A Marketing Plan for Local Businesses

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.44.30 PMA study by Marketo shows that businesses with documented marketing plans are more likely satisfied with their marketing efforts than those without one. But according to the same study, small companies aren’t implementing this strategy as widely as larger ones: only 56% of companies with less than 50 employees take the time to prepare a marketing plan, while 81% of companies with over 1,000 employees have one.

A marketing plan makes a big difference in getting your message across, and is essential for the healthy growth of any business, of any size. Below are some questions you should be able to answer to ensure that you’re on track to producing an effective marketing plan.

1. Do you understand your target market? 

You can’t develop a successful marketing plan if you don’t understand who your customers are. Carefully think about your ideal customers and consider questions like “what is the average age for your demographic?” or “how often do they need my product or service?” The more specific you can be with your definition of your ideal customer, the better you can target them.

2. How do your ideal customers get their information?

Once you identify your target market, you can begin determining what methods would be the best way to reach them in order to showcase your product or service. You can ask yourself questions like “Do my customers use social media. If so, on which channels are they most active?” One way to figure out what marketing channels to use is to look at how your competitors are reaching out and see what you might do similarly or differently. It’s also important that you maintain updated profiles and listings on heavily frequented directories like Google+ and Yelp, something Signpost’s marketing solution will help you achieve.

3. What is your marketing budget?

According to an article from the U.S. Small Business Administration, most small businesses should set aside 7 to 8% of their revenue to spend on marketing. However, as the same article notes, small businesses in the early brand-building years often spend as much as 20% of their sales to build their brand and drive awareness to their products and services. Ultimately, all businesses are different, and how much you put aside for marketing should be determined by how much money you’re generating.

4. How will you track your success?

It’s not enough just to plan and execute your marketing activities: you also have to track your results. This will help you gauge whether your business is moving in the right direction with its marketing efforts; what’s working, what isn’t, what needs improvement. With this information, you can adjust your marketing plan and budget as necessary. This is particularly important for budgeting, because you don’t want your hard earned dollars spent against ineffective marketing tactics. A marketing automation solution like Signpost can offer your business robust analytics software that will give you the intel you need to make the right decisions.

For more in-depth instructions on how to develop a killer small business marketing plan, you can download Signpost’s newest guide, “A Marketing Plan for Local Business” here.


3 Reasons Your Local Business Needs a CRM

Part database, part prospect insights, customer relationship management (CRM) systems are essential when it comes to keeping track and staying in touch with potential customers. This kind of detail-oriented tracking is even more important in smaller businesses, where each and every customer makes a big difference.

But what exactly is a CRM system? Basically, CRM systems are central repositories for customer contact information, call details, email and transaction history; meaning every interaction a business has with a client is carefully detailed for further analysis, engagement and reporting.

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 3.54.04 PMDespite this value, CRM returns are not always transparent. A study by Nucleus Research found that every 1$ invested in a CRM system generates $8.71. Another report by Salesforce found that CRMs help small businesses increase sales up to 29% and improve productivity up to 34%

Need more proof? Below are three reasons all businesses need a proper CRM system.

1. A system that constantly automates and aggregates useful data provides effortless revenue maximization.

Having a system that automates and aggregates data collection via email, phone and text into a CRM that you can easily access means that you save big time on the hours, dollars and effort usually spent on manual tracking and messaging. Instead, your sales pipelines are now completely transparent so you know exactly how much customers are spending and what they’re spending their money on. Signpost’s system aggregates all of this information for you, including payments, emails, and phone calls to make sure your customer list is always growing. With the most up-to date data always available, maximizing revenue and minimizing costs just got a lot more effortless.

2. Data analysis leads to outcomes. 

By running basic reports and tracking metrics, you’re able to have a better handle on various aspects of your sales process. Not only can a CRM track all interactions your business has with customers, it can also can automatically aggregate new customer information from text, email or phone calls, keeping it in one convenient location. Services like Signpost can then take this information and provide data analysis and actionable insights to help you turn customer data into sales and profits.

