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How To Plan A Holiday Loyalty Campaign: Part 1

July 21, 2020 Strategy

It might be the middle of July, but if you own a retail store, now is the perfect time of year to begin gearing up for the holiday season. Yes, you read that correctly. While your shoppers are tanning themselves on the beach right now, you need to start thinking about brisk Thanksgiving, snowy Christmas, and the chilly New Year's Eve to come, and when we say "thinking", we mean actively planning and strategizing how to run a successful loyalty campaign that will draw your loyal customers into your retail store and get them spending. Most importantly, the competition is always extra fierce during the holidays, so the promotional holiday loyalty campaign that you put in place must rely on more than just discounts.

How To Plan A Holiday Loyalty Campaign: Part 1

It might be the middle of July, but if you own a retail store, now is the perfect time of year to begin gearing up for the holiday season. Yes, you read that correctly. While your shoppers are tanning themselves on the beach right now, you need to start thinking about brisk Thanksgiving, snowy Christmas, and the chilly New Year's Eve to come, and when we say "thinking", we mean actively planning and strategizing how to run a successful loyalty campaign that will draw your loyal customers into your retail store and get them spending. Most importantly, the competition is always extra fierce during the holidays, so the promotional holiday loyalty campaign that you put in place must rely on more than just discounts.

The holiday season is comprised of three major holidays, but Thanksgiving--the first holiday--kicks off two additional sales opportunities known as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What this means is that between the fourth Thursday in November and January 2nd you'll have seven full weeks of heavy foot traffic and remarkably increased sales at your retail store... if you plan and execute your holiday season promotions properly.

This article will be your marketing guide, and the first thing you need to know about how to implement a successful loyalty campaign for the holiday season is that gamification, personalization, exclusivity, and strong branding must be the four cornerstones of your strategy.

For those of you retailers who do not have a customer loyalty rewards program in place at your store, we strongly recommend that you implement one right now. Loyal~n~Save has a series of blog posts to help walk you through the importance of using a loyalty program and how to get started.

Assuming you already have a customer loyalty rewards program at your retail store, let's jump right in and take a look at the cold, hard truth concerning new versus preexisting customers. The sobering reality is that newly acquired customers aren't as valuable as a customer who already shops at your store. Why? First of all, it costs significantly more money to acquire a new customer than it does to retain one that already shops at your store. Second of all, and most importantly, brand-new customers who gravitate to your retail store during the holidays aren't necessarily likely to continue to shop there after the New Year.

According to 64% of retailers surveyed, customers acquired during the "holidays", i.e. Thanksgiving through New Years, have a lower lifetime value than those acquired at any other time of year.

How dismal! Why are we mentioning this? It isn't to bum you out. But we do want you to keep your focus and your marketing efforts on your current customers, especially those who are already signed up with your loyalty rewards program.

If you're asking yourself why you would direct your holiday season marketing efforts to customers who are already loyal, then this article is for you... and we have another sobering fact for you: chances are, a lot of your loyalty rewards customers aren't really using the program. What this means is that you have an untapped resource at your fingertips. Your best strategy for ensuring that you have a booming sales season over the holidays has everything to do with reconnecting with your inactive loyalty customers and incentivizing them to get shopping.

It's a good thing we're in the height of July right now! This article is your guide for generating buzz about your holiday sale! But even if you're discovering this blog post in September, you still have time to tackle our recommendations for planning your holiday season!

COUNTDOWN TO LAUNCH

Go into the dashboard of your customer loyalty rewards program. Yes, now. Don't worry, we'll wait while you pull it up. Once you have it open, go into the data analytics, brace yourself, and take a good hard look at both the percentage of, and actual number of, your inactive customers. These are your loyalty customers who were originally interested in your program, but for whatever reason, they never got rolling. They're enrolled, but not interested. Why? You'll need to identify the unattractive characteristics of your program, because that's precisely what you're going to have to change. We don't have a crystal ball, but we're good at this and are willing to bet that you've accidentally done one of the following that has caused your customers to give up on your loyalty program:

  • The points-earned to points-redeemed ratio is out of whack. Do you expect your customers to rack up 5,000 points just to redeem a stick of gum? Anyone with a calculator and a healthy respect for their hard-earned money is not going to appreciate a "freebie" that technically costs them more money than they'd be willing to spend to buy that freebie out right.
  • If you have set up a tiered rewards program, take a moment to analyze the financial investment you're asking your customers to spend in order to make it to the next tier. Is the cost too high? Be realistic and put yourself in their shoes. Similar to the prior pitfall, you may be setting unrealistic goals for your customers and it has turned them off.
  • Stale incentives and infrequent outreach is the next likely mistake you've made with your customer loyalty rewards program. How often are you contacting your loyal customers with new, fun deals? If you're only sending out emails once a month, or worse, once a quarter, it simply isn't enough. And if those outreach emails aren't alerting them to new items available or creative services that they'll want, then you're missing out on a valuable opportunity.

The main takeaway that we would like you to understand right now is that if you don't invest your own time, attention, and ideas into your loyalty rewards program and reach out to your customers, then you aren't going to see even a fraction of the ROI that you could if you did. You will get what you give. Now that you've taken a moment to analyze where you stand, success-wise, at the moment, it would be a good idea to make adjustments. But don't worry. We'll lay out for you precisely what you ought to do, just keep reading!

Right now, you are in the countdown-to-launch phase of your holiday season promotional strategy, and because of it, here is what you need to do:

  • Restructure the points-earned thresholds to the degree that your customers will be sure to feel like they're "winning" whenever they shop. You don't have to execute these thresholds yet. Just know what they are so that you can start promoting the new, lower thresholds to your loyal customers now and get them excited for the holiday season, throughout which they'll be able to earn and redeem constantly.
  • Identify goods and services that will be unique to the holiday season. These will be the specialty items that you will promote throughout your holiday sale. Be sure that these items, goods, and services are only available to your loyalty customers and that they aren't available any other time of year. Get creative and make these as unique as possible.
  • For all of your deals, discounts, and specialty items that are offered exclusively to your loyalty customers, be sure to strongly advertise these within your store with clear signage. Why? Because doing so will interest shoppers who aren't enrolled in your loyalty program to sign up. The more new members that you acquire now, pre-holiday season, the more people you will be able to contact and promote to throughout the Thanksgiving to New Year's period.

Are you still with us? If so, then you've already made notes about the rewards adjustments you need to make and also the specific goods and services that you're prepared to make exclusively available to your loyal customers. Awesome! You're ready for the next phase, join us next week as we guide you into the next three months of your holiday loyalty campaign.

This article was written by Loyal~n~Save, an omni-channel customer loyalty solution for retailers looking to increase customer retention and new customer acquisition.
Mira Gibson
Mira Gibson

Mira Gibson is a Loyalty Strategist at Loyal~n~Save where she develops innovative marketing strategies for small businesses. She is a content machine and advocates that marketing consistency and frequency is tantamount to success. She’s a passionate writer, avid reader, and she also manages a political blog in her spare time.