Creating effective brand loyalty schemes

When it comes to creating meaningful CRM programmes across today’s complex brand marketing landscape, the first element that needs clarifying is the very definition of customer loyalty.

What customers and prospects mean by loyalty often differs vastly from brand expectation. And this gap can lead to misjudged loyalty programmes, which often distance a brand from the customers they are hoping to attract.

Attract and retain your valuable customers through loyalty clubs and programmes by following these steps to success:

Knowing your customers

The better you know your customers, the better your loyalty scheme will be – and vice versa. Why would busy mums want to engage with a complex, three-step reward process when they can barely manage to catch up with family or friends? Sounds obvious but we can all think of high profile loyalty club launches which totally misjudged customer mindset.

Genuinely think of your customers as individuals. As our recent Instagram campaign highlighted, who would you rather market vintage whisky to… Yasmin, 18-24 professional – or Yasmin who loves magical realism novels, lasagne and Old Fashioned cocktails?

Don’t assume current channel fans are customers. Some of your most engaged fans and followers, who may follow your social channels avidly and sign up for your e-crm programmes, may not have purchased from you – yet. However they may be some of your most valuable future customers – and current brand advocates.

What does loyalty actually mean to your customers?

Your definition of loyalty may not necessarily match your customers’. We created a customer survey for 500+ affluent London restaurant customers and found that loyalty, to them, meant two visits a year, whereas for the restaurant, the loyalty scheme was geared towards those visiting once a month or more.

Points don’t always mean prizes

Rewards gained from a loyalty programme don’t have to mean discounts or incentives – we have had better success, for many clients, by defining which experiences our target audience would value most. From being the first to try a new product or service, to being invited to give feedback on new campaigns or ideas, to being guaranteed your favourite table at certain times or on certain occasions.

Don’t see your loyalty programme as totally separate from your other communications – but it isn’t just the TV strapline on a points card, either. Create a loyalty proposition that adds to brand experience. You know your brand inside out, and only by understanding your audience equally well and bringing these insights together under a loyalty proposition will you achieve a value-adding programme for your customers.

Change things up

Needs change – so don’t rely on old data sets and outmoded means of delivering loyalty messages. A loyalty programme manager should be able to track interactions and results via a dashboard showing real-time results of what has happened – plus predictive results of what will happen. After all, in the words of Shannon L. Alder “If the past never helped you why would you ever take it into the future with you?”


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