Skubana’s readers are no doubt already familiar with the power of automation in business growth. Automating operations is key when it comes to getting things done faster and more consistently. The same can be said for marketing automation.

Although customer experience and loyalty have to include a human touch, there are still many things you can automate to make the customer shopping experience better and grow your business.

If you’re looking to grow (and who isn’t?), focusing on customer retention is one of the smartest things you can do. Although the percentages vary by industry, across the board it’s more affordable to keep current customers happy and coming back to your store than to try and acquire new customers out of the blue – which is what most companies are trying to do with their PPC and inbound marketing campaigns.

One of the best ways to automate your customer retention strategy is to use a loyalty program. How can this strategy help you grow? There are three ways:

1. Helps build a better customer experience


We’re living in the day and age of high expectations. And that’s just fine, as long as you know how to meet those expectations. What do today’s customers want? 69% actually want to be rewarded by the companies they buy from.

So, these days, having some type of loyalty program that’s set up to reward customers for their purchases and engagement is a necessity.

Gamify your program for even better results. Points on a plastic card is practical for some, but many people admit to not even using their loyalty cards. Having a gamified loyalty program that lets customers pick the actions they want to take in order to earn points – in addition to purchase – makes the experience on your website way more interesting.

The more interactions you incentivize, the more actions customers take and the more they get to know your company and products. Reward them for watching your latest video – that’s a great way to educate or inspire and entertain. And that’s also the thing that makes them loyal – that’s what separates you from your competitors.

Combine that with rewards and perks that range from conveniences to discounts to experiences, and you’ve got yourself a loyal community! Here are 3 types of enticing offers to kick off your brainstorm session:

  • Free shipping.  

Give your members free shipping temporarily (once after signup) or for long-term (like Amazon Prime, as long as you pay the fee, you get shipping for free!) This makes the value of a membership really obvious and captures the eye of savers.

  • Holiday deals.

Customers are coming in en masse to buy in Q4. The holidays are coming! These customers often buy once and then disappear… and to top it all off, they use guest checkout so you can’t target them again later! Bah-humbug! Use holiday-specific promotions (i.e. bonus points towards gifts for your loved ones for registering in the loyalty program) to entice people to sign up for your loyalty program and take that 4th quarter success with you, into the next calendar year.

  • Unforgettable experiences.

The previous two ideas really capture the eye of those looking to save, looking for a great deal. This one is key for shoppers looking for more. I always like to emphasize the importance of experiential rewards, because it’s a way to build a great association with a brand. Experiences are among the most valuable rewards. (Think VIP tickets, backstage passes, makeovers, movie premiers, etc.) So the most devoted customers who rack up enough points deserve to be able to choose from rewards like this. And it will help maintain their positive attitude toward the brand, remembering the experiential reward as a part of the overall brand experience. Oh, and members only promotions, sales and events are also a way to make the value of the program clear and obvious.

2. Helps you get the data you need to make your relationship more personal.


There are three things your loyalty program should definitely be able to do: pinpoint who your brand advocates are, let you see their actions, and let you to reach out and thank them.

In addition, a loyalty program can be a great way to reward customers for telling you more. Getting points in return for answering a few questions about purchase habits or interests and preferences is a great way to incentivize and get a greater response rate. Furthermore, that information will allow you to personalize your communication.

As it turns out, millennials really hate getting generic emails – 44% hate it enough to totally disengage with a brand. So collecting the data you need to make your emails and offers relevant is worth the effort.

There’s one other thing worth mentioning: brand advocates. This is your top segment – the people you should be thanking the most. Every single share, comment and product review contributes to your word of mouth – a factor that 74% of consumers identify as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. (Source: Ambassador). And your advocates talk about your brand and share it with their friends all the time.

So how can you possibly show your gratitude? Relevant communication and special offers – just for them.

3.  Helps you get more customers


Wait, what? Aren’t loyalty programs about retention?

Well, yes, but they should be about getting new customers, too.

Encourage your brand advocates – scratch that – encourage all customers to share your product pages and company website. Add a little incentive by offering points in return for this kind of share.

And what about rewarding the friends they share to? It’s ultra effective to give a reward or discount to these potential new shoppers, too. It’s a great way to get shoppers who are on the fence.

And who knows, maybe they’ll be your next big advocates! Did you know referred friends are 18% more loyal than those who come into your store through other forms of marketing? Enough said.

So what can you do to recharge growth today?

First of all, map out which goals are most important for you in terms of customer retention and engagement in your store. Is it getting more referrals? Getting more social media action? Is it pinpointing your brand advocates?

Secondly, determine what kind of offers and rewards would reach your customers most effectively – customers at each stage of the life cycle.

This information is crucial when it comes to designing a loyalty program that works for your business – and your customers.


About the Author: 

This article is written and contributed by Jess Mizerak.  Jess is a Customer Loyalty Strategist at Antavo Loyalty Software, helping e-commerce brands build rewards programs that increase customer retention by 200%. In her spare time Jess enjoys painting teddy bears and reading about creative ad campaigns.

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