You may already know, based on your own merchant’s experience, that it is no longer sufficient to rely solely on product quality and pricing to maintain the success of a business. Fostering customer loyalty has become a cornerstone of success for retailers who want to ensure a steady stream of revenue. If you're on a quest to elevate both sales figures and customer loyalty in the online retail sphere, it is time to unravel the latest and most effective tactics in ecommerce rewards programs.
Why a store depends on customer loyalty
Customer loyalty is a fundamental inquiry that underpins the very survival and growth of businesses. One can say it is the bedrock upon which successful stores are built. It is noteworthy that nearly three-quarters of companies, or approximately 73% of them, as Gartner reports, place greater reliance on their existing customer pool rather than allocating resources for the pursuit of novel market expansions.
On the surface, a loyal audience may be misconstrued as individuals who just make repeated purchases. However, the true essence of loyalty lies in cultivating a devoted, deeply connected on an emotional level, customer base.
When people solidify their emotional connection to a store, they often evolve into brand champions, actively sharing positive feedback with their social connections, including friends, family members, colleagues, and other people they communicate with. Such a natural promotional channel can wield a greater impact on a store's success than less personally connected advertising.
Benefits for business
Devoted clientele not only demonstrate a higher average expenditure compared to one-time or recent shoppers. They also exhibit a readiness to invest in their deep attachment to a brand, even if it requires a premium cost.
It is striking to note that 59% (reported by Edelman) express a heightened inclination to acquire newly introduced offerings from a trade mark even in cases where these offerings are not competitively priced when compared to rival options.
Such behavior towards store's products or services can be explained by their beliefs because they trust their favorite brand. This trust is a result of consistently positive experiences, a quality shopping process, and excellent customer service. In essence, loyal customers become an essential source of revenue for businesses.
Customer loyalty also provides a buffer against market fluctuations and competition. In times of economic uncertainty, loyal customers are more likely to stick with a brand they trust, providing a steady stream of income. A store with a strong and loyal base of customers is better equipped to fend off competitors and maintain its market share.
With the proliferation of online shopping, consumers have an abundance of choices at their fingertips. To stand out in this digital landscape, stores must offer not only great products but also exceptional experiences. Loyal customers appreciate the convenience, personalized recommendations, and tailored offers that loyalty program ecommerce can provide.
Loyalty program is an important part of a strategy
The realm of retail has witnessed a transformative shift driven by the integration of technology, which caters to customer expectations and cultivates unwavering trust in a brand. Innovative data-gathering tools enable the acquisition of vast datasets concerning consumer preferences and actions.
Harnessing this wealth of information allows for the creation of precisely targeted loyalty campaigns, thereby fortifying the merchant-customer relationship even further. This synergy between technology and marketing strategies not only gratifies customers but also forges lasting bonds between retailers and their clientele.
Loyalty programs for ecommerce business is far more than a nice-to-have thing; it stands as a strategic necessity that has a direct impact on growth and revenue. Prioritizing the preservation of customer loyalty needs to be viewed as a paramount element within the core of every business strategy.
Prevailing trend of loyalty rewarding
One of the most significant trends that have taken center stage in the task of building mutually beneficial relationships with shoppers is the proliferation of loyalty programs in ecommerce. These incentives have transformed the way consumers interact with online shopping, and their popularity continues to soar.
A notable portion of consumers express a sense of devotion towards a brand or enterprise. Almost 74% of them say they have a sense of commitment to at least one brand, according to the Zendesk report. About 52% of shoppers are willing to put in additional efforts when they want to purchase something that their favorite brand offers.
What drives the loyalty rewards trend
But what exactly is driving this trend, and why have ecommerce loyalty rewards become such a major force in the world of e-commerce? The rise of this trend is clearly visible in the amount of money merchants are willing to invest.
As of 2023, the global management investments in the market of loyalty programs and ecommerce loyalty software boasted a figure of $6.47 billion. This number is almost a billion higher ($5.29 billion) than in the previous 2022 year. The investments will continue to increase in the years to come and are forecasted to reach an impressive $28.65 billion by 2030, according to Fortune Business Insights.
First and foremost, it is crucial to recognize that by offering incentives and rewarding their clients for various types of activities, all participants get a diverse array of advantages. For businesses, these programs represent a powerful tool for increasing the return rate when people are ready to make another purchase.