With a proper CRM system, Nucleus Research found that employees were 26.4% more productive because of the ability to access valuable customer data from anywhere.

3. Automated, uniform data access leaves more time for the business owner.

If there’s one thing all small business owners have in common, it’s that they’re busy. The most important reason you need a CRM is quite simply that it will save you time. An automated, centralized system is a great way to make sure none of your customer data slips through the cracks, and that you’re consistently reaching out to your customers, all without the need for active participation on the part of the business owner or employees.

A CRM is also important for helping you to identify new and repeat customers. And that’s a big win for ever-important customer satisfaction; the better prepared and informed you and your employees are about customers, the more likely customers will have a positive experience, which inevitably leads to higher sales. A CRM will make sure your business is always prepared and running efficiently.



How to Know Whether Your Online Marketing is Working

Retail magnate John Wanamaker once famously said: “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.”

unnamed-2Fortunately, more than 100 years later, advanced technologies now exist that can tell you exactly which marketing efforts are paying off and which ones aren’t. Marketing automation technologies like Signpost gather dozens of data points to provide businesses with actionable charts, stats, and insights that can maximize revenue and minimize costs.

But with all of these data points, how do you know if your online marketing strategy is working for your small business? First, establish your business’s goals so that you know what signs of success to look for. Sure, ultimately you want to increase sales, but breaking up your goals makes it easier to understand where in the sales funnel your marketing strategy is working and where it’s not.

As a local business owner, you should be able to answer “yes” to the following four important marketing strategy questions:

1. Are you driving feedback?

The best way to know how customers feel about your business is to ask them. Sounds simple enough, but most small businesses don’t ask their users for feedback—even though doing so would help businesses understand their customers better. Gathering feedback and insights from customers can help you build better products and services and market your offerings in a more relevant way. This will help you continuously improve and stay on top of your industry. To help get a handle on how your customers feel about your business, consider using a marketing solution, like Signpost, which prompts customers for unbiased feedback, notifies you when people respond, and stores all the information for easy access.

2. Are you driving reviews?

In today’s digital world, where an estimated 81% of customers conduct online research before making a purchasing decision, having a positive online presence means everything to your business’s success. And the more positive reviews you have on your site, the better your conversions. Signpost reminds customers to refer their network and encourages them to share their positive reviews of your business online. If 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends, family, and the online community more than they do any kind of advertisement, then it should be every business’s priority to get customers to spread the good word.

3. Are you driving referrals?

Like the aforementioned, recommendations from friends, family, and the online community is everything to consumers today. If you’re able to encourage customers to refer their own networks to your business, then you have found the secret sauce to marketing. This kind of word-of-mouth marketing is the lifeline of any local business, and it’s the result of effective online marketing. When a business is able to communicate effectively, it builds a strong connection and a good relationship with its customers, who are then more likely to recommend that business to a connection.

4. Are you driving loyal customers back in the door?

Signpost believes that “the only thing better than a new customer is a repeat customer.” The longer a customer has been purchasing from your business, the more they’ll spend with your company. A study by Bain & Company found that apparel shoppers spend 67% more per order after shopping with a company for 30 months compared to how much they spent during the initial purchase. In short, a loyal customer is much more profitable than the average customer and a repeat customer is always more cost effective than a new one. Signpost’s tools identify your most active customers and use automated, custom messages and activity-based offers to build loyalty. To know whether your online marketing is working, you need to ask yourself if your strategy is helping you understand your customers better. Do you know what they want from your product or service? Are you providing the product or service they want? And if so, have you encouraged them to spread the good word for you? That’s what good marketing is supposed to do. Signpost can help you track your success and automate campaigns that make the most out of your budget.


What’s the Real Cost of a Bad Review?

