Receiving a reward is a good thing. We could all do with a prize from time to time, whether it’s simply a pat on the back or cash in hand. In fact, rewards are a driving force behind more loyal customers. I was recently at the Loyalty Expo in Orlando talking about loyalty and reward best practices, especially through the lens of brand advocates. Every business wants a customer to do their advertising for them, from peer-to-peer recommendations to bragging about a seamless customer service experience on social media. While you can create brand advocates in a variety of ways, one of the easiest is to simply reward your customers. How loyal are your customers? Loyalty is no small feat, but it is something that consumers want in a business relationship. According to a Hotels.com poll, 36 percent of the 700 Americans surveyed participated in a brand loyalty program. Popular loyalty rewards included free products, services, promotions, and, of course, money. The bottom line is that creating brand advocates is the end of a clear series of broad steps: First, form a relationship with your customers. Then, make a sale. Finally, reward them for their business – this will in turn make them more loyal and vocal about your brand. With that said, though, you can go above these steps to create really exceptional loyalty programs and increase your odds of building brand advocates. Rewards help create loyal customers. Personalization, mobility breed loyalty Spending time at the Loyalty Expo illuminated a couple things about the current state of loyalty programs across the country. The first is that personalization is key. The rewards in your loyalty program must be tailored to your business – ideally to each individual customer. For example, a business with close customer relationships could send out an Amazon gift card to each of their long-time clients during the holidays. Every customer that meets that is eligible for a reward can’t receive the same canned gift card, however. They need to be greeted personally, by name, and have their rewards delivered in a manner of their choosing. This can even extend beyond the egift card and back into the world of plastic. And, alternative delivery methods bring us to our second lesson from the Loyalty Expo: mobile is king. Talking with vendors, exhibitors and attendees at the industry conference reaffirmed just how valuable mobile rewards are for loyalty programs and brand advocates. If you want more vocal advocates, make sure you can engage them via a mobile device. More people are interacting with brands using their mobile phones. You can now perform nearly every function on a smartphone that you can in-person or on a computer. While this has streamlined the shopping and customer-service experiences, it also leads to another effect: Consumers want rewards on their phones. In summary, there are two main factors behind brand advocates:
- Personalized rewards
- Mobile rewards
As you build your loyalty program – and keep in mind that every company can benefit from a loyalty program, no matter how big or small – leverage personalization and mobility to turn your customers into your best brand advocates.