Create a Truly Competitive Customer Loyalty Program

Create a Truly Competitive Customer Loyalty Program

Mark Herbert

Example of employee reward ideas - a tablet with a points program reward program featured onscreen, pink and orange gradient background

In today’s market, competition in various industries is so large that it is hard to find new ways to maintain loyal customers. Customer loyalty programs are a great way to reward customers, enticing them to buy your products by making them feel appreciated. So, how exactly do you reward them? Here are 7 ideas for a customer loyalty program:

  1. Rewards Cards: This simple, card-based method is a great way to start a customer loyalty program, typically for a small business.
    You can use plastic loyalty cards that can be swiped at each purchase to track consumer spending and other data.
  2. Rebate Programs: Rebates are one of the most common customer loyalty reward tactics l. Rewarding your customers’ loyalty by returning a portion of their purchase amount to them is a great incentive. You can offer rebates based on purchase amount, the number of items bought, or on a pre-determined purchase amount within a specified time period.
  3. Give a Gift: Everyone loves to receive, so why not give gifts to your valued customers to show you appreciate their loyalty? For example, offer gifts, discounts, or coupons relevant to the dates they purchase your products.
  4. Implement a VIP Program: Let valued customers know they are eligible to sign up for exclusive VIP programs that can give them special rewards. These programs could include discounts, special sales and promotions, invites to special events, or advance notice of on-sale items. This can be done through a VIP email, newsletter, social media group, or a section of your website requiring a login.
  5. Mobile Applications: New programs and apps on mobile devices enable your customers to be rewarded conveniently and quickly. These apps are customizable to each company’s rewards program and can also help keep track of customer data.
  6. Hold Events: Special events for loyal customers are a great way to reward their frequent purchases. Maybe open your business at special hours for them to shop or invite them to a private event.
  7. Get Personal: Depending on costs and the size of your business, sending a personalized note of gratitude to valued customers is a great way to show appreciation. Especially in today’s digital world, these methods are effective and help the customer remember your business before your competition.

Appreciating customers is a valuable and necessary part of owning a business. To find out how your company can excel in this area, contact Extu today!

Is Your Loyalty Program Better Than Your Competition’s?

Do you offer your B2B customers a loyalty program? It’s likely your competitors do, too. It’s possible they even run sales promotions and bonus reward-earning opportunities at the same time you do, to siphon off some of your loyalty program activity. So how do you win this race? How do you deliver a competitive customer loyalty program that your channel partners prefer over the others? Focus on these strategies:

Provide a customer experience that consistently offers value.

An effective, competitive customer loyalty program is rooted in the understanding that loyalty strategies are more difficult than customer acquisition strategies. Customer loyalty requires consistent, repeated successes. This is unlike a customer acquisition campaign, where the goal is a one-time customer action such as a conversion or a sale.

Often, customers will respond to email or phone communications with you and decide in that one interaction whether it’s worth their time to engage with you. To achieve repeated customer engagement, you have to consistently offer them value. A good loyalty marketing strategy is essential. Your loyalty program communications should have these qualities:

    • Multi-Channel: Deliver loyalty program messaging through multiple channels, including email, texts, and phone calls, so you can communicate with them the way they prefer.
    • Compelling CTAs: Hone into calls-to-action that appeal to your customers’ needs and interests. Alert them of reward-earning opportunities and ideas on how to spend their reward balance.
    • Branded Experience: Your program should be a consistent and cohesive experience that aligns with your brand promises, imagery, and values.

Your loyalty program should be a perk that makes customers feel there are genuine and continuous benefits to doing business with you. Focus on what’s in it for them and communicate the program’s value to them in a consistent way.

Get executive buy-in.

