Recurring revenue through customer loyalty


17th March, 2021

Maintaining customer loyalty: Your key to recurring revenue

More than ever, it’s essential to foster a loyal client base as the key to recurring revenue for your business.

Loyal clients are more likely to buy from you than someone that hasn’t interacted with you yet. They know you, they like you, and they trust you to deliver. That’s a special relationship to have with returning clients.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t have a plan for new clients. You should strategise on how to make new clients into fans that return again and again. It would help if you gave your clients a reason to keep returning to you, and you do that by building loyalty.

So what’s the secret to building loyalty? It’s easier than you think. The most important aspect is to build relationships with people, and there are multiple ways to accomplish this.

Here are six tips on how to boost customer loyalty in these challenging times.

1. Introduce a customer loyalty program

The biggest mistake a small business can make is to think the customer journey ends at the point of purchase. In reality, the relationship has just begun. This is the start of a long-term relationship that needs to be beneficial for both of you.

Once someone has purchased from you, you’ll want them to engage with you again. One of the easiest ways to do this is by rewarding them for returning.

This is where a customer loyalty program steps in.

A customer loyalty program rewards your customers for purchasing from you, engaging with your brand, or even sending referrals your way.

There are plenty of options to choose from for customer loyalty program incentives. Some ideas include:

  • Discounts
  • Cash
  • Free products
  • Birthday presents
  • Prizes

Frank Body, an Australian skincare company, calls their loyalty program “Hotel Pink”. It’s an interactive loyalty program that starts in the lobby and moves to other parts of the hotel as you earn more points.

Frank Body customer loyalty program
Frank Body’s loyalty program, Hotel Pink.

Points are earned by purchasing products, referring friends, posting a review, and sharing about the brand on social media.

Customers earn insider perks like discounts, try product samples before they hit stores, and enter competitions to win prizes.

With a loyalty program like that, customers are happy to be receiving free stuff, and you benefit from a boost to customer ‘stickiness’. It’s a win-win for everyone.

2. Keep a well-optimised local search listing

If you’re a small business, being visible to your customers at all times is important, and for many decades buying space in a local print directory was one of the most cost-effective ways of doing it.

Today, you’ll want to budget for maintaining  more modern equivalents, such as a Google Local listing to ensure you show up in online search results.

Let’s say someone were to search “Sydney dentist” on Google. The results usually show up in this order:

  • Google Ads
  • Local Pack
  • Organic SEO Results

Google Ads can get expensive, and while there are alternative options, as well as business blogging and organic SEO as great long term strategies, it can take months, possibly years, for the efforts to turn into a front-page Google result for certain keywords.

READ: Blogging and link building as small business marketing tactics

Google’s Local Pack offers benefit to businesses by offering a map-based result for any search queries it thinks are relevant, such as: ‘Vet clinics near me’, right in the normal search results.

You can optimise your listing to be a landing page for your business and get included in the Local Pack results. You can include your website, hours, photos, and share updates.

To bring your business to the next level, it’s important to consider using a CRM software. Since it allows you to analyse the customer journey, you get an opportunity to create highly customised offers and update local listings based on customer interests and preferences.

You can build a loyal client base by making it easy to find you and contact you with a properly optimised local listing.

3. Have a strong brand image

Brand image refers to how customers view your business. It’s how they perceive the values of your business.

If you want to make a memorable impression during a pandemic, show the human side of your business and show some empathy. Build an emotional connection with your customers. Now more than ever they want to get to know the people behind the business.

Take the time to share the story of why you started your business and how you are working to solve your customers’ problems.

This strategy works exceptionally well for Patagonia. Many people may not find much to be excited about when it comes to outdoor gear, but Patagonia’s brand is much larger than its product category.

Patagonia publicly promotes its passion for activism and philanthropy, especially around climate change. They’ve dedicated a large part of their website to hero their values and their customers’ values in saving the planet, while also sharing tales of travel and wilderness adventure.

This focus on their customers’ passions pays off.

