Every business needs a solid loyalty marketing plan. Whether we’re talking about an independent hair salon, multinational chain store, online business or mobile app-based service provider, it’s crucial to look after your existing customers if you wish to grow the business.
While it’s natural to focus your efforts on customer acquisition, it’s often far more fruitful to retain your existing customer base.
So with that in mind, what makes a successful loyalty marketing plan? How can businesses ensure they consistently engage customers to keep them returning again and again?
At Stamp Me Loyalty Solutions, we know how to boost brand loyalty and increase customer retention. Below, you’ll find seven goals for business owners to aim for when creating a successful loyalty marketing plan.
The Ultimate Guide to Customer Loyalty Programs
Learn how to create a successful loyalty program that retains customers and boosts sales.
1. Increase Frequency of Visit
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Whatever techniques you employ for your loyalty marketing plan; the primary goal should be to increase the frequency of visits. This might mean literally getting a customer through the doors more often, or reducing the intervals between a customer’s online purchases.
Your standard “Buy 7, Get Your 8th Free” loyalty program model is a tried and tested strategy for increasing frequency of visits among existing customers.
While paper punch cards are all but defunct these days (consumers are no longer willing to carry a stack of loyalty cards around in their wallets or glove compartments), a digital punch card app serves the same purpose, with added convenience for both the merchant and the customer.
Aside from loyalty programs, there are other methods for getting customers to engage your business more often – half-price days, limited-time free shipping promotions, and so on.
2. Increase Average Basket-Size
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Once you’ve figured out how to speed up the rate in which customers make purchases, you want to make each of those purchases as high value as possible.
The best way to increase your customers’ average transaction value is through upselling, cross-selling, upgrading and upsizing. Special offers like “Buy X & Get 50% Off Z Today Only” can be extremely effective when utilized properly.
Once you know which products a particular customer likes, you can start offering combos and add-ons that include variations of these favourite items. This kind of upselling is far more effective than your classic “would you like fries with that” tactic.
In order to offer these kinds of tailored deals, businesses need the means for collecting customer data. Again, this is where a digital loyalty program comes in handy, which brings us to the third attribute of a successful loyalty marketing plan.
3. Offer a Personalized Experience
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The way consumers shop has drastically evolved with digital technology, and this has paved the way for brands to offer each and every customer a truly personalized experience.
When the same customers make repeat purchases with your business, you can use the information gathered from every transaction to figure out the customer’s preferences in regards to things like:
– which products they tend to buy
– what day of the week/time of the day they tend to make purchases
– whether they shop in-store or online
– whether they order to dine in or takeaway (for restaurants)
– whether they tend to impulse buy added accessories at check-out
– numerous other crucial data points
This information, when used efficiently, allows businesses to tailor the customer’s shopping experience to cater for their individual needs. For example…
By knowing which products they tend to buy, you can recommend similar products they might also like.
By knowing what time and/or which days they tend to shop with your brand, you can send strategically-timed communications with special offers and exclusive deals just for them. A certain well-known food chain is the McMaster of this strategy, and you can learn more about how they pull it off in our McDonald’s case study.
The in-store shopper might be interested in skip-the-queue perks, while the online shopper might prefer free shipping on all purchases over $50.
The takeaway customer might appreciate the ability to pay in advance through an app for quicker pick-up, while the customer who likes to dine in will probably be more satisfied with free coffee refills.
…And so on.
Digital loyalty programs offer a convenient way for merchants and business owners to log, track and utilize customer data for an increasingly personalized customer experience.
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4. Encourage Referrals
Any loyalty marketing plan worth its weight in gold will help a business use its existing customers to attain new ones. The more satisfied your loyal customers are, the more likely they are to tell their peers.
Of course, there are other ways to incentivize your existing customers to refer their friends, too. Offering rewards for referrals (not just for the existing customer, but for the new one as well) is a great way to jump-start signups. We see this technique used all the time for rideshare apps and gym memberships.
Another nifty technique is to get your existing customers promoting your loyalty program for you on social media. For example, the following promotion could easily lead to a spike in registrations:
“Enjoy a 10% discount on your next purchase when you post a photo or video of yourself using our product on Instagram, with the relevant hashtag.”
For every customer that does this, a large portion of their followers see it and your business can potentially reach quite a wide audience without spending a cent on advertising. The exposure gained from this kind of promotion will surely outweigh the cost of a few 10% discounts.
5. Offer Otherwise Unattainable Perks
The idea behind a successful loyalty marketing plan is to foster an emotional connection between your customers and your brand, which in turn drives higher spending and increased engagement.
Make your most valued customers feel like VIP’s, because when it comes to the success of your business… that’s exactly what they are!
Below, you’ll find a handful of special perks and benefits to offer your VIP members that are guaranteed to have your regular customers asking, “How do I get access to that stuff?”:
– free upgrades
– tailored rewards
– invitations to exclusive events, product launches, classes and tutorials
– skip-the-queue privileges and pay-in-advance capabilities
– social media engagement
– spontaneous rewards that surprise and delight members
Of course, this list barely scratches the surface of what perks you can implement to make your loyalty program irresistible. Also, fun fact: Bond Brand Loyalty found that two-thirds of customers modify their spending in order to maximize loyalty benefits.
You can learn more about how to integrate VIP perks and benefits into your loyalty program here.
6. Encourage Direct Bookings, Purchases & Orders
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While many companies rely on intermediaries to sell their product for them, there are countless businesses out there that would much rather have customers buy their products directly from the brand itself.
Hotels always encourage their guests to book directly through them, instead of booking through online travel agents like Expedia and Booking.com. When ordering food from a small independent restaurant, it’s always better to call them directly instead of using UberEats or DoorDash, for example.
When mapping out a successful loyalty marketing plan, it’s a good idea to brainstorm ways in which you can encourage your customers to come directly to you for purchases.
By making it clear that your loyalty program doesn’t work in conjunction with third-party services, repeat customers are much more likely to come directly to you for purchases, in order to accrue points towards their next reward.
E-newsletters, social media posts and push notifications are effective tools for spreading this message to your loyal customers.
7. Inspire a Sense of Contribution and Shared Ownership of the Brand
Getting customers involved in the decision-making processes of your business is a fantastic way to build brand loyalty and customer engagement. Not only does it show that you value their opinion and appreciate their feedback, but it inspires a sense of shared ownership.
They aren’t just customers… they are part of the brand experience. This is critical for fostering that emotional connection we talked about earlier.
There are all kinds of unique and innovative ways to bring customers into the loop. We already discussed how to incentivize social media posts with discounts, which allows customers to become part of the brand image.
Another example is Amazon Prime’s pilot season voting campaign, where viewers were invited to watch TV pilot seasons and vote for which ones should be made into full Amazon Original Series.
For your own business, perhaps you could invite loyalty program members to choose your latest product offering from a list of five options. This encourages brand ownership, and might also inspire non-members to sign up, just so they can have their say!
By using these seven key concepts as a framework, you can create a successful loyalty marketing plan for your business.
Now that you’re equipped with the seven pillars of brilliant loyalty marketing, it’s time to sit down with a pen and paper and hash out a phenomenal loyalty marketing plan that is unique to your business and caters for your specific customer base.
Remember: when it comes to effective loyalty marketing, the only limit is your own imagination. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box!
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