Implemented correctly, loyalty programs can be an indispensable tool for businesses in any industry. A company's most valuable customers are the ones who not only come back frequently, but who develop a deep emotional connection with the brand. These fans are often willing to spread the word about their experiences, driving a continuous influx of new customers to the company. The right loyalty program can play an essential role in taking a business' performance to the next level.
Use programs, not schemes
However, it's important that companies don't rush into deploying just any loyalty program. Loyalty360 recently noted that, according to Salmat, an Australian communication solutions provider, there is a big difference between using a true loyalty program and what it calls a "loyalty scheme." Salmat asserted that when many businesses and consumers think about loyalty, they imagine systems that involve making numerous purchases with the hope of eventually earning a reward. These models essentially allow a person to earn partial credit toward a prize, and Salmat stated that this way of providing loyalty rewards doesn't actually spur long-term engagement.
Instead, Salmat recommended that companies focus on implementing loyalty programs that enhance the customer experience throughout their relationship with the brand, not just when they're making a purchase. If these individuals see that they are receiving value-added benefits at multiple points, such as relevant offers or personalized treatment at the checkout, they are more likely to feel favorably toward a business.
Additionally, it is important that all loyalty rewards are made with the customer's personal preferences in mind. This is simpler than ever before, as modern technology has allowed businesses to gather vast amounts of information regarding each transaction and client. If companies analyze this data and leverage it to power more targeted offers, customers will be more likely to redeem their rewards.
BizReport noted that Joe Easley, director of global product strategy at Kobie Marketing, believes that loyalty programs that aren't implemented with an attention to detail can actually drive people away from a business, especially if they are receiving too many offers that aren't relevant to their interests.
"Effective programs are a different endgame," Easley told the source. "Loyalty programs should provide a combination of incentives and rewards and do so in a way that empowers the consumer to make an emotional brand connection."
Easley added that some of the most successful loyalty initiatives are focused on connecting with customers across multiple channels. While it's crucial to use these efforts to encourage individuals to engage in certain behaviors, it's important to a strike a balance that also respects their desires.
By implementing a loyalty program that harnesses the power of personalized discounts and other benefits, any business can see major improvements to customer engagement, spending and more. Today's consumers are looking to develop deep connections with brands that care about them on an individual level, and using the right loyalty program is an excellent way for a company to show it can fulfill those needs.