April 17, 2018 • digitalmedia • Branding • Comments Off on Build Your Brand with Customer Loyalty Programs
In business, you always want to drive sales. Your business doesn’t survive without fresh ideas and new clients. But you know to really add value to your company, make a significant contribution to your industry, and influence the communities you serve, you need a solid customer base with staying power. Alongside a loyal and hardworking team, customer loyalty is truly the most priceless attainment of good business.
But how do you build customer loyalty? There is no magic formula that works for everyone. But there are principles which, if properly executed and contextualized, help build a company culture in which clients remain for the long term. Customer loyalty programs are one simple yet effective strategy for encouraging customers to become brand ambassadors and even significant friends.
Customer loyalty programs provide deals, discounts, and tokens of appreciation that save customers money and make them feel good about their choice to partner with you. However, there is a deeper reason behind why customer loyalty programs work so well and so consistently. In short, the answer is relationships. Humans crave relationships. And we return to them when they are rewarding. We need connections to survive, and we thrive when engaged in networks of positive, mutually beneficial relationships. But when impersonal, give-and-take exchanges begin to crowd out a sense of beneficence and genuine personal or “insider” knowledge, a relationship might continue, but will not thrive. Customer loyalty programs work because, at heart, people value connection over a mere exchange.
Humans don’t desire connection from every exchange (this is why we do not have, for example, deep relationships with ATMs), but there are undeniable mutual benefits to customer loyalty. Goodwill and trust between both parties, for example, grow as positive interactions increase. These intangible benefits, in turn, often produce financial fruit through more sales, and certainly make business-client relationships more rewarding. Many industries have seen years of successful growth by investing in customer loyalty.
If customer loyalty is cultivated through encouraging more mutually beneficial, even enjoyable, connections, then, in short, a business without customer loyalty is not much worth running. But customer loyalty programs also work for you because they’re a great way to win referrals. As you reward clients for patronizing your business, their increased engagement with your business means that you are educating and deploying brand ambassadors every day. Loyal customers become familiar with your company culture and can articulately and winningly share with others the benefits of doing business with you. This is why, with careful execution and dedication to the process, customer loyalty programs are worth the investment.
According to a study by Forbes, keeping an existing customer costs your business seven times less than onboarding a new one. In other words, marketing to existing customers pays for itself faster than marketing to prospects. As we have seen, loyalty programs work by generating more income through the relational capital of your business, turning increased positive client interactions into sales and commitments. In this way, a good customer loyalty program more than pays for itself.
One way loyalty programs work is through rewards. Rewards can provide special deals, discounts, freebies, and other benefits for making particular kinds of purchases at particular times. If the reward appeals to a real need or interest on the customer’s part, they are encouraged to spend more of their time and money where they’ve already been rewarded for spending it — on you.
Rewards can also come in the form of attentiveness, special experiences or opportunities, and gifts. Recall the mention above of how important personal, “insider” knowledge is to a relationship. Thank you gifts, holiday greetings, and invitations to exclusive in-store events, for example, reward customers by drawing them into spaces of genuine, even “off-the-clock” interactions with you and your company. Rewards may be as simple as coupons, but they do not need to be regarded as gimmicks. They are opportunities for real relationship-building.
This is where expert crafting and audience targeting comes into play. A loyalty program that swings wide and doesn’t hit this mark will struggle. So as a loyalty program grows, it is essential to keep track of what works and what doesn’t, what attracts strongly and what gets ignored. This builds a better and better loyalty program and gives you vital information to help you match known customer preferences with products or services you need to promote at a given time. If you don’t learn how to play this match game, your offers will seem inappropriate and won’t produce the results you want.
In short, if you have customers, yes. A customer loyalty program, like any new effort, will require resources and time you may already have allocated. It will require intentionality and dedication to the processes of research, creation, launch, and data gathering. There will be some elements you’ll need to adjust and change. But the work is worth it. It’s no marketing secret that customer loyalty programs are one of the easiest ways to increase revenue, build valuable relationships, keep customers happy, and forge a rock-solid reputation as a business of choice.
To launch your loyalty program with strategy and execution that put you ahead of the game, contact Fontis Solutions. We’ll supply you with all the tools you need to fully engage your existing customer base and see your marketing plan take off. We are dedicated to the business of your success.
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