As a small business owner, finding clients is one of your strongest suits—you’re a natural at turning potential clients into sales. But, your job isn’t over after the first sale. Now, you need to enhance your relationship with each client and find a way to build customer loyalty. Use these tactics after each initial project to increase the value for your patrons and your business.
Practice #1: Make the Most of Referral Programs
After a project has been completed, it is an excellent time to offer your client access to a referral reward. Tell them to invite their colleagues for discounts, service credit or a prize entry.
After a project has been completed, it is an excellent time to offer your client access to a referral reward.
Consumers are four times more likely to spend money when referred to a company by a friend. So, referral programs are an invaluable tactic for you, and a marvellous incentive for the people who already want to purchase your services.
Don’t Have a Referral Program? Here’s How to Set It Up
Keep in mind when you launch your referral program, you’ll have to set specific parameters. Include an easy-to-find page on your website that outlines those parameters. For example, do you want to set a cap on the amount of referrals a client can send in a specific time period? When will referral links expire? The details are important.
You can easily set up a referral program using a system like ReferralCandy that seamlessly integrates with your website. With a system like this, you’re quickly able to launch a program that sets people up with cash, discounts and special rewards for their project referrals in a matter of minutes.
Practice #2: Use Your Email Newsletter to Keep Nurturing
Email is a fantastic tool for relationship building, as you discovered while building your initial client base. On the flip side, it is not generally a good idea to use automated emails to blatantly ask people to hire you for their project. If it didn’t work before, it’s not going to now—but that doesn’t mean you should ditch automated email systems to interact with your clients altogether.
Use your email newsletter to remind clients of your referral program, send them to your blog content, and ask them to follow you on social media for exclusive offers and helpful tips. The bottom line is that your email newsletter should remain useful to leads and clients, never spammy.
Don’t Have an Email Marketing System? Here’s How to Create One
I recommend that most beginners start out using MailChimp—it’s free for up to 2,000 contacts, and you can send up to 12,000 emails each month. As your business needs grow, you can upgrade your plan or export your lists to another, more advanced platform.
Embed MailChimp’s sign up forms to your website in sidebars and footers or as pop-ups so subscribers are automatically added to your lists. Create beautiful campaigns using the provided templates, or design your own with a little bit of coding knowledge. Leverage automation features like category and product follow-up, best “customers” and customer re-engagement to send personalized emails to specific clients without lifting a finger. Integrate with other apps and services you already use like Google, SalesForce, WordPress, social media and more.
Practice #3: Reward Clients for Following on Social Media
You want to build your following on social media, and the best followers are your current clients. If they’re happy with their experience of your brand, they are likely to share your posts and optimize your presence for virality—they are the fans that are going to give weight to social shares and make your brand visible. Rewarding clients also gives you the opportunity to monitor likes and comments from people who are utilizing your services to find out what they want to see more of. So, what kind of rewards can you offer for social followers?
The following make great rewards for current clients:
- Branded Swag
- Contest Entries
- Digital Discounts
Never Launch a Social Media Campaign? Here’s How to Start One
There are various ways to offer incentives. First of all, you need to make sure the client has actually followed you on social media in order to receive their gift. You can implement your offering with a link to a “gated-like” promotion on your Facebook page, through user-generated content, or by leveraging a social media contest platform.
Here are three social media contest platforms to check out:
- Woobox: Create engaging, entertaining social media marketing campaigns starting at $30 per month for 50K fans.
- Votigo: This is the complete contest and sweepstakes company. Use the software to run contests, sweepstakes, and engagement campaigns across social media platforms for $500 per month for up to 12K Facebook likes.
- Gleam: Over 200K companies use this platform to run social media campaigns. The service is free for up to 10 winners with a limit of 2 repeat actions.
Practice #4: Thank Clients With Unadvertised Bonuses
There is no better way to show a client how valuable he is to you than by offering him something exclusive. Not every promotion needs to be public. By offering unexpected rewards, you make the client feel appreciated.
Some service providers send me branded stickers after the initial project is complete; though I don’t normally use them for anything, I do notice the effort, and their brand stands out when I make hiring decisions. If you’re having a hard time deciding which branded swag to purchase, Vistaprint now offers the “PromoBox” with a monthly box full of branded products that you can gift to your patrons.
I once hired a freelance social media assistant who sent me a copy of her favorite novel because she said my interactions with her reminded he of one of the characters. Her thoughtful gesture was the foundation of what became unbreakable rapport.
Be creative with the unadvertised bonuses—give something extremely helpful or at least memorable. When you do something that shows you are thinking of your client, your client will think of you.
What are you doing to build brand loyalty? Share your ideas in the comments below.
about the author
This is a guest post for the FreshBooks blog. FreshBooks is the #1 accounting software in the cloud designed to make billing painless for small businesses and their teams. Today, over 10 million small businesses use FreshBooks to effortlessly send professional looking invoices, organize expenses and track their billable time.