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Affordable Ways to Keep Customers Coming Back
Author: Stephanie Taylor Christensen
Thursday, May 29, 2014

Looking for cost effective ways to build your business while maximizing a small marketing budget? Find ways to keep the customers who’ve already purchased from you coming back for more. Here are some affordable ways to do just that.

Offer convenient payment options.

Accepting credit cards isn’t just an added convenience for you and your customers, it can help you compete with larger retailers, and boost your own upsell potential. In the study "Do Payment Mechanisms Change the Way Consumers Perceive Products?" published in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers found that the intention to pay with either cash or credit can determine whether a consumer concentrates on a product’s benefits or its cost — to the extent that they even choose different products when they know paying with credit is an option.

Customer loyalty programs.

Understanding more about what your customers want, when, why—and for what price point is the to keeping them. While obtaining and analyzing customer data in order to develop customer retention management (CRM) programs was once reserved for larger companies with big budgets and dedicated marketing resources, appealing to your customer’s true wants and needs and promoting to them based on that knowledge is no longer cost prohibitive for small business owners. Swipely, for example, acts as a credit card payment processor and CRM tool in one so you can message, thank and reward customers accordingly. If you already have a payment processing system, Swipely promises to" price match" whatever you currently pay that vendor. Belly is another affordable program that allows small businesses to execute customer loyalty and rewards programs, either by giving customer’s a physical card, or encouraging them to download the app. (Not sure you’re equipped to manage a loyalty program? You can try Belly for free)!

Top of the line customer service.

Offering first-rate customer service doesn’t require that you work around the clock or have a large staff—but it can certainly lead to lasting, and invaluable customer relationships. For less than $12 a month, Zopim is a real-time customer-support tool that equips you and your team to communicate with customers via instant messenger, on a smartphone with the Zopim mobile iOS app, while customers browse on your site, or while they’re perusing your social media pages. (It also allows you to set hours for when support is available so you don’t annoy customers).

Make your messages newsworthy.

The value of how you communicate with customers is less about how much you say, and everything you do with how relevant it is to them at any given time. Instead of sending a blanket email marketing message or promotion every week simply for the sake of sending it, take advantage of the customer data you obtain from the tools mentioned above to target your messages, appropriately—even if it means tweaking language, and even offers, for different segments of your audience to understand more about what they want. For the customers you haven’t yet obtained insight about, a tool like CrazyEgg offers look into what customers find of interest on your site, with analytics and site "heat maps." For less than $10 a month, such insight can serve as the foundation for what information you provide on your site, and help you understand where you might elaborate, or focus on certain products, features, and trends in your social media and marketing messages in order to spark more customer conversations, and build relationships.

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