When direct marketers think about loyalty, we tend to think of programmatic efforts, such as rewards or points-based programs. And let’s face it, when holiday budgets are in play, it’s often price that comes first, not brand preference. But don’t despair and assume you have to discount everything to survive the holidays. There is a much more complex side of loyalty, driven by the less tangible relationships that we build, nurture, and grow with our customers.
Remember “Loyalty Program 101”? Start by following established best practices like RFM (recency, frequency, monetary) or LTV (lifetime value) to tier customers. It provides the foundation for delivering experiences that match the level of customers’ loyalty. “Loyalty Program 201” is to overlay those who have high influencer scores and/or have advocated for you in the past. With that in mind, below are three tactics for companies to reward (and attract) influencers this holiday season while building brand loyalty and generating sales.
- Give advocates the “in” experience. Last year I considered purchasing the newest LeapPad for my daughter on Amazon, yet there were not enough reviews to seal the deal. LeapPad, obviously aware of this, put the device in the hands of mommy bloggers. Seemingly overnight, they were virtually sold out. Amazon still had them—but for triple the price.
This was frustrating because I’m an Amazon Prime member, and have advocated for the company in my social channels. Don’t get me wrong, Jeff Bezos, I love you, but this didn’t have to happen. Amazon Prime customers and advocates should have received special access to purchase the LeapPad at regular price. You better believe I would have tweeted about the experience and continued to reinforce the value of an Amazon Prime membership to friends and family.
Let this be a lesson to other companies—use the information you have to give your most valued customers an exclusive experience.
- Reward beyond the coupon. Coupons are great, yet they’re best used for driving trial, not loyalty. Take the opportunity during the holidays to treat your influencers in unique ways.
Every year people are online at midnight or in line at 4 a.m. for Black Friday. Offer loyal fans first dibs on products most likely to sell out. Why cause them undue stress with a brand they shop for so much the rest of the year?
What about your five to 10 top-tier customers with amazing influence potential, or actual advocacy? What are their qualities and how can you uniquely reward them so they’ll spread their love of the brand further?
- Amplify customer service. People are faced with many challenges during the holiday season: travel, budgets, time. Dial up your customer service with socially charged tools and an all-hands-on-deck social marketing approach. Optimize all touchpoints for service. This could mean extra support on social channels to field customer inquiries or complaints. And don’t let the online retailers steal the business with their apps; make finding out-of-stock product frictionless by offering a QR code on empty shelves directing people to the product online.
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