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Keep customers coming back for more Keep customers coming back for more

Ever wondered what they key to small business success is? Well, if the results of a recent survey are anything to go by, it could be a lot closer to home than you think.

Manta joined forces with BIA/Kelsey for a report that determined just how important existing customers are to growing a company.

They found that more than half of annual revenue for 61 per cent of small businesses is generated by repeat buyers, which might explain why many of them are investing more time, money and resources in strengthening these relationships.

However, even though companies are recognising the need to keep customers on your side, many of them are still failing to take full advantage of these connections. Just 34 per cent of small business owners offered loyalty programs, while two-thirds currently do not.

There is also a shortage of these programs being available offline as well as online, suggesting there is some way to go before technology is used to its full advantage.

Respondents were asked to name the most effective features when it comes to loyalty programs - email and social media came out on top, but just 46 per cent said their schemes were digitally run and managed.

More than 50 per cent of small business owners still rely on word-of-mouth or paper-based campaigns to retain existing customers.

Being innovative in this field could therefore be just what businesses need in order to set themselves apart from the crowd.

Jed Williams, BIA/Kelsey's vice-president of strategic consulting, said: "Our joint research shows that customer loyalty programs are starting to gain traction in the small business community.

"This finding aligns with BIA/Kelsey's analysis that over half of small businesses will launch customer loyalty programs by the end of 2014 to help their businesses become more competitive."