Any thriving business—whether it’s a small, medium, or large enterprise—will tell you that the ultimate end goal of their operations is to secure as much profits as possible.
The only way to make this happen is to continuously convert prospects into customers or secure the loyalty of existing customers that repeatedly avail the business’ products or services.
Ask any successful business owner you know to choose between investing into acquiring new customers or focus on retaining the business’ current customers. Nine times out of ten, they will choose to direct their marketing efforts into preserving their present consumer base. Here are four reasons why:
- It gets 5 times more expensive to bring in new customers than it is to encourage repeat purchases.
The costs associated with acquiring new customers is higher because there is significant resource and effort placed into making the prospect aware of the product, getting them to engage with your business, and then finally turning them into actual customers that generates sales. Studies show that there is only a 5-20% probability that marketing efforts targeted toward gaining new buyers will convert into sales, while promoting to existing customers yields a 60-70% chance of generating profits. Learn how to improve conversion rates and see your business blossom.
- Repeat customers are more inclined to perform word-of-mouth advertising for your brand.
A repetitively pleasant purchasing experience that only existing customers get to encounter is something that they would naturally want to share with their circle of influence. Word-of-mouth is an extremely powerful form of advertising–it’s absolutely free and can do wonders for your business’ reputation. Getting feedback about a product from a trusted source, like a family member or a friend, has the power to bring in new leads for your business without the costs associated with customer acquisition.
- Existing customers are likely to spend more on your products than new customers.
When you already built trust and connection with your existing customers, they become more willing to purchase from your business in bigger quantities, or try out new products and services that you come up with. In contrast, new customers are more hesitant to place substantial orders for your products or services simply because they do not have a relationship with your business yet.
- Repeat purchases help you understand your customers better.
With so many similar products in the market offering consumers with endless options to choose from, it’s no longer enough that you are the most competitively-priced brand in the market, or that your product has incorporated the latest technology. In order to stand out among the competition and be recognized by new customers, you have to produce content that resonates with your consumers and pair it with a superior product to create a meaningful and important customer experience.
Having more information on who your target market is enables you to come up with powerful marketing strategies that address your prospects’ pain points and push them over the response threshold, turning them into actual buyers. One way to utilize your customer information is by giving them a platform to communicate with you through social media. Check out this awesome article about creating a social media strategy.
Now that we have established how crucial it is for your business to administer significant efforts into customer retention, let’s now discuss how you can keep your existing customers happy and asking for more. A customer loyalty program is a business move designed to encourage recurring purchases. We’ve outlined 20 creative loyalty programs to help your business create a more predictable, steadier inflow of profits from repeat transactions.
1. Offer first time-purchase discounts
In exchange for your new customers’ emails, offer them a one-time discount that they can use for their first purchase. This way, you don’t only retain important customer information to help you with future marketing activities and easier communication, discounts also nudge them over and encourage a sale.
2. Celebrate your customers’ birthdays
A quick and easy way to keep your brand intimate, memorable, and tailor-made for your customers is to surprise them on their birthdays. It can be in the form of a greeting card, a discount coupon for your products or services, a massage at their local spa, complimentary cinema tickets, or other creative and thoughtful ideas. This is a surefire way to leave a positive impression on your customers.
3. Reward your customers’ spending
The mechanics behind this marketing tactic is simple. Every time a customer makes a purchase, reward them with “points” that they can use for their next purchases. “Points” can have whatever value you assign to them. They can be equivalent to money that your loyal customers can use to deduct from the total charge of their next order.
You can also use the points system to create reward thresholds that your customers must meet in order to acquire the perks of collecting the points. Naturally, more points mean more enticing rewards, but it also means more money spent on your products or services. This is a classic positive reinforcement move that promotes future purchases.
You can also incorporate game elements into your plan to reward repeat sales. This allows you to create fun and engaging activities for your spending customers.
4. Give out rewards for referrals
Encourage your existing customers to bring in new prospects by offering referral bonuses in the form of specialized thank you emails, discounts, or freebies. If they do word-of-mouth advertising for you anyway, the referral rewards are there to convince them to find more friends and people to check out your products and services.
5. Conduct customer surveys with incentives
An effortless way to get your customers to share what they think about your products or services is through customer surveys. You can choose to send your survey to your customers via email, your website, or through your mobile application, if you happen to have one. Incentives can be anything from a freebie, an order coupon, or a raffle entry to one of your online contests.
6. Offer Free Trials
If you are in the business of selling subscription services, software, or other products that prospects are typically hesitant to avail because of the costs involved or the lack of first-hand experience with the product, then free trials can be the platform to overcome these marketing challenges. It gives them a taste of what you have to offer, and before long, it becomes something they can’t live without.
7. Set the spotlight on your customers (with their permission, of course!)
Some loyal customers who have formed an attachment to your business will be attracted to the idea of being openly thanked for their continued patronage. With their consent, you can highlight their feedback about your product, a quote and picture from them, or your message for them in a newsletter or a social media post. Acknowledging your customers’ impact in the success of your business is a sure way to keep them invested.
