Advertising is all about raising brand awareness and attracting new customers, right? Well, sort of — that’s only part of it.
It’s just as important to maintain and please your existing customer base. Maintaining your current assets isn’t always as glamorous or exciting as acquiring new assets, whether those assets be customers, old blog posts, or storefronts. That said, it’s extremely important.
Your existing customer base is the foundation of your future customer base. This is because your existing customers are already your best customers. They’re the people who’ve already spent plenty of money at your business, they’re the people who are most likely to continue spending money at your business, and they’re also one of your best sources of new customers.
Why are Existing Customers so Important?
Let’s take a look at some of the statistics around how existing customers interact with a business. For one, 65 percent of sales come from existing customers. Second, of all future sales, 80 percent of profits will come from 20 percent of your existing customers. Third, perhaps most interestingly, repeat customers spend an average of 31 percent more money than first-time customers.
These numbers shouldn’t be shocking. Think about your own spending habits. If you haven’t been to a restaurant before, you’ll probably try one or two menu items to test the quality of service and food. You have a great experience. Next time, you bring your family or friends and get those delicious dishes you had the first time, as well as a few more. Now, this is just a theoretical scenario, but it should also be common sense.
Note that in the above scenario, not only do you spend more money the second time you visit that imaginary restaurant, but you also bring new customers. Word of mouth is a vital organic marketing tool that you can only leverage by satisfying your existing customers. According to one study, 92 percent of consumers trust suggestions from people they know more than they trust advertisements. That statistic alone should tell you how important it is to keep a strong focus on maintaining your existing customer base.
Building and Maintaining an Audience
In terms of marketing, you should think of customers as an audience. Therefore, your business and marketing efforts need to inform, entertain, or otherwise keep that audience engaged.
First, you need to build that audience; then, you maintain it. This is called audience development. To tie this back to the existing customer idea, imagine a free concert in a public park. The band starts playing, and a few people gather around. A small crowd starts to build. People walking by see the crowd and think, “This band might be alright!”
A strong, engaged audience validates your brand for potential new customers. You may have heard the idea that if a restaurant is empty, it’s probably not very good. But, of course, an empty restaurant might actually be very good — they might have a problem with audience development.
IndoorMedia has previously covered various methods of audience development and small business marketing — how to build an audience. It starts with understanding your buyer persona. Part of it is purely providing great service and products. Contests are a surefire way to grab the attention of both existing and potential customers.
Building an audience (or customer base) for your business is about advertising and then following through on that advertising. Maintaining that audience is about consistency — if a customer comes to your restaurant ten times in a row, they should be able to get the same dish every time and experience the same level of quality, both in the food and the service.
Tips for Maintaining Loyal Customers
Here are a few tips to consider as you plan services and marketing efforts to keep those customers coming back.
1. Maintain multiple communication channels
Your business needs a social media strategy. This is both a way to push marketing materials and allows your customers to reach you directly. With commenting and direct messaging capabilities on platforms like Instagram and Facebook, you can receive and quickly respond to direct feedback. This is in addition to in-person feedback, your business phone line, and so on.
Advertisements help keep your business at the forefront of peoples’ minds, whether they be existing or potential future customers. Utilize Cartvertising in grocery stores. Try billboard advertising. Definitely advertise on social media. Maintain multiple marketing channels to ensure you reach people where they are.
3. Reward loyalty
This is the simplest, most clear way to please your existing customer base and make sure they keep coming back. Reward them for doing so! Many grocery stores have member cards that allow customers to get discounts every time they spend a certain amount. Coffee shops usually have punch cards that will enable customers to get every tenth coffee free. Make an email newsletter and use it to announce new products or special deals. Just remember: keep your customers engaged!