Customer loyalty is more important than ever before. Consumers have multiple suitors fighting for their loyalty, which makes enticing and maintaining customers even more difficult. To rise above the noise--consumers see at least 247 images per day--companies should be implementing effective loyalty programs that make customers feel special and create a personal bond with your company. Email marketing and loyalty programs are powerful tools to accomplish this goal.
Loyalty programs can help drive a wedge between competitors and encourage customer devotion, and therefore, revenue. Take Starbucks, for example: The premium coffee retailer's loyalty program, "My Starbucks Rewards," is credited with playing a crucial role in the company's "26 percent rise in profit and 11 percent jump in total revenue in 2013's second quarter fiscal results." This is proof that customers will pay even more for certain products and services if treated in the right way.
Despite these benefits, many companies opt out of loyalty programs, or run them inefficiently. According to the National Business Research Institute, 20 percent of businesses don't have customer loyalty strategies in place, and 62 percent believe it is difficult to generate offers that map back to company strategy. The numbers aren't great on the other side of the coin, either: Eighty-five percent of loyalty program members never hear from companies whose programs they join.
In honor of National Nut Month, it's time to think about ways to get customers to go nuts over your company. Building (or improving upon) an effective loyalty campaign doesn't have to drive you nutty. Here are a handful of tips and considerations to help you get those customers hopelessly devoted to your emails and programs:
Gather Your Information, From Soup to Nuts
You have a goldmine of data, so make sure you use it in order to create effective loyalty programs that content customers will eagerly devour. A combination of historical and real-time data provides an accurate and comprehensive view of customers' actions and preferences (i.e., Are they checking email from a phone or laptop? Are they browsing or buying?) with the added bonus of predicting user behavior.
Going back to the Starbucks example, the company has cited analytics and business intelligence as the secret sauce of its wildly successful customer loyalty program, delivering personalized, relevant and targeted discounts to customers. This information, in conjunction with email marketing tools like segmentation and A/B split testing, will help you improve customer experience, brand loyalty and bottom line results.
Put Your Heart Into It: Show You're Nuts About Your Customers
Numerous industries have documented the fact that consumers rely heavily on emotions when making a decision about a purchase, finding that 70 percent of decision-making is attributed to emotional response, versus 30 percent based on rational. For example, happiness drives people to share, which can increase brand awareness and sales, and sadness emotes empathy and the desire to connect, which has proven to be effective in fundraising for many non-profits.
So keep emotions in mind when creating your loyalty programs. Don't solely focus your loyalty program on a few extra points or discounts -- be sure to incorporate some human elements as well. Try to bring VIP best practices from the real world into the virtual world. You can't make eye contact, but you can please people by using their name whenever possible in your electronic communications. Conduct good manners by saying please and thank you (personalized, of course). With the right content and the right tone, you can make your customers happy, but also build new customers as your existing clientele share your information with family and friends.
Convert Those Tough Nuts to Crack
It's generally a good business practice to follow the 80/20 rule (focusing most efforts on the 20 percent of customers that truly drive revenue). Repeat customers spend an average of 67 percent more than a first time buyer, give referrals and are more affordable to maintain than discovering new purchasers. However, you should always be building your customer base so don't ignore the other 80 percent--just treat them differently. And with technology today, you can still target those customers that fall in the 80 percent with minimal effort to you.
Personalized information based on key analytics is the best way to convert these historically tough customers. Most email marketing tools allow you to automate much of this process, creating tiers of loyalty and rewards programs with incentives for customers to upgrade for more significant rewards, status and relationship-building.
Help Customers Spread the Word
Oh the joy of being a marketer today--we have countless vehicles in which to share our message and promote our products and services. And the right customers will help you amplify your message by forwarding your communications to their friends, colleagues and families. Incorporate links and "share" buttons into your communications, which will help your customers think about sharing and make it easy for them to do. In a nutshell, this slight additional effort can yield dividends in terms of extended promotional life cycle, positive reviews, broader brand recognition and more.
Savvy marketers are cash(ew)ing in on customer loyalty programs with the right tools and technology. Take these tips to create or improve your loyalty programs: For just minimal time and peanuts, you can see an increase in customer retention and revenue.