By Diana Gomez
Every day I read about how to grow your business and expand your clientele. And sure, getting new customers is an important factor in any marketing tactic, but what about the ones you already have?
One look at how phone companies are rethinking their treatment of already-loyal customers is proof that those are the ones who need attention. Don’t just give new customers the chance to get a new phone at a good deal. Offer those perks to the people who you already have on board, and they’ll be spreading the good news rather than telling their friends to steer clear.
Don’t limit yourself. Stop thinking of ways to get newbies when the key lies in your current customers — that is, if they’re satisfied. And they will be with a simple thank you. Reward them with experiences worth bragging about. Points-based loyalty programs are fine if the reward is clear, but it’s the reward experiences that will help grow your business via good old word-of-mouth, from your currently thrilled customers.
Here are some examples of companies that apparently get it:
It didn’t take much convincing for me when a cashier first told me how much I could save with My Starbucks Rewards. The idea is to download the app, which keeps track of every purchase. With each purchase, you get a star, and on the 15th, you get a free drink. Keep collecting stars and you can get extras at no cost. You know all of those adjectives we use to order a coffee? They cost money, and it all adds up.
So rather than pay extra for soy milk and vanilla, I accrued 50 stars and got all of that stuff for free. And it genuinely feels like I’m doing a friend a favor by informing them that their latte could be cheaper. Everyone wants a cheaper Starbucks coffee, don’t they? But get this: not only do you get rewarded for purchases through the app, but you can also make purchases within it and avoid the queue. Quite the game changer when you need a quick coffee en route to the office at 8:45 in the morning.
One of the most successful, widely used loyalty programs is offered by Orange. Formerly known as Orange Wednesdays, two-for-one Wednesdays have staying power with the deal of a deal: two movies for the price of one. Not only do you have to tell a friend (because you have to bring a friend), but that person will be equally enthusiastic about the reward of a free night out.
Wednesday is now a crazily crowded night at the theatre, but Orange also offers discounts on other events. From theatre to comedy to music, users get a chance to have all kinds of cheap nights out. Again, the idea of offering an actual experience proves effective in gaining loyalty. How many people stick with Orange solely due to the two-for-one deal? A lot.
KLM, and Most Airlines
Although airline rewards programs have been popular for years, they’re worth mentioning because it’s a tried and true example of how customers will keep coming back again and again if there’s a reward worth getting. And cheaper tickets, upgrades, and VIP treatment in airport lounges are definitely perks people want.
Sure, I can find a lot of great deals from a competitor, but wasting miles on an airline that I haven’t done a lot of business with is a no-brainer: I’d rather stick with the program I’ve built the most miles with. When those points accrue and inevitably pay off, it’s entirely worth it to get an entire free flight one day rather than a few slightly cheaper ones along the way.
So many people love a tangible rewards card, and the Costa Coffee card is a pretty popular one. Simply registering for a card alone will earn your tenth coffee on the house, and that immediate gratification is just the hook that will leave a customer instantly…hooked.
Keep using the card, and every nine hits gets you a free coffee. Sometimes, a simple free coffee is worth shouting about on a Facebook status. Anyone can give away things people may not need, but there’s a guaranteed smile in store for anyone whose day is made brighter by a complimentary cup of something that is entirely necessary for the day’s survival.
So there you have it. Follow in the footsteps of programs like these that have earned their own following and kept it, and you could very well see the numbers rise without spending a second focused on anyone other than the customers you’ve already snagged. Offer incentives that are actual experiences worth shouting about, and they probably will. People appreciate a thank you now and then, and showing that your company is generous will speak to your customers the most. Ultimately, the benefits will boomerang right back at you.
What loyalty program do you use the most?