A common mistake among business owners, especially those who are new to this title, is to focus almost exclusively on getting leads and attracting new customers. And while it is important to know how to increase customer base, it isn’t the only thing you need to be thinking about. Your existing customers are just as important as anyone new. In fact, they may be more important in the long run since nurturing long-term relationships with customers bring many long-lasting benefits. So you should definitely make it part of your business strategy.

Nurturing long-term relationships with customers is important for every business in every industry

"open" sign on a door.
Nurturing long-term relationships with customers will ensure that you stay in business longer.

No matter what industry you’re in, your customers are what drives the growth of your business. Without them, you won’t be able to keep your doors open for very long. So it’s vital to keep them coming and, more importantly for your long-term success, keep them coming back. There are many different types of brand development strategies that you’ll want to consider when coming up with your business plan.

Some of them will be more focused on quick growth that doesn’t necessarily last long; at times, this kind of short-term thinking can be beneficial. But if you plan on staying in business for more than a few years, you’ll need to think about long-term solutions. And in the long run, having a loyal and dedicated customer base will prove more effective than constantly trying to attract one-time shoppers.

The benefits of nurturing long-term relationships with customers

Building and maintaining lasting relationships with customers comes with some great benefits. So much so that any work, time, and money you put into the effort will more than pay off in the end. So what can you expect from focusing on long-term customer relationships?

Reduced customer attrition

Statistically speaking, you lose somewhere between 20% and 80% of your customers every year. The higher that number, the more new customers you need to attract to make up for it. Not only are new customers not easy to acquire, but they are also not likely to stick around – the majority of them will only make the very first purchase and not come back again. But if you focus on retention through good customer relationships, you can avoid this vicious cycle. You’ll build a customer base of constant shoppers that you can always count on. Then, each new customer will help you grow instead of simply replacing an old customer that you’ve lost.

Reduced marketing efforts

A plan for nurturing long-term relationships with customers on a tablet and notebook.
Selling to existing customers requires a lot less effort than converting new ones.

No matter how good of a digital marketing agency you hire, converting leads into customers is never a guarantee. You’ll need to put a lot of effort (and a lot of money) into your marketing to succeed. But existing customers already know and like your business. They’ve tried your products or services and, if you did your job well, were satisfied with their experience.

It’ll be much easier to convince them to buy something else from a business they’re already happy with than it will be to convince someone new to take a chance on you. The difference is striking: you have a 60-70% chance of selling to an existing customer and only a 5-20% chance of selling to a new one. Focusing on long-term customers will, therefore, require a lot less effort to produce a sale.

Increase in sales

Not only are you more likely to sell to an existing customer, but they will also spend more money than new customers. Existing customers (especially happy ones) make larger purchases more often. They’re also more likely to try new products because they already trust the business to produce quality goods. Finally, you should take into consideration how much any given customer spends on your business through their entire relationship with it. A one-time shopper won’t have much of an impact on your business, even if they make a large purchase. But the sales you earn from someone that regularly spends money on your products will accumulate over time.

Word-of-mouth marketing

There’s no better marketing than a testimonial of a satisfied customer. That kind of endorsement goes a long way in building your reputation. A positive reputation can, in turn, be the deciding factor in whether a potential customer chooses your business or not. Not to mention, happy customers talk. If you’ve built a relationship with them, they might recommend you to friends, family, coworkers, even strangers on the internet. In doing so, they can generate top moving leads for you without you ever having to lift a finger.

More accurate insights that build better strategies

Google Analytics on a computer screen.
It’s easier to analyze a consistent customer base.

Having a diverse customer base is great. It indicates your appeal across different demographics and opens up more opportunities for your business to expand. But there’s a difference between a diverse group of customers and a constantly changing one. If you’re constantly cycling through customers due to high attrition, it’ll be hard for you to accurately gauge who your customers really are, what they want, and what type of marketing they’re responding to. But it’s important to be able to analyze these kinds of data.

Information about your customers and their preferences should guide your marketing and development strategies. It’ll be much easier to gather accurate and representative data from long-term customers you can count on. That way, you’ll be targeting the people who really matter instead of planning in accordance with what one-time and window shoppers like.

A quick guide to nurturing long-term relationships with customers

You don’t build a relationship on a single interaction. Similarly, you don’t build relationships with customers on a single transaction. Instead, it’ll take time and continuous effort to do so. Here are some things that you must make a priority if you want good long-term relationships with your customers:

  • focus on an emotional connection to build brand loyalty: You want your customers to care about your business. The more attached they are, the more likely they’ll be to support you long-term. So make an emotional connection – tell them your story, let them see your passion, and make them feel like they’re a part of something special.
  • offer quality customer support: Sometimes, things won’t go right and your customers won’t be happy. Sometimes, they’ll simply have questions they can’t find answers to alone. In either case, you need to be there for them because customer service is very important for long-term customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.
  • make customers feel appreciated: Everyone likes to feel cared for, including your customers. So listen to their feedback and give them what they want. Include regular discounts and special offers into your business plan. Most importantly, treat every customer like they’re the most important person for your business.

By nurturing long-term relationships with customers these ways, you’ll grow your business steadily and consistently. Remember: it’s a marathon, not a sprint!

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