As a pet retailer, are you committed to implementing the most beneficial marketing strategies during and after the current COVID-19 pandemic to maintain brand loyalty? If you’re gearing up for a strong reopening and want to increase customer loyalty fast, follow this guide to start rebuilding your retail store so that your comeback is bigger and better than ever.
Repeat business from returning customers makes up over half of the revenue of about 60% of small businesses. This is according to a BIA / Kelsey and Manta joint report on customer retention. This means that the majority of small businesses stay in business thanks to repeat business from returning customers. Phew, that was a mouthful! This also means that retaining loyal customers is more valuable to small businesses than acquiring brand-new ones.
It’s likely that as a pet retailer, you understand the importance of customer loyalty and have experienced for yourself how repeat shoppers who choose your store time and again add more to your monthly revenue than the combination of all the first-time customers that never return again. It’s also likely that prior to the coronavirus outbreak, you devoted significant resources to maintaining the loyalty of your most valued customers while also allocating a portion of your budget to acquiring new customers.
As the lockdown orders in your town or city expire and you’re permitted to reopen your pet store to full operational capacity, it’s imperative that you focus on maintaining customer loyalty like never before, and set aside efforts to generate new customers for the time being. That being said, if you implement the following guidelines, you will be in a powerful position to retain any brand-new customer who enters your pet store.
So, let’s take a look at the three keys to increasing brand loyalty at your pet store after COVID-19.
Rather than allocating part of your marketing budget to acquire new customers, instead focus as much funds as you can afford on keeping your current customers happy and informed. The reason for this is that for the time being as stores reopen there is a low chance you will gain traction with brand-new customers. People have been isolated with limited income for months. As they begin to venture out, they will be less likely to try unknown stores, especially when they already know that they can buy their pet’s favorite food, treats, and toys at your location.
When it comes to offering meaningful messaging, stick to the traditional platforms such as social media, websites, and email newsletters to reconnect with your customer-base. As you introduce vital information about your reopening and new business hours and operations, also convey clear, empathetic, and useful messaging. How have your customers been feeling? What types of hardships have they had to endure in the name of keeping their pet happy these past few months? Try to phrase and frame your messaging in ways that demonstrate you relate to them. This will resonate and help to create a sense of bonding with your customers.
Be sure not to come across as too self-concerned in your messaging, however. Yes, COVID-19 has damaged your business, but if you focus on the hit your own store has taken, and fail to strongly acknowledge how difficult your customers and their pets have had it, then your messaging will come across as opportunistic, or worse, tone deaf to the economic hardships of your customers.
You can strike a harmonizing balance, however, if you anecdotally include yourself in the community-wide struggle. Right now, everyone is concerned for the economic health of their community and eager to see their town or city bounce back. You have a real opportunity here to deliver your messaging in a way that strengthens the bond and relationship that you have with your customers.
Giving Over Gaining
Now more than ever, the way to win exclusive customer loyalty is to reward your customers in ways that come without a catch. Gyms in the fitness industry are offering free classes without asking for signed contracts in exchange. Restaurants in the food industry are providing a free meal just because. And beauty salons are giving away free consultations with no commitment required. What can you do for your current customers to lock-in their loyalty?
There are ways to give without also gaining, but you’ll need to get creative, and also smart, if you want to devise a worthwhile strategy. These days, consumers are keen to so-called deals that actually benefit the business far more than themselves… and they don’t like it. People are functioning on tight budgets. Most can’t afford to buy 10 lbs. of dog food just to get an additional 1 lb. free. What if you flipped the offer? Give away 1 free lb. of dog food in exchange for something that won’t cost your customers a dime?
But what is that “one thing” that won’t cost your financially strained customers so much as one red cent? The answer is to have them sign up to enroll in your pet store’s customer loyalty rewards program. It won’t cost them anything, but it will definitely benefit both of you in the long run if you offer a well-designed loyalty program.
Rewards programs are a great way to incentivize your customers to patronize your pet store for all of their pets’ needs. Since the advent of retail, customers have looked for ways to save money on the products they want and need to purchase. And retailers have looked for ways to get shoppers into their store as opposed to their competitors’ stores. In a post-COVID-19 economy, saving as much money as possible is going to be more important to consumers than ever. For recommendations on the best customer loyalty rewards program designed specifically for pet retailers on the market today, be sure to read to the very end of this article.
Reinvent Your Retail Experience
Let’s face it. Even after lockdowns lift across the nation and retailers reopen their stores, no one is going to return to business as usual, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it could be a great thing. This is your opportunity to reinvent your retail store and the shopping experience that you provide to your customers.
While it might be impossible to predict how this pandemic will affect the entire retail industry once all is said and done, but it’s safe to assume that in-store shopping as well as business marketing strategies will have to be reinvented. How can you prepare your customer-base for these kinds of changes?
Definitely start by acknowledging the harm that this pandemic has caused your community and the economy on the whole. It will be better for your pet store if you keep things real in your messaging, than if you dole out generic platitudes that don’t offer actionable steps and a laid-out timeline of how your operations will get up and running. Messaging that tacks on “we’re all in this together” or “we got this” slogans will likely come across as hollow and disingenuous, which is the opposite of what you want.
Instead, show authentic compassion, list out the action steps and measures that you’re taking to reopen, and promote your reopening by offering a freebie in exchange for your customers joining a loyalty rewards program.
If you’re ready to include a customer loyalty rewards program as part of your pet store reopening strategy, then Loyal~n~Save is for you! Loyal~n~Save comes with beneficial features designed specifically for pet retailers who need to implement successful marketing efforts that directly influence increased revenue. With Loyal~n~Save, pet retailers like yourself can create customized marketing campaigns that are sure to deliver your latest deals, discounts, and freebie offers directly into your customers’ cell phones and email inboxes. Our technology sends mobile push notifications to the mobile app so that every promotion lands right in your customers’ hands.
To learn more about the ways in which Loyal~n~Save can help your pet store successfully reopen, visit our Pet Industry page, and if you’d like to read more helpful marketing blogs for pet retailers and the retail industry at large, the Loyal~n~Save Blog posts weekly articles to support your business efforts to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
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.