A loyal customer base is at the core of any business’s success. Devoted clients back up your business during tough times and contribute to its growth when things are smooth. Needless to say, having a strong customer base is every entrepreneur’s dream. Besides being the cornerstone of your business, they’re also members of your brand community – another prerequisite for business growth.
“Sure, it all sounds good. But how do you build a successful customer base if you haven’t got one yet?” you may say.
Thanks to businesses that have established loyal customer bases over time, we’ve got plenty of excellent examples to learn from. Keep reading to find out practical tips on how to build a client base that stays.
Why is a loyal customer base so important anyway?
Random spikes in product or service sales are great, but steady and sustainable business growth is impossible without a loyal customer base.
Unless you rule a monopoly of first necessity goods, customer retention is likely a constant topic on your daily agenda. There’s no point in doing business without anyone buying what you’re selling, right?
But besides having a steady outlet for your products, a loyal client base benefits your business in other ways, too:
- Loyal customers have a higher ROI (return on investments): they are more likely to try new products or services, buy in bulk, and spend more money than new clients.
- A strong customer base is crucial for attracting new clients: online reviews and rating sites are excellent, but nothing beats word-of-mouth marketing.
- They provide feedback like no one else: loyal clients have an emotional connection to a brand, which makes them great at giving feedback so businesses can improve their products and services.
How to build a loyal customer base
There are many actionable ways you can build a loyal customer base. However, here are five tips that have proven their effectiveness over time.
1. Reward your customers
Data says that 75% of customers go for companies that offer rewards. Whether you offer discounts on customers’ regular purchase items or set up a dedicated loyalty points system, rewarding your customers is one of the prerequisites to turning newcomers into loyal clients.
You don’t necessarily have to go big with rewards right out of the gate, especially if you’re a small-sized business. Start with gestures that won’t cost you a ton of money but will provide positive emotions for your clients and build loyalty over time.
Here’s an easy-to-adopt example by a manufacturer of organic cosmetics, MÁDARA. Whenever the brand is about to announce a product sale, it enables discounts to registered users of its e-shop only. The first-hand accessibility to deals doesn’t really cost anything, as the sale airs anyway, but from the client’s perspective, the first-hand access makes one feel appreciated and valued.
However, if you have the capacity, crafting a client loyalty program is great to establish a loyal customer base. Assign reward points to purchases, which can be exchanged for discounts, free shipping, or shopping credits. Plus, a customer referral program is also a good idea to reward your existing clients AND attract new ones.
2. Focus on your customer service
Customer satisfaction is directly linked to business success. And even though it seems obvious, sometimes companies overlook the quality of their customer support and focus merely on the product.
Statistics show that the importance of customer service quality has grown in the last few years. For as many as 83% of customers, customer service is of utmost importance when choosing one brand over another. So, great customer service also plays a vital role in building a loyal customer base.
What to keep in mind when trying to boost its quality?
- Adopt a customer-first strategy: Focus on meeting clients’ needs and making their service experience as delightful as possible.
- Provide speed and accuracy: Establish a foolproof system for processing customer messages, and communicate clearly when clarifying the information.
- Show that you care: Make sure your customers feel heard and valued – it’ll add extra love towards your brand and contribute to building a loyal customer base.
A great example of outstanding customer service is Airbnb. For instance, if you book a stay, which turns out to be disastrous, the company will find you another option within the same price range in 24-hours time.
3. Ask for customer feedback (and learn from it)
Asking for customer feedback is at the heart of improving your products and services and establishing a loyal customer base. Having an opportunity to provide opinions makes your customers feel more invested in your brand, which is the ultimate goal, bringing you a strong customer base.
It can be customer surveys, personalized emails, or social media communication. For shipped products, you can generate a QR code that leads the customer to a page used for taking feedback. Whatever format you choose, make sure the process isn’t too lengthy and dull. Chances of clients completing a 10-minute long online survey are way lower than them answering a few thoughtfully worded questions that, for example, appear in a pop-up window after they’ve completed a purchase.
4. Devote resources to building a brand community
When on your way to attracting client loyalty, one cannot overlook the importance of a strong brand community – loyal clients who’re invested in a brand beyond its products and services.
Brand community members have an emotional link to your brand. They follow your activities on social media, are happy to share their experience of using your products, and love to communicate with other brand community members. Plus, they’re the loyal client base purchasing what you’re selling.
Every brand has a brand community. The difference lies in how well it’s taken care of and if it’s managed at all. Even though there isn’t one ultimate strategy, here are a few actions that contribute to having a thriving brand community:
- Clearly define your brand values: People can only relate to something they understand. Thus, defining what your brand stands for will help attract customers with shared values and beliefs, contributing to building a loyal customer base.
- Set goals for the brand community: Don’t build the community just for its sake. Ask yourself what potential outcomes you want to have.
- Think about success metrics: To see if your endeavors are working, it’s essential to have a way to measure success. It can be the number of social media followers, lead generation, average order value, guest checkout rate, and more.
There are many inspirational brand communities out there you can steal some ideas from – depends on what you’re looking for.
Starbucks, for instance, is widely known for its social media initiatives boosting the brand community member interaction and taking maximum advantage of user-generated content. Then there’s also such a giant as the Walt Disney Company with a massive brand community built over nearly a century. Or a younger brand for lovers of all things magic, Harry Potter, that connects millions of Potterheads all over the world.
5. Honesty and transparency for the win
As basic as it sounds, brand transparency and honest communication are two pillars of establishing a solid connection with your customers, which results in their loyalty.
Every relationship is a two-way street. If you wish to receive honest feedback from your clients, foster honest communication and make sure they know that their opinions matter. Moreover, being transparent about your policies and all things related to the clients’ shopping experience gives you plus points among competitors.
Here are some actionable tips on making sure you’re cultivating transparency for your brand:
- Have a clear store policy: Ditch the lengthy and hard-to-read policy documents. A clear set of rules on shipping, product returns, and more will undoubtedly earn you customers’ love.
- Create a top-notch FAQ section: Never underestimate well-written and thoughtful FAQs. Customers DO use the section, and if it’s useless, they’ll have very few reasons to trust your business and make a purchase.
- Tell customers who you are: Clients are interested in knowing the people behind your brand. An engaging “About Us” page, presence on social media, team pictures (not some random stock photos of strangers) – it’s all crucial for sharing who the team behind your brand is to establish a connection with your clients.
Conclusion on building a loyal customer base
Without a doubt, establishing a loyal customer base for your business takes time and effort. But every client that sticks to your brand through the years is a win worth devoting energy to. Besides, it’s not only about the revenue. Having a loyal client base that chooses your business repeatedly brings satisfaction and a sense of purpose to you as an entrepreneur.
When adopting strategies for building a loyal client base, there’s one thing that unites them all – emotional connection. People always want to feel valued and heard. Thus, ensuring they feel appreciated and receive gratitude from you will make all the difference in the journey towards establishing your client base.
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