You probably spend a lot of time focused on getting people in the door but, chances are you don’t always focus on creating loyal customers who will keep coming back and telling others about how much they love your business!
What is Brand Loyalty?
Brand loyalty is defined as “The extent of the faithfulness of consumers to a particular brand, expressed through their repeat purchases, irrespective of the marketing pressure generated by competing brands.” Let’s take a look at why brand loyalty is so important and the role that loyalty cards can play in this. Does Brand Loyalty Exist?
Yes, it does! While brand loyalty still exists, it has certainly changed over the years. With an increase in the number of options for consumers, the market has become even more competitive meaning businesses often have to find creative ways to appeal to their audience. Despite these changes, loyalty programs are still a great way to attract and retain customers. The article, Is Brand Loyalty Dying a Slow and Painful Death argues that people are less loyal to their brands than they are to a good deal. What that means for you is that you need to create a loyalty program that works with your brand. If you force something that does not fit, customers will be able to tell and your company will not benefit.
Why Loyalty Cards?
Loyalty cards are those wonderful punch cards (or digital apps like Starbucks has) that allow customers to earn free products or discounted items for racking up a certain number of purchases at your business. These are most commonly seen at restaurants and coffee shops, but can be used for all sorts of industries when done effectively.
So why are loyalty cards so great? Think about this: Do you make decisions on where you are going to spend your money based on the benefits you will receive? Many people do. We all like the perks we receive from the places we shop, and it’s even better when a business we favor gives us something back in return.
As a business owner and/or marketer, it is important to keep this in mind. Loyalty cards and incentives for existing customers will cost you less than acquiring new customers. While many large corporations have perfected their loyalty programs, Entrepreneur outlines the benefits they can have for small businesses in the article, Why Small Businesses Should be Utilizing Customer-Loyalty Programs.
Developing an effective loyalty program does not need to break the bank and investing in your customers will pay off for your business. As noted in the Entrepreneur article, repeat customers spend on average 67 percent more than those who are visiting your business for the first time so acknowledging their loyalty and rewarding them for it is a great way to keep people coming back.
How to Design Your Loyalty Program
What you decide to choose for your loyalty program will depend on the type of business you operate. There is no one size fits all approach. For example, the tried and true punch card may not work if you have high end merchandise. Instead, it may be more beneficial for you to design a plan that offers a percentage off an item after the customer has spent a certain number of dollars.
Depending on the size of your business and the resources available, you can work with a development company to design an app that allows users to keep track of their rewards on their smartphone. If you do not have the capacity for an app, cards are a great alternative. They can be kept in a person’s wallet and act as a reminder of your services.
After you make the decision to include a rewards program into your business plan, make sure you take the opportunity to gather the customer’s information so you can contact them regarding future promotions and updates about your business. Keep in mind that you do not want to overload them with emails which may cause them to unsubscribe. Give customers the opportunity to provide feedback and take any comments they give you seriously. They may have suggestions that will be beneficial or give you ideas on a more successful program. After all, customers are the ones that have to find your incentives worthwhile and if they are not, then you should spend some time brainstorming new ideas for your loyalty program.
Steps to a Successful Loyalty Program
Making changes to your loyalty program can start today. Whether you have an existing program or are looking to implement one within your business, you do not have to wait to begin making changes and seeing results.
If you already have a loyalty program, evaluate what is working:
- Are you seeing repeat customers who are taking advantage of your offer? If you are not getting the results you expect then it may be time to make adjustments.
For those of you who are just beginning to think about utilizing a loyalty program, these tips will help you get started so you can begin to see the benefits of repeat customers.
- Ask your customers what they would value
- Research the market and your industry – determine what is and isn’t working
- Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There’s nothing worse than a loyalty program that has to be cancelled or expires… that will have the opposite effect!