Technological advances have made customer reviews more important than they’ve ever been. Today, a bad customer service experience can travel twice as fast and reach twice as many people as it once did simply because platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google reviews exist. These review sites have become powerful forces in the online reputation world, with 92 percent of consumers saying they believe recommendations from friends, family and the online community more than any form of advertisement. Furthermore, because of their popularity, most of these review sites will turn up higher in search results than any SEO-friendly website, meaning it’ll be easy for customers to come across existing bad reviews.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 3.36.44 PMAnd consumers place a lot of weight on these reviews. According to a report by Convergys Corp. one bad review or comment on social media is estimated to cost a business 30 customers. When you take into account Yelp, Twitter, Facebook, Google and all of the other platforms that allow customers to tell the world about their negative experience, results can be devastating, particularly for a small business. One estimate found that the annual cost of unhappy customers totals more than $537 billion in the U.S. alone.

But no matter how great your customer service is, eventually you might have to face a bad review. Even the most conscientious business will have a dissatisfied customer every once in a while. The real question is, then, how do you bounce back after that customer leaves a negative review?

Below are a few ways small businesses should deal with bad reviews online.

1. Strengthen Your Online Presence

If you’re going to get some bad reviews, you better have some good ones to offset the negative ones. It reportedly takes 12 positive reviews to make up for one negative. To achieve this, your business first has to establish a digital footprint where customers can easily share their positive experiences. While setting up multiple social media accounts may be time consuming, services like Signpost can streamline the process of setting them up and interacting with your customers through them. Additionally, make sure that customers can easily find review sections on your website. Again, this is important as reviews are becoming increasingly important in purchasing decisions. This report found that 61% of customers read online reviews before deciding on a purchase.

2. Encourage Reviews

The best way to boost positive reviews is simply to ask for them. In particular, customers are usually more inclined to leave a review if they’ve been encouraged to do so directly after they’ve had a positive experience. Small businesses that use marketing automation software like Signpost can automatically encourage customers to share their thoughts and experiences after they interact. Don’t forget: it takes 12 positive reviews to make up for one bad, unresolved review.

3. Respond in a timely and cool manner

Negative reviews might not be disastrous if you know how to respond effectively. If a negative review comes through, reply with an apology and an offer to make it right. Other customers who come across the review will see that you are trying to remedy the issue. Whether positive reviews or negative, always be consistent when responding to comments about your brand. Doing so will show your customers that your business is improving, and that you value them and care about their opinions.

Whatever you do, never exacerbate. Occasionally you’ll encounter a reviewer who is interested in starting a fight. Once you’ve apologized and offered a solution, let it rest. The customer may attempt to escalate the discussion, but engaging it will only make you appear defensive and unprofessional.

Over time, a few bad reviews will happen to any business. By encouraging your customers to leave reviews and making it as easy as possible to do so, you’ll have a strong, positive online presence. Be proactive by having a reputation management technology like Signpost to mitigate the risks that come from negative online testimonials. In the digital age, there’s not much room for mistakes: an automation tool can help your local business gain a strong reputation, ensuring customers that it’s the right choice for them.


Top Tactics for Marketing Your Local Business

The ability to implement effective marketing is what differentiates thriving businesses of any size from struggling ones. There are a number of marketing techniques small businesses can use, but making sure to use the right tactics will save your business time and can also reduce marketing costs by an estimated 15-20%. Below are some best practices all local businesses should adhere to:

1. Automate, Automate, Automate!

  • Automate Reviews: 88% of customers  say they trust an online testimonial as much as a personal recommendation. Often, customers want to leave positive reviews, but aren’t actually asked to do so. Marketing automation tools like Signpost can automatically prompt users who had a positive experience to submit reviews, which it will collect these and post to all relevant channels. For customers who had a negative experience, Signpost will ask them to provide commentary, then automatically forward this information to the business owner so they can address concerns–discouraging clients from posting negative reviews online. Automatic management of reviews continuously attracts new clients while keeping current ones feeling involved and satisfied.
  • Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.56.16 AMAutomate Social Media: Social media is an important digital avenue for businesses of all sizes to engage with current and potential customers. Automating the process means small businesses can effectively get their message out to their audience, without having to think about all day about tweets or posts.
  • Automate Email: Sending regular, targeted emails is perhaps the most impactful strategy a small business can employ, with one study showing that email marketing is 40 times more successful in converting customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. Email marketing can educate your customer about your product and services, in addition to positioning you as an expert in your field and offering loyalty discounts, all of which drive more purchases. With a marketing automation system like Signpost, the marketing engines start up immediately and begin compiling important customer data essential for targeting customers through email. Automation tools will also give valuable analytic insights to how your customers are reacting to emails and brand.

