In a recent blog, we talked about competition for business on the route out of lockdown. It won’t escape anyone’s attention that, if your business is planning to attract new customers over the coming months, your competitors are doing the same.
That means capitalising on customer loyalty to make sure they stick with you during the road out of lockdown.
Many of the experts in the loyalty world will tell you that keeping customers is about more than short-term campaigns, and in just about any other time they’d be right. The good news is that you don’t have to choose between the two.
It’s possible to use the same ideas that generate long-term customer loyalty but briefly turn them up to 11 while we navigate the economic sugar-rush of coming out of lockdown.
More good news is that by and large, customers are more loyal than they might get credit for, and they have more bandwidth for brand loyalty than you might think. That just leaves the question of what you have to do inspire that loyalty.
We’ll outline a few things you can develop and deploy in a short time-frame that will give you an edge over the next few weeks and months.
According to research from Yotpo, a key desire from loyal consumers is exclusivity. Customers expect to be rewarded for sticking around, and the research shows they want to be rewarded with things not available to the public.
Do a quick audit of what promotions you have planned, what products or services you’ll be offering, and what you expect business to look like for the next few weeks and months. Then decide what you can offer as an exclusive, or as an early-access treat, for your loyal customers.
It might seem counterintuitive to make something available only to loyal customers, but you don’t have to close the public out completely. Just making something available first would do the trick to reward customers for coming back.
Whether it’s new products, new services, or early-access to sales, exclusive access is what audiences are looking for in exchange for sticking with your brand.
We often hear that loyalty is more than points and cards, and we agree with that sentiment wholeheartedly. But, importantly, it’s “more than” cards and points, not “instead of” cards and points.
In fact, we work with a lot of companies in industries where a favourable points-mean-prizes loyalty scheme is the foundation of any serious loyalty effort.
Rewards, either delivered through a scheme or attached to promoted products and returning customers, have an important place in generating repeat business.
Boosting the rewards on offer for loyalty gives you two immediate benefits. First, you make your own offering more competitive during a time of steep competition. Second, it’s a reason to put yourself in front of an audience and promote yourself.
Depending on your industry, it might also be a reason to put your brand in front of your competitors’ audience – for instance if they’re coming to the end of a points banking cycle around the financial new year.
If you don’t have a loyalty scheme or returning customer promotion in place, there’s no time like the present to start. Even a quick, makeshift scheme that rewards customers for coming back after lockdown would make a difference in the next few weeks.
It would also form a convenient springboard for more long-term efforts in the future.
Align with values
Consumers make lifestyle and values-informed decisions, meaning brands need to incorporate and highlight values for their customers.
Not every brand has the same ethical underpinning as a brand like Lush, but whatever you do have should be highlighted and put in the spotlight.
Your community efforts, any sustainability projects you’re working on, any time you give your staff to volunteer is worth getting in front of your customers. If what consumers are saying is to be believed, values-alignment makes customers want to stick around.
Be good today, try perfect tomorrow – use what you have available and get it in front your customers.
It will give you an edge when you’re talking to customers in the short-term future, and tip the scales when existing customers are thinking about switching loyalties.
Over to you
Long-term customer loyalty means time, investment, and quite possibly changes to how your business runs to stay relevant to your audience.
In the short term, however, there’s a needle that needs moving. These ideas are achievable for a business with a lot of business to keep, and little time to make long-term changes.
If you have any questions, or want to talk about deploying any of the advice in this article, feel free to get in touch. We’re always up for a chat.