In today’s competitive marketing landscape, it is imperative for businesses to embed customer loyalty programs into their marketing plan in order to create fiercely loyal customers. Customer loyalty programs not only help retailers maximize customer engagement but also help in boosting their repeat sales frequency. According to Colloquy, 76% of customers see loyalty programs as an important part of their relationship with brands. Yet customer loyalty is an afterthought for most businesses and gets only 10% (or less) of the marketing budget.
Zinrelo has been reaching out to key influencers in the customer loyalty space to get their expert opinions on different aspects of building a successful modern day loyalty rewards program to maximize customer retention.
We reached out to Brandon Carter, who is a writer and marketer for Access Development. He’s a frequent blogger on customer engagement, customer loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Brandon has also written for popular websites like MarketingProfs, Social Media Today, Business2Community, Customer Think, Deseret News, and more.
Q & A Excerpts
Zinrelo: Top 3 things to consider while implementing a customer loyalty program?
Brandon: If I were asked to start a loyalty program from scratch, these are the three biggest questions I would build it around:
- Does it align with the goals of your target audience? A loyalty program should appeal to and have value for any customer, but you really want it to appeal to your most profitable, most valuable customers. Think of the outrage when Starbucks changed their structure last year – it didn’t sit well with the occasional customers because it was geared to reward the high-frequency, high-spend customer. Those people get rewarded more quickly and frequently, while the tepid customer has to wait longer.
- Are we prepared to promote it and generate usage? You can’t just turn these things on and assume they’re going to work. They require marketing dollars, staff training, promotions, incentives, and referrals to generate usage on an ongoing basis. You want people earning and redeeming. This is where many of the large points and miles programs get into trouble. They push points earning, but then make it impossible to redeem those points for anything of value.
The larger point is to always continue pushing for more engagement, whether you have a points program or just a simple punch card. Frequent, relevant engagement is how loyalty is sustained, which should be the point of a loyalty program.
- It is going to engage customers even when they’re not in store? Loyalty programs are not an excuse to push your sales harder or to increase your price caps to max out your most dedicated customers. They have to provide something engaging and valuable, and show that the brand cares about them even when they’re not in the store handing over more money.
Zinrelo: How can a business best measure the effectiveness of a loyalty rewards program?
Brandon: That depends on the structure, but you really want to aim for some sort of engagement. Not just members or registrations, but actual point’s redemptions, coupons redeemed, app opens, logins. Things that show a live pulse. Ideally, that engagement should spill over to more purchases or larger purchases, depending on how the brand defines “loyalty.”
Zinrelo: Is Omni-Channel approach to customer loyalty program a key to success?
Brandon: In general, the more data you have, the better. The key with loyalty is actually putting it to use. Yes, Omni-channel and something like a single view of customer interactions would be great, but only if it can be used to add more value to the customer and enhance their experience. This goes back to expanding the scope beyond just purchasing behavior – can you identify and recognize when a customer has a brand interaction?
Our interview with Brandon once again stresses on the point that customer engagement is one of the core areas that brands can focus on to create fiercely loyal customers.
What are YOUR go-to strategies for fostering strong customer loyalty in your business? We’d love to hear your ideas!
More About Our Influencer: Brandon Carter
Brandon Carter is a writer and marketer for Access Development. He’s a frequent blogger on customer engagement, customer loyalty, consumer trends, and branding. Brandon has also written for popular websites like MarketingProfs, Social Media Today, Business2Community, Customer Think, Deseret News, and more.