If you've ever heard the sentiment that other people's grass is always greener than yours, don't believe it. Your lawn is what you make of it. If you carefully manicure it and apply the right products as and when due, your grass will be the envy of the neighborhood.
How does this translate to business? Like the grass, your company will outperform others if you know how to get customers in, earn their trust, and keep it. So if you're experiencing a worrying churn rate, your competitors are likely doing something you're not.
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You do not want to be in this situation. And one of the best ways to keep your grass (customers) green is through an effective customer loyalty program. Of course, this implies that you have a stellar business, a good product/service, and excellent customer service. A loyalty program is a vehicle for rewarding your repeat customers for consistently bringing you more business.
Loyalty programs take many forms. They could come designed as discounts, limited-time offers, exclusive deals, and other incentives. If you play your cards right, your loyalty program won't just help you build your customer loyalty; it will also help you keep it.
The beautiful thing about loyalty programs is that there's no one-size-fits-all approach. The customizable nature of loyalty programs is endless. You can tweak yours to meet your particular goals with your customers.
Maybe you've never set up a loyalty program or have tried it before with unfavorable results. Either way, the strategies outlined here will help you set up and manage the perfect brand-specific loyalty program.
I know, I just explained to you how vital a loyalty program could be. And now I'm suggesting that you may not need one. Sounds counter-productive, doesn't it?
But it's the truth. Not every brand will need a customer loyalty program—at least not in the same way. That other businesses within your industry are taking a particular loyalty program approach doesn't mean it will work for you.
A loyalty program works best if you sell items that require repeat purchases. If you've already got consistent orders rolling in, a loyalty program will work for you. You may have to look beyond this strategy if this is not the case for you. You can't expect a "buy 5, get one free" approach for Starbucks to work for a company that sells manufacturing equipment.
Ensure your product types, customers' purchasing patterns, and loyalty program objectives make sense for a loyalty program before you take the first step.
As I said earlier, there's no universal loyalty program template. Ultimately, customers want free stuff and crazy deals, but they don't all want it the same way or want the same products/services.
These nuances in your customers' preferences are crucial when designing your program. If you've been selling for a while, you've probably got a wealth of customer data.
Use this to categorize your repeat customers according to their preferred products and buying patterns. Then create different loyalty programs for each customer category. This tactic ensures that each customer will be able to benefit from the program regardless of their preferred products, buying frequency, and budget.
This fact may sound a little vain, but "ego" is a useful marketing signifier. There is hardly anyone who doesn't love the idea of a status symbol. And a lot of times, it's just for the symbol's sake.
Imagine two people trying to pay for their dinner at a restaurant. One person uses a regular Mastercard, and the other casually flips out a black American Express card. Who do you think is immediately seen as cool? I'm sure you get the point.
Incorporate this feeling into your program. Create milestones for achievements and reward your customers with a "badge of honor" or a "gold level member," etc. For every preset number of points they garner, they move up a level and probably gain even more points for it.
Breaking down the program in this way gives your customers the ego boost they need but don't know it. It also makes your loyalty program easier for customers to follow. This can only be good for your bottom line.
Whether online or offline, the point of a loyalty program is to get closer to your business goals ultimately. The benefit your customers get in the process is mostly a means to an end.
Whatever your goal is—sales, brand awareness, email list building, social media engagement, and more—build your loyalty program around those particular actions. The shape this would take is up to you. It could be hashtag contests or sweepstakes. It could be a fee-for-benefits VIP loyalty program (cue Amazon Prime).
Also, choose the right medium for running the program. Your loyalty program could be exclusively app-based (like Starbucks); it could be via email, discount codes, rewards cards, and more. Whichever program type and medium you choose, ensure that your customers clearly see what is expected of them and the benefits that accrue from it.
If you've never run a customer loyalty program before, don't be surprised if it takes a while to gain some traction.
To get things rolling, your customers may require a little nudge from you. Send a couple of reminders. You can also use that opportunity to offer an incentive for buying into your loyalty program.
It could be 15,000 points for registering for a rewards card or a $20 referral program signup bonus. Either way, be clear on the terms and conditions and let them know the reason for the incentive.
While everyone likes free stuff, it can get old quickly. If your loyalty program is just about accumulating points and redeeming them, this will eventually work against your brand longevity.
You don't want customers who only stick around and renew their memberships because of the benefits.
You want customers loyal to your brand for reasons beyond what they can gain. One way to achieve this is to foster a community around your loyalty program. Make it social. Create and moderate chat rooms, forums, or any other type of online community exclusively for your customers.
Let this be a space where they can come and connect, meet new people, celebrate each other's wins, and more. Keep an eye on everything in those groups and be just as involved as they are. Do this right, and you will have customers connected to your brand at the soul level. These are the kind of customers that boost brand loyalty, trust, and reputation for the long term.
Success isn't really success if you don't know why it's happening. Leading from the previous strategy, creating a community for your customers gifts you a free pool of information about your customers' perceptions about your brand.
Are you doing something wrong? Is there something you should be doing more of? Are they willing to refer your brand to others? If you're fully involved in these communities, it should be easy for you to glean answers to these questions and more. These communities also make it easier for you to run polls, do customer surveys, and more.
Besides this consistent probing, delve into your customer data to see the numbers of your customers' behavior. Keep an eye on metrics like churn rate and retention rate. These metrics keep you abreast of your businesses' customer inflow and outflow.
Simply put, loyalty programs are a fantastic way to make your customers happy to stay with your brand. But you have to do it right, or it will backfire spectacularly. These strategies will help you achieve a robust loyalty program that your brand can benefit from for years.
Melissa Mauro is a freelance writer who creates quality and original content. She is working for the company top essay writing reviews. She believes that creativity and improvement are things, which distinguish a good writer.
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