Than you, please come again graphic

In a previous post, I applauded online coupon vendors that deliver a flood of new customers to you. But after the first-time customer redeems the coupon, then what?

Your challenge is to maximize the lifetime value of customer relationships. These goals apply whether you acquire the customer through couponing or some other tactic. Turn first-time customers into repeat customers. Turn small-ticket buyers into big-ticket buyers. Turn them all into referral agents who send others to you with a hearty endorsement.

How do you do this? Establish a relationship with your customers and communicate with them regularly. Here are some tips to help you accomplish this:

1) Engage them in conversation at the point of purchase. Express gratitude (not just a mechanical “Thanks. Have a nice day…”). Ask whether they plan to return.

2) Ask for contact information, especially email addresses, explaining that you plan to deliver more great offers.

3) Send an email thank-you note as soon as possible (within days) that includes a feedback survey. Were you happy with your purchase? Would you recommend us to others? Do you plan to return?

4) Send regular emails to your list. Provide great value in the emails: useful news, information and great offers.

5) Ask for referrals. Satisfied customers are happy to send business to you – if you ask them to do so.

(This article first appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly which publishes a monthly column, High-Voltage Marketing, by MarketVolt’s Tom Ruwitch.)

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