A successful, competitive customer loyalty program requires executive buy-in. Ideally, the program should have company-wide buy-in from every department, along these lines:

    1. In-house sales reps and/or third-party resellers should be excited about the program’s value to them.
    2. Sales leaders should be aware of the program’s ability to help them increase sales, upsell, cross-sell, and break into new verticals.
    3. Marketing should support the program, ensuring that its messaging is on-brand, as well as aligned with and supportive of other channel marketing strategies.
    4. Finance should back the program’s impact on the bottom line, its verifiable ROI, and its ability to increase sales and marketing efficiency.
    5. IT should sign off on the loyalty program’s data security and its ability to integrate with the company’s existing tech stack.
    6. The CEO or C-suite should endorse the program and its long-term benefit to the company.

A successful, competitive customer loyalty program should be a top-down initiative. If it doesn’t garner the support of major decision-makers in your company, there’s bound to be friction and de-prioritization that stunt the program’s growth. Familiarize yourself with all the qualities your program should have in order to appeal to the leaders in every department of your organization.

Offer the right loyalty rewards.

Like almost every other aspect of your loyalty program, rewards can be planned strategically.

First, your rewards must be appealing to your unique audience. Otherwise, the loyalty program won’t succeed no matter how well you plan everything else. Are there age, gender, or marital status commonalities in the audience? Do they closely resemble your buyer persona or do they have some outlier quirks? Understand the demographic qualities that may inform what kind of rewards motivate them.

Second, make sure you factor in the advantages and best-use cases for each reward type. Here’s a run-down:

Merchandise rewards

Merchandise rewards are typically offered through a rewards catalog through which online reward points can be redeemed for merchandise. Loyalty program participants can accrue reward points over time to redeem them for merchandise like TVs and computers, travel rewards, or event tickets. For this reason, points-based rewards are ideal for long-term customer engagement and retention. The other advantage of merchandise rewards is in their ability to please a large and diverse audience. Online reward catalogs like Incentive Solutions’ have millions of items, offering something for everyone.

Debit and gift cards

Debit and gift cards have the versatility of cash, and program participants tend to spend them quickly after receiving them. This makes them great for short-term sales performance funds (SPIFFs).

With the ability to be distributed in virtual, e-code form, you don’t have to send participants physical debit cards through the mail. This is a great advantage if you have a widespread or international loyalty program participant base. They can then spend their debit card funds wherever they’re accepted, eliminating international shipping risks and wait times.

Group travel rewards

Group travel rewards require a larger investment of time and money than other reward types, but the ROI is the biggest and most validated. A US Travel Associated study estimated that incentive travel yields “$2.90 in profits for every dollar spent.”

Group travel rewards have a “halo effect.” Along with the incentive trip itself, you have the excitement leading up to the trip. After the trip, attendees share pictures, mementos, and memories. This builds strong bonds between you and your top customers like nothing else can.

The right loyalty reward offering is a balance between the rewards that motivate your audience most, and the reward delivery system that works best for your business.

Provide convenience and immediacy.

Speed and convenience are two of the most important things to customers. The more time it takes your participants to access and use your loyalty program, the less likely they are to stay engaged with it.

One option for making your program faster and more convenient is by delivering it through a mobile loyalty app. Wherever your customers go, their phones are with them, along with apps they open every single day. Your program is more likely to be a recurring part of customers’ everyday lives if it’s mobile-friendly.

Mobile features can allow your program to deliver rewards instantaneously. Participants can submit invoices, receipts, warranty registrations, and other sales claims documentation wherever they are, so they can receive their rewards immediately. That’s the kind of speed and convenience that will draw customers back to your loyalty program again and again.

A truly competitive customer loyalty program is one that is genuinely valuable to customers as well as easy and convenient for them to use. The more you can incorporate your customers’ interests into your loyalty program, the more likely is it to become your customers’ first choice for sales promotion and reward opportunities. You don’t have to give away the farm to accomplish this. The flexibility of online loyalty software means you can deliver a mutually beneficial program that adapts and grows with your business objectives.

We know that getting customers can be one of the most critical parts of doing business. Once you attract them, incentive programs for customers can help you keep them. After working so hard to lure customers to your place of business, incentive programs will ensure they come back. They will be repeat customers and will share their satisfaction with friends and family. That’s where sales incentive programs can make all the difference.

