By guest author Tiana Byers, lead content creator at Ecomdash
As a small or medium-sized business owner, you know the struggles of competing against enterprise-level corporations that boast thousands of customers and budgets bigger than what you’re willing to spend. Without that kind of capital, it can be hard delegating resources specifically to marketing and customer retention, because every area of business — from purchasing to accounting — feels like a priority. Though competing against big box retailers can feel like going up against Goliath, as a small business, your status does grant you a competitive edge when it comes to customer service.
Research shows that in spite of how great a product may be, 68 percent of customers will stop supporting a business if they feel that company is indifferent to them. The bigger a company gets, the harder it becomes to pay attention to each customer individually. Even as you grow, your small business has a better shot at interacting with customers in a meaningful way compared to massive retailers. Take advantage of this opportunity, and use these four customer appreciation tips to win repeat customers.
Tell Them Thanks
Given that you are in control of the packing process, or at least are the one working directly with your warehouse or fulfillment center, you have the perfect opportunity here to connect with buyers. Add a handwritten thank you note to your packages, thanking buyers for their business and letting them know that they can reach out to you if any concerns arise. This will not only communicate that you are a professional business owner who looks out for customers, but may also encourage buyers to leave a positive review. No time to handwrite notes? No problem. Take advantage of the packing slips and customize them in bulk to include a similar thank you message.
Throw in a Freebie
To win over buyer loyalty, try throwing in a small freebie with each of your packages. This can be especially effective for orders on your own website or more creatively lenient sites like Etsy, but make sure you comply with marketplace policies for other channels. Use this as an opportunity to show appreciation to repeat buyers for their second order, or to demonstrate to new buyers that you appreciate their trying out your products. When deciding what you want to use as your freebie, pick something that is small and cost-effective. Ideally, it should also reinforce your brand and be congruent with their purchase. For example, online makeup shop NYX Cosmetics typically sends free lip liners along with every order.
Shout It Out
When customers share pictures of their items or experiences with your brand across their social networks, be sure to share these posts. Shout them out and thank them for their support. When you share your gratitude and empower them as part of the brand, you encourage them to continue sharing — which grants you free publicity to get in front of other potential customers. True, some big companies do this as well, but small businesses have the ability to engage with customers more frequently, often in a more personal way. Consider asking loyal fans to serve as “brand ambassadors,” and incentivize them to share your products to their social channels frequently by offering in-store discounts in exchange. For tips on how to capitalize on each social site, read our posts on Pinterest, Instagram and Vine.
Have a Party
If you sell at a brick-and-mortar location as well as online, be sure to integrate your in-store sales with your online sales through a POS software. When your sales are set up to be consolidated, throw a special shopping day for your customers. Encourage them to come by and shop by offering 15 percent off everything in the store (or whatever makes sense for your business). Have some snacks or drinks prepared, and turn the sale into a social gathering. Create an event for the sale day on Facebook, and send an invitation to your customer email list. Frequent shoppers will invite friends to tag along, which will expand your audience reach and hopefully bring in new buyers. If you sell exclusively online, you can still host a similar party. Choose a day as your very own customer appreciation holiday, and offer a discount site-wide, or on whichever items you’re hoping to push. Regardless of whether your party is online or in-store, as long as you make it fun for buyers, they’ll remember this as a positive experience and will likely remain loyal customers.
About the Author:
Tiana is a content marketer and writer for Ecomdash. Her favorite author is Oscar Wilde and she is a self-proclaimed Etsy addict.