The looming elimination of third-party cookies, as well as privacy laws like the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), are forcing businesses to reevaluate how they build relationships with their customers and create repeat customers. As a result, loyalty programs are getting a turbocharge in terms of their importance to marketers to offer tangible benefits to consumers for sharing their data. More than 3.5 billion consumers in the United States are willing to share their data with companies for loyalty program benefits. It is a win-win. Loyalty programs provide insight into consumer attitudes and engagement while creating meaningful interactions as part of value exchange.
What is a brand loyalty program, and how does it work?
Brand loyalty or customer loyalty program is a marketing approach used widely by retailers and other businesses to recognize and reward customers who repeatedly engage and purchase with a brand. Companies use various marketing tactics like rewards, discounts, offers, merchandise, coupons, early access to new products, and other special incentives to retain existing customers and attract new ones.
Loyalty programs are designed to encourage repeat purchases with the brand. A well-designed and executed loyalty program can turn a customer into a more regular one who may also become a brand promoter. Accenture research found that people associated with customer loyalty programs generate between 12 percent and 18 percent more revenue than customers who are not members.
To put it more simply, loyalty programs aims at:
- Attracting and retaining customers
- Rewarding customers (with discounts, coupons, and other special incentives) for repeat business
- Improving customer experience with the brand
- Enhancing the overall sales and profits
The actual driver behind a successful loyalty program is big data — the detailed information captured on consumers through the various interactions across all channels. Details on how customers spend, what products and services they mostly look for, what appeals to them more, etc. The data helps brands to create better marketing strategies for improved sales and profit generation.
By integrating loyalty programs into the customer’s everyday routine, businesses can develop true brand loyalty. Loyal customers are likely to stick to a particular brand for a long time. Besides, they are likely to recommend the same brand to other customers.
Benefits of loyalty programs
Some of the key benefits that businesses can enjoy by implementing loyalty programs include:
- Increased Customer Retention Rate: One of the key benefits of loyalty programs is customer retention. Offering rewards and incentives to the existing customers encourages them to continue purchasing from the same brand, which helps a business build a steady flow of revenue. Loyal customers have a higher conversion rate as compared to new ones. Thus, by increasing the retention rate, companies can save a lot of their time and money on increasing their overall number of customers.
- Reduced Marketing Costs: When a brand can maintain customer retention rate in the form of loyal customers, it reduces the need to spend huge money on marketing their products and services. Many e-commerce businesses and retailers nowadays rely on repeat customers to cultivate their businesses. This is because it is up to 25% more expensive to acquire new customers than to retain the existing ones. Thus, businesses can save huge on their marketing costs by converting first-time shoppers into repeat customers and developing loyalty to your brand.
- Increased word-of-mouth marketing: Creating a loyal base of customers can even help businesses promote their brand via existing customers. This is called word-of-mouth marketing. A satisfied and loyal customer will recommend the brand to others. A 2020 consumer loyalty study found that members of loyalty programs are 72 percent more likely to recommend a brand, 78 percent more likely to continue doing business with a brand, and 64 percent will modify the amount spent to maximize benefits earned.
Ways businesses can keep their customers coming back
By enhancing customer engagement rates, businesses can easily create loyal customers. Customer loyalty helps to build an emotional connection between the customer and the brand. Increasing customer engagement is the most effective way to build a lasting customer relationship. So, how can a brand encourage customer engagement? Well, here are few ways that most businesses use to enhance concentration, have a look:
- Provide more than just a discount: Though customers love to get discounts, they want more from the relationship. Brands can offer experiential rewards to create an emotional connection that goes beyond transactional rewards. Experiential rewards provide members with access to unique experiences to the brand and can’t be replicated. These kinds of perks encourage customers to keep coming back to the same brand.
- Apply gamification technique: Many brands like Under Armor, Domino’s, Shell, and Sephora apply gamification techniques to drive engagement, which is key to increased purchases and loyalty. With gamification, customers earn rewards by performing specific actions like taking a quiz, spinning a prize wheel, or reaching a particular membership level within the rewards program. Some of the most popular gamification techniques brands use in their loyalty programs include redeemable points, badges, performance graphs, leader boards, etc. All these techniques help businesses to keep their customers motivated to remain engaged with their brand.
- Digital Loyalty Program: In today’s digitally-driven world, businesses must offer a loyalty program that runs automatically within a mobile application. More than 90 percent of customers surveyed by Vibes who use digital wallets say they are likely to keep personalized coupons and other offers in their wallets. More than half say they would have a higher opinion of a company that offered this. Therefore, this is another way to drive greater engagement with a brand. Mobile loyalty programs allow customers to collect points with both online and brick-and-mortar retailers within an app. Since everything is managed within the application, businesses can quickly review the customer data to enhance their business. In addition, the customer has the opportunity to add points and redeem personalized, location-based rewards instantly. This drives engagement and increased loyalty.
Loyalty programs are undoubtedly the best and most effective ways to retain existing customers, attract new ones, and generate higher profits. However, it is vital to set a brand loyalty program carefully, keeping the target customers in mind to leverage its benefits to the fullest.