There are a number of ways to ensure that customers keep coming back – essential for small businesses seeking long-term growth.

Big companies have the funds to invest in elaborate marketing schemes, but their ability to relate to the consumer on an individual basis is much more limited. According to an infographic from small business advice organization SCORE, most consumers actually prefer small stores over massive corporations with budgets to splurge on advertising. And most business owners, 82 percent, agree that customer loyalty is the key to growth. Though SCORE found that big companies are more likely to thank their customers, the infographic also indicated that small business are more apt to understand expectations, anticipate the needs of individuals and follow up with consumers.

It is essential for a small business owner to include consumer loyalty investments in his or her financial plan. For advice on how to maintain loyalty, read the advice below:

1. Inform customers of how you’re helping them
Consistently let your customers know how you plan on assisting them in the future, Entrepreneur explained. Whether this be through a newsletter, a phone call or some other form of communication, make sure you are reaching out and informing people specifically how your services can benefit them. If you aren’t doing this, they may never know. For instance, if a transaction requires paperwork, make a phone call and let the customer know you’ll take care of it. Small things like this will be helpful for building loyalty.

2. Know what piques your customers’ interest
An essential foundation to the loyalty building process is understanding why your business is alluring to consumers in the first place, FedEx’s small business center explained. Jack Whitley, senior vice president of e-commerce at Replacements, told the advice website that his company was able to find “a niche within a niche.” His company provides the world’s largest selection of new and old dinnerware, and often gets letter from customers thankful for his service, such as one who was able to find the silverware he and his wife lost following Hurricane Katrina.

3. Keep special occasions in mind
Whether it be the holidays or a birthday, let customers know you are thinking of them even when it isn’t directly tied to business, Entrepreneur suggested. Even sending a small gift with a card will go a long way toward showing customers that you care and want to build loyalty with them. It doesn’t take a chunk out of your budget to let people know they’re on your mind, but it will almost certainly strengthen your customer base. When you reach out with voicemails or emails, remember to keep it as personal as you can. If you can’t reach the person, just leave a voicemail saying that you’d like to talk to the individual.

4. Make deliveries a priority
If your small business delivers products, make sure that the process is as easy and pleasant as possible for the customer, the small business center suggested. Shipping errors or damaged items are a great way to keep a customer away from your business, so avoid them at all costs. Make sure that your small business uses that best shipping methods available in order to ensure customer loyalty. For example, Whitely’s business often deals in fragile products, so he needs to invest in the best shipping possible, but it pays off. This is one transaction with consumers you can’t afford to stumble on.

Use these four tips to make sure that customers keep coming back to your small business long after their first purchase.