2. Encourage Word-of-Mouth Referrals:

Even in today’s fast-paced digital age, word-of-mouth referrals carry a lot of weight; 85% of small business owners claim that this is the best way to attract new clients. While digital tools obviously can’t directly create word-of-mouth recommendations, a robust cloud-based CRM system like Signpost’s can help small businesses to build a loyal customer following through the automated tools above, which in turn will generate real-life referrals and ultimately more traffic. 

When choosing amongst marketing strategies and technologies, one final helpful tip is to think not solely of your business’s current needs, but also needs it may have in the future as it grows. For more strategies, best practices, and details on how to make your local business’s marketing efforts their most efficient and productive, click here to download Signpost’s latest guide “6 Top Tactics for Marketing Your Local Business.”


5 Things An Effective CRM Should Tell You About Your Customers

Looking to spark more sales for your local business this month? Get to know your customers better!

Iunnamed-2n recent research, Gallup found that “consumers will give more money to the businesses they feel emotionally connected to,” resulting in a “23% premium in terms of share of wallet, profitability, revenue, and relationship growth compared with the average customer.” One essential route to engaging clients, according to the research, is establishing a consistently great experience every time a business interacts with them. How then can small businesses ensure that excellent customer service happens every time? The simplest way is to implement a proper customer relationship management (CRM) software, like Signpost, that not only can track all interactions a small business has with its customers, but also can automatically aggregate new customer information from text, email or phone calls. From there, a local business owner can use that information to create targeted email campaigns and loyalty offers.

A good CRM should be able to answer the following questions about customers:

1. What is the best way to reach each customer?

Actively gathering and updating information on how to contact your customers by email, phone, and text message will make it much easier for you to market to them. In fact, studies find that 80% of sales leads require at least five follow ups after the initial contact or meeting. Numbers like this prove it’s crucial to know how to effectively follow up with potential customers.

There are several ways to ask for a customer’s contact information without being pushy. Some retailers offer a discount to customers who join their email or mobile messaging list upon making a purchase. Other businesses regularly include special offers in their email lists to encourage customers to sign up. Many professional service businesses will post free white papers on their websites that require an email for downloading purposes.

Manually gathering customer data can be a pain. Make sure you investigate solutions, like Signpost, that will automatically aggregate it.

2. Have you done business together before?

It’s much easier for customers to make a purchase from you if they don’t have to repeat information (such as the address where they would like something delivered) each time they contact you.

Technology can help you streamline the process. For instance, Signpost’s advanced caller ID function identifies callers and automatically adds them to your customer contact list. That way, when they call again, you will be able to quickly access their information without having to ask them to repeat it.

3. How much do they spend with you?

Every customer deserves great service, but to grow your business, you should know who your best customers are and show them special appreciation. Cultivating these relationships is what will really help you to move the needle on your revenue. Which of your customers are most or least active? Does your CRM note this for your future marketing efforts?

Consider these facts: Your best customers are worth 30 times more than your average customers, according to business intelligence platform RJMetrics. Perhaps even more insightful from this report is that the top 1% spend as much as the bottom 50% put together.

It is easy to lose track of what people are actually spending in the daily hustle of running your business, but your CRM system should automatically gather and collect this information to save you time, money and manpower.

