The concept of the “customer loyalty program” is not a new one. Perhaps in ancient times, before the dawn of written history, our ancestor’s lives may have even depended on well-established trading agreements. So, in a way, the concept of customer loyalty may very well relate back to basic survival in some strange way. Today, of course, most of us are ‘surviving’ quite well; loyalty in the arena of commerce is mostly used to build security and perhaps wealth. However, one thing likely remains the same – when it comes to business, people want to feel that they are aligning themselves with those who want to improve their respective futures. After all, what’s the point of loyalty if you’re not leading your followers to “greener pastures” (to use a common metaphor)?
Perhaps this concept explains why some customers respond more positively to certain types of programs which reinforce the brand name as opposed to just another generic discount / rebate offer. People want to feel like “they’re part of the team” in some small way, like they’re contributing to something that’s worthwhile which they also happen to personally enjoy.
Naturally, this is why a number of companies have pushed for related apps and even gamification ideas which are able to engage these consumers on a near daily basis. Speaking from a psychological / sociological perspective, it would appear that the more often someone thinks about something or engages in a pattern of action, the more likely they are to relegate such behavior to “routine”. In other words, having something at play which is capable of engaging customers on a daily basis might very well allow a business to build a more permanent link with that particular individual or group.
In case you don’t know, it’s statistically much cheaper to maintain existing customers. The fact of the matter is that new customers equal more work, time and repetitive effort. Likewise, it’s highly unlikely that a new customer is going to be as eager to spread the word about how great your product or service is. So, rule number 1 is: keep your current customers if at all possible.
As far as strategy and targeting is concerned, intrepid businesses these days are targeting consumers via mobile device-based ads and apps. It makes perfect sense when you think about it, after all, we’re talking about devices that most people maintain very close contact with at virtually all times. Why go after a more uncertain mode of access when you can go straight to the source? Moreover, simple games and social media are extremely popular areas of interest to mobile device users, and both of those things can be used to grow an audience (they can help build it much faster and with exponential growth).
However, perhaps the most important aspect to any company’s customer loyalty efforts is that of perseverance. Only those who are clearly level-headed (when it comes to making decisions) and very determined will inspire the kind of loyalty needed to grow a sizable following and maintain it. Once again, this goes back to the idea of security and perhaps even sanctuary.
The bottom line is that people generally always want to feel as if they’re “part of the team”, that much is clear. But simply creating an interesting looking team (or brand / product / service) simply isn’t enough; the key to inspiring true loyalty is in bringing something to the market that people feel has the “staying power” to be around for a long time. In other words, fads will fall by the wayside while the best ideas and resources “rise to the top”. Simply put, most people want their name aligned with something that they feel might have intrinsic value in the future (can you really blame them though?).
Building a loyal customer base or following is basically free advertising when you strip everything away and look at the basic elements present. Additionally, since it’s much cheaper to maintain customers rather than seek out new ones, we are able to clearly see (once again) why it’s vitally important for businesses to focus on building up their loyalty programs. These days, even major corporations are extremely dependent on the success of their loyalty programs, especially when you add potential competition to the picture.