How to Turn One-Time Buyers Into Year-Round Customers

The holiday rush brings an influx of new customers. To keep them coming back, try these tactics.

The holiday season will bring an influx of new customers to your small business. After the holiday rush, though, how do you bring these customers back throughout the rest of the year?

Once you have a customer in the door, they are a high-potential source of future sales. Data from Marketing Metrics found that a business has a 60 to 70 percent chance of selling to an existing customer, compared to just a 5 to 20 percent chance of closing a deal with a prospect.

The holidays provide a rare opportunity to make an impression and establish a relationship with newcomers. Use these tactics to keep new customers coming back for more.

Gather Customer Information

Email, social media and content marketing are top tactics for bringing buyers back, according to conversion optimization company Invesp.

Encourage buyers to provide their contact information for these efforts by offering to send them discounts, special offers or advance notice when in-demand items are in stock. If you have an email newsletter with advice, tips or reminders, encourage people to sign up by emphasizing its value. For example, let new customers know that your newsletter provides guidance on proper maintenance of the products and services they buy.

Gather information from buyers at all touchpoints by asking your staff to request customer contact details at in-store checkout and building a prompt into the online checkout page on your e-commerce site.

Contests can also work to get this information. For instance, a gourmet food shop can give away a case of wine as a prize from a contest drawing. A toy store can offer a large gift certificate to the winner. Use your social media channels to broadcast your contests and gather entries — and contact information — from followers.

Incentivize Return Visits

A discount or deal for their next purchase can incentivize a new customer to come back, and helps to solidify their relationship with your business. This offer can either be given at checkout as a coupon or sent in a follow-up email, text or direct mailer.

Focus these incentives on products related to what they purchased, such as add-on or replacement items. For example, if someone buys a gas grill, consider sending a discount for a weather cover, grill brush or decorative yard planters. If someone purchases a laptop, send an offer for a discount on a second power cord or carrying case. You can also encourage repeat visits via price breaks on your most popular items.

Another way to bring people back is through a rewards program. If you offer a free pie for every $75 spent in your bakery, for instance, or a $25 gift card after a $100 clothing purchase, you are more likely to see new customers again. Create a punch card or other system for tracking purchases to make it easy for both you and your customers.

Ask for Referrals and Reviews

Peer referrals and reviews significantly impact how customers feel about your company and whether they will revisit. While some will happen naturally based on good offerings and strong customer service, most will happen due to your efforts.

Be sure your team is prepared to ask for referrals by providing a script and advising them on optimal times to ask. For example, a carpet cleaning company’s best moment may be when rugs are clean and an invoice is presented. Have materials on hand that make it easy for people to pass along your information, such as brochures or business cards at checkout or a link in an email and on your site. To entice customers further, provide a discount for referrals.

Reviews are also important. Research from SEO agency BrightLocal finds that most consumers read four or more reviews before trusting a business enough to make a purchase. This kind of assessment may impact whether someone keeps coming back, too. Encourage reviews from happy customers by providing a link to a review site on your business cards, receipts, invoices or in an email.

Remember that customer service is a key element to keeping people coming back. Designate someone on your team to field and quickly address customer complaints, whether they’re phone calls, negative online reviews or other expressions of dissatisfaction.