Customer retention is an important part of maintaining a healthy business. It’s cheaper to keep customers than to attract new ones, and the longer a customer stays with you, the more likely he or she will be to bring other consumers to your doorstep or your web site.

In fact, Harvard Business Review reports that increasing your customer retention rates by only five percent can bring an increase in net revenue of anywhere between 25-95 percent.

Here are five strategies you can use to improve your customer retention rates that you may not have thought of:

  1. Take a stand
    Customers like patronizing businesses that give back to the community or that stand for a charitable goal. Contributing to local charities, hosting fund drives or sponsoring events shows that you have strong values. Your loyalty will increase your customers’ loyalty. Try not to get too political, but make sure your business stands for or supports something.
  2. Semantics
    Not all words are created equal. Sometimes how you say or promote something has more impact than what you are saying or promoting. There are words that encourage customers to visit your shop, check in on your website or sign up for your email newsletter. Free, new and special are among the top, and consider words that speak to the value of your customers’ time, like instantly, quickly, expediently or fast. Clarifying prices will also help. Why say “$19.95 for an oil change,” for example, when you can say “Oil changes only $19.95?” Even better, add a timeliness element to it: “still only $19.95.” It implies that you are holding the line and keeping costs down.
  3. Educate and inform
    Customers enjoy receiving helpful recommendations on new information and products, or interesting tidbits about the line of business you’re in. Start up and maintain a blog to provide tips, show your expertise and open it up to questions and comments, too. That interaction will help improve your customer retention rates.
  4. Be thoughtful
    Handing out free things or providing discounts is always effective but, let’s face it, it can get expensive, too. Sometimes a simple thoughtful gesture an be just as effective: a couple of extra mints at the end of a meal if you own a restaurant, a simple and occasional thank you card. You can even tag a loyal customer in a facebook post and say “good to see you again, thanks for coming back!” It doesn’t always cost a lot of money to form and maintain a personal bond.
  5. Use humor
    Humor can be very effective, particularly in your social media channels. It tends to get shared more often than most any other form of content and it will let your customers see a softer, more human side of you. Take a look at this post from Wendy’s for example: a nice message with a bit of cultural context—and look at how people shared it!
  6. Being funny can be tricky and if you don’t think you have the knack for it, that’s okay. It’s perfectly acceptable to simply share content that amuses you. You can personalize it by tagging someone you think would enjoy the joke.

What are your best customer retention strategies? Let us know in the comments!