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Keep customers coming back for more

Date posted:  5/21/14 08:30:00 AM Keeping customers engaged is a great way to keep them coming back for more.

There are two major obstacles for every small business owner: getting clients and keeping them coming back.

For Dan Epstein, owner of a restaurant in Charlottesville, Va., called Eppie's, technology was the way to go. Epstein told Entrepreneur that he uses a mobile application to keep customers ‡ engaged and coming back. Epstein referred to Cardagin, a mobile loyalty application and customer retention program, that sends customers special offers on their smart phones and rewards them with loyalty points they can accumulate and use for future purchases.

"Smartphones are so powerful these days that we didn't even consider something like a paper punch card," Epstein said. "Going mobile sets us apart, and helps us keep our customers engaged."

The program costs Epstein $100 per month, but the small business owner believes it's well worth the cost. If Epstein hasn't seen a regular customer for a few days, Cardagin allows him to send them special offers. The application also allows him to notify customers of a special on their favorite product or can give them a free item upon their return.

"What I really like about that is they're not just sending out a blasted, mass message," Kevin Stirtz, a business consultant who runs a site focused on customer service, told Entrepreneur. "Knowing the customer's order by heart and using that knowledge to your advantage is smart."

Sending a customized deal also shows customers that businesses are invested in them and know what they are looking for, according to Stirtz.

Land obsessed customers
According to Abigal Manders, head of production at Marketing Leaders' Exchange, the only type of companies that will survive during harsh economic times are those that have obsessive customers.

"Over the last few years customer expectations have increased dramatically, leaving many companies struggling to cope," Manders said.

Manders put forward three crucial areas for chief marketing officers to invest in to make certain customers keep coming back. She said they should join forces with internal stakeholders to combine marketing and technology strategies, boost relationships with agencies to drive more effective customer engagement and to stay ahead of digital trends in order to deliver impactful digital marketing strategies.

"Rapid advancements in technology and the growing use of social media have also come hurtling into our lives and changed the way in which consumers access information, making them more powerful than ever before," Manders said. "Because of this companies have had to change the fundamental way they market to their customers and prospects. We felt it was vital to research with some of the leading marketing minds, to really understand what will be driving marketing strategy in years to come."

Creating a transparent business

Another way to create a company clients can trust is by pulling back the doors and creating a transparent environment ‡.

KMGI, a New York-based producer of TV-style ads for the Web, doubled its business from 2011 when it allowed clients to monitor their ad design in real time. KMGI now lets customers see which of their project tasks are completed and how far along a certain project still has to go before completion.

"One of the big issues a customer has is that there's too much away time - too much time where the customer feels they don't know what's going on," Stirtz said.

Enabling customers to offer feedback on a project or product during the process allows your business to catch and resolve problems early on.