This is an update to one of our most popular blog posts "The Importance of Rewarding Your Local Customers." Read the original.

Have you ever driven across town to visit your favorite store or to satisfy a craving?

We all have our preferred places to get coffee, lunch, or the latest products. The question we often don't ask ourselves is, “what keeps us coming back?” Is it the product? The people? The atmosphere? What about the familiarity of a known, comfortable environment? Or could it simply be the way that you are treated for being a regular customer?

Brand loyalty is present around us every day in almost every place we go. From logos and branding marks on clothing to sharing info with family and friends on social media or even good old fashioned bumper stickers, brands are advertised daily by their most loyal consumers. The effectiveness of this is virtually immeasurable and the benefits are twofold. One, it demonstrates the connection companies have with their customers, particularly their most loyal ones and two, it creates brand awareness for companies to acquire new customers.

So naturally, companies of all types and sizes want to nurture and encourage this customer loyalty and deliver better customer experiences and service. But how?

Value - Many companies provide discounted pricing to new customers but offering incentives to only first time buyers while failing to acknowledge and take care of repeat ones could cause you to lose the customers who are the most loyal to your company. In fact, according to a Bain & Company study, “60-80% of customers who describe themselves as satisfied do not go back to do more business with the company that initially satisfied them.” Why? Maybe their second or third encounter with the company wasn’t as delightful as their first one. Or, maybe they found more value elsewhere.

Consumers want to be appreciated for the money they spend at your business. According to a study by Points.com, more than 50% of consumers buy more from a company when they are being rewarded. However, unlike rewarding new customers to entice them to try your products or services, you are incentivizing repeat buyers with a different goal in mind. In this case, you are using the discount to encourage brand loyalty. And we all know that loyal customers are the lifeblood of a business.

Therefore, it’s critical to keep the preferences of repeat customers in mind when building out your loyalty programs, offering discounts, or developing new products. Show that you appreciate their dedication to your brand and they will be motivated to continue doing business with you. After all, they have already demonstrated they like your product…reward them for this and provide a better customer experience. 

Here are some of the best ways to do this:

  • Offer your repeat buyers special discounts or “loyalty perks”
  • Give them “exclusive” access to new launches before they are available to others
  • Make limited time offers or limited edition products available to them for a longer period

Loyalty is trust - Trust in a brand, company, or product is what pushes consumers to become advocates of what you are selling. When you enjoy something, you naturally want it again; the same goes for your customers with your products. However, the trust you earn today is not a given tomorrow so make sure your company places heavy emphasis on the voice of the customer. Continue providing a high level customer experience and watch your best customers transform from occasional consumers to fierce advocates.

To get to the core what makes people trust a brand, you have to remember that it’s not just about the money a customer spends or is able to save that matters. Customers prefer to trust a brand that appeals to their values and sense of worth. Your efforts at building a long-term relationship with a customer really pays off when they feel you are making their life easier and/or adding more value to their life in some way.

TOMS, the shoe company, has nailed this with their loyalty program. They don’t offer customers a loyalty card or rewards for every purchase. Instead, every time someone buys a shoe from TOMS, the company donates a new pair of shoes to a child in need. They have now expanded the model to include eye health, safe water, safe birth and bullying prevention services. This way, the company taps into their customers’ desire to do more with their dollars, while standing apart from competitors effectively.

The human desire - Consumer loyalty has a lot to do with human need and emotion. People have a desire to be loyal to others. Use this to your advantage with effective incentives for your most loyal and frequent customers. It’s consumers’ psychology to want companies to treat them as unique. This is why personalization is the future of marketing.

Running cross-channel campaigns that deliver delightfully tailored experiences across all touchpoints can make your customers feel special at every brand interaction. With the help of marketing automation, this is easier to achieve. You can also integrate your CRM to create more personalization, and hence, more powerful impression on your customer’s mind.

Interestingly, that’s not all that marketing automation does to drive and reinforce customer loyalty.  

It also helps you identify customers who are loyal. How? The lead scoring features built within marketing automation tools can help you track and reach all those who regularly interact with your content. You can then, target these brand advocates with relevant content and offers, encouraging them to share your brand messaging, therefore, promoting your brand more effectively than you could do alone. After all, 84% of people are more likely to trust their peers over advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions.

Finally…

It’s a given that keeping customers makes for good business; incentivizing these customers makes keeping them that much easier! The whole point in rewarding people is to get them to repeat their behavior – which means providing you with more business. If done correctly, increasing customer loyalty through a variety of programs will not only increase your company’s brand awareness but will have a direct impact on your bottom line.

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