It’s an old adage, but it’s true; it’s cheaper and more efficient to keep on selling to a current customer than it is to find and nurture new ones. Over the years, lots of different figures have been bandied about, but, most recently, S.A found the cost of bringing a new customer up to the same level of profitability as an old one is up to 16x more!
And yet, even to this day, lots of businesses still neglect this simple mantra.
My thought is that, primarily, the Internet and its ‘easier’ targeting mechanisms have created the illusion that it’s now far simpler to find new business in tight niches. Not that that isn’t technically true, but the process of nurturing that business is as tough as it ever was.
Rewards program engagement is down?
But perhaps this is also down to the fact that, in recent years, long-term engagement in programs is on the decline. As more and more campaigns enter the market and the industry swells, we see plenty of sign-ups but little in the way of longevity. This culture of the dangling carrot only satisfies the consumer for so long until the next program invariably tries the next trick. And it’s not just your SMEs that are seeing this; at a time when Plenti in the US is growing, Air Canada are dropping the Aeroplan rewards program after reported engagement struggles. But this knee-jerk brand reaction to loyalty is understandable – the lures used are proof of what grabs modern consumer attention, just see 58% of customers are switching to a different brand & 54% of U.S. consumers have switched providers in the past year. Getting folks through the door is pretty easy in the grand scheme of things, but that’s not the endgame.
Where does this leave everyone swimming in the long-term loyalty ocean? The answer is absolutely in front of all marketers – omni-channel marketing of your program. We know that 51% of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication, but loyalty programs invariably become what we like to call at IC ‘an Island’, with their messages getting lost in the open ocean; standing alone, too far away from the action.
This isn’t good
In fact, this is the exact thing we tell clients to not do all the time. Instead, look to entangle your program into the very fabric of your marketing.
Entanglement means utilizing widespread channels like to push CTA-led (this is crucial) loyalty program messages to your audiences. We call this ‘promotional loyalty,’ the act of making a purchase and then completing a rewards program action. It sounds simple, but with so much primary brand-building focus going on, rewards communications take a backseat and programs are invariably left to their own devices. In fact, there are very few brands that I see that do this well at all!
Which channels could I use?
To name just a few…
- Social media
- Email marketing
- Your ‘main’ website
- In-store signage and offers
- Print media
- TV advertising
- Sampling events
- Online banner advertising
Though, remember this: entanglement isn’t just about engagement. It’s the principle of generating awareness & building visibility and relationships through omni-channel marketing. This is how you know Nike, Coca-Cola & McDonald’s, their 360 marketing is impeccable. In turn, this approach to activity leads to engagement.
One brand that does entanglement brilliantly, and I’d recommend you take the opportunity to learn from them, is The Kellogg Company with their ‘Family Rewards’ campaign. Kellogg’s make sure that their program logo is everywhere – products, media communications, in-store, digital streams… You name it, The Kellogg Company are pushing their program through it. That’s not to say their program is the main CTA through all of their channel messaging; the point is that it’s pretty much always represented somewhere. And Kellogg’s are pushing this messaging across every brand, rather than segmenting branches off.
In particular, I find the siloing of rewards communications frustrating with email marketing. A huge chunk of brands have this habit of keeping their brand emails separate from their rewards counterparts. This just doesn’t make sense to me. The subliminal message being put across there is that you consider the two separate when they should be working together.
So truly promote your loyalty program messaging. Don’t be shy – get it in front of your consumers as much as you can, engage them with your unmissable catalog and generate loyalty.
Entanglement isn’t a one-way thing
The above can sound to people like you’re having to support your program, but the program can drive your branding. You’re going to have a core of your customer base that is more attached to your rewards offering than your branding; it’s important to utilize that and run branding messages through your program!
Unsure what that looks like?
Take what we do with Dial Rewards, as an example. Every year, Dial release their Innovations products that try to push boundaries and, this year, we’re pushing that messaging through their loyalty site. They get consumer eyes on their latest and greatest when, perhaps, they wouldn’t have before. Simple amplification but imperative nonetheless.
This 2-way activity amounts to keeping a more dynamic loyalty audience with a wider range of interests and needs. And if you use all of that beautiful extra data properly, you can correlate the trends and keep your rewards fresh for your traditional customers! Win-win.
Your loyalty program shouldn’t be separate from your brand building. They’re one in the same in trying to achieve the same goal – loyalty. Push out your program messaging through your mainstream channels and get your branding messages in front of your loyalty audience. If you do this, I can confidently say you won’t have the engagement issues that so many others are suffering from.
I’m the VP of Sales at IC Group and loyalty program strategist.
I’d love to get your take on this article. To talk more, you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org