4. How did they find you?

It is essential for small businesses without big marketing budgets to understand what types of outreach are most effective. Did your best customers call you after a referral from a friend, uncover your business through a Google search, or show up because of an in-store event? The more you can do to identify trends from sales leads, the more you’ll know about what’s working for you.

If you don’t have this information at your fingertips, start using your CRM system to gather it. It will help you plan future marketing efforts that pull in similar types of customers.

5. Have they been happy with the service you’ve offered?

Customer reviews can heavily influence new prospects’ willingness to do business with you, so make sure you keep a close eye on them. A survey by ZenDesk found that 88 percent of respondents were influenced in making buying decisions by online reviews. In fact, 92 percent of consumers believe recommendations from friends, family and even online testimonials more than they do any form of advertising.

Satisfied customers might not automatically give you reviews, so you may have to ask for them. A CRM that can automate this, like Signpost, is an excellent source to send customers prompts to review your business.


4 Reasons SEO is Not Enough for Local Marketing

Few people need to be convinced of the importance of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). With a total of 64 percent of all web traffic likely coming from organic searches, it’s definitely a meaningful way to surface your business to potential customers. Local SEO continues to grow in importance as well, especially now that over half of all searches occur on mobile devices, which makes local targeting much easier.

SEO alone, however, isn’t sufficient for local marketing. Making your website easy to find is important, but it takes much more to genuinely draw consumers in. Small businesses that rely soley on SEO are missing several key avenues to drive growth. Below are four integral parts of a successful marketing strategy that suggest SEO isn’t enough:

1. RSEOeview sites are extremely influential.

Do you know where all those new mobile searches are taking people? In large part, they’re going to business review sites such as Yelp or Google Plus. According to its CEO, Yelp is growing its mobile web traffic at 37 percent year-over-year. In most cases, Yelp will turn up higher in search results than any SEO-friendly website, mostly because of its hundreds of millions of unique visitors monthly.

That means it’s just as important to optimize your business for local review sites as it is to optimize it for searches. High quality reviews from customers will make your business more visible and more appealing on these sites. Marketing automation software such as Signpost can help with this by encouraging customers to share their thoughts on your business on channels like Yelp and Google+.

2. Businesses need lead nurturing to build relationships with potential customers.

Another shortcoming of SEO is that it focuses entirely on getting people to your website, with no thought for what comes next. Having a potential customer visit your site is a good first step in the sales funnel, but it usually takes significantly more effort to drive conversions.

In fact, nearly 80 percent of new prospects never become customers, but companies that excel in developing relationships with customers at every stage of the sales funnel generate 50 percent more sales with 33 percent less cost.

How do you excel at lead nurturing? Companies should have a process in place to pinpoint sales leads. After getting someone to your site or store, you should make sure to encourage them to share their contact information. That way, even if they don’t make a purchase, you can target them later with email marketing and SMS marketing.

You should also ensure that you make it easy for people to give feedback and have quick and effective customer support to respond to any concerns. By making it easy for people to give feedback, you improve customer service and learn ways to improve your business.

3. Consumers are more likely to trust referrals and personal recommendations.

In the past decade, the value of customer relationships has skyrocketed. Faced with an endless bombardment of advertisements, consumers are less likely to trust marketing (which includes business websites) and more likely to trust friends, family, and even online testimonials.

According to Nielsen, an overwhelming 92 percent of consumers believe in recommendations from friends and family more than they do any kind of advertising or marketing. For that reason, having existing customers refer their friends to your business tends to be extremely effective. Not only are people more likely to trust referrals, but with Facebook and Twitter, people can reach hundreds of friends and followers with a click of a button.

In addition, you should always be looking for ways to drive more value from your existing customers. Loyalty programs and special deal notifications can be great tools to create a positive customer experience and get your existing customers to be even more active.

4. Data analytics are essential for future growth.

When consumers visit your site or store, they don’t just represent potential leads. They also represent valuable data points that can help you better configure your business and marketing efforts to meet the needs of your customers.

