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Is customer loyalty dead? Marketers might think so, but consumers certainly don’t.
In fact, nine in 10 consumers surveyed by e-commerce agency Yotpo considered themselves more brand-loyal than a year before. A separate study by communication company Valassis pegged the proportion of brand-loyal U.S. consumers at about one in three.
What if those figures don’t fit with your experience? Don’t blame Millennials — or any other age group, for that matter. Instead, take a hard look at your customer loyalty strategy.
Building a Better Loyalty Program
Clearly, some business owners have managed to crack the code on customer loyalty. If you haven’t, try the following:
1. Put your mission front and center.
Discounts and freebies certainly don’t hurt customer loyalty, but Patagonia is proof that what really elicits it is purpose. The outdoor apparel company is so dedicated to its environmental mission that it actually encourages its customers not to buy clothing they don’t need. Its Worn Wear Wagon even tours the U.S. to teach people how to fix their used gear for free.
Patagonia’s loyalty strategy works because shoppers overwhelmingly support social change with their wallets. Cone Communications found that 87 percent of American consumers will make a purchase because the given company stood up for a cause they care about. Almost as many, 76 percent, told Cone they’d refuse to buy from a company if it took a position on an issue contrary to their own. If your mission is one that people of almost all political and social stripes support, invest in it as publicly as possible.
2. Add a concierge component.
In the age of personalization, one-size-fits-all service simply doesn’t cut it. Although many digital services can be administered with just a website, consumers want one-on-one attention. Epsilon research shows that 80 percent of consumers prefer to patronize companies that offer individualized experiences. Among travel websites and apps, that figure rises to 87 percent.
Personalization may be tougher for online services than their brick-and-mortar peers, but Reservations.com’s R-Club shows it can be done. When an R-Club member books, she’s connected with a U.S.-based travel advisor she can call, text, or email about her itinerary. Via an online dashboard, advisors help R-Club members with trip research, logistics, and special requests. If you run a similar digital service, don’t forget that people connect with other people.
3. Bring partners into the picture.
Founded in 1981, American Airlines’ AAdvantage loyalty program was the first to allow frequent fliers to earn miles. Once every airline started offering such a program, however, American Airlines had to beef up AAdvantage’s value proposition. Today, AAdvantage miles can be spent on everything from car rentals to retail products to hotel stays.
Consider which products or services consumers often use in tandem with yours. If you’re a diaper company, for instance, you might approach baby food or stroller manufacturers about a rewards ecosystem. By partnering with noncompeting companies in adjacent spaces, you expand your customer base while giving shoppers more flexibility in how they redeem their rewards.
4. Do more with data.
Years after catching heat for accidentally informing a teen’s father that his daughter was pregnant, Target has figured out how to leverage its robust customer database to promote loyalty. Unlike its prior Cartwheel program, Target Circle gives shoppers discounts relevant to them. In addition to saving members 1 percent on their next Target trip and providing low-cost goods, Target Circle tailors coupons to shoppers’ past purchases. A frequent gamer, for instance, may receive special offers from Target’s electronics department.
What if your company offers just one product or service? Use data to determine where customers use it and where they might need a boost. If you’re a credit card provider, for instance, you might offer additional cash back on customers’ most common spending categories. If you operate an online tutoring service, you could reward loyal customers with a free class in the subject where their test scores are weakest.
5. Promote product customization.
They may groan about it, but most restaurants will make substitutions if you ask nicely. Panera’s rewards program, however, encourages customers to customize their food products. In addition to giving customers points for their purchases, My Panera lets members customize the fast casual chain’s menu. Members can then save favorites to speed up future orders.
Athletic apparel company Nike has done something similar with its NIKEiD line. Users choose a Nike shoe before customizing the color, design, fabric, and more. Although NIKEiD shoes take three to five weeks to ship, shoppers get a shoe built exclusively for them. If custom manufacturing is out of reach for your company, consider offering a custom design tool like Lowe’s Virtual Room Designer.
May 16, 2019 at 05:07AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs