DENVER--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Customer Communications Group, (CCG) the full-service loyalty and marketing agency, outline five steps businesses can take to build a loyalty marketing program that stands up to the competition.
“As the popularity and success of retail loyalty programs has grown, so has the number of programs out there,” said Sandra Gudat, president & CEO of Customer Communications Group. “Most major retailers have some sort of loyalty program now, and those who don’t are scrambling to get one in place. So in a market where loyalty programs are becoming commonplace, how do you set yours apart from the competition to keep customers excited and participation high?”
Start with this five-step plan:
1. Know competitors’ programs.
That includes the detailed benefits and exact savings offered, and how they are continuing to innovate and improve their programs.
Businesses can’t stand out from the competition if they don’t know what the competition is doing. Way too many of today’s retailers only have a surface knowledge of their competitors’ loyalty programs.
And it’s important to share what findings with other parts of the organization, down to the store associate level. Staff members who are on the frontlines helping customers need to be able to discuss why your program is better and different — right on the spot.
2. Stay on top of customers’ changing attitudes and needs.
Loyalty programs must be dynamic and able to adapt quickly to changing consumer behaviors. Use customer insights you’re gaining from program data to look at buying patterns. Use focus groups to understand members and their changing lifestyles. Then consider new strategies and tactics that address the findings.
“Perhaps your members want innovative ways to communicate with you or each other,” said Gudat. “Maybe there is interest in ways for members to customize their experience with you. Whatever the idea, the bottom line is to stay tuned in, and act on what you know.”
3. Think about the experience, not just the savings.
Loyalty programs really aren’t just about the free meal, Gudat says. “For most of our clients, long-term loyalty and participation comes from a combination of hard benefits, like discounts, and soft benefits, like a VIP experience.”
In fact many retailers find that premium experiences, like offering a personal shopper or curbside returns, may be just enough to move customers from every-now-and-then shoppers to loyal brand advocates.
4. Build on what makes your brand special.
While new technologies and bigger discounts can certainly draw the attention of membership in the short-term, Gudat believes that long-term differentiation begins and ends with what makes your brand exciting and loyalty-worthy in the first place.
“It’s important to have a solid handle on what your brand promise is in the minds of your best customers. And then build your loyalty program around that promise.”
For example, if the brand promise is personal, one-on-one, in-store assistance from an associate, think twice about adding loyalty program self-serve kiosks as a differentiator.
5. Engage & Exceed
No matter how marketers choose to make their loyalty program stand out in a crowded arena, there are two overriding goals that Gudat says should guide you: “Exceed your customers’ expectations — and keep it easy for them to participate.”
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