4 Ways to Keep the Flame Burning and Your Customers Returning

Yes, we know—Valentine’s Day is over. In fact, we’ve published this love-themed piece after Valentine’s precisely because the timing drives home our key point: Just as you don’t stop romancing your partner when the sun sets on Valentine’s Day, you don’t stop wooing your customers after a single encounter, grand event, or promotion.

So how do you hold on to that intoxicating initial spark? Keep a relationship growing? Well, unless you’ve managed to hire Cupid on retainer, you need to take matters into your own hands and actively invest in your relationships all year round. Especially if you own a small business and want to cultivate customer loyalty and boost customer returns.

Read on to learn all about 4 killer app techniques that show small business owners like you how to retain customers and keep the romance going strong. Feel free to test-drive these tactics with your significant other, too. Either way, you won’t be disappointed…

1. Surprise and Delight

The essence of keeping the relationship flame burning bright (and getting those returning customers) is delighting your clientele with occasional surprises they’re sure to love. For example, as a small business owner, you can use your app to send out a surprise coupon just because it’s Sunday, or issue a push notification on a special event, like when you get in some great new merchandise or add a special item to your menu.

The folks at The Pit Stop Bottle Shop, for example, send out special app-specific/beer-specific push notifications to their app users. “This lets customers know when we have rare brews on tap. The push notifications make the app effective. It keeps them coming back for more.” They also host a plethora of exciting events that keep their customers on their toes, as seen below.

push notifications to users

And just like a romantic gesture between partners, enticing your customers with special promotions and offers should happen more than once in a blue moon. The key is to be consistent, and at the same time, maintain the “unexpected” angle when you reward them with special perks.

2. Add Some Spice

Adding spice to a relationship can definitely turn up the heat. Just ask the experts at Cosmo… Now, as a small business owner looking for ways to retain customers, you’d do best to skip the scented candles and sexy lingerie. Instead, you can shake things up for your customers by running cool app-based contests that engage and entertain them.

Make sure your contests are simple to enter and participate in, and design them so that they are creative and relevant to your business and client base. And don’t forget to offer a reward that makes it all worthwhile. You want your customers to have fun, you want to give them a rush, and you want the experience to be so cool, they’ll tell all their friends—who’ll rush to enter the contest themselves (and download your app in the process…).

The Clubhouse, a specialty sportswear retailer, has seen some remarkable results with this customer-retention method.

“We run contests for customers, and the only way to participate is by downloading the app and using the Forms feature. We raffle off a customized item—like a hat or pair of Oakley sunglasses. The raffle is advertised on social media and in all of our stores. To participate, customers have to download the app and submit their email address using the Forms tool on their mobile. For our last contest, we received 200 unique email addresses. For each contest, we average 150-200 unique email addresses—all using the Forms function. Since we started promoting the app and running our contests, we’ve seen about a 5% increase in total sales—online and in our stores.”

app contests

Case in point. And moving on…

3. Listen to Your Significant Other

Strong relationships are founded on mutual respect, cooperation, and active participation. If partners feel they can openly have their say, that their input is valued and respected, they are more likely to commit, and the relationship is more likely to flourish.

As a small business owner, you can apply these principles to your affairs. Use your app to collect customer feedback and reviews on a regular basis. Encourage your customers to contribute their opinions, and respond to them promptly and diplomatically. You can also implement (reasonable) customer suggestions, and involve your fans in certain business decisions, like which specialty item should be added to your menu or store. Keeping the feedback channels open is a great way to gain loyalty, retain customers, and fine-tune your business to boot.

Chris Torti, owner of The Clubhouse, explains, “We also use Forms as a means to collect customer feedback. A small business should always be receptive to customer feedback. ‘Listening’ to feedback creates a personal connection with the customer and ultimately, promotes loyalty.”

4. Remember What Made Your Relationship Work in the First Place

A final imperative tip to see you off. Keeping the flames burning with all sorts of novelties and ingenious frills is great; but these are supplements, and they shouldn’t replace the essential, tried-and-tested foundations of your relationship.

What was it about your app that drew customers to your store in the first place? Your rewarding loyalty cards? Your valuable push notifications? Stick with the methods that have proven themselves, and use them as a basis for expansion with exciting new building blocks and fun extras.

Logan of Scojo’s Italian restaurant shares the bread and butter that got his customers to use his app over and over, “The most important features on our app are the menu and loyalty card. The loyalty card lets us give back to our customers that have been coming for years. The main benefit for us is that the loyalty card keeps customers coming back. If they are only one ‘punch’ away from receiving their free meal, they are going to come to our restaurant over someplace else.”

“The menu feature is also important because it cuts time spent looking at the physical menu in the restaurant. This means customers wait less and servers have more time to provide a great experience. Our customers feel valued.”

So there you have it—4 solid tips to make sure you don’t lose that lovin’ feelin,’ be it with your small business customers or your significant other. And now that you’ve covered the basics, we’ve prepared a lovely surprise just for you: the ultimate checklist!

So skip the couples’ therapy, give Lionel Richie a break, and download our free e-book—a comprehensive guide to the 5 proven secrets that’ll get your customers falling in love with your business and keep them coming back again and again. That’s what we call good lovin’…

Make Your Customers Fall in Love