Have you ever been in awe of brands that seem to have mastered the art of “customer whispering,” frequently getting casual onlookers to buy on the spot? Much of this comes from consumer attraction techniques that anyone can learn and apply easily. Follow us as we demystify conversion and customer retention with the help of a few simple tricks.

How to turn browsers into customers

Unless you have managed to create a completely unprecedented product or service, chances are you probably have some competition. Lackluster advertising or indifferent promotion will not make you stand out to shoppers, even if your product or service is truly of good quality. No matter if you use flyers, TV ads, or even a huge lightbox sign, your advertising needs to appeal to viewers’ underlying desires. Otherwise, all potential customers see is an ocean of options that look more or less the same. Implementing the right promotional strategies is key to making your product stand out.

Methods that you need to start putting into practice include the following:

  • Buy strategic ads on sites that your target market is likely to browse. Even if they don’t click the ad, they’re now thinking about you, which makes them at least 23% inclined to buy.
  • Update a blog regularly with highly shareable content, such as articles and videos that your audience will find engaging and interesting. This boosts your Google search ranking, viewer exposure, and reputation for expertise.
  • Describe products with phrases that appeal to customers, emphasizing benefits they get from your product.
  • Let your product speak for itself with free demonstrations. Consumers are more likely to purchase if they’ve seen the product in action.
  • …and more! If you have a physical location, use creatively placed signs that invite customers to interact with a product directly. This is suggested to boost sales up to 400%.

How to turn customers into marketers

You know that your product or service isn’t just good, it’s great—and customers are starting to notice. Now, how do you get satisfied customers talking about you? Here are some other ways to receive free marketing from your happiest patrons:

  • Each client has a network that they directly influence—their friends and family. They are 92% likely to trust their friend or relative than other forms of advertising. Since every customer has more control over your reputation than you do, you need them on your side. One way to accomplish this is to offer each buyer a freebie or discount by referring a friend who makes a purchase. This gives standing customers more reason to tell their friends about you, all while getting customers at a low cost.
  • Encourage buyers to review your products on social media and tag you, so you can share and retweet their opinions. To avoid the appearance of fishing for good reviews, include some less-than-flattering observations, along with a brief statement of how you plan to improve any shortcomings noted. (Follow through on all promises you make, or this plan will backfire.)
  • Start a “street team” or advocate network that gets the first look at new products or services—regular customers and prolific social media users are good candidates for this. Reward these brand advocates with discounts, extended-hours access, or other benefits. In exchange, they’ll spread the word about you to their friends, family, and social following.
  • Reply to all comments and reviews on your social media profiles and business listings. It empowers customers when they see you making changes based on their input. In fact, customers who see replies to negative reviews are over 80% more likely to do business with you.
  • Increase word-of-mouth advertising by testing Gail Goodman’s cycle of “experience, entice, engage.” Treat customers amazingly well, encourage them to stay in touch, and incorporate what they have to say into your generated content. This gets them back in the door, more satisfied every time.

Consumers are more likely to talk about businesses where they feel like they have a personal connection and their presence is valued, and this involves a lot more than just saying “We love our customers!” Show that you love their business by taking time to listen to them and learn about their interests, and incorporating those whenever possible. If what you’re doing is genuine, your customers will naturally start talking about what you do and sell.

How to turn one-time buyers into loyal patrons

When someone buys your service or product for the first time, it may have been solely out of necessity. If another shop has a better deal and a friend’s recommendation, your customer is likely to go there instead of returning to you. It can be time consuming to put in the work to develop a relationship where your patrons become loyal customers, but the effort is completely worth it.

Loyalty programs tend to be generic and offer repetitive, unexciting benefits. An inbox full of coupons—such as a percent off out of season stock—isn’t too great. If you want to establish a rewards system that keeps customers coming back, you need an attention to detail that bigger businesses may not be able to provide; for example, easily accrued and redeemed “points.” Who wants to be told that they will only get one point per purchase, and the full 20 points only gets them 20% off a full-priced item?

You can be more creative with your customer loyalty program. Chuck E. Cheese, for example, really knows how to tailor toward their target demographic—children. The tickets are a tangible measurement of how much they’ve earned, and the prizes available to redeem are on full display the moment they walk in the door.

Other brands with excellent loyalty strategies make point-earning methods easy and versatile, and the rewards are actually worth working for. Starbucks and Gilt have tiered rewards programs with ever-increasing benefits, making them accessible to clients who use the program occasionally and followers who can’t get enough. Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Best Buy give users the flexibility of converting points to cash. How can you create a loyalty program that fits your brand culture and your main customer’s needs?

Beyond this, take a personal interest in repeat customers. Here are some ways to do so:

  • Congratulate them on important occasions in their lives—birthdays, anniversaries, and so on. Offer them a free gift or coupon for the special moment. This expresses your appreciation for their loyalty and presents an opportunity to further the business-to-consumer relationship.
  • In your everyday transactions, be impeccably honest, even if not doing so would cost or require you to admit a mistake to customers. If you don’t handle their money with honor, you will lose more than just the affected parties—they’ll tell everyone they know.
  • Don’t be afraid to admit your mistakes, or to go the extra mile and offer amends through good discounts or other perks. This shows that you value your customers, which makes them happy to shop with you.
  • Throw in unexpected freebies for no reason at all. Give them a useful promotional item with their purchase, like a water bottle or flash drive branded with your logo. Send them a voucher for a free item of a set value as a “just-because.” Offer free hot drinks if the weather is unpleasant. They’ll remember the nice surprise and keep coming back.
  • Find more suggestions from Client Heartbeat and Vistage.

There’s not one approach that will please every customer. That’s why a targeted strategy for establishing loyal customers will be your best method for a successful future in your business.

Let us know which of these tactics you’ve tried and how they worked for you. Share your stories in the comments below, or tweet us @Bplans! 

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Katherine Halek
Katherine Halek

Katherine Halek is the content strategist and social media manager at Signazon, a leading online printer that works with thousands of small businesses around the country. Katherine enjoys writing about social media, marketing, and the ins and outs of advertising. Connect with her on Google+.