Shoppers' perspective on the rewards
From a client’s perspective, such programs establish a feeling of value and appreciation. Moreover, as indicated by research from Zendesk, the development of brand loyalty is shaped by a multifaceted set of factors:
- Price 62%
- Level of care 57%
- Product diversity 54%
- Shopping convenience 45%
- Brand reputation 34%
- Sales personalization level 27%
Shoppers are not just making transactions; they are forging their deep connection with a trade mark. In return, they anticipate some level of recognition for their loyalty. Acknowledging how customer is dedicated to a store can take various forms, including the accumulation of virtual points or direct discounts on purchases. Alternatively, a merchant may offer early or exclusive access to some services.
These perks make customers feel special and appreciated, and they build an emotional connection with a store. When such a connection is established, people tend to spend 27% more, according to the Bond report.
Alongside the growing focus on shoppers’ sense of connection, loyalty programs are data goldmines for highlights on clientele retention. They allow companies to collect valuable insights into the behavior and preferences of their participants.
This data can then be harnessed to create personalized marketing campaigns, recommend products tailored to individual tastes, and refine the overall experience the store can offer to its clientele.
Ecommerce loyalty program ideas and strategies
With a multitude of options available at their fingertips, consumers need a compelling reason to choose one online store over another. This is where e commerce loyalty program comes into play, offering innovative and strategic ways to capture and retain the attention of a person that has the potential to become a consistent client.
Best ecommerce loyalty programs come in a myriad of shapes and sizes, each with its unique approach to winning the hearts and minds of people.
Programs tailored for use by online and offline merchants
Virtual points for reward
This strategy grants clients some amount of virtual scores for every dollar spent or specific action, like purchasing two items instead of one. Such a concept of reward can be named as most simple to implement.
The efficacy of points-based incentives is grounded in human psychology. Customers, inherently drawn to the idea of receiving something extra, are motivated to make repeat purchases. While doing so, they earn more points, enabling a self-sustaining cycle.
Due to its proven effectiveness, it is widely used even by industry giants, such as Amazon, Mastercard, McDonald's, Best Buy, and dozens of others.
A strategy that has been garnering considerable attention in the sphere of customer loyalty is the adoption of tiered loyalty programs. This innovative approach hinges on offering rewards that are commensurate with an individual's level of engagement and spending. As a customer's expenditure increases, they ascend the tiers accordingly.
As clients ascend the virtual ladder of tiers, customers unlock an array of benefits. These perks are exclusively available for a specific tier, which incentivizes continued shopping to get to a higher one. The strategy also fosters a sense of achievement and belonging as the tiers can be shared among friends or colleagues.
Convert getting a reward into a game
Another transformative strategy in ecommerce loyalty programs is gamification. By infusing elements of gaming, such as challenges, badges, and points, businesses make the experience more enjoyable. Gamification injects an element of fun into the shopping journey, making it more memorable and engaging.
Under the umbrella of the existing ecommerce loyalty rewards program set, this particular type encourages its participants to undertake various tasks as a means to accumulate bonuses. A merchant may even gamify his loyalty incentive in a way that makes shoppers compete with others.
Paid access to loyal community
If clients can get an increased amount of rewards by paying for exclusive access to loyalty program, a lot of them will do this. They can join by making a direct participant fee or by spending significantly more on purchases.
McKinsey reports that when customers make the extra commitment of investing their own money to enroll in a loyalty program, the result is a remarkable uptick in their spending. It can reach up to 60% more than that of regular shoppers. This expenditure surge is twice as significant as the spending levels of members in loyalty programs that are accessible without the paywall.
Engage people in loyalty program before they become clients
Typically, loyalty incentives were designed to reward existing clientele, encouraging them to keep coming back. But what if businesses could harness the power of such programs even before someone becomes an actual client?
Engage people in a loyalty program before they make their first purchase. This forward-thinking approach creates an early bond with potential customers, helping establish trust and improving the chances of converting them into paying clients.
A loyalty program e commerce business can offer ahead of the shoppers’ first purchase involves offering them exclusive perks and rewards as a gesture of goodwill.
A simple example of such a loyalty offering is a discount for a first-time shopper for registering his account. By delivering their offering from the get-go, businesses demonstrate their commitment to potential customers, setting a strong foundation for future transactions.
