Research suggests it costs a business between 4-10 times more to acquire a new client than it does to retain a current client. As a business owner, you will do well to look for ways to nurture these clients who’ve used you once into not just returning, but spreading the word about your company.

But despite this logic, so many business owners don’t think about how to nurture their clients, and instead constantly chasing after new business. And even if you do have some policies and marketing systems in place, there is always something more you can do.

Which of these fifteen client nurturing ideas are you NOT doing in your business? Do you think it’s time to start?

1. Why aren’t you … saying thanks?

It sounds so simple, and yet, so many businesses don’t thank their clients. This small gesture ensures clients leave you with good memories, and adds a personal touch to a business transaction that ensures they’ll think fondly of your company again in the future.

How can you say thanks to your clients?

  • Make sure the final communication you have is positive and affirming. For example, send them an email along with their invoice letting them know you enjoyed the project and can’t wait for the next one!
  • Follow up after a couple of weeks to express your enjoyment of working with them and check in on how they are doing post-project.
  • Invite them to a clients-only event, such as a christmas party or cocktail evening to celebrate a business milestone.
  • Send them a bottle of wine or other small gift at Christmas or on another important date to express your thanks. In WorkflowMax you can addcustom fields to clients so you can track clients’ birthdays and other important milestone dates).

2. Why aren’t you … researching your market?

If you want to nurture a long-term client base, you need to be deeply entrenched in your market. You need to know the market so well that you could write trivial pursuit cards about it. By being in tune with what your clients are looking for, you’ll be able to quickly pivot to meet their needs.

How can you stay on top of trends and new ideas in your market?

  • Stay up-to-date with publications in your niche. Not just print magazines, but websites and blogs as well. See what the trendsetters are doing, so you can share these insights with your clients. You can set alerts in Google to be notified as soon as something is published about your industry, clients, or competitors.
  • Attend events and conferences, not just locally, but on a national or international scale. Learn about what innovations are going on globally, and how you can apply them to your own business.
  • Conduct research on your own client base, or commission a research company to survey a wider range of people. Be the first person to identify new trends.

3. Why aren’t you … being a thought leader?

Clients love to know they’re being looked after by the best of the best, and they’re much more likely to trust a company who demonstrates they are leaders in their field. One way of establishing this is by focusing on growing not just your company brand, but your personal brand as someone who is a knowledgeable commentator on your industry.

How can you become a thought leader in your industry:

  • Send out a monthly newsletter to your client base, showcasing new trends in your industry or commenting on current events.
  • Publish articles on prominent blogs and news sites discussing different trends or new items in your industry.
  • Address business and interest groups across your city as an expert in your particular field.
  • Add yourself to media lists as an expert who can be called upon for appearances.
  • Keep press clippings, appearances and article links in a prominent place where clients can see them, such as on the wall in your office, or on a Press or Resources page on your website.
  • Write a monthly blog about the state of your industry or a particularly topical news item.
  • Use social media to share your own articles or appearances, as well as comment on other thought leaders in your niche.

4. Why aren’t you … creating email automations?

When a client signs up for updates from your business, they are giving you permission to speak to them about the things you do. While you don’t want to go crazy, you could use email autoresponders to create funnels to nurture clients (or potential clients) into continuing to engage with your business.

How do you use email automations to nurture clients?

  • If a client reads a particular page on your website, or downloads a free resources you have, you can email them a few days later with additional information.
  • If a client has clicked on a range of your service offering pages, or opened an email about your services (but hasn’t engaged you) you might send them a one-off discount with a time limit to encourage the sale..
  • Once a project has been signed off, you can add clients to a list to receive a follow-up in a month’s time to ask how they’re going.
  • Follow-up autoresponders can also be used to invite clients to specific events or remind them to renew a service for the following year.

Hubspot has a great article on email automation that can show you some other potential workflows.=”#sm.00000yigy35xafct2sqmvqn99klun”>

5. Why aren’t you … being transparent?

Part of building a profitable, sustainable business is about building trust between your clients. And this means telling them what’s going on, even if it’s not always the best news. Clients respect a company who will tell them upfront if they’ve messed up, if a product they want isn’t available yet, or if market changes are impacting the effectiveness of their campaign.

How can you practice transparency?

