going to think about who else in their life might appreciate it.
7) Use complaints and feedback to your advantage
It stings when someone criticizes you or your work. The natural reaction is to be defensive. But when you get feedback, don’t let the opportunity to improve go to waste.
Give yourself time to feel upset, hurt, or angry about the criticism, but then force yourself to look at it from the customer’s perspective and find ways to improve.
Aside from people who lie about their experience in hopes of getting a free product, most complaints do have some validity.
Customers who aren’t 100% happy with their purchase or their experience with your business have valuable information; you just have to be willing to listen.
You may get customers letting you know they wish you offered a certain product, that they would change a product feature, or that they thought a product feature would be different/better.
Listening to those requests and implementing their suggestions (if it makes sense for your business/brand/profits) can bring those customers back to buy again (if I suggest a product to a company and they actually create it, of course I’m going to buy it).
Those product adjustments can also help you attract new customers and keep even more of them happy.
Don’t brush off complaints or feedback because it’s only one person. There are likely several other customers who feel the same, but just don’t make the effort to bring it to your attention.
8) Provide incentives/perks
Think of small ways you can increase the value customers place on your products.
What’s something customers might not expect to come with their purchase?
For example, if your products are commonly purchased as gifts, you may offer free gift wrapping.
Or, you may offer the perk of faster-than-expected shipping. Your product listing may state orders require 3-4 days to process, but when you’re typically able to ship out orders in 1 or 2 days, customers will be pleasantly surprised.
If your profit margins allow, consider sharing a promo code or special offer with customers that will encourage them to come back and buy. You may even set up a referral program that gives customers a discount or credit towards a purchase when they refer someone new to your business.
Think of ways you can pleasantly surprise your customers.
9) Keep an eye on competitors
Your customers may be completely happy with your products, but decide to go over to a competitor because they’re offering something different/better.
There’s no need to copy your competitors, but you do need to know what types of products and services you’re competing with.
If each of your competitors starts offering free shipping, customers are going to wonder why you’re not. And if you don’t keep up with the new norm, it makes it easy for your customers to leave and go to your competitor.
Stay true to your business, brand, and signature style, but be aware of the type of businesses your competitors are running so you can stay on par with what your target market expects.
10) Avoid mistakes that repel customers
It’s one thing for a customer to not buy from you again because they forgot about your business or because a competitor’s business was top of mind.
But you really don’t want your customers to consciously choose another business because they’re unhappy with yours.
Losing customers and retaining customers are two different things.
Reducing how many customers you “lose” by just 5% can increase your profits by 75% (source).
Ensure you’re not making these common mistakes that will have you losing customers: Why customers leave a business.
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!