The secret to more sales? It pays to get to know your customers. Who are your most profitable customers? What triggers a sale? Which factors inspire customer loyalty and repeat business? It’s actually much easier – and more affordable – to answer these questions than most merchants realize. And better customer data can improve your marketing efforts tremendously.
Here are 9 creative ideas for building customer relationships that will really pay off.
1. Ask them questions.
This may seem obvious, but even asking a question while you ring them up can glean important information. Comments cards, polls, or surveys are easy ways to ask key questions such as: How did you hear about us? What made you decide to buy today? Was there something you were looking for that you couldn’t find? Would you refer a friend?
2. Offer free advice.
All customers are looking for a solution to a problem; help them with their problems and you’ll start to build trust and credibility. If you own a clothing boutique, offer consultations specializing in finding clothes that will flatter their specific body type. Own a sweets shop? Label the candy bins to highlight treats that satisfy a craving while staying within your diet. These conversations offer incredible insight into your customers’ problems, why they buy particular products, and more. It’s also a powerful way to build rapport and nurture profitable relationships.
3. Host a contest or event.
Large organizations pay big money to get access to focus groups. You can do the same thing with very little money. Once you know who your target customer is, encourage a crowd of them to come to your store and figure out what they want. Host a fun contest for a new product idea, or create an event like a fashion show or charity drive that targets your key demographic. When they come in, engage them. Find out whether there are things you can easily do to add value or improve the customer experience so they are likely to return. Would offering free refreshments while they shop encourage them to stay longer? Are there additional services or products they are more apt to buy if you offered them? Once you get them in the door you can ask these crucial questions.
4. Check your data.
A smart POS system like Clover can help you easily figure out what your best-selling products are, which ones bring you the most return, and how your business is performing on any given day. But did you know Clover can also help you figure out if a particular employee sells more than others? Our free Reporting app (see screenshot below) shows you who sold more and who garnered the largest tips, so you know exactly who are your star employees. Consider having those stars train the rest of the staff in customer service and how to cross-sell.
Explore all variables that influence buying behaviors—from changes in the weather to price fluctuations, and adjust your marketing to take advantage of opportunities. Take a closer look at your data—you might be surprised at what’s really driving sales.
5. Use apps.
Clover Insights is a great app for Clover customers offering data on customer buying trends, local competitors, and more. It lets you compare your business to aggregated data of similar businesses in your area to see how you’re faring comparatively. Find out how much other businesses around you are making at any given moment and how many clients they’re serving. If the competition is successful, go on a secret-shopper mission and check out what they’re doing. It can give you actionable information like pricing and special offers that work or partnerships that are profitable.
6. Determine influencers and what drives them.
Influencers are people in a position to convince customers to buy from you. It could be a reviewer on Yelp! or the head of a local group. But it could also be a teenager who tends to travel with a squad of friends, or a nearby business that needs catering for large meetings. Finding your influencers doesn’t have to be time-consuming or difficult. Check out your bigger purchasers on social media and see if any of them have big followings. Often it’s just a matter of keeping your eyes and ears open for likely influencers: when a customer mentions in passing that they handle catering for their company. Figure out what your influencers like and you’re likely to get more sales overall.
7. Build a customer loyalty program.
Loyalty programs are not just a device to encourage repeat business. Once your loyalty program is up and running, you’ll be able to test offers to see what gets the best results and gather information on your best customers. Clover Rewards is a free app that’ll get your loyalty program started right.
8. Watch your online activity.
If you have a website, take a close look at your most popular pages. What queries on Google bring people to your site? Are they downloading coupons, looking at reviews, or checking out product information? This data and the path customers take on your site can tell you a lot about your customer’s consideration process.
Look up your main product on Google, Ask.com, Quora and similar websites. Find out what kinds of questions people are asking about it. For example, if you sell food, do they want to know if it’s gluten-free? Are they asking how many calories a portion is? Is one kind of food more heart-healthy than something else? Knowing the concerns people have about your products helps you create savvy marketing that resonates with customers.
Then look up what people are saying about your business on social media and review sites like Yelp! Are people talking about the seating, or how fast the service is? Are they looking for a place they can watch the game, or perhaps they need wifi. Monitoring comments on these free sites will tell you a lot about customer expectations.
Need help getting started? Check out Clover’s marketing tools to help set up loyalty and incentive programs.
This post originally appeared on the official Clover Blog.