In last week’s blog, I covered the pros and cons of having a customer loyalty programme. So, if you have decided that it is the way to go, how do you go about promoting it to your target audience? This week’s blog looks at the strategy for loyalty marketing and how you can get the best out of it for your small business.
What is loyalty marketing?
Loyalty marketing is about encouraging your customers to buy from you over and over again…it’s keeping them coming back for more.
It can apply to both existing, active customers and past customers, as well as new ones. Your strategy is to incentivise them to buy from you more frequently. The obvious example is a coffee shop. They give you a card, which you get stamped every time you buy a coffee. When your ten stamps have been completed, you get a free coffee. Everyone loves a freebie, even if they have to work for it.
Why is loyalty marketing so important?
We all like to feel that we’re appreciated…I know that I do. It’s even nicer if the business you buy from shows their appreciation by giving you something in return. You are being rewarded for your loyalty, which feels great.
The first step to achieving this is to make your customers feel valued and acknowledge them for their continued support. However, this isn’t easy; customers are not tied to you or your business and can jump ship for another brand at the drop of a hat. Another brand may be more accessible, may be a local business or friend. Sometimes customers just feel like a change and want to try something new. But there are some marketing strategies that can help you keep your customers for as long as possible.
Make it simple
Keep your customer loyalty programme as simple as possible. You could add a sign up at your website checkout and give an immediate benefit of some kind. It could be a small discount off their next purchase.
Also make sure that it doesn’t matter what your customer spends, they can still join the loyalty programme. So, whether they spend big bucks or small change, they are all treated equally.
Take your time to decide what customer rewards you want to give. You still need to think about your profit margins, so don’t go mad! You might go with ‘buy one, get one free’ on certain items, or a straight-forward 5% off their next purchase. Or, like the coffee house example I gave earlier, your customers have a physical card that they get stamped every time they buy an item. Then they get one free after the tenth item is bought. Obviously the coffee shop idea wouldn’t be appropriate for most businesses – only those who sell something fairly cheap in the first place…coffee is ideal, so this idea is great for cafes and restaurants, juice bars and sandwich shops.
Give new members a gift
When someone joins the loyalty programme, give them a small gift as a welcome. This will reinforce the value of the programme, and hopefully they will pass this on to their friends and family.
Give an incentive to introduce a friend
If a customer refers a friend, who goes on to buy from you, you could give them an incentive gift.
Personalise the programme
If you are sending out details of the programme, use the customer’s first name and thank them for being a loyal customer. Personalising the email, phone call, or however you choose to do it, makes your customer feel special and it also makes your email feel bespoke if it has their name on it.
Remember your customers’ birthdays and send them an e-card or an email to wish them a good day.
Don’t forget to say ‘thank you’ to customers for their continued support.
Let your customers know that you listen
There is nothing more frustrating, as a consumer, than sending off an email, or sending a message on social media, and your comments are ignored. So don’t do this! Make sure you reply to everything in a positive and friendly manner.
Get customer feedback
This goes hand in hand with listening. Providing your customers with a way to leave feedback is imperative to finding out why they stay loyal to your brand and also, why they leave to go elsewhere. Make sure there is somewhere on your social media sites for them to leave feedback and also on your website.
Listening to what your customers have to say can be a very positive experience, but inevitably you will also get some negative comments. However, so long as you answer them straight away, you can often turn that around. Sometimes feedback will give you new ideas, or ideas on how you can improve your current products or services.
Most customers tend to only leave feedback if there is a problem, so it’s about encouraging them to leave it when they’re happy! If you do get a negative review, don’t try and hide it or delete it – work on the problem with your customer and hopefully they will leave another one stating how you solved their problem.
Feedback can be obtained via a customer satisfaction survey. With this, you are in control of the questions, and it is a straight forward and easy way to gain opinions on your products and services…and the overall customer experience they receive with your brand. If you do opt for this, keep it short and sweet – they won’t want to take more than a couple of minutes to complete it, so just ask a few questions and if possible, opt for multiple choice answers as that makes it even easier.
You could offer an incentive to complete your survey or to leave a review. The most important thing to think about is the timing of your survey or the asking for a review. You need to give your customer time to use your product or service. So just be aware of that.
Promote at every opportunity
This means at every single customer touch point.
- Phone calls
- Text message
- At the till if you have physical premises
- When you send out an order, put details in the order with the invoice
- Blog about it
- Put your programme on your social media sites – ask your followers to share your post
- Tell customers about it in email or newsletter
- Promote it in adverts about your business
- Consider a paid ad on Social Media
- Mention it in podcasts and videos
- Maybe have a partnership with another business that compliments yours and share the running costs
Talk about your customer loyalty programme to anyone and everyone who will listen.
Always remember that customer loyalty goes way beyond giving out a loyalty programme or rewards…or even engagement with them on social media.
It’s about you letting your customers know that you really value their custom, and appreciate the support they give to your business.
Finally, make sure that you use the same images and tone of voice in all interactions about your customer loyalty programme, so your particular, branded programme stands out and is easily recognisable.