What Are Recurring Customers and How to Acquire Them

What Are Recurring Customers and How to Acquire Them

A successful customer acquisition process helps merchants beat the competition and increase revenue.

An acquired customer is one who buys a merchant’s product or service. One-time customers make one purchase from a business and stop there. Those that come back become either recurring or repeat customers.

In this article, we’ll discuss the differences between these three customer types, with a particular focus on recurring customers.

What Are Recurring Customers?

What are recurring customers

Recurring customers are buyers who consistently buy products and services from the same business.

Companies often use subscriptions or memberships to build long-term relationships with recurring customers.

What's the Difference between One-Time vs. Repeat vs. Recurring Customers?

There’s an economic principle by which 20% of buyers generate 80% of company revenue. This means that companies generate most of their recurring revenue from a small portion of valuable customers.

These are recurring and repeat customers.

One-time customers generally bring less profit, but they can have some value to companies, especially to new businesses.

The sections below explain the key differences between recurring, repeat, and one-time customers.

One-Time Customers

One-time customers buy only once from a company. They find a business, like what they see, and make a purchase. After that, they don’t come back for more.

A customer that buys only once represents a lost opportunity.

Let’s say that an ecommerce business had 100 customers within the same month. They all remain one-time buyers. In this case, the repeat customer rate is 0, and the customer acquisition cost (CAC) is extremely high. This would seriously affect the merchant’s profits for that month.

Merchants that record numerous one-time buyers need to examine their marketing strategy and analyze the target audience to see what went wrong.

Repeat Customers

Repeat customers

When buyers make a second purchase from a store, they’re considered repeat customers. The time between their first and second purchase doesn’t matter.

Let’s say that a person visits their parents a few times a year. Every time, they stop at the local pharmacy to buy some medicine for the parents. This buyer is a repeat customer. They make repeat purchases, but it’s impossible to accurately predict how many times they’ll buy something from that pharmacy.

Merchants with numerous repeat customers generally make more profit than those with many one-time buyers.

Recurring Customers

People who make regular purchases from the same company are called recurring customers.

Their shopping habits are predictable. Predictability is crucial for merchants because it helps them identify how much revenue they can expect within a certain period.

For instance, cable TV subscribers are recurring customers. They sign contracts with a defined duration and pay monthly or annual subscriptions. When recurring customers sign their contracts, they know how much money they’re going to spend during the arranged period.

Merchants know what revenue they’re going to make from their recurring customers, as well.

Recurring customers are the most valuable customers for every business. A healthy renewal rate indicates that a business is financially stable.

How to Acquire Recurring Customers

How to acquire recurring customers

Company revenue grows as shoppers advance from being one-time buyers to become recurring customers. But this conversion doesn’t happen overnight.

Apply these practical tips to lead customers along that road:

  • Use loyalty programs. Apply loyalty programs to encourage customers to buy more from your business and become recurring customers. Such programs reduce the churn rate and ensure steady revenue.
  • Prepare surprises for customers. Send presents to customers for their birthdays or work anniversaries. Segment customers based on their shopping history and prepare surprises in line with the customer’s value for your business.
  • Enhance social media promotion. Launch business pages on social media to promote your company. Highlight special offers, discounts, and incentives for new and existing customers. The more buyers go for these options, the more likely they are to convert into recurring customers.
  • Handle complaints with care. Respond to customers’ complaints to show that you care about them. Analyze every complaint to provide valuable answers. If you don’t handle customers’ complaints properly, they’ll leave.
  • Send out special offers. Send customers newsletters and bulletins with special offers. Consider making customized offers to different customer groups based on their shopping habits.
  • Keep the customers updated. Let customers know what’s going on in your company. Inform them about the improvements and innovations in the way you provide your services. The more value you provide to customers, the more likely they will become your loyal and recurring customers.  


Acquiring as many recurring customers as possible is every merchant’s goal. They ensure predictable revenue and constant business growth.

Apply the advice shared above for more recurring customers and better business results in the long run.