  • Inform clients of changes in the industry that may impact their business.
  • Create a solid onboarding process that carefully outlines exactly what they can expect at each stage.
  • Use simple language free of jargon in all your correspondence.
  • Be timely and responsive. Answer questions when you receive them. Don’t leave a client hanging.
  • Share knowledge. If you receive some kind of tip or trick that helps you perform a task better, share that with your client.

6. Why aren’t you … generating referrals?

When you reach the end of a client’s job, and they’re satisfied with the results, do you simply shake hands and tell them to call you again in the future? Wrong. This is the perfect time to ask your client for a referral.

How can you get your clients to refer you to their associates?

  • Use the header or footer of your invoice template to encourage a referral.
  • Create a satisfaction survey that also includes fields for contact details of a potential referral.
  • Invite them and an associate to an event you’re hosting.
  • Offer incentives for successful referrals, such as a percentage off their ongoing bill or next job.

7. Why aren’t you … gathering feedback?

Customers talk, and whether they’re singing your praises or yelling obscenities, you should be listening.

How can you gather feedback from customers?

  • Add automated surveys to your customer service or support centre. You can do this through common helpdesk software such as Zendesk and Freshdesk. Incidentally both of these integrate with WorkflowMax – find out more in this post we wrote: Streamline Your Support Helpdesk: Freshdesk vs Zendesk
  • Ask questions to your followers on social media to gather ideas. Facebook even has a handy “Poll” feature you can make use of for short, informal surveys.
  • Create customer focus groups where you can present new services or products and gather feedback.
  • Use email and web forms at key points on your website in order to gather feedback to key questions.

8. Why aren’t you … offering ongoing support?

A client has finished a transaction with you. But that shouldn’t be the last time they hear from you. If you’re wanting to cultivate that long-term client relationship, you need to appear on their radar again and again. One way you can pop back up again without seeming intrusive is to come back with ongoing support – making sure the client is happy with the service and if there’s any follow-up tweaks that can be made.

How can you offer ongoing support?

  • Send out a regular client newsletter with ideas and information about your area of expertise.
  • Follow up with a phone call a few weeks after you’ve finished working on a job, so you can see how the client is getting on and if they have any questions.

9. Why aren’t you … offering additional packages?

Diversifying your incomes streams with additional packages and services can not only act as a buffer against lean times, it can also enable you to retain clients with ongoing contracts and help you to better manage cash flow.

How can you offer additional packages?

  • Think about checkups you could do for your client on a monthly or yearly basis. For example, maintenance on an engineering
  • Create a mailing list where clients can sign up, and offer limited-time and one-off packages exclusively to this list.
  • Think about how Amazon offers complimentary products under their “customers who purchased this item also like:” feature. Is there a way you can offer a similar line of products or services to your clients?
  • Can you offer packages on different levels: eg. beginners, intermediate, or advanced. This can work well for creative agencies, where an initial package might be a website redesign, and additional packages could address more high-level website or branding issues.

10. Why aren’t you … doing the unexpected?

All these ideas are well and good, but if you really want to stick in a client’s mind, and have them become ambassadors for your brand, then you have to go above and beyond, to create a truly unique client experience.

How can you do the unexpected?

  • Create secret clubs or special focus groups for your clients to join. Everyone likes to be part of a secret club, with coded messages and a handshake and everything.
  • Create events for clients to attend – try to think beyond the simple “cocktail evening.” For example, if you’re an engineering firm, maybe you could create a family “be an engineer for a day” where your clients and their kids can come build with a huge supply of Lego.
  • Reach out into the community with volunteering, sponsorships, and charity partnerships. Demonstrate that you’re thinking of the environment, social improvement, and genuine human happiness. It helps if you choose an organisation that relates to your core business – for example, an architecture firm working with Habitat for Humanity.
  • Surprise your client with thoughtful additional gifts. For example, if you work for a window fabrication company, you might like to give your clients a sample box of eco-friendly window-cleaning products after their final install.
  • Use your imagination: I can’t tell you how to do the unexpected, because otherwise, it would be obvious. Think of great ideas that would delight you if you were a client, and go from there!

Nurturing clients is all about communication – making sure you’re still meeting and exceeding their needs well after you’ve actually finished your first project together. How you do this is completely up to you, but the important thing is that you put some techniques in place to cultivate an ongoing relationship with these clients. Your business – and your bottom line – will thank you.