It’s National Small Business Week, and we wanted to focus on small business’s most powerful asset – their customer base.

There are so many reasons to love small business, including the fact that more than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and small businesses create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year.

Doing business with small business makes you feel like part of a friendly community – whether it’s the neighborhood small engine repair shop you visit each spring for your lawn mower tune up, or that online retailer in another state that creates the one-of-a-kind handmade collars Fido always gets for his birthday.  You love that the repair shop owner knows you by name and that you always get a handwritten thank you note from the online retailer.

It’s those personal relationships that drive repeat customers and small business success.

small-business-milestoneAccording to a report by Manta and Dell, 37% of small business owners rank getting repeat customers as their most important business milestone.  So, if you’re a small business owner, you may not have celebrated that first sale or the first profitable year as much as you celebrated that first repeat customer.

Why Loyal Customers Rock Your World

Loyal, repeat customers drive small businesses and help entrepreneurs to turn their small business dreams into reality.  Here’s how:

Customer Lifetime Value:  The more repeat purchases customers make with your company, the more customer lifetime value will increase across your entire customer base.

Built-In Referral System:  Repeat customers have obviously had a good experience with your business, and you can bet that they’re sending new business your way.

Predictable Revenue:  Instead of starting from scratch each month to attract new customers, repeat buyers can help you maintain a more dependable revenue stream.

Creating Loyal Customers and Repeat Buyers

building-loyal-customersLeveraging marketing technology, like an integrated CRM and marketing automation system can help you create even more of those revenue-driving raving fans for your business.

Send personalized content:  Personalized email isn’t just for prospects in your sales funnel.  You want to stay top of mind with your current customers as well.  Use their purchase history, webpage tracking, and CRM activity to send super-relevant emails their way.

repeat-customer-spendUpsell:  Returning customers spend on average 20% more than first time customers. With purchase history at hand in your CRM, you can connect with your current customers to offer an upgrade on their current product or service.

Cross-sell:  Do they love the red mittens?  Then they’ll probably love the red hat. Make sure your customers know about products and services related to their past purchases. Use your customers’ purchase history to send email campaigns related to other products they may love.

likelihood-of-returningOffer perks: According to SumAll, a customer who has only purchased from you once has a 27% chance of returning, while a customer who has purchased from you three times has a 54% chance of returning.  Want to keep good customers coming back?  Offer a discount, perk or reward.  Giving away a little can go a long way in earning customer loyalty.

Ask for referrals:  While your customers are likely sending referrals your way, it never hurts to ask. Offering an incentive, like swag, a gift card or a discount can further entice your happy customers to send you more business.  Affiliate software, like LeadDyno, can help manage your referral program.

Ask for reviews:  It’s become second nature to do research online before making a purchase, whether you’re buying a new home, investing in business software, or just going out to eat.  Positive reviews from your customers are the third-party validation your prospects need to take the next steps with your business.

Give thanks:  Your customers are the reason you get to come to work each day and build something amazing.  Let them know that you love them back with a simple thank you every now and then.

marketing-budgetAre you dedicating enough marketing dollars to get repeat customers through the door?  Research indicates that 25% of your marketing budget should go toward attracting returning customers.

While small businesses get the spotlight this week, it’s the perfect time to look at how you’re marketing to your customers, because you can’t celebrate small businesses without celebrating the customers that grow small business dreams.