Perks, rewards and loyalty programs are becoming increasingly popular these days. It seems like they’re everywhere – coffee shops, restaurants, clothing stores, airports, colleges, theme parks, movie theaters, charities, employers etc.
In a perfect world new members join your organization with an understanding of your purpose and your value to them.
They renew forever and ever and refer their friends who become loyal members themselves. Everyone's happy and dancing and singing and sharing candy and life is just awesome.
The real world obviously works a bit differently.
In the real world there are dozens of reasons why someone might join your organization. Once they've joined, each member has dozens of reasons why they might or might not retain their membership.
In the real world they often whine, complain, bicker and most definitely do not share their candy.
This is reality, where membership organizations fight a constant battle to keep members engaged and focused amidst a million other priorities and distractions.
Member engagement is how you're going to earn the loyalty you need to thrive and grow.
What you're looking to do is build avenues for engagement that any member can connect with.
Not all of them will attend live events.
Not all of them will network with fellow members.
Not all of them will ever visit your website even once.
None of those mean they're not engaged and active. None of those mean they won't renew their membership or tell their peers to join.
You can still build excitement and action with every member.
It just takes energy, a lot of effort, and some creativity.
We're here to help.
We spend a lot of time talking about customer loyalty here. It’s part of this blog’s title, after all. We’re very interested in the mechanics that lead a customer to enter into a relationship, of sorts, with a brand.
And like any great relationship, that affection can’t just be a one-way street. It’s pretty safe to say that no brand has ever suffered from showing some love back to their customers.
The great thing about customer appreciation is it takes many forms. It’s giving away expensive items, but it’s also having a staff that remembers first names and frequent purchases. The bottom line is there are many ways a brand can make customers feel like it cares about them.
Here are 40 simple and inexpensive ways any brand can express appreciation for its customers:
Customer loyalty can be defined in several different ways.
Primarily, customer loyalty is when a person transacts with a brand (or purchases a specific product) on an ongoing basis.
However, loyalty can take many different shapes and forms.
Some argue that customer loyalty is when a customer only purchases from specific brands. For example, you will only buy groceries from one store, even when it isn’t convenient or the cheapest option.
Others say loyalty doesn’t always manifest itself in purchases, but in behavior such as social advocacy. A customer may only buy one Toyota in their lifetime, but they may be an outspoken advocate of the quality of Toyota vehicles to friends.
It’s up to each business to decide how it defines loyalty, whether it’s transaction size or frequency, fidelity, evangelism or just devoted engagement.
In this day and age, when consumers have more choices on where to spend their money, and more economic incentive to be overly selective about those choices, having a throw-away benefit is risky. It leads customers to question where their dollars are going, and gives them no reason to continue engaging beyond an initial perusal.
Here's why member benefits are so important: unless an organization makes great smartphones, computers, televisions or automobiles, chances are their customers aren't interacting with the brand every day. There's a good chance they've totally forgotten the organization entirely. This makes for an awkward conversation when bills come due or the customer is asked to make another purchase.
A mid-sized company looking for a discount program benefit contacted us about a year ago. After a few meetings and demos, they were totally seeing the positives of a quality program. Then when the time to make the decision came, they went with a freebie solution - a compilation of affiliate deals that drive small amounts of transactional revenue back to the organization.
It didn't matter if people wouldn't actually use or benefit from the program, they explained, because the company just needed to check the "discount program" box so their benefits could match what their competitors offered.
Stated simply, customer engagement is the depth of the relationship a customer has with a brand.
It’s a fair question that’s being asked with more frequency, as businesses are realizing that customer loyalty is largely a result of frequent positive engagement. As the typical consumer wields power with more information and choices, engagement has become the primary channel to ensure that a brand is “top of mind” when a purchase needs to occur.
Customer engagement is built and rebuilt (or destroyed) with every brand interaction, whether that’s making a purchase, reading a Tweet, joining a loyalty program, receiving an email, passing by a billboard, stumbling onto an online review, having a conversation with a friend, or any other exposure to a brand.
Each of those interactions hopefully connects the brand with the customer’s needs and preferences. Create those relevant messages with frequency, and that’s how customer engagement is built.