Unfortunately, most local businesses don’t have the time or expertise to turn that data into actionable recommendations. That’s why the Harvard Business Review declared “data scientist” to be “The Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.” The combination of massive demand and a very limited number of people with this skill set means data scientists are hard to find and can command a hefty paycheck.

Fortunately, Signpost’s marketing software offers business analytics tools that can help you make sense of the numbers and lead to quality, data-driven decisions that drive growth and efficiency.


A Digital Marketing Guide for Franchises

With a vast array of ways to connect with customers in the digital age, and multiple locations for franchisors to keep a handle on, managing marketing efforts across multiple locations presents a number of challenges. How, then, do franchisors make sure they have the right technologies in place to support their franchisees marketing efforts? Our latest eBook, a “Digital Marketing Guide for Franchises,” outlines some tactics for ensuring that each franchise is set up to drive new business and repeat purchases. Highlights of the guide can be found below.Screen Shot 2015-08-20 at 10.47.09 AM

Generate Organic Traffic: Today’s businesses are required to have a digital footprint, and it’s not enough just to have a website. An estimated 81% of customers conduct online research before buying, so maintaining a strong presence on heavily frequented social channels like Google+, Facebook, and Yelp is imperative. An automated marketing technology like Signpost can ensure that each franchisee’s social channels not only have a robust and consistent digital brand presence, but that their reviews are consistently up-to-date. 

Foster Customer Relationships: Digital tools can ensure that franchises not only increase in-store traffic, but also keep customers coming back. Technologies, like Signpost, can easily encourage reviews, referrals, and repeat purchases through automated re-marketing emails, which is critical for maintaining strong customer relationships.

Location Monitoring: Keeping track of the franchisee’s most important asset (their customer data) is tricky, especially with disparate sources, but digital tools can make the process as easy as a few clicks. As an example, Signpost offers robust master reporting which displays information like the total customer base, total number of customer actions, and total number of customer email opens across all locations. Having quick and seamless access to the information on an aggregate or individual franchise basis allows franchisor’s to track growth and customer habits on both a macro and micro level, respectively.

With these tactics, franchisors can make sure they own both their franchisees and their technology framework for growing their business. Click here to download the full eBook, “A Digital Marketing Guide for Franchises.”


The Future of Brick and Mortar Businesses

How can brick and mortar businesses compete in the digital age?

Despite the massive success of e-commerce sites, data from the U.S. Department of Commerce shows that online sales only claim a small percentage of total sales—approximately 7%. This shouldn’t be surprising, considering that brick and mortar businesses have distinct advantages over e-commerce such as immediacy, street credibility, and the option to test a product before making the financial commitment. That being said, there’s also no denying that e-commerce has its strengths, including fewer limitations on supply and reach.

By Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 3.26.22 PMengaging more heavily in digital marketing practices, brick and mortar businesses can also make headway from an online perspective. Data suggests that 81% of consumers researched a product online before buying, and 60% used a search engine, which means having a digital presence is key to customer acquisition. Small businesses also need to remain engaged with their customers so they can build long-lasting relationships to keep them coming back, driving client retention.

To this end, technologies like Signpost become the key difference between profitable and unprofitable local businesses, because they can automate much of the process of generating a digital footprint, capturing customer data, and engaging with customers.

It’s also important for brick and mortar businesses to leverage offline resources as well. These include: Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE), and local universities or chambers of commerce.

In short, although e-commerce is certainly on the rise, smart brick and mortar business owners will not only survive, but thrive, by leveraging the distinct advantages they already have, while using technology wisely to compete online.

To get a comprehensive look at how local business can succeed in today’s retail & services landscape, click here to download Signpost’s new eBook, “The Future of Brick and Mortar Business.”

*Supporting data noted in The Future of Brick and Mortar eBook



Why You’re Letting a 33% Boost in Revenue Slip Through Your Fingers

Repeat After Me: Repeat Customers Are My Best Customers

If you’re like most small business owners, you spend the majority of your waking hours focusing on what you can do to drive new customers. Of course you want to see as many new faces as possible walking through your door, but don’t let the chase after new business take your eyes off the real prize: loyal, repeat customers who keep coming back. Not only does research show they are far easier to sell to, they also tend to buy more during each visit.

