Loyalty isn’t something you buy. It’s something you earn. And even when you can buy it, it’s not the kind of loyalty that has any value unless you’re trying to overthrow or destabilise a government which, thankfully, isn’t the modus operandi of most SMBs. (Don’t get any ideas)
One way to ensure you water the seeds of your growing business is by having loyal customers who keep coming back for more. Naturally, the quality of your product or service will have everything and more to do with how many people sing your praises around the braai or insist a family member check you out. But a solid loyalty program can work wonders for both your reputation and your bottom line.
Repeat customers are the best customers
A major factor in repeat business is making your customers feel valued. By creating a loyalty plan, you’re essentially holding the handshake a few seconds longer and telling them how much you appreciate their patronage. It’s this gratitude that truly buries an evolving brand deep within the hearts of the people they hope to see again and again.
The continued value of this gratitude is borne out in the decision by major companies to relaunch loyalty programs. Vodacom and MTN have both had a big wake-up call recently, almost belatedly realising the age-old truth that a retained customer is far more valuable than a new one.
This truth holds even greater weight with small businesses because of the inevitable growth that comes with being someone’s favourite. According to the new edition of the annual collaborative whitepaper from Truth and BrandMapp, sign-ups for loyalty programs are higher than ever before. Undoubtedly, these numbers are influenced by the turbulent nature of the last 24 months, but 74% of economically active South Africans are opted into at least one such plan in 2021.
What’s in it for you?
Lots. Far beyond being a juicy carrot at the end of a stick, loyalty programs provide the basis for a symbiotic relationship, driving a two-way value stream for you and your customers. Let’s have a look at how they can benefit your business.
- It’s a high return investment
While they may require some capital upfront, their potential for return is immense. Retaining even one of your patrons can be between 5 and 25 times more cost-effective than the ongoing hunt to acquire new ones. You can even tier your loyalty program so that only your best customers qualify. This will ensure you don’t overspend and encourages others to stick around for their perks.
Another way that loyalty programs generate value on your end is to turn consumers into brand advocates, which is a crucial aspect of nurturing trust in this day and age. Those who land in your lap from referrals are far easier to retain, and you can reward existing members for referrals to thank them.
- Improving your products and services
Your loyalty plan members are also an excellent tool for critically evaluating what’s working and what’s not, and you can pick their brains at various touchpoints for product insight. Subscribers can even provide you with user-generated content in the form of reviews and other product-related social media posts that are vital to informing your efforts going forward.
Getting regular feedback from your most valued clients will help you to keep a finger on the pulse of consumer sentiment while providing regular insights regarding your customer service. You can even leverage your reviews by putting them front and centre of your website, social media channels, and even your payment portals.
- Make your social media pop
Social media is big business, and whether you’re just starting to grow your follower count or adding to an existing community, a loyalty program can boost your numbers. Loyalty program members won’t need much convincing to follow you on their favourite platforms, and from there, you can keep lines of communication open at all times and drive engagement.
There are loads of ways to synergise your social media efforts with subscribers, and if it’s something you’re looking to improve on, it’s another area that some well-placed incentives can help. Dish out points for post or run competitions for those sharing your content, see what suits your program best, and use it to your strategic advantage online.
- Access to previously undiscovered data
Once your customers have decided to sign up with you, they become a treasure trove of useful information that reflects anything from demographics to location to purchase preferences and everything in between. All you need to do is ask.
Every profile created offers new insights that you can use to personalise your marketing efforts and create customer experiences that resonate with them. It also means you can see exactly which of your products are popular with certain customers and allow you to present them with offers that are specifically in line with their tastes.
Once you’ve dazzled them with your excellence the first time around, 90% of those people will become repeat clients. And that is one of the fundamental building blocks of a successful brand.
Ultimately, it’ll be up to you how you package your plan, and there are a ton of resources and apps to help you find the sweet spot. Fine-tuning them over time is key to finding the balance in ROI, but the awesome thing about loyalty programs is that they are measurable at any point. Get in touch with us to see how we can use reviews to add even more value to your program and nurture your online presence.