If getting customers is half the battle, keeping them is the other half. Customer loyalty is the holy grail of branding, marketing, advertising, and entrepreneurship in general. Not only doesn't customer loyalty have to be expensive, but it's generally not something that can be bought. There are plenty of ways to show your customers that you're worth staying with that don't involve big budgets.
Follow this guide to keeping them coming back.
Acknowledge customers with your Facebook business page
If you're not on Facebook for Business, visit the site and let them walk you through getting set up for free. Use your Facebook business page not only as a platform for promotions or deals, but remember that social media is for connecting. Find your customers on Facebook and publicly thank them on your wall. You'll show not just them, but everyone else who's watching, that you care.
Engage through twitter
Like Facebook, Twitter's real power lies in its ability to connect, not just broadcast. Engage in public dialogue with your customers on Twitter, ask them how you're doing and how you could improve, and let them know you appreciate their business.
Get a video
Video has an impact online like no other medium. A single, quality video can go a long way to reaching out to your customers, presenting your human side, telling your story, and letting your customers know that they're in business with a person, not a company.
Encourage and listen to feedback
Create forms, surveys, or cards to give your customers a chance to voice their opinions - and respond to the comments and suggestions they give you. Take criticism constructively, thank people for their contributions and, perhaps most importantly, never make giving feedback annoying or burdensome. Don't make them register for anything, click on an external link, or provide you with information they don't want to leave.
Send personalised gifts
Brand merchandise is common, and usually cheap and tacky. Your company's logo on a coffee mug, a golf ball, or a beer coozy is probably not going to score many points with customers. But personalized gifts provide the individual attention on which brand loyalty is based.
Send a no-sell newsletter
Along with your regular, periodical newsletter, send a mass email that doesn't come with a pitch, a sale, or a deal. Just write a brief, informal 'thank you' that doesn't come with any strings.
For special customers, frequent customers, or all of your customers if you have the ambition, physically write a handwritten letter, card, or note thanking them for their patronage. In an age of text messages, chats, and email, a real, actual letter carries charm and personalization that is unmatched.
A longhand letter has a charm and quality that cannot be matched by any email or Facebook post.
Customer loyalty is one of the leading indicators of a healthy business. Slick advertising can rope people into giving you a try, but only quality service and production will keep them coming back. Customer loyalty should be - no matter what the industry - the goal for every entrepreneur.
Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about small business management, marketing, branding and content marketing.