Regardless of what kind of business you run, customer retention is one of the biggest indicators of a company’s success. After all, studies suggest that for each 1 percent of shoppers who return for a repeat visit, revenue increases by about 10 percent. Not only do loyal customers have long lifetime values, they also become advocates for your company, eventually bringing in more customers.
So how do you turn a one-time customer into a loyal one? While loyalty programs can certainly help, your company needs to create an emotional attachment to customers in order to convert them. After all, no consumer will be loyal upon landing on your site. You need to build up to it. There are several ways you can do this:
- Become an expert – You should already know the ins and outs of the products your company sells. Why not share that knowledge with your customers through content marketing. Give them tutorials, how to’s and opinions. Don’t try to sell directly to them, instead just provide them with valuable information. From there you can earn their trust. When customers start to trust you, they will become loyal to not only your opinions but your products as well.
- Be Human – Customers don’t care about nameless brands or stores. They want to have a more human experience when they shop. This means more personalization during their time on your site and real interaction. Show your determination and hard work to your market and make you are a visible figure for the company. This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to create a strong emotional attachment.
- Be Helpful – Good customer service should be the backbone of your business. Consumers want to feel like the business actually cares about them. A lot of the time a store that offers excellent service but higher prices will often beat out one that has poor service but lower prices. Why? Because customers want to be treated well. Offer useful tips, hints, direct line of communication with you through social media or other means and you’ll see your loyalty go up the roof.
Now that you’ve got the basics of building customer loyalty, where exactly does a loyalty program fit in? A good program can be an excellent way to supplement the above bullet points. It offers a tangible benefits to the consumer and gives them a reason to come back and shop. Not only that but it also adds a cost to shopping at your competitor as they will be missing out on the points or other rewards they would receive from shopping with you.
The question now is, how do you launch one?
Keep it Simple
Make sure you customers can quickly figure out the earning rules, spending rules and benefits of signing up. Make sure everything is streamlined and redeeming the ‘points’ or other rewards are very easy to do. You can do this with POS and e-commerce integration so the process itself offers a smooth customer experience.
Name Your Program
Your company brand should carry over to your loyalty program. Tacking on a basic name like Company X Loyalty Program is boring and won’t attract anyone’s attention. Come up with a name that suits your image and makes sense to the customer.
Reach out to Your Current Customers
Chances are you already have some loyal customers who have signed up for your newsletter. Offer them a chance to be the first ones to sign up for your rewards program. It will make them feel special and allow you to smooth out any issues thanks to the feedback your first members will give you.
Make it Easy to Join
No one wants to go through the hassle of entering in pages full of data just to sign up for a loyalty program. Only ask for information you need like email address and the customer’s birthday. It should be as painless as possible for people to join.
Make it Automated
In order to offer the best possible service for your customers you want to reduce as much of the workload as possible. This is where automation comes into play. Not only will it lighten your load, it also helps your customers feel appreciated an in touch with your business.
Choose Your Rewards
What you offer your customers will be based on what appeals to them. Think of a margin you can afford. Many rewards offer 10 percent off the first purchase or $20 off a $100 purchase. Do an a/b test to see which one performs better in terms of customer loyalty. Some other options to consider include:
- Credit off their next purchase
- A free product
- Discount on a specific category
- A gift with a purchase
- points based on customer spending
The best part is you can customize these rewards based on your customer data and offer them exactly what they want.
Add a Built-In Referral Program
71 percent of consumers say they are more likely to make a purchase if they were referred. Make it easy for current customers to refer their friends and then offer them a reward like a discount or a flat fee.
Promote Your Loyalty Program
If no one knows about your loyalty program then you won’t see any increase in customer retention. Make sure you promote it once it is up and running on you social media networks, blog posts, directly on your site and even through press releases.
Focus on Your Customers
Your loyalty program shouldn’t focus on how much money your company can squeeze from your customers, it should be about rewarding them. Use your key performance indicators and customer surveys to see exactly what your customers want from you and offer it. People want a personal connection with companies, even more so in e-commerce.
As you can see, building a loyalty program might be simple in practice, but it requires plenty of planning, marketing and data analysis for best results. While not all stores need a loyalty program, it is a great opportunity to offer your customers something in return for supporting your business.