Businesses spend millions of dollars every year on marketing schemes to draw in new customers. As important as that is, businesses should really be looking at how to retain the customers they have. Retention is less expensive and can help maintain solid revenue streams.

There are many ways you can amp up your customer retention. Doing so will strengthen your brand image and bolster your sales. Here are seven techniques to try now:

1. Proactive Customer Service

How much of your customer service consists of putting out fires? Too many companies rely on their customer service team primarily to fix problems, when the same team could be helping customers avoid problems in the first place. A proactive approach to customer service builds trust in and reliance on your brand, boosting customer retention.

Reaching out to customers is the best way to be proactive instead of reactive. Recommend products that might help them. Ask them about their pain points. Gather feedback on previous transactions and make improvements based on their needs. You can also engage in social listening, checking in on what customers say about your brand online and responding accordingly.

2. Loyalty Programs

To keep customers around long term, you need to give them an incentive. Sure, a top-notch product or extreme convenience can be an incentive in itself, but as markets get more crowded, it becomes harder to differentiate your offering from the competition's. That's why a brand loyalty program is a great way to reel in customers and get them to stay.

A loyalty program can be anything from a simple punch card to an exclusive membership with never-before-seen perks. Your program needs to offer something that customers value and that makes it worth their while to come back to your company instead of trying others.

3. Onboarding

We tend to think of "onboarding" in HR terms, but it's just as important to educate new customers about your product or service. This helps them understand how to get the most out of it, which will increase its value and their longevity. Consumers can get frustrated when a new product doesn't meet their needs. Effective onboarding helps to prevent that frustration.

Virtual customer service is becoming more popular, but you want make sure you pair it with content that educates the customer at the right time. Make educational videos and blog posts accessible to prospective customers before purchase. Continue offering content after the sale, which will help customers answer their questions all along the way. 

4. Retargeting

When a current customer can't seem to pull the trigger on a subsequent purchase, perhaps they need a little nudge. You're doubtless aware of how many people do some window shopping on your website then leave without buying. You can convert these visits into repeat sales by launching a retargeting campaign. 

As you work on turning new and old visitors into customers, you'll uncover the things that stopped them from buying. This allows you to make the necessary adjustments to keep customers coming back every time. 

5. Community Building

Sometimes it's best to let your customers do the retaining for you. Many companies are building communities around their brands and products, enabling customers to connect and share questions and experiences. For example, a company that sells baby products can create a Facebook page for parents to share their trials and triumphs with each other.

Bevy, a community event platform, found that 69 percent of organizations plan to increase community investment in the next year and 86 percent believe that community is key to their mission. Here, it's the community that does most of the work of retention. It's not just the product that keeps customers coming back; it's the friendships they make with like-minded individuals who share similar needs.

6. Subscription Model

If you want a business model with retention baked right in, consider a subscription model for your next product launch. Customers sign up for the subscription and pay monthly for products delivered to their doorstep or inbox. Customers with a regular need for your products will love the convenience of this automated system.

The subscription model is rapidly growing, as it's an effective way to not only acquire new customers but to keep them around for the long haul. Couple this approach with your other retention tactics, and you're sure to find a winning combination.

7. Goodwill Offerings

It's important to build trust with customers before reeling them in for a sale. Consumers who are on the fence respond well to free options that cater to their uncertainty. For example, offering a free trial allows them to feel more comfortable with a product or service before committing to a purchase.

Other options include free delivery, extended warranties, and 24/7 customer service. Offering these perks free of charge shows customers that you care about their needs and encourages them to come back again and again.

Customer retention should be taken as seriously as customer acquisition. Try one or all of these techniques and see how they affect your business. You'll soon develop the right formula to attract and keep your customers.