Should you start a Customer Loyalty Program during COVID-19?
The answer is yes, the minimal investment now will have an immediate and long-term benefit for your business.
It may not seem like the right time to invest money into anything but keeping the lights on, but starting a Loyalty Program can assist in doing just that.
It is 6-times more expensive to win a new customer than to retain an existing one. (Parature)
A 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-100% increase in profit for your company. (Harvard Business Review)
How much time are you spending on Facebook trying to get your adapted business info seen while Ads are flooding into everyone’s news feeds, and people are inundated with email?
The average small business advertising on Facebook spends around $1,000–$2,000 per month (2019 Fit Small Business)
Don’t have that kind of budget? Keep reading for more economical solutions.
Because of COVID-19, there are numerous Facebook groups started by people for people to connect but also to find out how to have some normalcy in their lives and to support #LocalBusiness.
They are getting in their cars, going to necessity businesses, e.g., food-to-go for their families, and they are falling in Love with every place that is open right now.
People want to find ways to share the Love and starting a Customer Loyalty Program is a way to do just that!
As a business owner, get-off Facebook, stop writing those emails that no one is reading (they are too busy reading teacher emails for their three-kids).
Let your customers do the work for you. After doing the initial program launch steps, you will be able to go back to focusing on doing what you love. Making the Customer know that you appreciate them, too, that you understand their needs and are willing to make them feel special while giving back to the greater community.
What if every Customer that felt a connection with your business shared your details with their friends, and those friends did the same?
Just by simply asking your customers to do this makes a remarkable difference, and even giving them a VIP treat for being a Brand Ambassador (discounts, free goodies, early access) ensures they know you appreciate their help too.
This type of Human-Connection Marketing is Priceless, and no paid Ads will ever compete with human ROI, which is nothing but sharing passions and why you started your business to begin with?
But you are in business, so you do need some ROI right, you can’t just live off LOVE?
One study showed that 82% of Loyalty Program members referred to at least one person, which means that if you have 100 loyalty customers, 82 more customers will visit your business.
Loyalty members spend an average of $2.14 more than other guests based on the figures above: 182 x $2.14 = an average of $389 more in revenue.
68% of millennials wouldn’t be loyal to a business that doesn’t have a good loyalty program (Loyalty Report). Only 17% of customers wouldn’t be devoted due to customer service. Of course, you already offer excellent service, but what a contrast?
Research shows that 57% of customers sign-up for a program to save money, could be anything from a free upgrade to a discount just for them not available to anyone else.
30% of Restaurants have Loyalty programs, so there is room to be ahead of the curve in that particular industry.
How are you keeping track of your regular customers? Do you have a way for them to sign-up for more info via email on your Facebook page or website?
This is FREE, and for customizable forms, be sure to also ask for your Customer’s birthdate for birthday treats.
Data is King
As you collect more data, you will need a way to keep it organized.
You can maintain a spreadsheet for a few hundred people, but as you grow, which you will with a Loyalty Program, you will want to start using an Email List tool, like Constant Contact or MailChimp (free up to 2,000 emails).
This also can double as a fundamental CRM tool (Customer relationship management). But for any business that is looking for ongoing growth, you should choose a full-service CRM tool; there are free ones out there like Hubspot and ones with affordable monthly plans.
You can create specific fields to keep data about your customers, how often they are in, personal notes about them, adding in their partner or children’s names to recognize them personally when they come in again.
Email, Social Media – what’s best in reaching your Customers?
One of the key phrases all of your staff should have in mind is HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT US? Create a system for your team to note this. Why Guess how to reach your Customer, have them tell you!
We already reviewed how much competitors could be spending on Facebook.
Here is the truth about email, email averages only a 13% open rate, and if you all remember when SIP (Shelter in Place) started, you were personally inundated with tons of emails from businesses telling you what they were going to do. Plus, you’ve got all the political emails coming in.
When you write an email, which you should still do since 13% is better than Zero, you need to stand out! There are numerous articles on how to write the perfect email and subject lines to increase your open rate. My personal favorite, for the subject line of an email, is to always ask a question, it makes people’s minds activate, it can be as simple, as “how are you? we miss you!” or “want to save money on your next order?”
Even if you are not open physically, it is still important to maintain connections; it is essential to stay in contact with Loyal Customers and check in on them. But remember your emails need to stand out, so engage them to do something.
I have been suggesting to all of my friends to jump on their favorite businesses YELP pages and post great reviews and let them know how much they appreciate their local businesses. You can also encourage your customers to do that via your email newsletter (and via Social Media). Google Reviews and Yelp Reviews with 5-stars will give you a leg-up when business is fully open.
You can also do survey questions to help understand your customers, ask them what their favorite item is, what they wish you could add to your offerings. If you have a small email list, you can just ask them to reply, or if you have a much larger program, you can use tools like SurveyMonkey.
Ensure your emails include a link-back to further Blog stories on your items and to your Social Media outlets.
Ask people for their own stories on what they love about your company, post them on your Blog and social media, ask for pictures if they have them, or even to make Tik Tok or YouTube homemade videos telling the world how much they love you. People have got the time and are looking for meaningful activity.
It is essential for your Loyalty Program to be mobile-friendly and interactive to maintain a cutting edge with all the noise from the world right now.
My favorite Loyalty Programs are hosted on SMS (Short Message Service) or simply known as Text.
97% of people are within three feet of their mobile phones at all times.
Text message opt-in Loyalty Programs have a 98% open-rate within minutes of receipt of special offer.
88% of businesses with Loyalty programs are more successful.
The average text program costs .02 cents a message and an average 4-6% redemption rate of special offers. More tailored offers, for, e.g., birthdays, have even higher returns.
Robust SMS services even allow for Auto-set and go Marketing Drip Campaigns to create a full customer service-centric buyer journey. From their first visit to followup text messages and check in’s when you haven’t had a recent interaction with Customer.
Since this is my most favorite tool right now, I am going to dedicate a future Blog to it!
In the meantime, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me for any questions on anything that I have offered tips on. I am giving FREE small business advice during SIP.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org