We all want loyal customers who keep coming back, those who are happy to give you a good review, recommend you to others, provide feedback on new ideas and invest in your baking business.
Sometimes our most loyal customers are friends and family. Other times they are people who find your brand resonates in some way. Loyal customers are repeat customers, ones that support your business when they can – it would make business much easier to have just a few of these than to find thousands of one-off customers! Customers can be costly and time-consuming to find, so inspiring loyalty in your existing customer base, or your first customers, would be ideal!
So firstly, why is it good for your baking business if you have loyal customers?
As mentioned, acquiring customers through advertising or other means can be costly, so you can save on costs and increase your margins if you only spend on retaining loyal customers rather than constantly looking for new ones.
More sales to each customer. Building loyalty pays its way and over time each customer will be worth so much more – we sometimes call this customer lifetime value. Loyal customers are high value.
Attracting new customers through recommendations
The more buyers interact with you and purchase from your business, the more they will remember you in conversations and hopefully rave about your tasty goods to others, pointing others in your direction. So actually, increasing loyalty amongst existing customers can help you attract new customers anyway, who will hopefully also become loyal customers.
When starting out, this is the reason why selling to family and friends can have a big impact, because the recommendations can keep going further afield to a whole network of people and grow your business organically through word-of-mouth recommendations. It doesn’t always happen but can be a great help when starting out.
Even if your customers don’t shout about it themselves, you can ask for a review or recommendation that you can then promote as social proof that you have customers buying and enjoying your bakes. Recommendations build trust as people can relate to other customers better than they can with the seller, usually. On Etsy, I’ve found particularly that sellers and buyers are often one and the same, so every community, network and audience is slightly different which is why it’s important to start marketing by knowing your audience.
How can we inspire loyalty?
Simply rewarding loyalty can promote loyalty.
Loyalty cards and perk points are some ways businesses reward loyalty and encourage further purchases, however, as a small business, you don’t necessarily have to go to huge expense yourself to reward loyalty.
You could add an extra slice or another small bake to an order, give a discount or an exclusive product to customers who have bought from you several times. You can let your new customers know about this offer to incentivise making 4 or 5 orders to receive a bonus.
Think of how pizza places reward you with a free pizza or an extra side or free delivery after so many orders,
Rewards are another chance to be creative in thinking about making a memorable experience for your customers.
Great customer experience
Another simple and obvious point is that leaving customers with a good taste in their mouth, both literally and from a customer experience point of view, will go a long way in inspiring loyalty in customers.
Good customer service, good products and service come together to create a good customer experience.
Extra touches can be beneficial to not just fulfil your orders but exceed expectations, making the experience memorable, unique and therefore more worthy of recommendation.
Even if you have difficult customers, or you get complaints, dealing with them in the best way you can can help you build trust and maybe win back customers who will otherwise not return.
Create excellent customer experience and aim to be memorable.
When you have customers, you can ask them for feedback to help you improve your customer service, products or packaging. Get their input so they feel invested in your business.
Engaging with a community of potential customers can help build loyalty and affinity with your brand.
Many baking businesses do this on Instagram or other social networks where consistent engagement can help nurture your audience, grow your audience and get people thinking and talking about your baking business.
You can ask customers for a review to use or promote themselves, or work with partners to do a giveaway for your community.
You can engage with your community as a whole but also individually by sending a personal note or email to a customer asking for their input on a new product or to ask for their review.
The key to community engagement is to build trust, grow your network and create “brand awareness”. Again, being memorable even when your community are not yet customers, can inspire loyalty in future customers and supporters of your business.
How are you inspiring loyalty in your customers?