Did you find a way to reward loyal customers yet? The average customer is part of 15 loyalty programs. This clearly points out that customers expect to be rewarded for their loyalty to your brand.
Why? Let’s start by defining the terms.
What Is Customer Loyalty?
Customer loyalty is a client’s willingness to go back to the same company to conduct business. Typically, this happens because of an outstanding customer experience or quality of products or services.
In other words, your customers are already getting something significant out of their on-going relationship with you. Why would you bother with creating a loyalty program as well?
Simply put: because people expect it. 69% of consumers say that their buying decisions are influenced by whether or not the company offers rewards.
Yes, they love your products/services and the customer experience. But today’s shopper is keenly aware of their power. They know that brand loyalty is at a premium and they know that they are helping your business as much as they are helping themselves.
This expectation has a funny way of manifesting itself. You’ll rarely see a customer say that they expected a small perk in return for their repeat business (although that happens occasionally, too). Rather, they will simply migrate to the one competitor of yours who makes it clear that they will reward any repeat purchase.
Remember that customers are humans (yes, even in B2B!), and all humans want to be valued. It’s a universal need as old as incipient societies. So there’s no point in fighting it. Instead, leverage it -- the perks for your business are significant.
Let’s take a quick look at them:
The Numbers Don’t Lie: How Rewarding Loyal Customers Can Help You Increase Sales
77% of brands could disappear and no one would care. Ouch! This sounds harsh and you can’t stop but wonder if your brand is among that 77%.
But there’s a silver lining in everything and this gloomy statistic makes no exception: you can turn the odds in your favor and leave the “77 Club”. It looks like 79% of customers would only consider a brand if it shows that it cares about them. This is your first queue. Show you care, build brand loyalty and you won’t even have to worry about disappearing.
Rewarding loyal customers isn’t just a way to make them happy. It’s also a way to pad your bottom line. We know that acquiring a new customer costs five times more than retaining an existing one. This is why increasing the customer retention rate by a mere 5% can lead to a 25%-95% increase in profits! That’s because selling to an existing customer is 60%-70% more likely than selling to a new one.
Image via Markin Blog
In fact, US companies alone lose $136.8 billion every year due to preventable customer switching.
Need one more reason to invest in the customers you already have? Here it is: over the past few years the CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) has increased steadily for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Image via ProfitWell
Recurring business is a pillar of profitability. A recurring revenue model makes it easy to predict the evolution and growth of your business. Take a page from the SaaS book:
Image via HubSpot
The chart above refers to SaaS businesses, but the model is easily applicable to any type of company, subscription-based or not. Growth is fueled by both new customer acquisition and existing customer retention. Better yet, 57% of consumers spend more on brands they are loyal to.
Customer retention is the reason why 90% of companies have loyalty programs. Together, they account for 3.3 billion loyalty memberships -- yes, people want those perks! Only 8% of consumers say that rewards aren’t important to them.
They want them and they really use them -- 84% of loyalty program members have made a redemption from that program. However, not all programs are equally successful. Only 18% of their members have engaged with all the programs they belong to.
Image via Codebroker
The newer generations are even more attached to loyalty programs. Almost 50% of Gen Zers interviewed say they would pay extra to upgrade their loyalty program membership.
Finally, let’s get to what really matters for any business. Cold, hard cash. Here’s what you stand to gain if you reward your loyal customers:
- Loyalty leaders are able to grow their revenue 2.5 times faster than other companies within the same industries.
- Simply adding a loyalty program to an eCommerce platform increases the average order quantity by a staggering 319%!
- 73% of consumers say they are more likely to recommend businesses with great loyalty programs, while 79% of them say they are more likely to continue doing business with such a company.
- According to the same study, 27% of loyalty program members will spend more when an emotional connection is established.
- 66% of customers are willing to modify their spending to increase membership benefits.
- 45% of consumers made between one and three purchases just because of the loyalty incentives offered.
Briefly put, not implementing a loyalty program means leaving cash on the table. No one wants to do that, right? Especially not since we all know that the money left on the table is up for grabs by none other than your competitors.
Let’s see how you can reward loyal customers without breaking the bank or allocating huge time resources.
10 Affordable Ways to Reward Loyal Customers
The term “loyalty program” may make you think about something complicated and intricate that takes ages to set up and manage. Some loyalty programs are complicated, indeed. But they don’t have to be. In fact, customers hate complicated memberships too.
