Whether you are a brick-and-mortar cigar store, lounge or bar, or strictly an online cigar merchant, you spend a great deal of time and effort into building your customer base. If you’re receiving many new orders, but repeat orders are below expectations, it’s time to turn things around by generating customer loyalty, which leads to repeat sales. How vital is repeat business? Recent research shows that the average sale for repeat customers is 67% more than first-time customers.¹ Customer loyalty isn’t just one thing—it’s built on several positive interactions that generate trust and develop an affinity for your company, making customers like you better than your competitors. Here are six ways to generate customer loyalty to increase sales and build a loyal customer base that leads to repeat sales.

Communicate Your Values:

Edelman, a respected communications firm, revealed in a recent survey that 64% of consumers cited shared values as the primary reason for choosing a brand.²  In other words, it’s not just your products or customer service that keeps customers coming back for more. Consumers want to be a part of a community with shared values. When you find ways to connect based on your values, you not only create loyal customers, you create raving fans. This is especially important to Millenials and Gen-Z. Communicate what you believe in, find a cause to support by volunteering or donating a portion of your proceeds. People want more than a transaction where they feel like a number. They want to experience a human connection that requires authenticity and a willingness to share what is important to you and your company beyond just providing a quality product and a friendly smile. Use your website as a way to communicate your values to your customer base. When customers relate to your brand’s values, they’ll want to keep buying from you and telling those they know about your company. Here’s a few examples of how your company can communicate the brand’s values to consumers:
  • Tell the story behind your brand. Share what inspired you to open your business and how you do things differently because of your beliefs.
  • Be vulnerable and personable. If you believe in a cause, share why you’re passionate about supporting that cause. Share how you are doing something to make an impact for your cause. Share how your customer’s can also make an impact to support your cause.
  • Communicate your differentiating factors. Many business owners open their doors with the belief that they have a better way to provide the same services that other companies offer. Tell your customers how you handle things differently, and more importantly, tell them why you do things differently.

Send Personalized Emails:

If you are an online business, you should be collecting customer names and email addresses when they order from you. (if you’re only getting names and mailing addresses, change your order form to include email captures) Regardless of whether you are a brick-and-mortar or online shop, try to get customers’ email addresses so you can communicate with them. You can accomplish this through a loyalty program, signup to receive discounts, a birthday club, or a newsletter.  When someone joins, send a welcome email addressing the new customer by name with a message specific to what they signed up for or showed interest in. An easy way to accomplish this is to utilize a CRM or email marketing platform that integrates with your website, so contacts are automatically captured, and emails can be sent in an automated manner while remaining personalized. It’s important to note that whenever you do email marketing of any form, you must remain compliant with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Gain Trust and Credibility

Maintain quality standards and accurately represent the quality and value of your products without exaggeration. Don’t say a lower-priced cigar is like a higher-priced one if it’s not. Be truthful. Say it’s a good value alternative but not as smooth (if that is the case). On the other hand, explain why an expensive brand is an excellent value for its added benefits. Make sure your shipping and return policies are clearly posted and easily understood. If there is a problem, resolve it quickly and fairly. Make sure your website reflects your brand’s personality and values. If your site screams sales and markdowns, new customers may think you are cheap and untrustworthy. Strike a balance between retail and reliability.

Have a Social Presence

Your customers may or may not be users of a lot of social media, but there are two ways to use social interaction to gain customer loyalty. Be responsive to any questions or comments customers leave on your website or social media pages. Responding within 24-48 hours or less shows you are concerned and want to respond to their needs. Create a Facebook page for your business, post comments about new products and events, answer comments, and start dialogues with your customers.

Strong Customer Support

When a customer needs help, whether it’s a question, complaint, or feedback, respond promptly, within 24 hours, when possible. Even if you can’t resolve the situation immediately, keep the customer informed of the status. Communication is one of the most important parts of customer service. Be friendly and helpful, even if you think the customer is wrong. If you get a review, good or bad, answer it. Especially respond to negative reviews, indicating how you’ll resolve the problem. Your customers will appreciate a personal response. Ask customers to update their reviews once you have resolved their situation, as this will help you increase your ratings.

Have Programs That Reward Customer Loyalty

  • Loyalty Perks: This program offers repeat customers special rewards such as members-only products, discount pricing on merchandise, invitations to special events, advance information on new products, or newsletters delivered to their inbox with topics your customers care about. Think about offering a referral program that rewards members for inviting others to check out your company.
  • Cigar Clubs: Members get special “Cigar of the Month” pricing on new smokes to try, invitations to live and virtual Smokers and other events, invitations to informative talks by cigar experts, and other benefits in this loyalty program.
Similar to providing great customer support, providing a great customer experience also creates loyal customers. One way that you can accomplish this is by offering flexible payment options, including the most requested way to pay for purchases—the option to use their credit or debit card. The tobacco industry is a restricted category business and therefore requires a merchant processor that allows the sales of cigars and other tobacco-related products. While many high-risk payment processors will accept cigar shops, most don’t specialize in the cigar and tobacco industry. An example of one that does is Premium Tobacco Payment Processing (PTP). PTP will integrate with all e-commerce solutions that allow online cigar businesses as merchants.  As a Premium Cigar Association (PCA) partner, PTP is proud to offer its members the lowest processing rates for the industry, with rates and fees guaranteed never to increase. Plus, they never require a contract or charge a cancellation fee. PTP is powered by Nuvo Merchant Services, a leading credit card processing company with over 30 years of experience in several business verticals, now bringing their expertise and stability to the cigar and tobacco industry. If you are adding e-commerce to your website or want to change the processor for your online retail cigar business, call Premium Tobacco Payment Processing at (321) 972-9838. Sources: ¹ Business.com – Returning Customers Spend 67% More Than New Customers – Keep Your Customers Coming Back with a Recurring Revenue Sales Model ² Edelman – Two-Thirds of Consumers Worldwide Now Buy Based on Beliefs