Repeating Business - Bring Your Customers Back More Often

What if we said your expenditure per customer could be reduced by a factor of ten? What if we said this could be done with no negative impact on quality, service or customer experience? The key, as you may have guessed, is in generating repeat business.

It can cost ten times more money (or higher!) to obtain a new customer instead of just enticing a past customer to do business with you again. Yet many businesses continue investing the majority of their marketing dollars into courting new clientele, when it could be used far more efficiently to nurture existing relationships. It’s simply much easier to convince someone to engage with a business they’ve dealt with already, rather than coax them into engaging with a business they’re unfamiliar with. 

Take a moment to consider the number of customers you have, the average amount they spend per transaction, and the number of times a year they do this. How much does that give you in total? 

Now increase that number of interactions by say 20% and recalculate the balance. This projected change to your bottom line probably looks impressive. Effectively, it’s the difference between convincing one in every five customers to do business with you one more time per year. 

Customer Loyalty Programmes

Our first stop is a discussion about customer loyalty programmes. Businesses are increasingly recognising that strong customer relationships can be paramount to their success – and that rewarding customers for dealing with them repeatedly is one of the surest ways to maintain close customer relationships. 

Customer loyalty programmes are structured such that each time a customer makes a purchase they are rewarded with points, loyalty dollars or some other form of credit. Once a customer has collected a predefined number of these, they may redeem them for rewards – such as free products or services, reduced-cost purchases, or vouchers.

Airlines are notable leaders in this area, with their frequent flyer programmes. Travellers receive points each time they travel by air, often across multiple international carriers. The points can be redeemed for free travel, service upgrades, accommodation or gifts.

Some of these airlines have partnered with credit card companies, offering frequent flyer points for every dollar a customer spends on their card. Other businesses following suit with similar reward programmes include supermarkets, fashion retailers, department stores, restaurants, hotels and chemists.

You needn’t be a multinational in order to capitalise on the great value of customer loyalty programmes. Such programmes are simple to adapt and implement within any business, and can substantially boost your customers’ visiting and purchasing rates.

You can also use customer loyalty programmes to measure how often certain customers buy. This will enable you to identify those who have not bought from you for some time. You can then, for example, send newsletters to customers in that category periodically – letting them know that their absence has been noticed and perhaps presenting a special offer if they return and start their programme again.

Sweeten the deal

The easiest customers to get through your door are those who’ve purchased from you before. Presenting offers that appeal to them makes it easy for them to find an excuse to deal with you again. 

Look at your client base or targeted customers, and try to identify what excites and engages them. Offer  them something enticing when they make additional purchases from you. 

Your notes on customers’ purchasing habits will help indicate their interests and provide insight around what likely appeals to them. 

For example, if you’re an athletics retailer your customers might be enthusiastic about certain sports. An attractive offer might be tickets to a cricket or football match, for customers who make purchases during a certain week. If cost is prohibitive, you could run a competition where customers are entered into a prize draw for one or two really good prizes.

Don’t limit your thinking to offers involving only your product or service though. Many businesses don’t have products or services that will make appealing prizes to their customers. If, for instance, you’re a manufacturer selling to wholesalers or retailers, try to identify what your clients’ purchasing decision-makers are interested in. Are they mostly men or women? What are their approximate ages, lifestyles and attitudes? Then find a product or service which will appeal to that group.

If you’re selling to mostly women, you could offer spa and health vouchers, or a weekend away at a nice resort. If it’s men, try sporting goods or events, restaurant vouchers, or a case of top quality wine. If young people comprise your customer base, tempt them with concert tickets, vouchers or movie passes.

Since you can’t know all your customers’ tastes, it’s good to offer a choice. Consider compiling a list of prizes they could win if they purchase from you, and then let them choose from the available rewards.

You might also like to try a special birthday offer for your clients. This could be a discount off your product or service, a free meal on their birthday, or a special little gift for making a purchase that day.

The options for rewarding customers’ purchases are endless. Consider some of these other popular ideas: 

  • Rainy day sales. Make it known that on any day it rains, customers will get an additional 5% off their purchases. Great for quiet days.

  • Product of the week sales. This option ensures there’s always something different happening in your store.

  • Trade-ins. Offer customers a discount towards purchasing new models if they trade in old ones.

Think outside the square. Remember that the point of these offers is to bring customers back more often than they would usually return, so make sure your offer does that.


Closed door sale

These are great for building engagement and relationships, and can generate substantial return for a single day’s effort. 

The idea is to invite the customers on your database to a special viewing, launch, preview, test or sale of a product or service. Make the event seem exclusive.

Hold the event after-hours and stress to customers that entry is by invitation only. Let them know that by coming along, they’ll be able to see, try and purchase products or services which are either not available to others or not available at that price. 

You could hold a closed door sale promoting:

  • New products

  • Discounted products (to move or clear stock)

  • Gift-with-purchase offers

  • Everything at 10% off

  • Two for the price of one

  • Buy two get one free

“Social media can be an inexpensive way to target customers for promotions and events”

Remember to make it exclusive and special. If customers think they can get this deal at any time, they’ll have no incentive to visit your store at the special time. Try some gimmicks like blacking out the windows, having it professionally catered or hiring entertainers. Of course, these options depend on your projected sale proceeds, margins, and costs of holding the event. If you’re selling $1 items, you’re going to have to sell a lot to cover your costs – in which case, maybe go easy on the entertainment. 

Don’t think that if you haven’t got a retail space, this concept can’t apply to you. It can. If you’re a builder, host a preview night of some of the latest designs, materials and projects available. Give customers an offer – like say a complimentary garden setting or, if the projects are of high value, perhaps a spa (which you can then pass on at cost, although the customer will be seeing the value at retail price).

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