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Growing customer loyalty is essential to building a profitable and sustainable business. Loyalty gives your business resistance to competition, customer advocacy, and greater engagement. As small and medium-sized companies, growing your business with existing customers–-including developing loyalty programs and new products and services designed around their needs-–should be a top marketing priority. Just consider these statistics:
By focusing on building customer loyalty, you also improve your customer's experience. You create a better business, designed to drive brand evangelism among customers and new business through word of mouth, not to mention multiplying cycles of repeat purchases. On the other hand, companies that don't create an experience that makes customers want to return will stagnate. But that won't happen to your business with these easy strategies for boosting customer loyalty.
Develop a rewards program
The more a customer shops with your company, the more rewards they receive, including free merchandise, advanced access to products, or price discounts. The best way to structure a rewards card program is to look at your purchasing data in tiers. Think about what could incentivize customers to move into the next tier. For example, a bagel shop with 80% of its customers in tier 1 (purchasing $50 or less per month and $6.99 or less per order) could start by testing free coffee with every $7 purchase.
If you lack customer data, a rewards card program can help you to capture contact information, including email addresses, names, and phone numbers, so that you can track this data with customer relationship management (CRM) software. Customers are willing to do this; in fact, 87% of Americans are eager to have details of their activity with your business tracked in exchange for personalized rewards. The rewards card and a points system that accompanies it provides an incentive for customers to share their information so that you can keep in touch and drive them in with additional specials as well. Just sign up customers on your point-of-sale system to get started.
You can have scannable digital loyalty cards, an app, or old fashioned print punch cards created, depending on your budget. Apps offer other loyalty marketing features, including points delivered by SMS, digital check-ins, and app notifications (which can even target customers within a geographic vicinity).
Engage customers through social media
Want to develop a social media presence? Start with Facebook. Consider these statistics:
Facebook is a social engagement platform; it allows you to build a brand that means something more to your customers than just a physical location to buy goods or a necessary service. It will enable you to associate positive emotions and feelings with your customer experience. Establish your profile, use in-store marketing and signage to get customers to like and follow you for special offers. With your new fan base, use videos, photos, graphics, and copy. Share customer stories, talk about the values of your employees, and to provide valuable information and offers your customers will not only enjoy but want to share with others. Ask open-ended or multiple-choice questions, foster a sense of community and support for one another, or solicit customer feedback on your new products, services, and programs. Engage your fans with a spirit of passion, humor, and fun, depending on the qualities you want them to associate with your brand.
Hire customer-focused staff
It's no secret and no surprise that many of today's best-loved brands have superior customer experience, highlighted by exceptional customer service. The staff of these companies connect with customers and make them feel treated far better than by their competitors. It starts with hiring customer-facing personnel who are naturally friendly and kind and training them to think and communicate proactively, anticipating customer needs.
It's not only corporations that can build big brand customer loyalty. All it takes is thinking about your best experiences as a consumer and applying these strategies to improve your customer experience.
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About the Author