Making the most of customer loyalty
Improved technology and social media tools mean that it is now far easier for small and medium sized businesses to understand their customers and their interactions, building loyalty far earlier in the sales process. How can you make sure that this translates to increased sales?
Moving customer loyalty and rewards from a transactional to an interactional basis can have a number of benefits for a company: More comprehensive data about customer habits, earlier warnings about changing behavior and threats to your brand, a stronger relationship with customers and communities… the list is long and appetising for the sales, marketing and finance teams alike.
The interaction side of customer loyalty was once the preserve of organisations at the extreme ends of the retail spectrum. Big retailers had the resources to put teams in place that could interact with customers, track processes and quantify and learn from the results.
At the other end of the scale, small retailers have direct personal relationships with customers that fulfil a similar role (without the data or the reporting structures).
Technology is changing things however, making it easier for the vast swathe of small to medium sized retailers to take advantage of the more personal approach to customer loyalty, rewarding interaction as much as transaction.
The question is, what are the strategies that will get the best out of this expanded horizon?
Social media is an obvious first port of call. You can use it to publish short, snappy updates and responses to things that your audience and customer-base are likely to be involved with. There’s no need to be controversial (even in jest), but do be engaging. Show people what’s happening behind the scenes at your organisation. If you are making space on your shelves for a new supplier or line, let people know. If seasonal stock’s arrived, talk about it (unless its Christmas decorations in September).
Social media is a place to amplify messages and get involved in conversations, but always make sure that you are saying something worthwhile. There is a lot of noise on social media at the moment and the trick is to make sure that you are using it to amplify your brand’s messages rather than simply add to the clutter.
Publish Engaging Articles
One of the best ways to do this is to actually add some value, give people something to talk about. Think about your customers and tell them something about yourself and the space you are operating in that will actually add some value to their lives. It doesn’t have to be much, many successful relationships start with a simple glance across a crowded room, but try to be consistent and committed…
The way that people are using social media is becoming more and more sophisticated, and while keeping up with the very latest platforms can be a challenge, there is plenty of research out there that can give you some pointers about where you need to be for your target audience and the type of output that you are contemplating.
Sponsorship is also a great way of building your presence and moving to a more interactional way of building loyalty. It proves your commitment to your community, drives visibility for your brand and team and can give your people a chance to build relationships.
Keeping track of the people that you meet at an event or interact with on social media is key to turning opportunities into longer-term improvements in the bottom line.
Ultimately, moving your customer loyalty strategy forward relies on two factors, the first is visibility and the second is making the most of the data you capture about the people that you are interacting with. Attracting people’s attention is more likely to bring them through your door, but the way to improve conversion rates once they are there is to get an understanding of what triggers them to make a purchase. To do that, you need to be quantifying and analysing your interactions effectively.
The great news is that while this would once have been a full time job for a team of experts, it’s now something that can be achieved relatively easily, provided you seek the right advice from external providers with a wealth of client case studies to draw best practice from.