Online business has spurred highly competitive markets. Consumerism is fast-paced, and buyer expectations are high. That means a small business needs to focus on retention (not acquisition) to compete with a larger organization. Here are a few ways to maintain relevancy with an existing customer base:

1. Targeted Marketing

A focus on retention means you must drill down with marketing. Sales funnels should be created with existing customers in mind. Not only does it spur business growth, but also a better investment of time and money. Research shows it costs up to 5 times as much to acquire a new customer as it does to retain an existing one.

50% of loyal customers have left a company for a competitor who better satisfied their needs. People appreciate relevancy and current customers expect content to apply to them. Automated email marketing can include loyalty and discount programs that reward repeat buyers.

Using a customer relationship management (CRM) tool helps maintain an ongoing database of existing customers. You can then segment your marketing according to targeted campaigns. This cuts down on efforts wasted in the wrong channels. Only relevant material is sent to people who can use it. The value of the content reinforces brand authenticity and aids in retention.

2. Personalization Strategies

This is about the customer experience. Tailored offerings and personal touches lead to a higher rate of sales. 64% of people care more about the customer experience over price in their buying experience. This starts with understanding expectations on an individual basis.

Small companies often forget to ask their customers about expectations. It’s a tough conversation that must be initiated by the brand. The simple inquiry generally gets overlooked. A buyer should always have a realistic picture of what they are purchasing. Surprises lead to distrust.

If everything is understood and communicated before buying, consumers are much more likely to feel satisfied. This, inevitably, leads to a higher rate of retention. It creates a personalized experience that makes people feel connected to your brand. Your company took the time to share important information upfront.

3. Social Monitoring 

Modern business gives us the advantage of being a fly on the wall. Consumers are not afraid to share their opinions online. 80% of consumers use social to engage with brands. They are also highly likely to complain on social media pages when dissatisfied.

Social monitoring and listening can help a company gain a consensus on performance. Setting standards and tracking key social metrics will give deep insight into consumer preferences. This helps sales forecasting and serves critical decision-making processes. Quantifying consumer behavior can uncover trends that assist in retention strategies.

If you don’t have a very active social presence, questionnaires and surveys help keep a finger on the pulse. An email campaign with a quick survey will convey any pain points customers are having. It will also show a small business where they are performing well. Efforts can then be shifted accordingly to further satisfaction.

4. Continuous Communication

Don’t leave your people in the dust. Reduce attrition by maintaining ongoing relationships. Many companies make the mistake of focusing entirely on customer acquisition. Then they forget the individual exists. Consumers notice this behavior and they will punish a brand by leaving for a competitor. 

Some of the best concepts for product development can come from continuous communication with customers. Innovative opportunities mean happier people. They feel more engaged, while less money is spent on development.

Always maintain an open line to the audience. Multi-channel monitoring will help to accomplish this task. Explore every avenue and listen to what people suggest. The more involved they feel, the easier it is to sell.

5. Unforgettable Service 

The pet food company Chewy surpassed competitors when their customer service team began painting pictures of customers’ pets. It only took one memorable act of customer support to go viral. Unlike marketing, however, the key to accomplishing customer retention this way is through authenticity.

Providing stellar and unforgettable service encourages customers to share their experience online and with friends and family. This requires every employee dedicated to adapting an experience for each consumer. Going above and beyond duty can include:

  •   Consistent and on-time delivery
  •   Meeting important expectations
  •   An error-free process with zero-defects
  •   Taking full and immediate responsibility for issues
  •   Creating value through resources and support

It’s not just about the aggregate profit your customer presents. Success lies in developing a tailored brand experience for each consumer. It’s demonstrating value through relevant content.

The quality, reliability, design, and serviceability of your product is consistently being judged. When someone complains on social media, consumers are watching to see how you act. The audience as a whole is paying attention.

The key to customer retention is taking the time to listen to consumer needs, focusing efforts on meeting them, and creating an authentic brand experience that develops into deep-rooted trust.