A health club operator with cancellations on the rise?
An insurance provider with poor policy renewals?
A bank or building society losing customers to rival incentives?
A society or membership organisation with declining member numbers?
An energy supplier losing customers to cheaper rivals?
A telecoms provider with falling contract renewals?
A travel agency relying too heavily on new customers?
A train operator struggling to get passengers to switch to Smart?
Or any other business struggling with retention?
If you’ve got a good sized customer base and a range of owned marketing channels to connect with them through, then help is at hand.
For yours are the sort of customers and discreet routes to market that many leading brands are looking to access. And they’re prepared to offer rich discounts for their wares to do so.
Providing a range of discounts for leading brands can kickstart a virtuous cycle for your business – increased engagement, customer goodwill, enhanced loyalty, brand evangelists….and increased revenue.
Which can open up a world of possibility – investment in staff, product / service developments, new marketing initiatives, new premises….and so the list goes on.
In short, increased loyalty creates real momentum in your business.
So how to go about creating a loyalty programme to genuinely engage customers and keep them coming back for more?
Here’s Bedrock’s simple 3 STEP PROCESS and the areas to consider along the way:
✅ Objectives of your programme – what actions are you looking to trigger? Are you looking to reward all customers…or reserve benefits for those who demonstrate a deeper commitment to your brand?
Or looking to shift customers into a higher price bracket perhaps?
Be clear about the intention of your programme as this could dictate the segment of customers you offer rewards to, which may guide the partners you choose to work with.
✅ Consider your audience…how many customers do you have, where do they live, what’s their gender, age, socio-economic profile, average earnings, what media do they digest? The more tightly you can define your customer base, the easier it is for partners to consider whether they’re the sort of customers they’re looking to connect with.
✅ What else do your customers love? Think about how they spend their day…what else are they consuming? What could you help them save money on that would enrich their broader lives?
✅ What are the marketing assets you have available to leverage in order to attract top brands? Think of all the touchpoints you own – you email your customers, send them parcels, they engage with you on Facebook, visit your website, digest your blog, visit your shops, exercise in your health clubs, travel on your trains, stay in your hotels, use your app for their online banking. These are the sort of channels partner brands are eager to harness.
✅ It’s key you select brands likely to resonate with your audience. The ones that compliment your own brand story.
Do you go broad and cover all the key lifestyle sectors to ensure a diverse rewards programme?
Or stick to brands connected to your own brand experience?
A travel operator might consider adventure travel equipment, fashion, insurance, pharmacies, money exchange, car hire and airport lounges for instance.
✅ You’ll need to develop an opportunity deck to send to partners so they can quickly assess your offer. This should cover audience profile, how many customers you have, how they might connect with them (channels / frequency), information on your brand / product. You’ll need to balance providing enough information with ensuring it doesn’t overwhelm.
✅ Ok so you’re clear on the opportunity you can offer partners – now who to target?
You’re helping partners connect with a new audience so it’s going to be those tasked with acquisition. Depending on the size of the brands you’re targeting, this could include Marketing Managers, Acquisition Managers, Sales Managers, Partnership Managers, Affiliate Managers, Consumer Marketing Managers or any variation there of.
✅ Have a search around on LinkedIn using a combination of these titles and the brand you’re targeting. You can be sure it’ll offer a few suggestions as well. Saleslift and hunter are great tools for finding and verifying email addresses.
✅ Once partners are engaged, you’ll need to negotiate bespoke discounts with them based on the exposure to your customers you can provide. It’s crucial you negotiate stronger discounts than those found on the open market.
✅ Then how do you provide the rewards? We’ve found voluntary benefits available to all work better than points based programmes – however that’s something you need to consider on a case by case basis depending on the actions you’re looking to trigger.
✅ Brands and retailers will use one of the following redemption mechanisms to provide their discount:
- discount codes (generic or single use). If single use, you’ll need to be able to distribute them – Voucherify is great for this
- downloadable vouchers
- cobranded landing pages / portals
- gift / eGift cards – this is where things can get a little complicated. Retailers (and it’s usually the biggies that use giftcards) will often only provide discounts when buying in bulk, which means you’ll need to find a giftcard retailer or loyalty programme provider buying sufficient volume and happy to pass the discounts on to your customers if you’re looking to include these
✅ Even without those using giftcards however, there are still plenty of great brands looking to offer discounts via the other mechanisms.
✅ So now you have your partners and discounts, you’ll need to host them on your site so customers can access them. This will need to be password protected. Brands will only provide discounts to closed user groups so there’s no risk of them finding their way into the public domain. It’s worth including a page for each partner with around 100-200 words about the brand, image, logo, redemption instructions and customer T&Cs.
✅ Many loyalty programme providers offer white label platforms to host partner content, which you can quickly connect with via an API. They’ll also have the relationships in place with the brands you’re looking to work with – this can save a lot of time, resource and budget so is worth considering.
✅ The success of your programme will hinge on customers’ awareness of it. Develop a robust comms plan to let them know about the benefits available to them.
At a minimum this should include email, social media and a dedicated area of your site.
Be creative – these are positive reasons to engage, so can really help to cement your relationships with customers.
✅ Worth noting, most partners will want to sign off on any use of their brand. Getting this done up front can be a great way to save time. Social media is a bit of a grey area as some brands restrict discount levels being posted in the public domain. Be sure to check at the outset.
✅ So everything’s in place – you’ve made your customers aware of the benefits and the wheels are in motion.
It’s wise to keep an eye on Analytics as well as asking partners to provide sales data so you can see the benefits your customers are engaging with. Focusing on the most popular in ongoing promotional material can really help to draw customers in and help you earn that long term commitment you’re looking for.
Ok so there you go….and best of luck. Any questions, happy to help 🙂