Customers like to feel appreciated and even more than that, they like getting free stuff. So whether it’s a free item they can win, points they build up to buy things or a chance to win an all-expenses-paid trip to an exotic island, it will not only keep them coming back but will encourage them to spend more each time they return. Loyalty programs are about building your bottom line with higher sales.

Using Points Programs as Incentives

A points incentive program is an easy way to reward your customers. This incentive gives points every time they spend a certain amount of money at your establishment. Gathering more points encourages higher sales. And of course, when they want to spend those points, they’re using them for your merchandise or services. It’s a win-win situation all around, and it’s easy to keep track: you can add up the points online or stamp or punch a physical card. Either way, it’s simple for employees to process the points and fun for customers to collect them.

Another way to make this happen is by charging a one-time fee. With this option, customers don’t have to reach a certain level of purchases to begin enjoying the benefits of the incentive plan. A fee-based loyalty plan also ties the customers into your business. They know they have paid a certain amount of money and to reap the rewards, they need to frequent your business. For your employees, this is similar to the point system. Your “premier” customers can wave a membership card in front of the cashier and automatically get a discount or a bonus.

Tiered Incentive Programs

The trick here is to balance out what you give to customers as an incentive with what they might expect or appreciate. For instance, to induce them to join your program, they might expect to receive a perk on the spot. This could be something like a discount coupon or a gift card toward their next purchase. That’s fine for a first offering, but as the customer shows loyalty by spending more time and money in your establishment, it might be good to up the ante a little and throw in a new incentive. This could be anything from a more valuable gift card to a gift from your business. The point here is that the customers come away with the feeling that the more they spend, the better the incentives will be.

Customer Referral Programs as Incentives

Customers who refer someone to your business often expect a reward for their loyalty — as well they should! They have just given your business a critical boost. They may have made the referral because they truly love your business. Others may have done it because they expect a reward. Either way, reward them! Build incentives into your program that encourage customers to help out with your marketing scheme. Whether it’s a discount card on their next purchase or an outright freebie, they will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Making Incentive Programs Work

Once you have successful incentive programs in place, make sure everyone in your company knows the value of the plans and how to implement them. Give them the proper training to approach new customers with the reward system and reel them in. You might consider creating an additional incentive program that rewards employees for signing up new customers. This is where plans like group travel might come in as an incentive.

When you are ready to launch your incentive program, make it a huge deal. Drum up interest either online or through local news outlets to let everyone know what you’re about to launch. Coordinate your program to offer special incentives around holidays or seasonal specials. Create special promotional offers with your marketing team built around your incentive program. Take into account branding, timing, value-proposition and selective marketing channels.

Providing reward programs for customers is an integral part of every business investment. Managers handle the daily operations, employees conduct the necessary daily operations, and your customers build the bottom line of allowing your company to stay in business. Providing recognition to your clients about their contribution to your continued success is a fundamental business proposition to assure your company not only remains in business but thrives while generating income for yourself and the dedicated people who use your service or work for you.

Inspiring Customer Loyalty

Respect isn’t earned, it’s freely given. Customer loyalty, on the other hand, has to be earned. The simple solution to earning loyalty is through reward programs for customers. Customer loyalty comes first and foremost with the great service you provide, but be honest and recognize that your competitors also provide a great service. You distinguish yourself from the competitors when you offer a rewards program to show your customers exactly how much you appreciate their continued business offerings.

Traditional Reward Programs for Customers

Some rewards methods are tried and true, proven to maintain your client base. Credit towards the price of the next job the client needs or a discount on goods you provide will always assure a customer returns to you for repeat business. Maintaining a personal relationship in which the client feels a friend is giving them a free quote toward a needed job is also a proven method for maintaining a business relationship. Traditional reward programs for customers are always important to incorporate into your business model. They simply provide a chain of events that results in your business success, your employees’ continued provisions toward the good of your company, and most importantly the fact your customers are happy with your service and look forward to dealing with you again.

