Customer Retention: Getting It Right In The Creative Industry

Gurpreet Singh - Author Gurpreet Singh on Nov 06, 2018

Your clients are one of your greatest assets and making them happy is a photographer’s priority. Having a client leave satisfied and ready to be willing to recommend you is great for generating new income, but have you ever thought of the income you could gain from repeat clients? Customer retention can be the strategy that ensures the future of your business. By encouraging customer loyalty - by keeping clients coming back you can not only enhance your bottom line but also build your brand.

In a study by KPMG, customer retention was identified as a key revenue driver in company revenue growth in the immediate future, and it’s not hard to see why. Improving your customer retention rates by 5 percent can increase your business’ profits anywhere between 25-95 percent. So why focus on client loyalty and not only new client work? Marketing tactics are useful for ecommerce businesses and brick and mortar photography businesses looking to acquire new customers, but it should not be the only focus of a company.

Why Customer Retention Merits Focus

There are a host of reasons why customer retention should be a focus in your business. Keeping customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones; a claim that has been repeatedly proven. Yet, 44 percent of companies focus more on customer acquisition while a mere 18 percent focus on retention, according to the data in an E-consultancy report. In each photo shoot or contract secured, you are presented with the opportunity to secure their loyalty and future income. The efforts (both human and financial) spent on piquing the interest of new customers and making that first sale can cost up to 7 times more than retaining customers. Happy, loyal customers are also a great marketing asset as well. Your business can benefit from the free promotion through recommendations and word of mouth. Keep your customers happy, and they will return the favor.

As a photographer, you should use technology to make yours and your clients' life easier. Having a great client galleries platform which helps your clients to explore, proof, favorite, share, buy and download images easily, is a must-have for professional photographers.

Implementing It In Your Business

Now that you know the value of customer loyalty to your business, how do you get started? Surprisingly, many ways of increasing your customer retention rates are simple and not investment intensive. A few tips implemented throughout the creative process can make a huge difference to clients and keep them coming back.

Tailor Your Communications

One of the best ways to improve customer retention is to make your customers feel valued. One of the ways to do that is to communicate with your customers. Start by implementing a communications schedule with your customers you can make sure you keep in touch regularly and build a relationship with your clients. Seek to build a relationship with each client feels personal and be sure to make this a theme in all communications. Was their past purchase a newborn portrait? Remember to include that child and ask about them coming up to the one year mark.

Schedule regular emails highlighting any discounts and special offers personalized to your client’s experience with you. Take a look at inactive customers and segment emails specifically aimed at them in a bid to reactivate their interest or find out why they chose not to continue using your services for other milestones. With the right approach, dormant customers can become interested again, and it will cost much less than acquiring new clients.

Great Customer Service Goes Beyond The Session

Good customer service does not end with the delivery of the product/service. It is equally important to follow that up after a client’s experience. Implement measures such as follow up phone calls and emails to enquire how they found the entire time working with you and thank them for choosing you. The reality is, there will be multiple other creative outlets offering the same service, so a customer’s choice to select your services should be acknowledged. To maximize effect, utilize all available platforms to increase your customer reach. Don’t just stick to telephone contact numbers but include social media platforms for instant access.

Good customer service is also paramount to dealing with customer complaints and dissatisfaction. Your response to customer grievances can either hinder or help you convert unsatisfied customers into a loyal base. In a 2017 Deloitte Consumer Service Review, 42 percent of respondents listed good customer service as a key driver of their brand loyalty. In service-intensive industries including the hospitality business, your reaction to complaints is the perfect opportunity to distinguish yourself from your competitors.

Get Personal With Your Rewards Package

Many studies have shown how effective rewards packages can be for businesses looking to improve repeat customers. However, for a photographer, rewards are different from granting loyalty points. Exceeding your customer’s expectations can make sure they leave satisfied and keep coming back. Any client would appreciate a reward package for choosing your services. For creatives businesses, these can include rewarding any referrals and incorporate booking anniversary specials for clients.

However, a rewards scheme will have little effect unless it is specifically tailored for your customers and it provides the perfect opportunity to link your services offered. Explore ways to add a personal touch to your rewards system. Handwritten thank you cards after working with clients, and little touches such as providing consideration for those with younger children can go a long way in making individual customers feel valued. Think beyond discount coupons and customize it to suit artists, models and the creative niche in the market.

Get On The Same Level As Your Clients

When starting, every business defines its target markets using segmentation. Each of these groups has its characteristics and interests. Use these to realign your business with your customers' needs and expectations. Younger customers are more receptive and aware of a brand’s social media presence while senior customers may prefer a traditional in-person touch. Asking for feedback after each service provided can also provide details for future directions. Utilize this information to foster a relationship with customers and improve their ease of access. Also, this provides increased visibility of your brand and increased visibility offers the potential for new sales.

Think of including a client forum or community accessible on your website or across social media, to give clients a voice and allow them to connect. Finally, with the shift towards e-commerce, your business has a better chance of securing a sale and increasing visibility on a platform where they spend most of their time. For service and creative oriented businesses, providing a social media sharing feature can appeal to clients and help them feel that they are understood.

Make It About The Customer Experience

To get undivided customer loyalty, you must be prepared to go well beyond the sale of a product or service. Looking at the customer’s entire experience with your business can provide some useful insight into ways you can make their interaction with you, from inquiry to after sales, a seamless experience. Take note of your customer’s relationship and certain milestones that may occur for long-standing clients. For birthdays or anniversaries of membership with your company, a small reward personalized for the client can go a long way in maintaining the relationship. Involve customers every step of the process and keep abreast of current trends in the industry. With this, you can offer clients up to date products and inspire their trust.


It is great to be a master at your craft but maintaining interest is also a vital part of a business’ sustainability. Customer retention is one of the ways you can do that. Not only is it effective in promoting customer loyalty but it also provides a cost-effective way to secure other clients through word-of-mouth from satisfied customers. Understanding and exceeding your clients’ expectations, communicating with them and showing your appreciation are a few great strategies for any business looking to improve their loyal customer base. Incorporate a few of these principles and watch your bottom line grow.


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