It’s Valentine’s Day and love is in the air, but you don’t need a holiday to build relationships with your customers.
While they’re out shopping for that special someone, they’re also flirting with your competitors.
Here are five ways to win over your customers’ hearts and wallets with a loyalty program.
1. Make a Great First Impression
Whether asking customers to sign up in your store or online, first impressions are everything. When your in-store associates are excited about a loyalty program, your customers will be too.
You don’t want to come on too strong and make customers feel pressured, but you want to demonstrate how valuable your program is and how much they’ll love it.
It’s very important that digital ads and in-store signage explain the loyalty program’s value proposition simply and clearly.
Forty-five percent of Millennials don’t join a loyalty program because it requires too many purchases to earn rewards. So, one great option is to give them something immediately for signing up.
For example, when you join the Lids All Access Pass Premium loyalty program for $5 annually, you receive 20 percent off all hat purchases. That pays for itself if you happen to be buying a hat.
In-store associates must be confident in explaining the program and getting customers excited about the benefits without being too pushy. Here’s the biggest thing missing from the in-store loyalty experience.
After all, how can customers get to know about your loyalty program if they aren’t aware of it and excited to join?
2. Show Them You Want to Know Them
Talk is cheap and coupons are easy.
For any relationship to build momentum organically, you need to show a sincere interest in getting to know your customers.
This goes beyond remembering birthdays (although you’d never want to forget them!).
Modern consumers want benefits that are relevant and ones they care about. But, given so many cookie-cutter loyalty programs that are one-size-fits-all, how do you figure out what benefits are truly important to your customers?
You can do this through collecting data, but you need to find the balance between being cool and creepy. Since it’s Valentine’s Day, think about questions you might ask when starting a relationship with someone. Favorite foods, movie genres and hobbies are great things to ask about so you can take them into account for future courting. But you don’t want to dig too deep.
That good news is that 91 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to shop with brands who recognize and provide relevant offers and recommendations, and 83 percent are willing to share their data to make this work.
You can leverage this information to offer more experiential benefits that your customers desire.
Remember their purchase history and the types of products they like. When thinking of experiential benefits, think of ones that make sense based on your customers’ likes and dislikes. Back to the example above, it’s kind of like going out to dinner with your special someone. You wouldn’t want to suggest a steakhouse if he or she is a vegetarian.
And make sure your data is clean. You do NOT want to call them by the wrong name in an email!
3. Show Them You Really Care
Experiential benefits represent the calling card for any successful loyalty program because they build deep emotional connections, create long-term impact, and dictate behavioral change.
These are also the benefits that create differentiation and give your brand a competitive edge.
Experiential benefits need to revolve around your specific customers and offer a better experience for them. These benefits also need to reinforce your brand promise and create deeper emotional connections.
Tom’s One for One program is a great example that includes a charitable aspect. TOMS weaves social impact directly into its business model. Through its One for One program, TOMS provides one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair that is purchased by a customer.
When consumers can identify with a brand because of a social message that supports a great cause, it creates a deep and enduring bond. Consumers will engage more and commit to a brand because of an emotional connection.
Meanwhile, Target’s new Target Circle loyalty program also draws on a charitable element. Program members can vote on Target’s local charitable initiatives.
By being authentic and transparent, you are showing your customers that you care about things that they also care about.
4. Always Keep Your Promises
To form a truly emotional relationship, it’s not enough to have a really cool product. Being flashy will only get you so far.
Your brand must be transparent, so your customers know who you really are and what you stand for at every touch point. After all, loyalty is made up of those moments that matter.
Just as promises are very important in human relationships, they are equally vital to a brand-customer bond. (After all, aren’t humans behind brands trying to make life better for their human customers anyway?)
Customers have higher expectations today. As a result, your brand promise becomes a critical piece of the customer loyalty puzzle that can impact an ongoing two-way relationship.
5. Show Them You’re Really Different Than all the Others
There are lots of fish (and brands) in the sea. Consumers court a plethora of loyalty programs, but 65 percent of consumers actively engage with fewer than half their loyalty programs and 41 percent with fewer than a quarter.
That’s because most loyalty programs all feel very similar. They focus on points and discounts. Almost every retailer has one and any retailer can replicate those transactional benefits.
They measure loyalty transaction by transaction, sale by sale.
Programs like this really focus on the retailer. They aim to drive short-term revenue by requiring consumers to transact upfront with the hope of getting a reward later.
It’s a very narcissistic way to look at things, and who wants to date … shop with … someone self-centered like that?
Your customers need to be put first. Differentiation needs to be at a deeper level. This will ensure you’re in the top tier of brands they are actively engaging with.
Will You be Mine?
That’s really the question that brands need to be asking their customers.
Building loyalty is an outcome. Just like with any relationship, that comes over time through nurturing and trust.
Make that great first impression and let them know you are truly engaged in getting to know them.
Show them that you really care, that you’re different from all the others, and you always keep your promises.
Consider that 80 percent of shoppers said they grew to love a brand over time. So, follow these key steps and you’ll form deep, lasting relationships.
After all, you don’t want to be loneliest brand on Valentine’s Day while your customers are with your competitors, do you?