Patagonia is the leading outdoor apparel market, and their vocal activism is one of the main reasons why. People like to know that they buy from businesses that want to do the right thing, and Patagonia has done an excellent job of demonstrating that they care about the environment.

Opening up about your business values will help your audience relate to you more and decide that they want to stick around because they have the same morals.

Building an emotional connection with a strong brand image will make customers like you for more than your product — they like what you stand for as a business.

Don’t forget to boost your brand’s image with consistent branding over all marketing channels, branded packaging supplies and branded transaction emails. All touch points between you and your customer should have your branding front and centre. This is key to boosting customer loyalty.

4. Don’t be afraid to innovate

There’s no shame in remodeling your business to meet your clients’ needs better.

You may start offering new services like delivery, takeaway, or online shopping. You could also add more customer service channels like a chatbot on your website.

Take a look at Fresh Choys — a wholesale fruit and vegetable business catering to restaurants in Melbourne.

When the lockdown occurred, restaurants closed. Suddenly, they had produce but no customers.

So the company decided to take an unconventional route: selling their products on WeChat, a messaging app, to individuals.

Orders took off, and Fresh Choys had to employ more people to keep up with thousands of customers’ demands.

This company succeeded by staying in touch with what people need and how you can deliver a memorable experience.

Looking for more examples like this? There are plenty of MYOB customers that have undergone dramatic change in the face of recent challenges, and you can read about them in the Powering Forward content series of articles and videos.

5. Create a community around your business

Your customers are more than your audience — they’re a community with a much stronger bond than any audience. It’s universally acknowledged that people like to feel like they belong. Bringing together your customers with the same problems or desires will have a beneficial impact on your business.

A community can almost feel synonymous with a brand. Think about CrossFit. It’s a fitness regimen with a large community supporting it.

CrossFit community
Consider CrossFit: a community approach to running a business.

The CrossFit community builds bonds by working out together and also promotes competitiveness by hosting games. Communities like that are unstoppable and a firm foundation for a loyal client base.

Even though in-person events aren’t always possible, you can still create a community virtually. Some ways to promote a community vibe can include:

  • Hosting workshops
  • Creating Facebook groups
  • Engaging on social media
  • Promoting business values
  • Building online courses with a community function

6. Give out five-star customer service

One of the fundamental principles of building a loyal audience is customer satisfaction and giving them more than expected. Following trends in customer support is essential during the pandemic since making a customer feel special will make you a memorable brand.

Excellent customer service needs to start at the very beginning of the first purchase from you. If they don’t get excellent customer service, they aren’t coming back. They might even write a bad review.

The first step to stellar customer service is to make sure you set up the right customer support systems. Simply put, your customers need to know how to contact you.

If you don’t have any specific customer support system set-up, decide now how your customer will reach out to you. Some ideas include:

  • Putting a chatbot on your website
  • Using live chat on Facebook
  • Have a phone number or email address specifically for customer service
  • Insert a contact form on your website
  • Check social media for mentions and messages

It should be easy for a customer to get in touch with you, and your response time needs to be quick. One study shows that 88 percent of customers expect businesses to reply to them within an hour. Meanwhile, 62 percent of companies don’t even respond to customer emails.

That’s a massive disconnect from expectations versus reality.

The good news is that you can easily stand out from the crowd by responding quickly to customer service inquiries. Take it a step further by training your employees on how to give excellent customer service. This almost guarantees that your customers will stay loyal to your brand.

When people know that you care about them, they will return the favor and care about you.

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Above all, keep your loyal customers front-of-mind

Even though the pandemic has caused havoc for businesses, it’s possible to adapt to the changing circumstances and still succeed. This is the part where small business owners can get creative and find new ways to connect with their customers.

Keeping your business successful during a pandemic is much easier with a loyal client base though.

Many people care about keeping their favorite companies in business, so make sure you are one of their favorites. Build a relationship with your customers, and don’t forget to reward them for standing with you.