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The Evolution of Customer Loyalty Programs

24 Oct

Marketing on many levels has tapped into the success of customer loyalty programs. The idea of building a sense of identity and interest in customers isn’t new, but with electronic data management, it’s become easier to address specific interests and needs. Stamp rewards and exchanges of yesteryear are replaced with everything from gift cards to gasoline discounts in the present. Meanwhile, games continue to provide incentives for customers to affiliate more with one business or another. However, merely offering a program doesn’t assure loyalty.

It’s important to analyze the needs of customers in developing a good loyalty program. A system that provides great rewards is more likely to produce the repeat business that is desired. Meaningless rewards, however, are unlikely to garner positive interest. In fact, poorly chosen loyalty rewards may drive customers away. Meaningful options don’t have to be overly expensive. They just have to provide value to those customers who are being targeted for repeat business.

A contrast can be drawn through consistency. The business that is consistent and dependable in administering customer loyalty programs creates an environment that allows trust to grow between consumers and the company. A customer recognizes that the rules won’t continually change. It’s important to establish guidelines and adhere to them. In doing so, a business creates a sense of stability that attracts repeat interaction on the part of the customer.

It’s especially important to recognize the place that the Internet plays in cultivating customer loyalty. Social media plays a predominant role in providing consumers with updates on special deals, sales and other activities. Integrating these methods into loyalty programs can draw more interest if it’s handled well. It’s important to keep social media interactions simple and concise. It’s also important to understand how different social venues appeal to various customers. Some are image based while others are focused on interaction. Each venue will attract a slightly different demographic, and effective interaction and promotion requires some study of the way in which each venue is used by one’s clientele.

The use of smartphones is causing some transitions in customer loyalty programs as well. These permit more access to information and updates for consumers. However, overdoing it can be a problem for those who are already overloaded with text messages and multiple emails. It’s important to make mobile messages meaningful and simple. Value and simplicity are essential for keeping the interactions positive in the eyes of customers. Knowing how customers use their devices is important so that a good balance can be maintained in an age saturated with electronic information exchanges.

Colloquy is a resource for businesses who wish to gain an edge over their competitors through loyalty Marketing. Look to colloquy.com for publications, cosulting and more in regards to gaining customer loyalty.

 

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