Put your chips on referrals
Incentivizing people to become advocates for your brand is a primary goal for any merchant since each of such advocates has the potential to become a powerful sales channel.
The referral-based loyalty program encourages people to get rewards for promoting a brand they like to their friends, family, or colleagues. This not only drives new business but also strengthens existing customer relationships.
The concept of referral-based loyalty programs capitalizes on the power of personal recommendations. People tend to trust the opinions and experiences of those they know, making referrals the most credible form of advertising. A substantial 84% of individuals trust recommendations made by individuals within their social circles, as reported by Nielsen.
When existing clientele of your business become advocates for your brand, they not only bring in new business but also strengthen their own loyalty to your company.
Among the notable benefits of referral-centric loyalty building is its remarkable ability to cultivate a communal spirit within the existing audience. Those customers who proactively speak to others about a brand tend to forge deeper connections and greater engagement with the brand itself. They evolve into passionate advocates, thereby playing a pivotal role in nurturing a loyal community of a specific brand.
Shoppers' core values to cultivate loyalty
The traditional loyalty program model has largely revolved around offering discounts, rewards, or exclusive privileges for the customers. However, it is possible to stand out among competitors by connecting with clientele on a deeper level of their life values.
One such innovative loyalty incentive that has gained considerable attention is the value-based loyalty program. It does not include direct benefits for the shopper; instead, it involves donating to charity or welfare programs.
By allocating a portion of each sale for charity or welfare, businesses can attract and retain customers who appreciate their commitment to making a positive impact on society.
The value-based loyalty incentive is one of the best loyalty programs ecommerce can incorporate, as it can have a ripple effect on a company's reputation and new customer acquisition efforts.
Clientele who participate in such programs often become enthusiastic advocates, spreading the word about the brand's commitment to social causes. This word-of-mouth marketing can attract new shoppers who share similar values, leading to organic growth in the customer base.
Birthday and anniversary rewards
Show your clientele that you are also loyal to them as they are loyal to you by providing bonuses for special and personal occasions.
Celebrate important milestones of your customers who go together with your business by sending them personalized birthday and anniversary offers. These may be discount codes, special gifts, exclusive services, etc.
Ideas exclusive to offline sales points
Geolocation loyalty incentives
Offer rewards to customers who purchase at specific physical locations. This can help to increase the number of visitors for stores that need it, and shoppers can be rewarded for their efforts.
A merchant can build such a geolocation incentive on his own or join a Shopkick. It is a shopping reward app with an option of rewarding users for buying in a specific shop.
Punch card rewards
Attract people to visit a store more often by issuing them a physical card. Each time a purchase is made in a physical store, the card is stamped or punched. When a certain number of punches has been reached, customers earn a reward or discount.
Make shopping fun by organizing a competitive shopping process. Give rewards for challenges that encourage customers to interact with products or store layout.
Collaborate with nearby businesses to create a co-branded loyalty program. A person can make a purchase in one physical location, but to redeem the reward, he should visit another physical location. And vice versa. This will encourage customers to shop at both locations.
Ideas exclusive for online sales points
Rewards for purchases via a store’s app
You can make online shopping more interactive if it happens via your mobile app. When a shopper uses store’s mobile app, he can receive immediate notifications on fresh marketing proposals, and he can get a better experience overall.
Stimulate usage of your app by providing app-exclusive discounts, features, and loyalty rewards for online customers.
Abandoned cart rewards
A lot of shoppers simply leave during the shopping process, making an abandoned cart. Encourage customers to finish their orders by giving them bonuses for successfully paid orders.
Add tiers to make the thin loyalty program even more engaging. To illustrate the idea, present a level one reward for a client who makes 10 consecutive orders without an abandoned cart. Give a level two reward in case this person manages to get a score of 20 purchases without an abandoned cart, and so forth.
The prosperity of a retail enterprise historically is in tight connection with the loyalty of its audience. A dominant strategy for a merchant is to set a list of incentives to raise the clientele’s loyalty. These reward programs offer mutually beneficial results to both merchants and their audience alike.
Engaging people through loyalty programs can start even before they convert into actual clients. Such incentives then continue engaging shoppers during all the time their relationships with the merchant exist.
To make a deeper connection with clients a merchant can use time-proven basic concepts, or he can invent his own unique mix. Use a list of ideas provided above to present clients with the best loyalty program both for you and your clientele.