You can never have enough customers for your small businesses. That’s because your business’s growth and stability depend on having increasing those customers.

Especially customers that come back to you after their initial purchase for more. Customers bring in other customers with them by sharing their positive experiences. 

Building and growing this customer base is crucial for you to stay in the business. 

 Your Customer Base And Why It’s Important To You

Your customer base is your company’s most precious asset since it brings you value in the form of increased revenue.   

 What is your ‘Customer Base’?

A customer base is comprised of your repeat customers; the people who keep coming back to your store for yet more of your products or services.

These customers are loyal to your brand and engage with it on multiple channels and platforms. They are loyal not just to your product or service, but also to your brand message and values.

Customers who visit one time, or dip in looking for a bargain – these are customers, but not part of your customer base because they won’t be supporting your business over time.

How do you identify your target customer?

As a small business, you cannot afford to target everyone. When it comes to building your customer base, you just can’t build your customer base without analyzing who you want to sell to.  

You need to identify who you want to target when marketing your products. How do you identify your target customer?

You build an ideal buyer persona by answering these questions:

  • What do your customers look like? What similar characteristics and interests do your existing customers share with each other?
  • What’s Your Competition Doing? Who are they are selling to? Is there a gap in the market you can focus on? How do you better serve your target audience as compared to your competitors?
  • What are you selling? What problem does your product or service sell?
  • Who are you selling to? What is your target customer’s age, gender, location, income bracket, education level, family status, and occupation? What are your target customer’s values, hobbies, lifestyle, attitude, and behavior?

When you successfully identify your target customer, you will find it easier to market and capture your customer base.

What the difference between ‘Customer Base’ and ‘Target Market’?

Your customer base is your existing customers from you while the target market is the ideal customers you wish would buy from you.

Your target market comprises a bigger pool of people. These are all the people who have a good chance of buying from you in the future, but they haven’t yet. Either you haven’t figured out a way to reach them, or your marketing hasn’t reached them yet, or you cannot service them, perhaps because of location or other constraints.

If you’ve done your homework right, your customer base and target market likely share many similar characteristics.

How do you determine the size of your ‘Customer Base’?

Businesses, especially small ones, find it challenging to keep track of their customer base. How can you identify customers who have made a purchase? How can you sell to them again?

One way to determine the size of your customer base is to get them to give you their contact details once they make a purchase.

But that would require you to offer them something in exchange for all those details. That’s where loyalty cards come in.

Why is it important to grow your customer base?

65% of a company’s business is likely to come from its customer base.  Your customer base buys more from you than a new customer. Plus, acquiring a new customer is more costly for the business than getting their old one to revisit them.

Plus, if you’re able to increase your customer retention rate by 5%, you will likely experience an increase in profit by 25-35% percent. This statistic is enough to explain the importance of retaining your existing customers. 

You want your existing customers to back to you again, because when they do they buy more from you than a new customer. They are coming back because they already like your product/service and would be more open to trying new offers and upsells from you.

Also, there’s a good chance this customer base will spread positive word-of-mouth for your brand, thus bringing in more customers with them.

How do you grow your customer base organically?

Now that we’ve established how important it is to grow your customer base, let’s talk about how we can grow them organically.

Listen to your customers. With social media in play, brands are fortunate to have so many ways to connect and engage with their customers. Ask questions. Request feedback. Monitor your brand mentions (and other related mentions).

This is the foundation for a very powerful business growth strategy. When you understand your customers, you can offer them the right incentives to make them come back to you. 

Work with the experts

Every industry and niche has an expert. Who’s yours? Find them and work with them to generate hype around your products. Get them to create content around your brand and educate their followers.

Strive for UGC

UGC or user-generated content is one of the most powerful forms of word-of-mouth advertising out there right now. Get your existing customers so excited about your product that they share it on their social media. Plus, it wouldn’t hurt to offer them an incentive to do so.

Do Loyalty Cards increase sales?

The answer to this question is probably in your wallet. There’s a good chance your wallet is bulging with loyalty cards from your favorite (and some not-so-favorite) brands.

There’s a reason big brands have all adopted loyalty cards in some form.

They work.

Loyalty cards increase sales by bringing your customer base back to your shop. And they buy from you when they come back to your shop. 

How to increase your customer base?

If you’ve read through, or even scrolled through to this post, you’re likely wondering, ‘How can I increase my customer base?’

To increase your customer base, you need to take your customers through a journey. This journey starts from the point when they get to know about your product, and should ideally end with them becoming your brand’s loyal advocates. 

1.     Actively reach out to your target market

The first step to customer acquisition is reaching them. Create opportunities where your potential customers know about your product and experience them.

The age-old way to increase your customer base is to market your product. With the internet age, marketing channels have evolved and grown exponentially. These have worked mostly for the benefit of small businesses that now have access to multiple marketing platforms at cost-effective prices.

