As consumers, we’ve come to expect offers, discounts and promotions from the loyalty programmes and brands we follow for pretty much every holiday. We also expect a discount or offer in celebration of our birthday. And yet another offer right after we’ve made a large purchase, to try and get us to shop again. There’s usually no lack of offers or promotions when it comes to loyalty programmes.
While some of these loyalty engagement tactics do work, they’re expected and anticipated, which means they don’t necessarily make customers feel valued, appreciated, respected or grateful - four of the six positive emotions that drive loyalty, according to Forrester Research.
Celebrate the unexpected
So, what about the unexpected, unanticipated moments of engagement? How can we make the “everyday” an unexpected celebration for our loyalty members? The brain finds unexpected pleasure more rewarding than ‘expected rewards’ and, subconsciously, we desire unpredictable experiences.
Starbucks is capitalising on this trend with Starbucks Happy Hour. While not just for rewards members, these invitation-only offers give customers reasons and ways to get what they love from Starbucks. The company’s promotional strategy was to strengthen digitally enabled customer engagement beyond its Starbucks Rewards™ loyalty programme.
Amazon found a way to celebrate the everyday with Amazon Prime Day. Introduced in 2015 to celebrate Amazon's 20th anniversary, Amazon Prime Day provides members-only access to special deals for Amazon Prime customers.
Ways to create everyday exceptional
As loyalty marketers, we know that loyalty members want and expect appreciation and recognition. In fact, according to surveyed customers who felt valued, 92% plan to stay with the brand, 88% will increase their spending and 91% will advocate for the brand, according to Forrester Research.
While brands certainly appreciate the monetary value of their rewards members – do brands actually do a good job of showing authentic appreciation to their members in return? Brands can capitalise on the everyday exceptional trend while also showing their members the appreciation they deserve. Here are a few tactics to consider- which range in type and complexity, but all have the same goal in mind – to enhance emotional engagement with your brand.
The good old fashioned thank you
Sure, we’ve all gotten a thank you message right after making a purchase. But, consider sending members a genuine, non-promotional “thank you” message simply for being a member of your programme. Genuine is the key word which can help to instill trust with your brand.
Raise them to the top
Why not upgrade some of your members to the next level or tier of your programme before meeting the upgrade criteria? For example, target some of your more valuable members by using Value-Potential segmentation and modelling.
Give a little gift
Many brands have designed their loyalty programmes to reward members with gifts. Sephora’s Beauty Insider rewards programme is a well-known example of this model, which works. But, members expect these gifts. While not a new concept, surprise and delight gifts are a tried and true appreciation tactic. True surprise and delight strategies are unanticipated by members at unexpected moments. The gift should not be in the form of a discount or offer, but rather a no-strings-attached token of appreciation, such as a monogrammed bracelet, branded merchandise, like a coffee mug, complimentary service, donation to a charity on your behalf and so on.
Employee empowered discounts and acts of kindness
Empower your employees to periodically offer members of their choice a special discount on purchases. How amazing would it be to be at the till and the member of staff says “because you’re such a valued customer I’m giving you an extra 15% off your purchase today”.
Ask for feedback, but differently
Ask members how they feel about your programme and your brand at an unanticipated moment, and in an authentic manner. Asking a customer to go online to take a “how did we do” survey after a purchase isn’t authentic or effective. Many times, it’s an open door to receive negative feedback or even decrease purchase behavior, according to the Mere-Measurement Effect. But, asking members for feedback in a way that solicits their expert opinion can create a sense of value, inclusion and trust. Consider asking members their thoughts related to product development or merchandising decision ideas (eg. “We know you have great taste and would love to get your opinion on our Winter Collection).
Strive to make your loyalty programme everyday exceptional and remember to think ‘out of the box’. It’s important to remember how appreciation and surprise and delight tactics can impact your loyalty programme and your brand by strengthening emotional connections with your customers. As we’re immersed in our 2019 marketing planning, take time to think about different strategies and tactics to show how much you appreciate your members, who in return will continue to appreciate your brand.
Need help taking your loyalty programme to the next level? At Epsilon, we have the technology and expertise to help you harness your data, segment your members and analyse and measure your performance. Contact us to talk with our loyalty experts today.