As retail managers, we know that in our industry 80% of our revenue comes from 20% of our customers. This is why, it’s always a great idea to focus on the customers we already have, and not only spend time acquiring new ones.
The issue many of us can experience, however, is that once we’ve identified a customer that could potentially become a ‘regular’ it’s not always easy to get the conversation started and increase his\her lifetime value unless we can collect some information about him\her.
This is where store loyalty cards can be a great asset, as they allow us to gain a few benefits.
- First and foremost it’s a tool that allows us to bring the relationship with a valuable customer to a different level, as through the collection of an email – for instance – l we can reach out to him\her and promote our offers and sales.
- On a strictly monetary level, a customer who bought from us once is much more likely to buy again, assuming the store experience was successful.
- Moreover, it’s likely that customers who have a certain customer profile, could be better attuned to our store’s value proposition and may provide us some insight into new customer segments we may be addressing in our future marketing strategies.
There are however some issues to consider. Assuming that we are managing the relationship within all of the limits foreseen by privacy norms, getting a customer to enroll in a loyalty program and subscribe to a different, more personalized communication plan with the store is still something that provides a few challenges.
- Most people are against sharing their email as it could become a means to receive unwanted promotional communications.
- It’s not easy to offset the risks associated with email signup with the benefits that can really get customers to see a point in enrolling in a newsletter – for instance.
By the way, here’s the first hint, if you’re providing a loyalty program that only consists of receiving emails, you might want to take some time to reconfigure it so that it offers a stronger value proposition to your customer. Once that’s done it will be easier to look into our tips to help you reposition the loyalty program in a framework that maximizes the benefits for your customers and allows you to create loyalty and engagement.
To help you navigate our post, here’s a breakdown of our content:
- Offering the Loyalty Program At the Right Moment
- Connect the Card with Out-of-Store Customer Status and Experiences
- Create A Demand for the Loyalty Program so that Customers Ask for It
- As you Propose the Loyalty Program Subscription, Match Specific Benefits with the Specific Customer
1. Offering the Loyalty Program At the Right Moment
The first thing to consider is timing. As per any sale, selling too soon it’s a mistake. Customers need to be approached about the opportunity to enroll in the loyalty program only when some goodwill and trust have already been established.
In this sense, you may want to approach this conversation after the customer has actually shown some initial signs of loyalty, as heshe has – for instance – spontaneously returned to the store.
- Some may argue that collecting the customer’s details is the way to get the customer to come back to the store, as we’re better able to connect with him\her by enrolling him in a newsletter and keep the conversation going. It looks a little bit like the chicken and the egg paradox.
This is certainly true, but if you want the loyalty program to gain a status that customers may see as desirable you need to pick your battles. If everybody gets into the program, there is no exclusivity, no gatekeeping, no aspiration. Ideally, you want customers to see access to the program as a meaningful achievement.
Alright, but at what stage of the sale should I offer the loyalty program?
- In most cases customers get asked about joining the loyalty program when they are going through the checkout, however, we might argue that this is not the most suitable moment as it can slow down the checkout process which should be fast and smooth. Ideally, you don’t want to take too much time to check out your customer as this would give them more time to reconsider what may be an instinctive purchase.
Ideally, you want to present the loyalty program as an opportunity to enhance their shopping, as they are selecting products to buy, and maybe accessing special goods or services which are only available to loyal customers.
This approach may be able to foster a stronger connection to the loyalty program, as a loyalty program could instead be connected to the customer’s status, and hisher will to acquire aspirational goals. This is what we’ll be analyzing in the next section of our post.
2. Connect the Card with Out-of-Store Customer Status and Experiences
This can be a more effective approach, as it can allow you to change the narrative of the loyalty program, by making the customer ask for the program, as opposed to you ‘pushing it’ onto them.
As we discussed in the previous paragraph, ‘selling’ the loyalty program too soon or at the wrong time can be problematic, as it deprives the program of its value and can even slow down processes that should be quick and painless such as the checkout process.
A great way to make the program appealing is connecting it with customer status and the opportunity to access exclusive experiences. In the context of fashion, for instance, retail stores work really hard to make sure that the physical distribution of goods and the intangible human component of the sale seamlessly merge together to provide a memorable and meaningful experience.
“Experiences” however are a broad term that describes many things that can be done both in-store as well as out-of-store.
- We need to remind ourselves that status is the ultimate social currency, and it’s what often motivates us to buy fashion products in the first place.
In this context, the benefits connected to loyalty could come from in-store services and discounts as much as from out-of-store experiential opportunities. This could be connected with different activities taking place in restaurants, spas, cosmetics stores, etc. which you feel that may be well aligned with your store’s customers.
Great! Now that we’ve made the loyalty program desirable, let’s move to the next stage which is getting our customers to ask to join it, instead of having our customer’s assistants start the conversation.
3. Create A Demand for the Loyalty Program so that Customers Ask for It
This is the more sales-oriented stage. Ideally in this stage what we need to focus on is the narrative we’re looking to develop. Ideally, if you are setting the stage in the right purchase phase, if you are doing a good job creating an attractive program, your customers will talk about it, and talk about the memorable and meaningful experiences they’ve had because of it.
As a result, through an effective word-of-mouth strategy, you may find yourself in a very desirable spot, so that customers are the ones asking more information about your loyalty program, giving you more freedom to even choose the customers that really qualify for a relationship upgrade.
But how do you make this opportunity stand out? Well, again by knowing our customers well and pitching to them the specific benefits that are a great match for our specific customer. Let’s look into this in more detail in the next paragraph.
4. As you Propose the Loyalty Program Subscription, Match Specific Benefits with the Specific Customer
As you ‘go in for the sale’ it’s important to take into account that nobody wants generic services which fail to provide a clear value proposition to us. Going back to our initial argument – where we were suggesting that loyalty programs should be for actual loyal customers – you need to know your individual customer well enough, to become able to pick the features of the program that actually match higher aspirations desires values, etc.
It is only by taking into account all of these details and all of these variables that we can increase the chances of enrolling in the program customers that actually will become loyal, and provide us with great lifetime customer value.
Otherwise, our program may only be a great “concept” that never translates into increased profits.
Great now that we’ve got the subject covered, we can go ahead and draw a few conclusions.
As we’ve seen in this post there’s – as always – a subtle art to selling. Selling a loyalty program subscription is very helpful to our business as it allows us to collect information about customer types that are likely to closely fit with the profile of your ideal customer.
In this case, we need to remind ourselves that selling a loyalty program is about selling status and privilege. The challenge is that most times our customers don’t see the benefits of a loyalty program, but only the hassle of receiving unwanted emails and communications. This is why in this post we’ve listed 4 tips to help you get your customers into your store’s loyalty program.
Let’s now summarise our advice
- Identify the right moment to propose the program, which ideally should not be at checkout, as it may impair the customer’s overall store experience.
- Connect the loyalty program with status and make sure the benefits of the loyalty program may not be limited by in-store experience, but include – for instance – out-of-store perks.
- Develop an approach to the loyalty program that makes the customers ask to join, as opposed to being pushy about it.
- As you suggest loyalty enrollment, sell the specific benefits that connect with the specific customers, so as to provide a more tailored and personalized experience.
That’s it. We hope you found this post useful, but don’t hesitate to look into more articles from our blog, or from the list below.