To generate loyalty, focus on relations, community and experience

Small retailers may rely on repeat customers more so than larger ones, underscoring the need for marketers to focus on customer retention to maintain sales figures, especially during difficult economic times.

Small retailers may rely on repeat customers more so than larger ones, underscoring the need for marketers to focus on customer retention to maintain sales figures, especially during difficult economic times.

Strategies for building brand loyalty are about as varied as the customers who contribute sales, but one of the most important tasks is to maintain a relationship with customers after a sale is made. Merchants can request that customers join a mailing list, follow a Twitter account or participate in a company activity.

For local businesses, it's almost paramount that they get involved in community activities and concerns. Become a staple in the region and a voice in local affairs.

"Highlight all the great work you’re doing in your community by promoting it with stories, pictures and videos across your social media profiles," writes Angela Epley for Business2Community. "Include your business name and geographical keywords, and tag local faces and places to make sure to spread the word about your involvement online."

Finally, ensure that customers have unique experiences both in- and out-of-store, as this will spark a subconscious desire to return for a similarly positive experience.