By Michael Gavin, SVP, Sales, Merchant Warehouse
Early last summer, I wrote ‘Three Key Strategies to Attract Customers and Grow Sales’, an article geared towards small business owners, both merchants and resellers, and focused on customer retention, customer service and leveraging mobile to attract new customers. As I reflect back on the past seven months and both my personal experience as a consumer as well as the key activities of our customers (agents, resellers and merchants), I want to take a deeper dive and focus in on one specific topic – customer retention.
It’s well documented that it’s exponentially more expensive to attract a new customer versus retain an existing one, yet so many business owners focus the majority of their attention, and financial investment, on acquisition and not retention. Building loyalty with existing customers is a critical business initiative that should not be overlooked and it’s typically a lot less expensive than advertising to attract brand new customers.
Loyalty marketing programs date back to the late 1700s in the U.S. and they’ve continued to grow in popularity over the years especially recently. Originally more prevalent in travel and hospitality and with larger retailers, technology and innovation have driven down many of the original barriers, making loyalty a very attainable and valid marketing opportunity for small and mid-sized businesses as well. Whether the offering is based on points, frequency or discount rewards, in today’s world there are loyalty programs designed to meet any business needs. Loyalty programs are inexpensive, easy to activate and they deliver a measurable return on investment.
If you own a business and you are not leveraging loyalty, you’re likely missing out. And, the same applies for resellers that offer business solutions to small and mid-sized merchants. While these programs may not drive the incremental income of other ancillary ‘value-add’ offerings, they will foster a better relationship with your merchant customers, offering them a valuable business solution and driving revenues to their bottom line.
In the end, loyalty programs are a win-win for merchants and resellers alike. Those who aren’t offering loyalty are most definitely missing out.