By Jacob Meador | 4 May 2020
It’s easier to keep old customers than win new ones.
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably learned this fact.
Old customers already know where your store is, know what you offer, know who you are, and so on. All you need to do with them is get them to buy again.
Thus one of the most important things a business can do is come up with ways to incentivize old customers to buy again and, even more important, built a stronger sense of loyalty in their customers.
How do you do that?
The answer has two parts.
One part of winning return business is relatively simple: Every successful business has to nail these three things:
If you don’t excel in these areas, you won’t have a business for long. Doing these things alone won’t guarantee return business, of course, but if you do not have these things, you can be fairly confident you also will not have return business—or any business at all before too long.
That being said, many businesses that really do have a good product and delight their customers still struggle to survive.
Why is that?
Often it is because while the business does its product exceedingly well, it hasn’t figured out marketing—and so it struggles to get enough customers to keep its doors open.
So how do you try to reach past customers and prompt them to visit your store again?
This is where many businesses get tripped up. Because this is ultimately a technical problem, not unlike a technical problem you might run into while fixing something on your car or in your home: You have a fairly specific problem and you just need the right tool to fix it.
Where many businesses err is in thinking that they can use something like Facebook ads or even email to solve this problem. But that’s a bit like trying to use a hammer to turn in a screw: the screw will probably go in, but it will be much harder to pound it in and you’ll ruin the screw in the process.
For encouraging return purchases, the best tool available to you is probably already in your pocket: It’s your phone.
In particular, there are two methods for using texting that work quite well for encouraging repeat customers.
First, you can send out alert messages when something a customer has purchased in the past is on sale.
This can be done in a couple different ways.
The easy way is to be attentive to the seasonality of your products and send out alerts during certain times of year. Perhaps you’re a bakery: If you’re coming up on the 4th of July, you might send out alerts to anyone who has bought an apple pie from you in the past to see if they’d like one for the holiday.
There is another method. You can also look at your customers on a person-by-person basis, closely track purchases, and when you have a limited sale on a product, send out an alert to anyone who has bought that product in the past or who has bought it multiple times, if you want to send to a more targeted group of customers.
The reason this works is simple: You already know the person you’re texting likes the product in question. So you don’t have to sell them on the product itself. The only thing you have to do is convince them that now is the time to buy that product again. They may still have objections to buying, of course, but timing-based objections are much easier to overcome.
The other obvious use for SMS to win repeat business is to link your SMS marketing efforts to your loyalty program. Many businesses offer loyalty cards or bonuses to their customers. So why not use people’s phone numbers as their identifier for your loyalty program?
You can, of course, text them receipts after purchases, but you can also use it to update them on their rewards status. You can also tie this idea to our first idea: If you are offering double rewards on a certain day, text that information to your customers.
It would be great if all you needed to do to succeed as a business is offer a great product to your customers. But we all know that that isn’t how it works.
You need the right tools to keep you in front of customers and to encourage customers to keep patronizing your business.
Amongst the possible tools you could use, we believe that SMS is both one of the most neglected and most effective. If you would like to learn more, the best thing you could do is sign up for a free 14-day trial of our SMS marketing software.