Some ways you can actively reach your target market are:

  • Digital Ads – Facebook and Instagram have truly changed the way businesses can approach their target audience. Businesses can modify ad settings to reach the right audience, according to their demographics, interests, and even recent browsing behavior.
  • Billboards – Billboards get your attention immediately and are a great way to target the mass market.
  • Posters – Posters work well when you want to actively reach your target market in your local area.
  • Flyers – Flyers usually have a short lifespan but with the right strategy, you can get them across to a large number of people in a specific area.
  • Collabs – For small businesses, collaborating with other local brands and influencers is a cost-effective and targeted way to reach their target audience. To make collabs work for you, collaborate with brands that share the same target audience as yours.
  • Trade Shows – If yours is a local brand, show up at trade shows to network with potential customers and create awareness around your product.

2.     Make it easy for potential customers to find you

Once you’ve created awareness around your product, the next part of the chain to growing your customer base is getting your customers to come to you. Create avenues where your customers can reach out to you:

  • Social Media Presence – If you wish to stay in business, you need to get on social nowadays. Customers now expect brands to be on social media. They follow you and they even engage with you. In fact, 79% of your customers expect you to actively engage and respond to their comments and DMs within 24 hours.
  • Email Marketing – Direct mails have now evolved into email marketing where you can send your message directly into your target audience’s inbox. With an offer of a discount, you can get your customers to give you their email addresses. Now, every time you have a new product or a special offer, get in touch with your customer base to get them back to your shop.
  • Blogs and Search Engine Optimization – Probably the first thing you do when you have a question is Google it. Ask yourself this, ‘What are some questions your customers might have that you can answer for them?’ Answer them on your blog. Optimize it for search engines so when your customers search for it, your website is amongst the first that pop up on search engines. 
  • Online Videos – If it’s not Google, it’s YouTube where your customers go to find answers. Create online videos to answer their frequently asked questions.

3.     Keep existing customers happy and engaged

Once you’ve got in touch with your customers, the next part of the equation is keeping them happy and engaged. Get them to revisit your shop.

How do we do that?

  • Customer Loyalty Programs – 77% of customers claim that they are more willing to shop at a brand with a loyalty program. A good loyalty program offers the right incentive to its target customers to come back to buy from them again.
  • Great Customer Service – The real work of customer retention begins right after they make their purchase. Offer your existing customers a platform where they can come back to you with questions and feedback if they have any. Good customer service also works to help create brand strategies by offering them valuable insight into the customers’ experiences and minds.

4.     Cultivate word-of-mouth and advocacy

The last stage of the process of turning your target customers into your customer base is to motivate them to become your loyal customers. Get them to do your promotion using the most powerful marketing tool: word-of-mouth.

  • Ask for reviews and rating – Good reviews increase the trust of your potential customers. Allow customers to leave reviews and ratings on your website. Offer them incentives of discounts or free samples in exchange for their reviews. Or gently remind them to leave a review right after their purchase.
  • Referral Program – The word of a good friend is more powerful than any form of advertising. When a friend recommends a product, you are more likely to buy it than a product that doesn’t come recommended. That’s what a referral program depends on.
    Encourage your customer base to expand your customer base by referring your product to their friends and family. Offer them a reward in exchange for their good word.
    To make it easier to manage these referrals, set up a referral program.
  • Build a community – To truly leverage the power of word-of-mouth, brands should strive to build a community around their products. Making buying and using your product an experience worth sharing with friends and family.
    Bring your customers together in the form of a community: a place where they can share their ideas, aspirations, and opinions.
    One genius example of a brand-building a community is Harley Davidson- The HOG community. When you buy a Harley, you automatically become a part of the community of this ‘cool, fun gang’. You earn exclusive rides, benefits, badges, and even access to their special events. 
  • Sharing User-Generated Content – Another way social media has made life easier for small businesses is through user-generated content. With UGC, it’s your customers who are creating content for you and sharing them with their friends on social media. When they do share about their experience and tag you, always reshare. This allows your users to feel a sense of connection with your brand and is also a good review for our business.
    One brand that has successfully used UGC to build hype around its products is GoPro. GoPro encourages its users to share their GoPro videos using the hashtag #gopro. Then they reshare these videos on their own account. This creates an instant connection between the brand and the user. Plus, it’s free content for the company. 

Via @GoPro Instagram

 

What other resources are there to about growing my customer base?

Building your customer base depends a lot on your brand and the target customer:

  • Conduct surveys to better understand your target market and create customer base expansion strategies based on these surveys.
  • Measure and Analyze. Set up a system to measure if your strategies are working.

Key Takeaways to increasing your customer base

For any business, big or small, their customer base is what keeps them afloat and running. Expanding this customer base is a journey from attracting their target audience and turning them into loyal advocates.

Setting up a referral program, social media ads, and creating great helpful content gives small businesses the boost they need to propel the customers smoothly from one end of the journey to another.

Ayesha M

Posted by Ayesha M

Ayesha Umair is a freelance communication designer. She has her own digital marketing setup, The Social Citrus helping small and mid-sized businesses make the most of their marketing budget.