According to Marketing Metrics, your odds of converting a new prospect customer typically stand anywhere between 5-20%. Your odds of converting an existing customer? Between 60-70%. That means you’re over 3x more likely to sell to someone who you’ve sold to before.

Not only is targeting existing customers a safer bet, it can also result in a bigger payoff — on average, repeat customers also spend 33% more compared to new customers.

So the question is: Can you really afford to keep passing up an extra 33% in revenue?

3 Easy Ways to Start Marketing to Your Existing Customers Now

The good news is it’s easier than ever for small businesses to follow up with customers and put them on the path to becoming loyal, repeat customers. The key is leveraging digital marketing to take advantage of three critical customer retention opportunities you may be overlooking:

1) Show your thanks (with something that gets them back in the door)

Never underestimate the power of a simple follow-up “thank you” email. Not only is it a great way to solidify the first impression you’re making on new customers, it’s also a proven tactic for converting them again.

Strike while the iron is hot, they always say. Clichés aside, you will never have a better opportunity to reach your customers with an email than immediately after they complete a purchase. In fact, according to Remarkety, open rates for “thank you / order follow-up” emails are nearly double (42.51%) the open rate for the average marketing email (22.87%). And the boost on click-through rates is even more pronounced — 18.27% vs. 2.85%. On average, one in ten customers go on to repurchase after follow-up emails, so it’s clear this is one opportunity you do not want to miss.

Take advantage by not only expressing your thanks for their purchase, but also setting the stage for their next purchase. Highlight a similar or complimentary item they may also be interested in. Offer a special discount on their next visit. There are any number of ways you can go about it, the point is to make it enticing and ridiculously easy for customers to take the next step and buy again.

2) Automate reviews or referrals

Of course, pushing for a repeat purchase isn’t the only productive “ask” you can make of new customers that can make them more invested in your business.

  • Reviews speak louder than ad copy: These days, a positive customer review can be one of the most effective marketing assets you have. After all, customers want to hear from other customers, and thanks to sites like Yelp and Amazon, reviews are more prominent and valuable than ever.

It’s crucial for your business to develop a strong showcase of compelling customer testimonials and reviews, but don’t just sit around and wait for your customers to take action on their own. The only way to make sure they come in is to ask for them and a technology like Signpost automates this for you!

According to The Local Consumer Review Survey, 7 out of 10 consumers said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so what are you waiting for? Start asking your best customers to spread the word! Not only will it help you attract new customers, it will help your reviewing customers feel more invested and involved, as well.

  • Referrals are your lifeblood: Getting a customer via a referral automatically puts them on the fast track to becoming a loyal, repeat customer. According to the Journal of Marketing, a referred customer is 18% more loyal and spends on average 13.2% more than non-referred customers. Combine that with the fact that 82% of small business owners say their main source of new business is referrals, and you can see why asking (and rewarding) customers for referrals is an incredibly important part of following up.

3) Stay top of mind with email offers and updates

More than any other format, email gives you the opportunity to keep the lines of communication with your customers open. Staying in touch with your customers with automated offers and updates on a regular basis will go a long way toward keeping them engaged.

The fact is, customers who receive email marketing spend an average of 83% more, and believe it or not, the majority of customers want to hear from you. According to ClickZ, 67% of customers give their email addresses to companies to receive discounts and promotions.

That initial receptiveness can and will quickly change, of course, if you can’t ensure every email is relevant and valuable. So don’t be shy. Keep in touch with your customers. Technologies like Signpost will automatically send them special offers to keep them coming back. Above all, make it clear how much you value each of them and how hard you’re working to continue earning their business.

Article Attribution: Jonathan Crowe, Managing Editor at OpenView Venture Partners.