4 Tips for Turning New Customers Into Repeat Customers

So much of our energy is spent trying to attract new customers. We want to increase brand awareness, make new connections and woo new customers into our stores. But we’ve all been told that keeping an old customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one. So what are you doing to make customers swoon once you’ve already attracted them? What are you doing to turn new customers into repeat and even lifelong customers?

Here are 4 tips to help you do just that.

1. Offer return shopping discounts.

One way to give people an incentive to keep shopping with you is to offer discounts to help get them back in the store. That may mean throwing a coupon in with their order or sending them a targeted mailing two weeks after their first purchase. Either way, the coupon gives them a reason to seek you out again and gives them something branded to hold on to and associate you with. Leaving customers with something tangible they can use helps to build your brand and keeps their experience with you fresh in their minds. If you’re going to use discount coupons as a way to target repeat customers, make sure the discount is sizable or unique enough that it will stand out from more generic offers. You need to give someone a reason to use the coupon. Otherwise it (and your brand) will get stuck in their junk drawer.

2. Start a mailing list.

One of my favorite ways to re-target people time and time again is via e-mail lists. E-mail lists give small business owners a more personal way to stay in touch with past customers. You can use your e-mail list to keep customers updated on what you’re up to, share personal business stories, and include information about promotions or special events to help people get back in the store. E-mail marketing is great from a customer retention standpoint, not only because it enables a business owner to include promotional information, but because it helps you develop a more intimate relationship with your customer. E-mail is personal. When you show up in the customer’s inbox, it’s a sign that the customer trusts you and your brand and that they want to further the relationship.

3. Offer exclusive discounts.

Another way to encourage repeat business is to offer special discounts to your best customers – whether that means your most profitable customers or the ones that have a history of being loyal. By showing that you recognize the value that they bring to your customers, you make them feel appreciated and encourage them to keep doing business with you. The exclusive offers you give them may include higher discounts, more attention in some way, or early access to sale prices. Make it something that sets them apart and lets them see how much you value their loyalty. Many business owners do this by creating a “private list” or branded “membership program” to help people feel acknowledged and valued.

4. Create a compelling experience.

People buy based on brand, but they also buy based on experience. If you want people to come back and keep doing business with you, then you need to focus on the experience that you’re building with them. Some small business owners send handwritten notes to thank customers for making a purchase. Others include small gifts in their orders. Others focus on creating the best experience they can while someone is still in the store. As customers start to feel more and more empowered thanks to social media, I believe it’s this “experience factor” that will be most influential in whether or not customers choose to spend money with your company.

Those are some areas small business owners should focus on when trying to encourage repeat business from customers. What has been key for your business? What do you focus on?


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

7 Reactions
  1. So much of this can be done with an effective email marketing system, but remember that a personal touch goes a long way in making customers feel valued.

  2. One of the things I’ve done over the years is to send a personal note to people in my dbase. I’m a huge fan of email marketing and use Infusionsoft and love the segmenting capabilities of it. However, nothing can beat the personal touch, like you say Robert, and so I pick 10 people a month (somewhat randomly), visit their website, and check in on them with some personal questions and, when appropriate, some ideas or info to help them in their day job. Almost always gets the conversation started.

  3. Another good one Lisa. Thanks for sharing your expertise.

  4. More profit has been in recurring sales. Businesses won’t to forget that significance.

  5. Getting to know your customers and their needs is the best way to get repeat customers. Thanks for posting!

  6. I love TJ’s idea. I’m going to do that! We do offer 10% off when someone is a repeat customer of our management training videos.

    But, we try to help them on their first visit with cost effective solutions so they want to come back. I find that and emailing twice a month with leadership tips helps.