Image via Codebroker
So, you and the customers can agree on the first pre-requisite of customer rewards: simplicity. The next one is tied to something you also care about -- money:
Image via TechnologyAdvice
If you look closely at the chart above, every percentage is tied to money, save for 1.6%. When customers earn money, so do you.
And I’m pretty sure you’ve run discount campaigns before. It’s the same thing, with a minor difference: you don’t reward everyone with a discount or another type of financial perk -- you only reward your most loyal customers, the ones who deserve it the most.
Thus, the first way to reward loyal customers comes naturally.
1. Offer a Discount
The secret in making discounts work for loyal customers is timing. If you offer a discount after years of business, it may feel like you don’t really appreciate their business. The key is to offer the discount in a way that doesn’t affect your profit margin AND gets buyers to come back to your shop.
For instance, you can offer a small discount after:
- The third purchase. This gives you enough room to be able to call a customer “loyal” and it doesn’t feel too long-winded.
- The customer recommends a friend. When that friend makes their first purchase, both of them can receive a discount for their next shopping session.
- Leaving a review. We know how important reviews are to growing your business (if you don’t, check out this article with 32 reviews statistics that will change your mind), so it’s only natural that you reward them for it.
2. Gamify Loyalty Rewards
Loyalty programs don’t have to be complicated to be fun! You can turn it into a scavenger hunt with a simple reward card that you punch holes into. Better yet, it can be a physical or a virtual card.
Image via Fort Gordon
This is a fun way to get customers to come back. Sure, they may not care about it too much in the beginning, but by the time they reach their seventh meal, they’ll be motivated to come back more frequently so they can redeem their reward.
This type of reward system is ideal for restaurants (even for delivery ones) and for proximity shops -- physical or virtual.
3. Send a Gift Along with the Order
It doesn’t have to be anything expensive: a handmade bracelet that goes with the outfit they just ordered, a charm to attach to their smartphone, a free dessert if you’re a restaurant, and so on.
A free gift isn’t about its monetary value. It’s about making people feel special and appreciated. Remember what we discussed above about this being a human basic need? A small thoughtful gift achieves that AND it brings customers back.
Just like our next idea:
4. Include a Hand-Written Thank You Note
This is as inexpensive as it gets when it comes to rewarding loyal customers. Bonus points if you can personalize it and add specific detail about your customer.
Beware, though, you don’t want to make it creepy! For instance, if you sell pet food it’s OK to include a small toy as a gift for a loyal customer’s pet and to add a thank you note that specifies the toy is for Charlie, the dog. Saying that you hope Charlie would use it during his daily 9 AM walk in the park on X street is creepy. Don’t do that, even if you somehow know those details.
Another way to leverage thank-you notes to the fullest is to send them around the holidays or around the customer’s birthday.
Image via Sola
5. Public Recognition for Your Best Customers
You can publicly acknowledge your best clients through programs like “customers of the month”. Publish their photo on social media, along with a caption that explains why you love doing business with them. It may be because they place regular orders because they leave detailed feedback because they were understanding where their order was delayed, and so on.
Aside from public recognition, make sure that you also add a gift to thank them for being a valued customer.
A word of caution: make sure you get the client’s approval to use their image.
6. Get Loyal Customers' Feedback on a New Product or Service
Launching a new lunch menu? A new clothing line? A new make-up line? Or perhaps a new phone accessories collection?
Who better to try it first than your most loyal customers? Send them a few samples and ask them for their honest opinion. With this tactic, you’ll shoot not one, not two, but three birds with one stone (this is a metaphor, please don’t hit birds with anything):
- You get feedback from the people whose opinion matters the most before you invest too much in launching a new product.
- You get your loyal customers to feel valued because their opinion matters, which means that:
- Your loyal customers will be even more willing to shop from you.
Not bad for a tactic that costs so little, right?
7. Collaborate with Another Business
Partner up with a business that’s similar to yours to reward loyal customers with exciting and unexpected perks. For instance, a gym can partner with a sports clothing brand and they can each offer vouchers for each other’s products/services. A restaurant can partner with a new brewery to send a free beer with every dinner order from loyal customers. A gadgets shop can add a voucher for home decor products with every order.
This tactic doesn’t just build brand loyalty. It also helps both businesses acquire new customers.
