It’s a competitive world out there, as some of the biggest brands battle to be heard against the noise of those around them. Many offer preferential treatment for new customers, which has created a culture of brand-hopping in an ever growing bid to get the best deal, try something new or get the latest reward. Yet companies are always looking for ways to ensure customer loyalty and prevent this cycle of constant change. This week OTB is exploring how you can translate your marketing strategy into customer retention and encourage high levels of brand loyalty.
CREATE SOME SPARKS
The concept of loyalty schemes may seem a little outdated, conjuring images of shabby business cards covered in coffee stamps that fill your wallet until the next time you happen to fancy a cappuccino. Yet these days some of the biggest brands have redesigned the humble loyalty card with their own upmarket equivalents, offering an array of tempting rewards in a bid to personalise your shopping experience.
This week Marketing Week announced that M&S is currently trialling loyalty cards among a number of staff and customer research groups in order to increase its personalised marketing. It seems likely that this newSparks card will offer customers the chance to build up points in return for purchases, much like mainstream supermarkets Tesco and Morrisons. M&S is also rumoured to be trialling exclusive benefits and personalised offers for its members, perhaps in order to compete with its upmarket rival Waitrose and their MyWaitrose card, which offers free coffee to its in-store shoppers.
LOYALTY WITH A PURPOSE
The benefits of customer loyalty schemes don’t have to only be for the customers, there are great benefits to be enjoyed by the company itself from encouraging a strong customer base that returns time and time again. According to Marketing Donut, it is important for a business to consider the specific goals it wants to achieve before implementing a loyalty scheme. Do you want customers to repeat buy a product? To spend more? To encourage friends and family alike to spread the word and buy into your brand?
Once this goal is clear in your strategy, it is possible to tailor and focus your loyalty-based marketing with this end in sight. Loyalty for the sake of loyalty does not create a strong return on investment or add value to your business, so it is important to consider these goals before jumping in feet first. As Marketing Donut quite rightly stated, ‘loyal customers are good for your business because they become your best advocates’, and in many ways become your best advertisement.
LEARN FROM THE BEST
A great way to boost your understanding and creativity when it comes to translating marketing into customer loyalty is to learn from those who have done it well. While supermarket chains are well known for their simple approach to personalisation and rewards, there are many other brands that have got it spot on when it comes to retaining their customers and keeping them sweet with rewards.
One such example is Virgin, who through their Virgin Atlantic Flying Club has created a great model which could inspire those looking to boost loyalty through their marketing. Not only can Virgin Atlantic customers collect air miles as is often typical of the industry, Virgin offers a tiered reward system encouraging its customers to use their services time and time again. Rewards range from Club Red members earning discounts on rental cars, airport parking and hotels, while the highest Club Gold level can enjoy double air miles, priority boarding and even a pre-flight massage in the exclusive Virgin clubhouse. This personalised reward scheme teamed with Virgin’s iconic ‘flying in the face of ordinary’ branding, which paints itself as an adventurous, pioneering and upmarket airline company, has worked wonders for this relatively small wing of Richard Branson’s ever growing empire.
So when it comes to earning the loyalty of customers through marketing, it is important to remember that both the customers and the brand itself need to reap the rewards. Through a loyalty campaign appropriate to your industry and an awareness of competitor schemes, it is possible to generate high levels of customer retention that keeps your consumer base constant and your brand awareness high.