What does your brand need for long-lasting loyalty from customers?
Traditionally customer loyalty was built like any other form of loyalty; it was built over time and based on mutual trust and respect between the consumer and the organisation. This scenario has changed drastically with the introduction of digital sources and e-commerce. The fundamentals remain the same except the approach has completely changed. There are still a few questions that the brand has to answer for its customers to have them engage with their business. These could be any of the following:
“Are our values aligned?”
“Does your product or service make my life more enjoyable?”
“Do you add value to my life?”
“Do you have a positive impact on areas in my life that matter?”
Companies, regardless of their industry, need to take this approach at their most basic level and put consumers at the forefront of all the decision making. By doing so, you will be able to develop strong and lasting relationships with your customers that go beyond just traditional sales and evolve into building a loyal consumer base for your brand.
Brand loyalty can be observed in our daily lives, even though you might not notice them. Consumers have the tendency to stick to a single brand or product. It could be an electronic device such as your mobile phone ( for example, Apple users tend to buy iPhones and not switch to an Android phone even though it may be the cheaper option with equal offerings), a household item, or as basic as a cafe where you get your morning coffee.
Trust is the most important factor that drives these conscious or subconscious decisions in consumers. When the consumer trusts a brand, they become more likely to use their products or services.
Brands also use several other tactics to keep their customers coming back and building some form of loyalty. They can do this by tapping into customers’ emotions by maybe donating their incentives to a charity their consumers might support, or even sharing the rewards with a friend. This approach will only work if the brand conveys their objective clearly.
Rewards offer companies a great tool in developing this approach. When they are trying to build a reward system, brands need to ensure that their reward programme and their rewards are actually relevant to their customer’s needs. Companies across industries have taken this approach when they are launching new products to guarantee a higher success rate at their launch.
A lot of companies already have some form of a rewards programme in place. Consumers are more attracted to a brand that has a regular rewards system so that they feel awarded for maintaining their loyalty. It also showcases a form of appreciation and acknowledgement. All consumers want to feel like they are seen by the brands they are interacting with and offering them rewards is a highly effective way of doing that.
A rewards programme is one of the most important tools of ensuring brand loyalty. It can come in many forms, like:
- Companies can choose to build a point-based system where consumers collect points for each purchase in exchange for prizes, discounts or vouchers.
- There are also membership programmes that brands launch where the consumer gets access to special offers, preferential treatment, discounts, and other benefits once they become members.
- There are also variations of these two rewards programmes that organisations can choose to personalise based on their needs and the needs of their consumers. They go beyond the traditional spend and earn scenario. Consumers can avail vouchers, gain extended credit, and even get discounts on other brands that you as an organisation have partnered with.
Rewards seem great, but brands are often apprehensive before they start a loyalty or rewards programme.
Do the rewards actually build consumer loyalty or are they just a way to attract consumers?
Will existing consumers stop contributing to your sales if they do not get rewarded with each transaction?
Do rewards programmes even work?
These are some of the questions that proprietors and especially small business owners have about the system. Offering a reward means that it comes at a cost to the company and new and small businesses need to know that there will be guaranteed benefits to it before they start this journey so that they are not losing out on more than they are gaining.
There are mixed responses to these questions.
Some research suggests that consumers are initially hesitant towards signing up for a loyalty programme, despite their abundance in availability and number of benefits. A lot of consumers also end up signing up for them but remain inactive or abandon it after a few months.
Brands need to find a way to maintain customer loyalty after they introduce these programmes. It can be done by holding their consumer’s interest and using the programme as a tool to reward them. The key element here is user engagement. The rewards need to be designed in a way to keep the consumers happy and entice them to use them regularly.
When companies talk about rewards, they need to mean true partnership and loyalty built on trust. Trust can be built both ways. The consumer needs to know that their data is only used to improve the brand’s services and nothing more. All brand messaging and communication should be based on this trust, and the consumer should never feel like they are being spammed with promotional messages. Companies need to be careful when they are communicating to ensure the relevance of their message otherwise it can act as a big deterrent in building customer loyalty.
All strategies need to evolve, and so do the brand’s loyalty programmes for their consumers. There are emerging changes in the market, especially with the pandemic. It has caused a big shift in consumer behaviour, and companies need to adapt to this change to stay relevant in their industry. They need to formulate innovative strategies to keep their valuable customers and maintain their loyalty.
Improved ways of customer retention in business
Maintaining a consistently positive customer experience is crucial to a good brand image. It is used to improve the way your consumer thinks and feels about your brand, which is a key element in ensuring success in a highly competitive market and building customer loyalty.
Customer retention is also a lot less resource intensive than customer acquisition and there is abundant research that proves the same. This is why brands need to devise different and creative ways to retain consumers to increase their profits. Earlier positive word of mouth would have been a good enough way to increase the customer base and build loyalty, but with the rise of digital, likes, referrals from influencers and a large online following is what determines how successful and trustworthy a brand is.
As a business owner, you should curate your customer’s experience in such a way that they end up referring your brand to everyone they know. It’s an extremely inexpensive marketing tool. You should also highlight all the positive feedback you receive on your online store or website because it builds credibility and a stronger brand image for your customers.
Loyalty programmes can deliver a positive and effective way of customer retention. They can act as a tool that prevents the customer from shifting to using a competitor’s product or service. Over time, loyalty programmes have become more interactive, especially if all the customer has to do is download an app and register for the service or offering. It is a lot easier to manoeuvre and consumers do not have to fill out forms or wait for a loyalty card to entail the benefits.
There is a trend of offering VIP programmes to loyal customers to reinforce their loyalty towards a brand. It offers better rewards for repeat customers by rewarding their expenses. Companies can aso set and achieve a spending goal of each customer to increase their profits using this method.
Companies need to ensure their rewards programmes and offerings are different from most of the other ones available in the market to set them apart. Consumers are a lot more likely to keep using your loyalty or rewards programme if it comes with a unique set of benefits. It could keep them interested in your brand for longer and help make your venture a success.