While conventional wisdom holds that brand loyalty is much less of a motivator than it was even 10 years ago, shoppers tell us it still plays a significant role in purchase decisions.
In a survey ecommerce platform provider CrossView recently conducted among 177 shoppers, more than half of the respondents said they are motivated by brand loyalty when making a purchase.
Used smartly and in combination with common-sense marketing, technology is an enabler of great customer loyalty programs, particularly an infrastructure optimized for cross-channel selling.
The key is to think about the kind of customer experience you want to enable and understand what customers want, and how you can keep delivering against those expectations.
Consider these five actions as you build customer loyalty programs:
1. Keep your promise
Customers can’t be tricked or bribed into loyalty, no matter how many points they are offered. There must be a holistic approach to encourage sustainable and valuable customer behavior.
So, not only must you ensure that loyalty offers are honored across all channels, but think before you phase in new programs and replace more entrenched offers. You’ll risk alienating faithful customers.
Once again, Moosejaw is an excellent example of a program with deep traction because the action sports apparel retailer hasn’t altered its loyalty framework – except to enable customers to earn points in new and different ways.
2. Create a premium customer experience
Affinity is more powerful when it improves the customer experience. Treat your most loyal customers to an experience that acknowledges their value.
For instance, create private sales for your best customers, or give them access to an offering before it’s publically available. Use a customer VIP line.
Give customers the services of a private shopper – you are not only making the buyer feel special, but you are setting up a scenario where they will buy more. Remember to tailor your offer based on what you know about the customer, which leads to the next imperative.
3. Show what you know
As the technology for customer touch points improves (point-of-sale, web, mobile), it’s now possible to make unique offers for each customer. The challenge many retailers face is leveraging the ocean of data collected and putting it to effective use.
One of those uses is creating more personalized promotions that can engender greater loyalty. Affinity offers don’t have to be a shot in the dark.
Highly personalized affinity programs are emerging and winning over the traditional points-per-dollar programs. Use the customer data you’ve collected to create loyalty offerings that reflect what you know about your customers.
Leverage analytics across all channels to identify your more profitable shoppers and personalize loyalty offers for them. Shopper intimacy adds a very powerful dimension to loyalty programs.
4. Do it now
When it comes to loyalty offers, there’s no time like the present. Traditionally, loyalty programs have been based on cumulative incentives – points earned over time and then redeemed when a threshold is reached after many purchases.
But the modern shopper doesn’t attach value to something that will be owned far into the future. Today, the trend is toward greater immediacy of rewards.
5. Reward behaviors you want to reinforce
Consider using a loyalty program to reward customer behavior you want to inspire. The key is creating incentives appealing enough to change behavior but not so generous that they erode margins.
Promotions to sell what certain shoppers already buy can be a waste of marketing dollars. Offers that shift behavior and create new buying habits are the real win.
Everyone knows that crosschannel shoppers are more valuable – depending on who you ask, they are 30% to 60% more profitable than single-channel shoppers. So use incentives to move shoppers into different channels.
If you know someone usually shops in-store, double her reward points when she buys online. Make sure you have a cross- channel key performance indicator – remember, what gets measured is what gets improved.
Jason Goldberg is vice president-strategy and customer experience for ecommerce platform provider CrossView.