Maybe your company has been in business for a while or maybe you’re just starting out. Either way, it’s important to have loyal customers & you can have a pool of such customers with a customer loyalty program. That’s the case no matter whether you have a cosmetics company, a pet food brand, a business consultancy, or a development company like BairesDev.

Loyalty isn’t just a feel-good notion that you can use in promotional materials. It’s a matter that affects your bottom line. It’s more expensive to attract new customers than it is to keep current ones. Plus, loyal customers are likelier to spread the word about your excellent products or services, which is essentially free advertising. 

But you need to put in a lot of up-front work to create a customer loyalty program. Before you decide to dive in, take a look at what’s involved. 

Determine What Loyalty Means

What will you reward customers for? Spending a certain dollar amount is an obvious choice. Others include buying during a certain time of the day or week, referring new customers, subscribing to your newsletter, sharing your social media content, or using your app. 

Just as you should reward for different behaviors, you should also provide different rewards. Some companies offer cashback while others offer free gifts. You might consider partnerships with other companies that have things your customers might like. For example, a music venue might team up with a nearby restaurant to offer its customers meal discounts or free apps or drinks. 

These types of rewards appeal to customers’ wallets but you can also appeal to their values. For example, some companies allow customers to round up their purchase amount, donating the difference to a worthy cause.

Create Levels

Make it clear to customers what reward levels are available and what they must do to earn them. For example, Sephora offers three levels of benefits: Insider, VIB, and Rouge. Each level receives:

  • A different number of points for each dollar spent 
  • A different number of birthday gifts to choose from
  • A different dollar amount for “seasonal savings”

Only the Rouge level receives free standards shipping, early access to products, exclusive events, and a $100 reward. 

To earn these rewards, customers must spend a certain amount of money at Sephora each year. The company sends newsletters that include these amounts and remind customers how they will benefit by spending them.

The program works well because it gives customers something they want (free cosmetics, in-store makeup tutorials, and discounts) based on something they will already do (purchase cosmetics). It also offers multiple touchpoints that create further customer engagement.

Make It Easy to Participate

Make sure customers know about your customer loyalty program and how to enroll. Use logical touchpoints to share this information. For example, at checkout you can tell customers how much they would have saved on a purchase had they been enrolled in your program. Accompany such little nudges with easy instructions for how to take part in it. 

Know your customers and use a loyalty program that fits their needs. Are they very tech-savvy and likely to appreciate an app to track their rewards? Or would they prefer a paper punch card? Maybe they don’t want to have to deal with any kind of points system and would prefer discounts or free shipping. 

If you do choose to use an app, make sure it’s easy and intuitive for customers to learn and use, and also easy for your team to operate and support on the back end.

Promote the Program

The number of ways in which you can promote your loyalty program is nearly limitless. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • If you have a brick-and-mortar location, set up signs around the store and at checkout.
  • Create a detailed description of your program on your website. 
  • Promote it on social media and in newsletters. Be sure to include a link to the signup page.
  • Encourage employees to promote the program on social media and in-store.
  • Create a notification on your checkout page to let customers know how much they could have saved if they were signed up for your program. 

Do Things That Make Customers Loyal

Finally, remember that no loyalty program will work for a company that doesn’t engender loyalty. To make sure your buyers want to be repeat customers, consider the following suggestions:

Weave customer service into your business model. This idea goes beyond the common advice to “provide good customer service.” It means not only being there when customers have a problem but preventing problems from happening in the first place. 

Use an omnichannel communication system. Modern customers want to be able to engage with a brand in multiple ways and on their own terms. A great example is enabling a customer to place items in a virtual shopping basket online and complete their order at a brick-and-mortar location.

Delight customers and exceed their expectations. There’s a reason companies like Zappos and Nordstrom are commonly cited as “getting it” about customer care. It’s because they take customer experience seriously and proactively ensure it’s on point every time. Learning from successful brands is key to improve your own loyalty programs. 

In Summary

Customer loyalty & customer loyalty program are critical components of a successful business. Not all businesses would benefit from a customer loyalty program but, for those that do, it should be a serious consideration. 

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