If you want your business to be successful, it’s often all about building relationships with your existing clients, in addition to encouraging one so as to gain new ones. By offering a few rewards to those who have given you their custom you can show that you value them – and it’s great for business in return, too.
So, why could this work for you, even if you’re just an SME right here in Sarasota and not a multinational?
Who Has Loyalty Schemes & What Are They?
Loyalty schemes are being used by a multitude of companies from all kinds of different sectors. In fact, if we are to look at the top schemes of 2016, you will find players of the game from all kinds of industries, from coffee chains like Starbucks, to makeup brands like e.l.f. This demonstrates in itself that all kinds of consumers are interested in the savings and rewards that loyalty programs can give. There are many different methods that these brands utilize. Some use a traditional points system. Others manage to cleverly incorporate other aspects of their marketing – for example, extra rewards or discounts if you download their app, or follow them on Twitter. Others offer freebies after a certain amount of money has been spent or a certain amount of visits have been made to their restaurant or store.
It’s not just physical stores, either. The US Department of Commerce reports that $394.9 billion of sales were made online last year (that’s 11.7%, and rising), there are obviously lots of online businesses who are realising the potential that loyalty schemes can bring to them.
One such example of online businesses taking full advantage of rewards schemes are those involved in the iGaming sector. For example, there are many different bingo sites which will offer their visitors rewards for their custom. Many have welcome bonuses which extend to three different visits, encouraging you to come back, or different pay-outs and tiered schemes for the people who visit most – often, these are “VIP” programs and are rather exclusive (some by invitation only). Other online successes include companies like Marvel – sometimes people want to unlock exclusive content, and this is exactly what Marvel does. Players of online Marvel games can play in different realms than less loyal players, which is incentive in itself!
Yet, any loyalty scheme as a whole needs to be well thought out – the point is to make a customer feel special for their continued patronage, and there needs to be actual value given to the customer, otherwise they’ll probably find a cheaper deal elsewhere and brand loyalty will go down. Of course, all of these things should run alongside excellent customer service, as this goes without saying. We’ve all seen people storm out of stores threatening to “never come back here again”, and while this can be pretty amusing, if all the top shoppers did this, retailers would seriously be in for a problem. Plus, in this day and age, word spreads fast!
Who’s Using Them In Sarasota?
Loyalty schemes are not just for large international companies. They also work right here in Florida, and more specifically, in Sarasota itself.
Whether you’re a visitor wanting to stay in the Marriott resort here, the Ritz-Carlton and benefiting from lower rates as a loyalty member, or a local eager to help local businesses, there is a place for you at the loyalty table.
Independent restaurants in the area manage this particularly well. As a textbook example, when you dine at the White Buffalo Saloon, you receive one point per dollar you spend. Once you reach 100 points, you receive a $10 discount certificate to be used when you come back again.
Local businesses can take time creating a loyalty scheme because they have the added advantage of really getting to know their customers and what they want. Just compare the insight someone who is in direct contact with the customers on a daily basis possesses, with that of a manager sitting in an office trying to make sense of feedback forms, charts and numbers – which are supposed to describe the customer experience. In a way, loyalty schemes were made for small and medium businesses.
Why Should You Use Them?
In 2017, loyalty to brands is actually dwindling. Some say it’s dying, while others say it’s diversified. People have a lot more access to other brands in the information age, and often find it easier to shop around online. People are attracted to discounts and sales because they know they can get them.
That’s why you have to focus on offering what others can’t (or just don’t), and that’s why a loyalty scheme could really work for you. It will boost both your reputation and sales, and this is all because your customers are being kept happy. Give them a reason to come back!
If customer retention is your goal – which it should be – maybe it’s time to get your thinking cap on.
Royalty free photos from flickr: