If you're thinking of launching a customer rewards loyalty program in time for the 2020 holiday season, the time to start is now. Late September is an optimal launch date for your holiday promotional sales campaigns no matter what specific industry your business falls within.
Retailers of both online e-commerce sites and brick-and-mortar stores are already anticipating two of the most profitable shopping days, which are right around the corner. Black Friday and Cyber Monday… and Thanksgiving will kick off the retail-wide sales frenzy.
Start today with this straightforward check-list to see if your loyalty program is ready for the holiday season.
INVITE CUSTOMERS TO BECOME LOYAL
Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season are opportunities to strengthen your brand community, first and foremost. Sales come second.
The first system you must have in place if you want your customer loyalty rewards program to be ready for the start of the holiday season, i.e. Black Friday and Cyber Monday, is the system of how you invite customers into your loyalty program.
Black Friday through Cyber Monday is easily the best time of year to acquire new customers into your rewards program. It will be easier for you than it would be during other times of year because shoppers are most actively seeking deals throughout this four-day period. And it will be easier for them to sign up for your program because they will want to start earning points now that they can use deeper into the holiday season, i.e. the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year's.
With brand-new shoppers discovering your store now, you have ample opportunities to grow your brand community, but only if you and your sales staff are hypervigilant about encouraging your customers to sign up.
Check-List to Enroll Customers:
- Run a launch campaign--send a tailored message that outlines how your rewards program works and what customers can get out of it. A reminder message like this is important whether your rewards program is new or not, and even if a customer has been a loyalty member for a while, they'll still benefit from this type of message.
- Establish value with welcome points--the whole point of joining a rewards program is to receive a higher value for shopping, which means that stores that offer extra points to newly joined customers experience a higher ROI. Providing instant gratification to your loyalty members will yield the highest ROI for your business.
- Brand your program--they say the average consumer needs to see a brand 13 times before they realize they've seen it more than once. What does this mean? It means that first and foremost, the font, logo, colors, and slogan of your business must be uniformly branded in a way that's instantly recognizable to the average consumer no matter where they see your brand. For specific how-tos when it comes to branding, check out How Your Loyalty Program Can Powerfully Brand Your Store
- Make your program visible--if shoppers can't find your loyalty program, they can't be expected to join it, so be certain to make your program visible on as many digital platforms as possible, as well as on your in-store digital signage. And never forget that one of the most effective ways of keeping your program "visible" is by making sure your sales staff are telling each and every shopper about it at the check-out.
Once you have the above four areas checked-off, you'll be ready to proceed to the second phase of preparing your loyalty rewards program for the top of the holiday sales season.
MOTIVATE LOYAL SHOPPERS TO ENGAGE
Creating a sense of belonging for your customers is a stronger way of fostering customer loyalty than offering rock-bottom prices.
Inviting shoppers to sign up for your loyalty rewards program and successfully encouraging them to act on deals that lead to overall increased revenue for your store is only the beginning. Any given loyalty program customer isn't just a shopper. They are a potential advertiser of your brand, too. But this means that you have to know how to motivate them to engage with your brand so that they also tell others about it.
Check-List to Motivate Members:
- Regularly send points balance updates--no matter how frequently a loyalty member shops, it isn't possible for them to keep their points balance at the forefront of their minds. One of the biggest pitfalls of rewards programs is when they fail to alert customers to their balance which could be spent immediately at the store. Remember, you don't want your members to hold high balances. You want those points returning into your store so that there is a constant stream of points being earned and burned.
- Target your promotional campaigns--the key to effectively targeting your members, dividing them into segments, and advertising smartly to each segment is all about understanding your customer data. Running a rewards program gives you access to lots of data, but you need to analyze that data and use it to your advantage.
- Offer bonus points--as the holidays approach, every consumer is going to want to save money as they spend in order to make every dollar stretch. That's why consumers especially appreciate receiving "a little extra" during this high-shopping season. Your loyalty members will jump at the chance to earn even more bang for their buck. Offering bonus points that are the reward for actionable steps is the way to go, so be sure to offer additional points whenever a member posts about your business on social media.
