In the past couple years companies have seen an increase in people spending more time shopping online. This is a great opportunity to implement incentives and rewards through loyalty programs. There isn’t a playbook out there that tells you exactly how to go about starting your own loyalty program but there are some tips that can help create a smooth transition from planning it to launching it!
Why companies hesitate on launching a loyalty program
Before looking at why loyalty programs would benefit your business, there are some reasons why companies are hesitant to make that jump.
- Too difficult to begin - some businesses are apprehensive due to their belief that loyalty programs take a significant amount of work and preparation to even begin. Successful programs do require strategic design and planning, but an experienced loyalty provider makes the process easier and more streamlined.
- The cost of a program is too high - Every sale or discount, no matter how big or small, affects the company in some way. This is a point of concern for companies because they don’t know if they will be able to keep up with the various costs of running a program. This is why it is important to make sure that your program is fairly priced and working effectively. Repeat purchases and increases in order values helps to offset any loss due to discounts.
- Confusion over how to handle loyalty data - Some companies are unaware of the value data programs provide or are unsure of how to properly use the collected data. Loyalty programs can collect and process a lot of customer data, and if there is no system in place to organize that information then companies cannot effectively provide customers with relevant incentives and offers.
The risks to not launching a loyalty program
There are some risks for businesses who chose not to launch a loyalty program, especially in the face of ever-evolving consumer shopping habits and needs:
- Harder to attract new customers - one risk is missing out on attracting new customers who would be incentivized to purchase from you because of the value your program provides. There could be customers who enjoy your products but are more inclined to purchase from a competitor who offers a rewards program because this allows them to also earn valuable rewards or perks.
- Miss out on valuable data collection - To continue growing relationships with your customers it is important to know what their likes and dislikes are, so you can more accurately market to them. The best way to do that is through gathering value first-party data. Customers are more willing to exchange certain information when they know their data is getting them something in return, like personalized offers or communications. Top companies have great relationships with their customers because they invest in creating more 1-on-1 interactions that treat the customer as an individual, not one of many.
Launching a loyalty program is a great way to avoid these three problems and grow your business at the same time!
Benefits To Launching A Loyalty Program
- You can target, reach, and support wider groups of customers
Not only do loyalty programs help you retain your customers, but it also allows for your company to appeal to a wider consumer audience. If you are offering incentives and rewards that other companies aren’t, then you will stand out among your competitors and people will want to sign up for your program. If you are able to target people based on their interests then they are more likely to speak highly of your company. Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools and by having a loyalty program that everyone is talking about, your name is spread quickly to new potential customers!
- Drive your business goals
Loyalty programs are great methods for helping you reach the goals you have set for your business. When designing your program, identify what parts of your business it can promote and what customer actions it can help drive forward. If you want to increase the number of orders a customer makes then you can create incentives for that. Or if you want to drive purchases across product categories then there can be specific incentives that do so. Your program holds the power so build it to help your company prosper and drive your business goals!
- Communicate your brand values
More customers are being attracted to brands whose values align with their own. By launching a loyalty program, your company can really show its purpose to the customers and give them insight into your brand values. Customers who see brand values that they also agree with will prioritize that brand over others, which helps build a stronger relationship. Loyalty programs are also a great place to promote your brand’s personality. This makes it easier for a brand to connect with customers and have a little fun while doing it!
- Set the foundation for creating future brand advocates
Research shows that 92% of people trust word of mouth recommendation over traditional marketing. This highlights the importance of brand advocacy. But customers do not become brand advocates overnight. It is crucial that you set a good foundation that helps your members grow into advocates for your brand. Potential customers want to hear good testimonials from current customers who have first-hand experience with your brand and its products. Using your loyalty program you can create customer journeys that nurture your best customers through the transitions from customer to full-fledged brand advocate.
- Higher Customer Lifetime Value
Customer Lifetime Value (CLV) is the sum of the average value of a purchase, number of times the customer will make a purchase each year, and the average length of the customer relationship. In short, it is a tool to help you track how valuable a customer is to you now and how valuable the customer will be in the future. This is crucial because the longer a customer is with you, the more you know their spending habits and you can better reward them at each step of their journey. Loyalty programs help collect detailed customer data that helps you determine CLV and create opportunities to increase CLV across customer segments.
- Opportunity to include gamifications
Gamification is one of the best ways to attract your customers' attention and get them truly engaged. Incorporating gamification to your loyalty program is a great tactic to get your customers hooked. It doesn’t always have to be a revolutionary gamified add-on; as long as you create a branded and memorable experience for your customers then you will strengthen the bond they have with your company.
When is it not a good time to launch a loyalty program
Luckily there aren’t a lot of instances where launching a loyalty program wouldn’t be a good idea. Even COVID-19 didn’t scare companies from launching new loyalty programs; transit company Metrolink and food-establishment McDonalds successfully launched their programs in 2020 and 2021 respectively while the pandemic was still affecting customers worldwide. There is not a calendar that says which weeks are the best and worst to launch a loyalty program, it is up to your company and how you prepare. The most important thing is that your loyalty program serves a purpose and provides a great experience for your customers.
Anytime is a good time to launch a loyalty program. You want to get it right the first time so make sure that you are prepared with a good plan, platform, and partner! We would love to help you take the first steps to launching your own loyalty program. Reach out to us and we help you get started today!