small business customer loyalty

13 Creative Ways to Win More Loyal Customers

Customer acquisition creates a lifeline of sales that are critical to a company’s long-term financial success. It also requires a constant effort. Like a stock portfolio, it pays to diversify to keep your returns growing. Here are some ways to get more loyal customers through your door.


With over 200 million active monthly users and more than 20 billion photos shared, Instagram is an amazing tool. What better way for a children’s clothing store or fitness trainer to increase brand awareness and boost sales than by showing customers what your business is all about? Running a contest or promotion on Instagram is another great way to get shoppers involved. Share on Instagram at least 2-3 times per week.


A blog can generate leads, publicity, customer engagement and more. But if you’re going to add a blog to your website, you need to make a commitment to it and have the resources available to fulfill that commitment. Post at least once a week to keep it fresh so visitors will come back. Posts can run from 250 – 400 words. Craft a blog strategy by thinking about who your audience is and what’s important to them. Then schedule out your posts for three months at a time to guide your editorial focus. Blogging also adds content to your site which makes it easier to be found by search engines.

Seminar or Workshop

Boosting foot traffic doesn’t have to actually be tied to making a sale. You can offer value to customers in other ways. Home Depot does this well. They host educational events that teach people how to lay tile, install a new faucet, or faux finish a wall. If you choose to host a seminar, you’ll need to publicize it with in-store signage, fliers, ads, and notices in local publications. Online promotion should include a page on your website, an email campaign, and social media posts. By helping consumers get the most out of a purchase, you’ll build a relationship with them that will pay off down the road.

Public Relations

Ain’t no shame in hosting an event simply for a bit of attention! But be sure to do enough outreach to local media so your event gets picked up. By injecting yourself into the public eye, you’ll attract the attention of customers able to participate and those who trickle in after the fact. Getting a TV or a radio station, local newspaper or neighborhood newsletter to do a story creates third-party validation for your business, plus you can use the resulting story to promote your business long after the event.

Customer Reviews

In today’s social media driven world, nothing is more powerful than word-of-mouth marketing. Almost 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends and family more than any other form of advertising. That’s why creating a wonderful in-store experience is so important. Encourage your satisfied customers to spread the word on review sites, such as Yelp or Angie’s List, where their comments will be shared with friends as well as others looking for insight. Create in-store signage that says “If you liked us, please post a review.” Display social media stickers on your door to indicate where customers and passers-by can find your business online.

Free Samples

Samples help persuade people to buy things they might not purchase otherwise. Retailers love giving free samples because they can boost sales by as much as 2000 percent! Sampling has deeper psychological impacts because it creates a sense of reciprocity. By giving someone a chicken nugget in a small paper cup, you create a sense of “obligation” that makes the customer want to do something in return, like order enough nuggets to feed the Little League team they coach (if you’re lucky).

Belly Bites, our hyperlocal customer acquisition tool, enables merchants to target free samples to customers in their neighborhood who’ve never visited their business – and track who’s coming in as well as who’s coming back. Click here for more information on the science behind free samples and Belly Bites.


Network within your community by introducing yourself to businesses that may have a similar target demographic and offer complementary services. By reaching out to business owners and suggesting a cross-promotion (“Get $5 off when you visit Business A and mention Business B”), you’ll attract like-minded buyers who are incentivized to visit your store. Create a space on your counter to cross-promote with signage.


The people who can best promote your business are those who already know your value, so ask your best customers for referrals. Create an incentive program as a way to say “thank you” – offer a discount on a new service, a special time-limited upgrade or a free service. Not only will you be driving in new customers, but you’ll be gaining “brand ambassadors.”

Pay-per-click Advertising

Pay-per-click ads put your business in front of consumers at the time and place they’re looking for what your business sells. To get them to click through to your website, offer an incentive such as a free sample, access to special content, or discount coupons. Because keyword research, budget planning, strategic bidding, and design creative for a successful PCC campaign can be time-consuming and require specialized knowledge, many businesses find it easier to hire an agency.

Facebook Hyperlocal Ads

Businesses can target ads to anyone who lives near or was recently within a specific distance of their store – as long as they’ve opted to share that information with Facebook. Just provide your business address; set a desired radius, gender, and age range; add a photo and message. Businesses can even select to include directions in their ad via a button that will launch a map app in a user’s phone. Based on the potential audience, size of the budget and duration of the campaign, Facebook will then reveal how many people you can expect to reach each day your ad runs. This feature was launched in Fall of 2014 so it’s still too early to tell how it performs, but you can read more about it here.

Daily Deals

A hybrid of email marketing and couponing, daily deals feature a limited-time offer at a large discount. Made popular by Groupon and LivingSocial, the purpose of daily deals is to increase foot traffic that will hopefully convert to repeat business. Merchants need to carefully consider how much of a discount they’ll offer, the number of redemptions they can handle, and whether the short-term boost in sales makes sense in relation to expenses. Groupon’s announcement that it’s shifting from an email model to a full-blown ecommerce site may be, in part, an acknowledgement that daily deals have lost their appeal to merchants.

Direct Mail

Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) from the U.S. Postal Service offers an alternative to traditional direct mail. You can get your message directly into the homes and hands of consumers in your neighborhood without needing to even know names or street addresses. Simply identify the area you want to target and your printed piece is delivered to every active address. No postage permit required. You can include coupons, menus, event calendars, store maps, and more – all of which can help get customers through your door.

Loyalty Programs

By offering points, discounts, or member-only specials, loyalty programs can entice new (and existing customers) to sign-up and reward them for repeat business. Saying thank you with a loyalty program makes your customers feel appreciated. It also makes it more likely they’ll promote your business to their professional, personal and social networks, helping you acquire new customers at little to no cost.

A small business rewards program like Belly, lets you to collect transactional data that enable you to better understand your customers. With this information, you can improve customer experience and retention efforts.

Ready to see Belly in action? Click here to request a demo.