After you have established the three areas above and have checked them off, you'll be ready to proceed to the third phase of preparing your loyalty rewards program for the holidays, which is all about encouraging engagement.
Check-List to Encourage Engagement:
- Reward customers for referrals--time and again, surveys and studies have proven that referrals are the most trusted form of marketing, which means that the most powerful marketers you have are your existing loyal customers. By rewarding them with bonus points every time they successfully refer a shopper to sign up, you will easily and greatly expand your reach to include consumers you might not otherwise interact with.
- Introduce social rewards--the best part about rewarding loyalty members for posting about your brand on social media is that your members already use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and the rest. Since social media is such a huge part of most consumers' day-to-day activities, you only need to offer the smallest point incentive to get them to share your brand online with their social networks.
CREATE COMMUNITY-BUILDING CAMPAIGNS
The most holistic rewards experience you can offer will be one that consistently engages with loyal customers throughout the year with post-purchase email, app notification, and SMS text campaigns.
The final phase of making certain that your customer loyalty rewards program is ready for the upcoming holiday season is to design and implement the very sales campaigns that are going to increase revenue.
Every promotional campaign you launch is an opportunity to create more than sales, though. It's an opportunity to inspire loyalty members to become brand loyalists. Brand loyalists are rewards members who are so excited and satisfied with the products and services you offer that they do not need to be asked to talk about you in a positive light. They'll do it on their own. They've come to trust your brand because they've experienced first-hand that you deliver quality, and they want to save their friends and family time and money, so they recommend your brand.
You can create brand loyalists if your promotional campaigns detail clear consumer benefits in exchange for talking-up your store to others. Within each sale campaign effort, include the incentives we've gone over throughout this article and this will increase the likelihood that your loyalty members will act on your holiday deals and also tell their friends and family about it on social media.
Check-List to Create Brand Loyalists:
- Share your brand's story--you got into business for a reason and your story is highly personal so share it. Make sure that your website, social media accounts, and even your promotional ads include your story or at least a catchy reference to it.
- Sell the best for less--it's imperative that you keep your prices competitive, but if certain items you sell or services you offer are extremely difficult to sell at a lower cost than your competitors, use your loyalty program to give those items and services away at rock-bottom prices. This trick will keep members interested and you also won't be obligated to sell all of those special items competitively all the time, but rather only to rewards winners.
- Surprise and delight--this catchy term, "surprise and delight" has been around for a while, but if you aren't familiar, the point is that you surprise your most loyal high-spending members with unexpected bonus points, savings, and special sales. The idea is that the pleasant surprise will delight your loyalty member so much that they will tell everyone they can about it. This is a great way to create and also continue to engage your brand loyalists.
The biggest not-so-secret strategy to make sure that your loyalty program is ready for the holiday season is by staying connected with your program members. Loyal customers like knowing they are part of an exclusive club. They're insiders and when they experience a new opportunity to cash-in on "belonging", their excitement for your brand and the current sale you're promoting increases. But as you reach out to your loyalty members, be sure to alert them to sale items and services that they'll be appreciative of, and definitely stick to this strict rule:
You must offer additional value with every targeted email, app notification, and SMS text, otherwise you'll run the risk of "bothering" your loyal customers with unwanted deals they don't appreciate.
If you found this Loyal~n~Save article helpful and would like in-depth strategic advice about building a customer loyalty promotional campaign that will increase revenue for your business throughout the holiday season, then we strongly recommend you check out our series: Planning A Holiday Loyalty Campaign: Parts 1, 2, and 3. In this informative three-part blog, we will go over how to design specific campaigns as well as how to make the most of each day between September and New Year's.
Ready to implement a holiday sales campaign but haven't signed up for a customer loyalty rewards program? Contact our loyalty strategists today.
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.