Pro tip: when you implement this tactic, make sure you tell your customers that not everyone has access to this perk and that it’s reserved for VIP customers like themselves.
8. Reward Loyal Customers with Preferential Treatment
While it’s true that most people expect some sort of monetary gain from a loyalty program, there are those who prefer to feel pampered by their favorite brands instead. More importantly, there are brands (luxury ones, most often) for which discounts and financial perks don’t always work because they may “cheapen” the brand.
But this doesn’t mean that you can’t have a loyalty program. In fact, it’s the most exclusive brands that need to keep their loyal customer closest, since they have more to gain from each purchase.
You can pamper your customers through:
- Express/fast delivery
- Free gift wrapping with every order
- Delivery outside of usual business hours
- Personalized packaging
- Free consultations on choosing the ideal product
The sky is the limit here, so let your creative juices flow. Stumped for ideas? Ask those who know best: your customers.
Browse your reviews to see which of your services your customers love best and come up with ways to further improve them. Or simply drop them a line asking how you could be of further help.
9. Offer Free, Premium Content
Everyone can read your blog and your social media posts. And while being your fan on social media may make your customers feel part of the community, it doesn’t exactly say they’re special -- they’re just one of the several tens of thousands of people who clicked the “Like” button.
Premium content is a whole different story, though. You can create it specifically for your loyal customers and leverage it to boost brand loyalty even more. For this to work, your premium content has to meet a few criteria:
- It has to be scarce. Don’t send an email every week. Send a piece of premium content no more often than once a month -- ideally two to four times per year.
- It has to be restricted to loyal customers: tell them that not everyone has access to it to make them want it even more and actually consume it.
- It has to be relevant: offer practical tips and advice on what you know best (the products you sell) and, if possible, personalize it for every customer you send it to.
- It has to feel like premium content, so pay extra attention to graphic design and the wording.
What can you write about? As stated above -- write about the things you know best. For example:
- A sneaker shop can write about tips to care for the shoes they sell. Make it even more relevant by not offering generic tips. Focus on care instructions that apply to the materials you use instead.
- A grocery shop that has delivery services can send a booklet with recipes from a famous local chef.
- A coffee shop can offer tips on how to prepare specific coffee blends
You get the point -- the key is to make people feel like they got more than the product they paid for and that they got it because they are your most valued customers.
10. Create an Early Access Program
Do you know what people love more than free or heavily discounted things? Exclusivity! Much like the tactics above, this one, too, is especially about making your loyal customers feel like VIPs.
Whenever you launch a new product or service, give them exclusive access to it before everyone else has it. This is different from asking customers to test a new service or product.
This time, they will be paying for it (with or without an early-bird discount), but they will be the firsts to try it. The reason this loyalty strategy works is that it induces the feeling that early access means having the upper hand over everyone else.
It’s pretty simple to implement, too. Just shoot
them an email saying: “We’ll be launching X for the general public in a week. But you are a valued customer, so you get access before anyone else. Want in? Click here to be the very first to try X”.
They can brag to their friends about being the first to try your new menu, to wear your new clothes, to use your new smartphone, and so on. In the meantime, you get to enjoy more purchases from your loyal customers and create more brand ambassadors at the same time.
Pro tip: you can also use this strategy for scarce products, not just for brand-new ones. For instance, if one of your most sought-after products will be back in stock soon, let your loyal customers know before anyone else. Tell them they can place an order and reserve their product before it becomes public knowledge. This comes with the advantage that you can cash in on their order long before shipping the actual product.
Final Thoughts on Rewarding Your Loyal Customers
We all know that brand loyalty is extremely valuable. But let’s be honest: it doesn’t all depend on you. You can’t control your customers’ buying behavior and, more importantly, you can’t control your competitors’ pricing and promotions.
What you can do is create loyalty programs to reward the customers that deserve it the most and make it less likely for them to leave. This, coupled with stellar customer service, is your golden ticket to growing your loyal customer base.
The best way to succeed at this is to focus on the very best of your customers. The more comprehensive a loyalty program is, the less exclusive it feels.
Not sure how to do that or how to spot loyal customers? We’ve got you covered! Wiremo Triggers help you identify your best customers and automatically reward them with bonuses, discounts, and promo codes.
Better yet, you get to boost their loyalty with instant replies to their reviews or comments through the same feature in Wiremo. You can take personalization to the next level and grow your loyal customer base!
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