Source: VisionEdge Marketing
Loyalty programs are all about making your customers care by creating a memorable customer experience. And we all learned this as children: it’s no coincidence that the more gifts a cereal box came with, the more we tended to prefer it over other brands.
For people old enough to remember, those were the days. Before they were declared a choking hazard, cereal boxes came with toys to win the loyalty of kids. And every morning, children all over the country would race their siblings to be the first to discover what toy lay at the bottom of the cereal box.
Times have changed and cereals no longer come with toys. But that does not mean companies have given up on retaining the loyalty of their target customers. Today, they simply send codes to help kids discover and claim rewards online like games and movie tickets.
You see, these cereal companies know one thing better than most people do: customers don’t care what you sell until you show them how much you care. And this is the secret that makes their loyalty programs so effective against the number 1 business killer out there: customer apathy!
In this article, we delve into loyalty programs and how they can grow your eCommerce business by making your customers care.
Increased Competition in the eCommerce Space Is Driving Customer Apathy
eCommerce continues to be one of the hottest business trends in the world, thanks to sustained interest and changing consumer preferences. As of 2021, eCommerce sales reached a whopping $4.9 trillion, and that upward trend is set to continue for many years to come.
Indeed, experts predict eCommerce sales will continue to rise to $7.4 trillion by 2025, making this one of the most lucrative spaces for any entrepreneur to get into and pin their flag.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, though. While numbers like this promise a bright future for any industry, there is also the threat of increased competition as more and more businesses enter the space. And it doesn’t help that eCommerce has one of the lowest barriers to entry as far as industries are concerned.
It is now more important than ever for online businesses like yours to stand out from the crowd or risk perishing into the backdrop among the many brands competing for customer attention. And there is no better way to catch a customer’s attention than offering a customer experience that is convincing, that converts, and also retains.
To meet this end, too many brands turn to the lowest-hanging fruit which happens to be offering discounts. But this often than not also has the adverse effect of diminishing your perceived brand value (and total revenue).
You want to turn away from amateurish tactics and adopt a consumer-focused eCommerce loyalty program.
Successful loyalty programs go beyond focusing on the regular run-of-the-mill incentives and discounts to offer personalized gifts and customized upgrades that yank customers out of their apathy and turn them into happy, loyal customers.
And that is what you want. That’s how you win because the only thing more profitable than customers are loyal customers who buy repeatedly because they are satisfied.
What Is a Loyalty Program and Why Are They Important?
Let’s look at customer loyalty first. Customer loyalty refers to a customer’s willingness to buy from or partner with a brand over and over again because of a great customer experience, customer satisfaction, and perceived superior value.
A customer loyalty program helps boost customer loyalty by providing incentives like rewards to customers that frequently patronize a business’s offerings.
There’s no better way for your eCommerce to increase purchase frequency, improve retention, boost lifetime value, and encourage referrals.
Some of the best examples of customer loyalty programs include:
- Dr Axe’s membership program whose participants spend $2.35 million more than non-participants over a 90-day period
- Pure Vida Bracelets whose referral incentives boost sales by 300%
- Evy’s Tree Who’s Hoo which boosted repeat customers by 58% and slashed $1032 from monthly ad spend.
- TheChive’s gamified loyalty program accounts for $135,000 per month in revenue.
Loyalty programs have been around since the 1950s and are particularly favored in cutthroat industries with small margins like the airline industry because they work and frequently make the difference between the winners and the losers.
Components of a Loyalty Program
Every loyalty program aims to do one thing well: reward customers for taking certain actions. However different programs may differ in their approach. The essential components of a quality loyalty program includes:
1.What Actions Will Customers Be Rewarded For?
You could focus solely on getting customers to buy again, and that would be good. But you could also go above and beyond by rewarding customers for a host of other actions like referrals, social shares, store registrations, and so on.
2.How Will Customers Redeem and Use Their Rewards
The easier you make this, the better, and this is where eCommerce businesses such as yours can really shine by automating everything and keeping things digital.
Do you know what’s better than driving to the store to manually redeem a coupon? Not having to because I can simply push a button on my phone.
3.What Kinds of Rewards Are On Offer?
There are a lot of options here, ranging from free shipping to store credit and discounts. However, as with most things, simplicity always works. Greater rewards don’t always mean a successful program, so test and find out one or two things that work and start with that–even if they are small and “unexciting”.
Your loyalty program should be consistent with the overall brand of your business. That means it needs to be consistent with your brand voice and personality. If your brand is chic, rugged, sophisticated, or formal, your loyalty program should reflect that. Customers are more likely to not engage if they sense a disconnect between your brand and your loyalty program.
Ensuring exclusivity means making sure the benefit of joining your loyalty program is as clear as possible to customers. You don’t want customers to think about it, make it a no-brainer by effectively communicating all the benefits that would accrue solely to participants in the loyalty program.
6.Multiple Engagement Points
Just as you are encouraged to consider rewarding multiple customer actions, it makes sense to ensure there are multiple touchpoints at which your customer can engage in your reward program. This not only increases excitement about the loyalty program, but also makes the customer excited about wanting to engage with your business in any way possible.
7.What Are the Rules of Your Program?
Rules may be boring, but they are there to protect both parties–that is your business and the customer. That said, you want to keep things simple; find a few rules that work and avoid getting bogged down with overly complicated rules.
Examples of some rules you can get started with include:
- Only registered customers can earn rewards
- Points earned and redeemable only by the email used in registration
- Points earned or redeemed don’t count for tax or shipping
- Points are only good for purchases, they do not have cash value
- Non-transferability of points and rewards
- Points are compiled by current purchases only
- We reserve the right to cancel an account at any time (without prior notice)
There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. Loyalty programs have been around for a long time and you can easily co-opt what works for you and make it yours.
In conclusion, we can say that loyalty programs work because they show customers that you care about them by rewarding them for taking the right actions where your business is concerned. They are so effective that several brands have used them to thrive in the increasingly competitive eCommerce landscape.
Feel free to reach out for some expert guidance if you ever decide it’s time to take your eCommerce business to the next level by implementing a customer loyalty program.