The 5 stages of gaining a new and loyal customer

First impressions matter, so having an attractive color scheme in your shop and on your website matters, too.

First impressions matter, so having an attractive color scheme in your shop and on your website matters, too.

By Henry Brown

The process of gaining a new customer for your small business isn’t as straightforward as you might first thing. It’s not always a case of them entering your shop (or website) and completing a purchase. Most clients will move through various stages along the way. Understanding them now will give you a far better chance of increasing those crucial conversion rates. Here’s all you need to know.

Stage 1: Initial attraction

First impressions count for everything in business. This is why marketing and branding are integral to your aspirations. After all, you may only get a split second to grab the attention of a potential customer.

A well-designed shop (or website) can work wonders while your logos and color schemes say a lot too. Most importantly, you need to show off your products and services in a positive light. Spark that initial interest, and you’re already on your way to securing a new customer.

Stage 2: Market research

If your business is a convenience store selling daily essentials, this may not apply. For companies in most sectors, it’s important to realize that customers will do their homework.

Most customers will seek value for money. More commonly, though, they’ll want to know that your company can be trusted. A strong web presence, supported by positive testimonials can work wonders for your cause, even if it is an offline venture.

Stage 3: Persuasion

In some cases, customers will act on emotions and complete a purchase without much thought. But others will need a nudge in the right direction. This is where your marketing needs to get a little smarter.

Timed offers are a particularly useful method as it forces the potential customer to make a decision one way or the other. These promotions can be placed in-store, or by using SMS marketing schemes. Either way, all customers need that feeling that buying your products right now is necessary. Achieve this, and you won’t go far wrong.

Stage 4: Transaction

Once a customer has decided to complete their purchase, they still need to feel trust for your brand. Likewise, they need the transaction to be smooth. If they’re required to go through a list of different processes first, they’ll take their business elsewhere. Simplicity is king.

A credit card terminal is essential because large portions of modern customers won’t have cash. Moreover, many like to have that record of the transaction for security. Not having these facilities will essentially shut your doors on a percentage of the potential audience. That cannot be a smart move for anyone.

Stage 5: Post-transaction interaction

Converting interest into a sale is a crucial breakthrough. However, long-term success requires long-term loyalty from customers. Showing your appreciation will go a long way to building a stronger relationship. This can have a huge influence on your hopes of repeat sales.

Loyalty schemes are another fantastic idea. Most importantly, though, you must provide solid customer support whenever they encounter problems. If a customer receives this, they’ll have no reason not to return to your business again and again.

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Henry Brown is an online marketing executive. When he isn’t talking shop he’s roaming the streets of London, uncovering the extra-ordinary in the ordinary.

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