Customer loyalty is a term that gets used a lot. You know it's important to the success of your company, you know it's something you should invest in, but where do you get started? If you are looking for the best way to get your customer loyalty program off the ground or are just looking for improvements you can make to your already existing program, this is for you!
What is Customer Loyalty?
Okay, let's start with the easy stuff and work our way up. Customer loyalty is how likely someone is to continue to buy from your organization. Earning a new customer is important to the livelihood of your business, but equally important is getting those customers to come back. When customers come back to your business, you can begin relationships with these customers, get valuable feedback, and get a leg up on your competitors... all while earning a profit.
Why is Customer Loyalty Important?
So, why do you need customer loyalty? Well besides the fact that repeat purchasers mean more sales and more profit for you, it has a lot of benefits for your company. The first is that it is cost effective. Which makes sense if you think about it. Businesses spend so much money on customer acquisition, that once you get a new customer, you want to do everything you can to keep that customer. Otherwise, you will have to spend all that money again to get another new customer.
Another reason customer loyalty is so important is that they will help you to be better. Think about it for a second. Your loyal customers are the types of customers that you want to be targeting, so holding focus groups and talking with these loyal customers will give you a better idea of what those customers like and don't like. As a result, you will be able to draw attention and earn the loyalty of more customers just like that. It's a pretty easy way to start a cycle of growth for your business.
Finally, loyal customers will stick by your side through some of your rough patches. Say you launch a new marketing campaign that doesn't go exactly as you planned. Or say that you have a spokesperson who says something that is a little off brand and gets some backlash. Those loyal customers that you've worked so hard to keep happy will stick with you through your tougher times.
How Do You Earn Customer Loyalty?
Customer loyalty has to be earned, it is not just given to you. Through work and dedication to your customers, you can begin the process of earning their loyalty. The best way to start that process is by communicating with your customers. Tell them what you are doing, why you are doing it, and open the door for them to respond to you and give you their feedback. A two-way conversation, rather than just a one-way conversation, will let your customers feel included and keep them coming back for more.
Another great way to earn your customer's loyalty is to provide them with extra perks and benefits for their repeat purchase. Whether you give them first access to new products or a percentage off if they purchase before a specific date, giving your customers rewards for continuing to purchase with you will help build their loyalty and keep them purchasing in the future.
You should also be personalizing your marketing and speaking to your customers like they are, in fact, human. Your customers will realize when you are only sending out mass messaging and making little effort to treat them like the individuals they are. Put in the effort, and you will be greatly rewarded.
All of this is great in theory, but how do you actually put that into practice. Well, to help you figure out what your customer loyalty program might look like, we found some examples of some of the best customer loyalty programs that we could find.
Amazon - Some studies have found that Amazon loses $1-2 billion/year on Amazon Prime memberships alone. So how do they make it up and stay profitable? Well, people with Prime memberships spend on average $1,500/year, compared to the $625/year that non-members spend. People see a value in Amazon Prime subscriptions, so they continue to go to Amazon to do their shopping above other retailers, online or otherwise.
Apple - Research has been done into the Apple brand and has found that images of Apple products invoke the same parts of the brain that images of religious deities do. These customers are so loyal to Apple and Apple products that they follow the brand almost religiously.
REI - REI offers lots of programs for their one time $20 lifetime membership fee. Not only do members receive 10% off on their purchases, but they receive access to classes that they might be interested in, access to REI in-store garage sales, and the ability to vote on the board of directors. By giving customers value outside of coupons, and by giving them a voice in the company, these customers will continue to come back and support that brand.
Starbucks - You can't talk about customer loyalty without talking about Starbucks, and it's loyal group of followers. In the Starbucks app, consumers receive points for every dollar spent. After certain thresholds are met, users earn certain perks related to their loyalty. They also receive special deals related to specific special events such as birthdays or holidays.
Ulta - Another points system that rewards you for dollars spent in the store. These points can be used on anything in the store and never expire. Ulta also runs email campaigns that ask for reviews on products that you've purchased, giving you the chance to share your opinion. They also make it a point to honor special events and holidays by giving deals and discounts.
Zappos - Zappos offers free shipping and returns on all orders, giving customers the chance to try on all types of shoes before having to decide which one they would like to keep. There is also a 365-day return policy, the shoes just must still be in the condition they were when they were issued. Zappos also has a tiered membership system. As you spend more money with the company, you are allowed access into more and more exclusive benefits including early releases to limited edition shoes and invitations to exclusive events.
Customer loyalty is all about making sure that your customers feel valued and important to your business. Talk to some of your customers and understand the things that they appreciate. It will go a long way and will do wonders for your customer loyalty program.