8. Establish a VIP membership program
A lot of repeat customers like to know that the businesses they continue to support pay attention to their purchasing behavior and needs. A VIP-only membership gives these customers a feeling of exclusivity and special treatment. This marketing scheme doesn’t have to be costly for either your business or your customers. You don’t have to charge your customers anything to get a membership, and the incentives can be perks like early access to new products and services, free and expedited shipping, exclusive rebates and coupons, and more.
9. Incentivize Check-ins
Giving rewards to customers that “check-in” to your business using apps that pin locations like Foursquare and Facebook helps drive awareness. If these customers’ digital friends see that they visited your business, it can become a lead magnet and all you have to do is give out rewards in exchange.
10. Make customer feedback engaging
Customer feedback is extremely important to businesses because they help upgrade and make your product and service offerings more fitting for your target market. A great and effective feedback-collection process ensures that customer’s feel heard, acknowledged, and appreciated when they offer their opinions. For this to work, make sure to stay in touch and keep your customers updated with information on how you’ve utilized their feedback.
11. Have loyalty programs that benefit more than one customer
Loyalty programs that customers can enjoy and share with a friend becomes more valuable and memorable. Buy 1 Get 1 promotions, or a 50% discount on a second item bought are popular options for this kind of marketing strategy. It benefits your business because you have the opportunity to pull in more than just one customer.
12. Organize a raffle draw for frequent customers
Raffle draws with enticing prizes are a great hook to get your existing customers to continue supporting your business. They get the chance to win, and you get the opportunity to thank them for their investment in your products and services. The presence of big prizes also have the capability to generate a lot of interest and awareness towards your business.
13. Partner up with other establishments
Your loyalty programs don’t have to be confined solely to your business. Having tie-ins with other businesses and conducting shared promotions mean bringing in their customers over to your enterprise. This means more awareness, more reach, and more leads for you, as well as more perks to enjoy for your customers.
14. Use Punch Cards to track and reward repurchases
This kind of loyalty program is especially helpful for businesses in the food and beverage industry. Customers are given punch cards that they can bring in every time they dine or purchase a product. The cards are stamped or signed after every successful transaction, and once completely filled, you can then offer coupons, freebies, or special discounts. Punch cards typically have an expiration to create a sense of urgency and bring in a surge in sales.
15. Connect with your customers through email
Establishing a solid email marketing strategy that allows you to communicate with your customers is super important for businesses. Not only does it allow you to share ongoing promotions, limited-time discounts, and exciting content with your customers, you also make your business appear more personable and accessible.
16. Offer product trade-ins for luxury items
Providing your customers with this option is an encouragement for them to stay committed to your products and services. With trade-ins, the buyer can sell the product they bought as payment for another product. This makes trade-ins extra appealing to people who purchase luxury items. Not only do the customers get a fair valuation for the product they want to sell, they also ensure the authenticity of the product that they want to acquire next since it comes from the same seller.
17. Prepare creative experiences for your customers
To spice up your loyalty program, setting up efforts that create a huge initial impact and lasting impression on the customers can be done through creative experiences. Activities like all-you-can-stuff in 30 seconds, mystery bags containing best-sellers and new releases, or a chance to curate customized packages, are fun, fresh, and exciting ideas that you can incorporate. You’ll want to invest at least once in creative experiences because they are ultimate attention-grabbers and conversation-starters.
And because people like to interact with businesses on mobile, you need to find out how you can become an integrated mobile driven business. This allows you to have another platform where you can engage with customers – one that they carry around everywhere.
18. Give out free offers
Customers always want to get the most value out of their money. The easiest way to please them in this respect is to boost the perceived value of your products and services. Offering deals like “Buy 1 and get the 2nd item at $1” or “Buy 3 items for the price of 2” give buyers the impression that they get more product AND save money.
19. Use social media to set up exclusive deals
Loyal customers have a habit of tuning in to their preferred brands, so you can utilize social media to your business’ advantage. Habitually offering discount coupons, flash sales, and free shipping for a limited time on social media gives customers a motivation to stay mindful of your business.
20. Help your customer learn more about your products and services
There are a lot of factors involved in securing customer loyalty. One of the requisites to keep customers happy is that they have to like your product. Take this as an example: You run a bookstore and conduct a monthly reading session with your loyal customers where you can invite over an author that they like for meet-and-greets. If you can get customers to be more interested in your products or services by showing them a different way to experience, use, consume, or enjoy, then you have a winner.
You don’t have to be an industry giant to foster a strong relationship with your customers that result to repeat purchases. Even as a small business, you can do a lot of retention initiatives to keep your customers eager, engaged, and invested. If you’re still on the fence about whether you should employ loyalty programs as a business move, here’s a winning advice: do it now!
About the Author
Gabby Roxas is a business writer and content manager. She also has a background in entrepreneurship, marketing and loves to create things related to interior designing.