Ways Incentives Build Customer Loyalty in a Digital Era
Companies are rapidly losing out on traditional opportunities to establish customer loyalty.
In the digital era, more and more customers are purchasing and interacting with businesses online rather than in-store or in person. As a result, companies are rapidly losing out on traditional opportunities to establish customer loyalty. Less foot traffic means less opportunities to offer tangible promotional items and other incentives. Or, in the case of strictly e-commerce businesses, there is no means of providing traditional incentives whatsoever. This is concerning, as increased customer retention equals increased (and sometimes exponential) profits.
This is where incentives created specifically for the digital era come in handy.
Brick-and-mortar businesses may continue to follow traditional means of building customer loyalty, but they, as well as online-only businesses, can also utilize incentives strategically created for the digital world. Consider the following ways incentives build customer loyalty in a digital era.
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Recognize the Best Customers
A great way companies can build loyalty through incentives is by recognizing their best customers. Not all customers are the same—some only purchase a product once out of necessity, while others love the product so much that they refuse to buy anything else. Rewarding these customers for their devotion will make the customer feel acknowledged and appreciated, thus strengthening their commitment to your brand. On a similar note, rewarding first-time or sporadic buyers on a smaller scale could ignite a spark to purchase from your business more often. Businesses can utilize loyalty management software to help streamline this task.
Many times, customers fail to see value or relevance in a company that remains stuck in the past. From an outdated website to a nonexistent social media presence, companies that do not take the time to modernize their business lose out on customers, profit, and even their reputation. Companies that integrate a modern approach with a helpful and user-friendly website, active social media presence, and digital incentives keep customers loyal and engaged.
Create Brand Ambassadors
When a person feels like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves, they tend to adhere closely to that movement (or, in our case, business). One way incentives build customer loyalty in a digital era is by creating brand ambassadors through unique online experiences. Businesses can incentivize customers by sending out digital gift cards, shipping discounts, or exclusive invitations to join your company’s social media group.
Companies can also use the power of word-of-mouth to change customers into brand ambassadors. This can be done by encouraging customers, social media followers, and website visitors to share their purchases or positive experiences with your business through their social media pages. As a result, you can reward them with a unique incentive.
Keep Customers Informed
Incentives can also keep customers informed on important changes, sales, and news highlights. How? Companies can invite customers to follow their social media page or sign up for a weekly email. In exchange, the customer could receive free shipping on their next purchase, BOGO their next sandwich or coffee, or receive a discount on their next purchase of $50 or more. The options are endless! Once customers are faithful social media followers or signed up for email marketing, businesses can keep them informed on information that will benefit them (and not waste their time).
Make the Customer Feel Special
Everyone likes to feel special. Companies can use incentives after a digital transaction (via a purchase, signing up for your email list, or sharing a social media post) to make the customer feel special, too. An incentive where the customer must like, share, and comment on a social media post could result in a special offer. Or, requesting the customer’s birthday in an intake form could result in an annual birthday email with exclusive discounts or offers. Customers will be delighted when they see your special offer on their birthday, and that feeling of appreciation and acknowledgment will go far in creating customer loyalty.
Tips for Businesses Creating Incentives
When creating incentives in the digital era, it is important for businesses to follow a few important tips. These tips include the following.
When creating an incentive program, companies must keep their focus on the forest and not just the trees. Maintaining a long-term perspective will do wonders in establishing incentives that work well not only for the customer, but also for the company.
For example, offering a one-time promotion may sound great for the customer, but it is expensive for the company. Companies should also consider the significant risk that coincides with one-time incentives, as they don’t always result in brand loyalty and may attract customers who use your brand for the discount and move on to buy from a competitor.
Target the Right Customers
While one-time promotions may not target the most attractive customer, a higher quality promotion for a customer that has proven their loyalty may be the best incentive option. Companies will not need to worry about wasting their money and efforts on customers merely looking for a discount, and they will reward the customers who already love the brand and products. Rewarding these faithful customers will create a positive reinforcement that keeps the customer coming back year after year.
Have a Strategy
When creating an incentive program, the worst thing a company can do is create incentives without a carefully articulated strategy. Incentives such as rewards programs are very competitive and can be costly to the company offering them. Therefore, the company must be careful to craft a program that rewards customers in a helpful and engaging way. The program must also line up with the company’s budget and capabilities. Finally, the rewards program (or any other incentive) must be more desirable than one offered by a competitor. Researching what competitors are doing and figuring out a way to provide incentives that are more valuable, more helpful, and more desirable overall will help companies create a promotion, incentive, or rewards program that works.
All in all, there are many ways in which companies can continue to build brand loyalty and offer great incentives without requiring the customer to leave their sofa. Following these steps will help companies to do just that.