Benefits of Creative Reward Incentives

As functional and effective as traditional reward programs for customers may be, creative new solutions can do more than maintain your good standing with a client but also show your customers how much you truly appreciate their continued support of your business through the repeated opportunities they offer you to accomplish their goals. If you sell a particular gadget which suits peoples’ needs, that’s great. If you sell the same gadget with training courses toward using it efficiently, even better. When you provide creative reward incentives, you earn a personal friend and business partner who will support your current and future business endeavors.

Reward programs for customers make great business sense all around. It’s one thing to force repeat customers who have no other choice; it’s another concept to have repeat customers look forward to the next transaction they need to conduct with you. Allow a specialist to design a creative reward incentive program to suit your business needs.

Although you understand the importance of top customer loyalty programs, the program in and of itself doesn’t assure business success. Simply having a program isn’t enough in today’s world; it has to stand out from your competitors’ programs and target the needs of your clients. Additionally, two sides of the same coin often contribute to a lack of success with loyalty programs. If the program is too complicated, it can be hard to understand, and if it is too simple or not properly promoted, your customers may not even realize its availability. Of course, the main reason your program doesn’t always work is it has to complement rather than provide a service. The program is a nice bonus for your customers, but first and foremost they expect great customer service which fills their needs as they aren’t hiring you simply for the chance to receive a reward.

How to Develop Top Customer Loyalty Programs That Work

The first consideration toward successful top customer loyalty programs is to think about the service you provide and what rewards the types of people who use such a service would appreciate. As an example, if you provide a home delivery grocery service, a restaurant gift card reward program likely isn’t the best idea, or in reverse, if you conduct marketing consultations for restaurant franchises, grocery store credits are probably not a viable candidate for your rewards program. Just like every other aspect of your business, a little bit of thought will go a long way towards a successful loyalty program.

New Customers Are a Good Thing

No matter how many clients you currently serve, new customers are always welcome. Although new customers haven’t defined themselves yet as loyal customers, a small discount or another attractive offer for first-time customers will help draw them in, at which point you can describe the available customer loyalty programs to help assure repeat business.

Retaining Customers Provide Repeat Business

Your marketing can’t focus only on new customers; you also need to provide great service along with top customer loyalty programs in order to retain customers. Although it’s outside of your control, when the economy is down you need your loyal clients to stay with you. To return to the above examples, people who have their groceries delivered will continue during a sluggish economy, but people aren’t likely to take it on as a new service, and when people eat out less, they tend to go to their favorite restaurants rather than trying new ones. Staying afloat with repeat business is crucial during such times. As a matter of fact, it may be the perfect time to add a referral program to your regular rewards so when the economy recovers you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with a bundle of new clients.

Ways to Reward Customer Loyalty

The most basic of top customer loyalty programs is to reward customer loyalty and repeat business with discounts or special offers. Essentially, you’re giving them cash under the concept of, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Such a program works well, but there are more creative approaches to the process if you work with a specialty rewards program provider and utilize the resources available. To continue the example provided, it can provide multiple benefits for a grocery delivery company to provide credits toward a merchandise catalog specializing in kitchen equipment. First, you can negotiate prices so your customers get more than you have to pay. Secondly, you may be able to work a deal in which the catalog references your company so people see your name who wouldn’t otherwise know about your services. The most immediate benefit is someone who gets a new kitchen gadget is going to buy more groceries to try out new recipes.

Balancing Rewards Between New and Consistent Customers

The use of tiered levels of top customer loyalty programs provides the means to draw new customers, recognize casual users of your service, and reward regular repeat clients. An original discount towards the first purchase attracts new customers, repeat credits with purchases proves your worthiness of the client’s extended loyalty, and higher-level rewards programs give the client reason to continue using your service rather than trying out a competitor as they save up toward a larger gift. A very basic business concept is to show your customers how much you value them, and they will in turn show how much they appreciate the service you provide. Top customer loyalty programs along with providing great service are how you attain such a goal.