Build and Maintain Your Customer Database;
Customers are the foundation of any successful business, although for new business owners, initiating a customer database can be difficult and daunting. Before opening a new business, you must establish customers. Without customers your business is nothing more than an expensive and time-consuming project. For online business, it is easier to begin operations before properly establishing a customer database as you are not under the financial pressures that come with a ‘brick-and-mortar’ business. However, for most new businesses, it is essential to begin building customer relationships prior to your business’ open.
Advertising your business’ launch provides the opportunity to build suspense for potential customers to both excite and engage them. This can be achieved through social media posts, posters and flyers, sponsor advertisements etc… Giving away free samples to influencers can be a moderately cheap and highly beneficial strategy to showcase your products and build excitement for release dates. Discounts are another great incentive to ensure customer presence on your first day of trade.
It is important to ensure you have a website or social media platform for customers to refer to for information on trading hours, location, and open date. This also allows you to inform customers on your business’ products/services and even tease the exclusive products that will be available for purchase. Providing a professional looking online space instils confidence in your brand and the services/products you provide. It can be beneficial to put a face to the brand to demonstrate your confidence in the brand whilst providing a more intimate connection with consumers. Make sure to outline what sets you apart from your competition – if you own a café, give customers a reason to invest in you over the café next door. Most importantly, before you begin reaching out to potential customers, identify your market and advertise accordingly to avoid wasted investments.
Once you have established a pool of potential customers and have begun trade, you can start to identify and categorise your customers. A brand that applies the same approach to all customers is unlikely to be successful due to the diversity of the customer spectrum. Customers can range anywhere from browsers, likely to look once and walk; to die-hard fans, providing a guaranteed sale upon every visit. It is important to know your customers so that you can alter your approach. Without being familiar the customer, this can be difficult, so it can be helpful to determine why they have chosen your business to browse and what they are looking for specifically.
To make it simple, customers can be categorised into the following groups.
The Potential Customer
A potential customer is technically not a customer yet but generally a new or return browser. If they are a new browser, it is important to provide as much information to them as necessary to introduce your business and set yourself apart. Being able to provide reviews on your products, services and customer care can be hugely beneficial for these types of customers. Try not to be too pushy to avoid intimidation whilst gently initiating a relationship. Remember; if they do not make a purchase, this is not a loss but an opportunity to provide them with a reason to return. For return browsers, try to determine their reason for returning and the reason for the lack an initial purchase. This can be achieved through casual conversation or virtual surveys. If the browser has signed up through your website, perhaps a discount email offer may prompt them to make a purchase.
First time customer
This customer has made their first purchase from you. Generally, these customers won’t purchase in bulk, they will make a small initial purchase to test quality and value-for-money of your service or product. If this customer is satisfied with their purchase, there is huge potential to convert them into a loyal customer.
Ensure this customer has been properly versed on how to use your product of service to achieve maximum value. Sending them a check-in email a week or so post purchase can help to gather feedback and express your investment in customer satisfaction.
These customers need little convincing to make a purchase. Try not to bombard them with information, allow them to browse and be ready at the register. Offer them additional products that match or may work alongside their chosen products. Be active with these customers after purchase, remind them of your brand by advertising new product releases via text or email.
Although these customers can be hugely beneficial, the likelihood of a regretful purchase is more prevalent with them, so ensure they are satisfied with their purchases. Consider offering store credit for any regretful purchases to avoid complains whilst still ensuring a sale.
With every business comes the bargain hunters. They require little information about your products as they have likely done the research and price/quality comparisons prior to purchase. These customers often rely on customer reviews, so ensure you are including them on your website to give the best reflection of your brand and complete transparency. It can be helpful to explain the value of your products/services to avoid comparisons with cheaper, lesser quality brands. It can be difficult to keep these customers after the conclusion of discount sales, so it is vital to prove your worth through quality customer service.
These customers will appreciate receiving discounts and sale notifications, you can rely on them to make an appearance at stock clearances!
Every business strives to build a loyal customer base with companies investing substantially in marketing strategies to ensure loyalty amongst consumers. Once you have established a loyal customer, don’t let them slip away, they are your brand ambassadors and will draw business through word-of-mouth. Ensure they are looked after and feel valued. Try to gather as much feedback to identify what they value most about your business and what could be improved. If possible, feature them on your social media, make them feel like a VIP!
No matter what type of customer walks into your store or visits your site, it is crucial to gather contact information through registrations and subscriptions to ensure you are reaching your target market.