If you are self-employed or run a micro-business, you can easily become obsessed with finding new customers. It’s natural, particularly when starting your self-employment career, to brainstorm all the ways you can attract new clients. Clients, after all, are the life blood of your business. Without them, you’ll be shutting your doors and heading back to a day job.
Though new customers are obviously important, the customers you already have may be more important. This statement is supported by cold hard data. Consider a few of the following statistics from Invesp’s article “Customer Acquisition vs. Retention Costs – Statistics and Trends”:
- It costs 5 times as much to attract new customers as it does to retain current customers.
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% compared a 5-20% probability of selling to a new potential customer.
- Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and they spend 31% more than new customers.
- Increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profit from 25-95%.
Many freelancers have a one-off approach to sales. They focus most of their marketing efforts on attracting new customers, then land a customer, sell a service, finish the work and move on to landing the next new customer. Rinse. Repeat. While you must have customers to keep customers, at least some of your time and energy should be spent trying to turn current customers into repeat customers.
Ways to Retain Customers
- Know what your customers purchased in the current year and in past years.
An understanding of a current customer’s purchase history with your company can help you spot trends like seasonal purchases. This knowledge can help you market services to the client at times they are more likely to make the purchase.
- Build a customer email list and use a CRM or email marketing platform.
Device an email marketing automation workflow to schedule some automated tasks triggered by purchases of services and segments of your services (specific types of services). Create a “repeat customer” segment in your list. Use CRM or an email marketing application to send newsletters, event announcements, tips, free guides and special offers tailored to repeat customers.
- Engage with and respond to customers.
Find out what your customers need and want by staying in contact via phone, email and social media. Pay attention to what they are saying and always respond to positive or negative feedback.
- Build loyalty by treating repeat customers as members of an exclusive club.
Repeat customers are special and so their loyalty should be rewarded. That could mean offering discounts, payment plans, credit, invitations or free tickets to events, a coffee card, coupon, or a lotto ticket.
- Always follow up after a purchase and say thank you!
This may seem obvious but is easily overlooked. When a customer purchases a product or a service, follow up with a thank you and ask for feedback about their experience.
- Give without an expectation that you’ll receive.
Provide something that is of value without expecting anything in return. It could be useful tips, articles, guides and advice by email; useful swag; a discount; a free evaluation; and, if the client runs a business, a mention and link on your blog or social media.
- Trade a discount, service or product for important customer feedback.
When your customers speak…listen! One way to get the feedback you need to improve products or services is by conducting surveys. Surveys can be by email or survey forms (check out SurveyMonkey), or focus groups. For example, you could email customers a survey and in return for their answers provide a discount.
How Flare Can Help You Retain Customers
While Flare is great small business accounting software, more importantly, Flare provides useful tools for monitoring your business’s financial performance, including customer value tracking. You can quickly find out who your loyal customers are and track the value they bring your business. You can easily see customers’ purchasing habits month by month and compare their purchases in the current year with the previous year. You can view income by customer in an easy-to-understand monthly bar graph, or, download a spreadsheet or PDF list of total purchases for each customer. See all Flare Cloud Accounting benefits for small business.
Flare’s customer value tracking.