The introduction of internet shopping has been a marvellous thing, and revolutionary in many ways. However, it has also created a target market of fickle consumers who can move on to a competitor in just a few clicks, rather than having to exert physical effort by walking or driving to another store. Consequently, in this ever changing marketplace, customer loyalty is more important than ever.
Customer loyalty can be achieved in several ways. Of course, having consistently good products will be a major factor, but consumers also like to feel like they are getting something extra. Reducing prices, even by a small amount, is another form of sales incentives, as often buyers focus on the word ‘reduction’ or ‘sale’, rather than the original price figure or the amount it has been reduced by. However, another way in which you can keep customer loyalty is through a loyalty scheme, as they feel like they have got so far in working towards gaining their reward, and so they might as well keep shopping with you until they achieve it (at least).
Companies such as Superdrug, Costa Coffee, Shell Petrol Stations and Boots all offer different incentive schemes which keep their customers coming back – particularly as the rewards offered then have to be spent on their products.
Customer loyalty programmes – the Options
There are different types of customer loyalty programmes open to you. For example, you can choose a scheme where the customer earns points which can be converted to vouchers or money off shopping within your own store. This obviously means that the customer can only redeem their reward within your store, making it far more likely for them to return to you.
The other option is to offer incentives or rewards, such as high street or online vouchers and gift cards, for customers to spend elsewhere. This is a popular option for businesses who don’t have a ‘store’ or applicable product where an internal reward would be beneficial, such as for credit card companies, insurance brokers or organisations which run consumer surveys, offering rewards in return for participation.
Aligning Your Rewards with Your Brand
You’ll already know how important your brand and your brand reputation are to your success. Part of keeping your customers loyal to you is ensuring that your brand is one that they feel that they can trust and rely on. Consequently, the rewards that you offer should be in keeping with your brand identity.
This can be done in a number of different ways. One strategy could be to offer vouchers for other retailers who offer services or products to complement yours, but which are not in direct competition. For example, a car insurance retailer could offer vouchers for petrol stations or car maintenance products. Another strategy might simply be to offer vouchers and gift cards for a selection of well-known, respected and popular retailers where your customers will find it easy to redeem their rewards. If a customer can’t initially see how they would benefit from the scheme, they won’t be too bothered about taking part in it.
For a brand-based loyalty programme to work it needs to be both appealing to customers but also different from the programmes offered by your competitors. It should also fit in with your brand image and the aims of your company and encourage customers to keep coming back for more.