Every business out there wants one – a Fiercely Loyal community of raving fans who are fantastic customers and raving evangelists. One of the tools businesses use to create that kind of community is a Loyalty Program. In my client work, I see a ton of loyalty programs and I’m going to share what it takes to build one that creates Fierce Loyalty.
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1.Put your customer loyalty program front and center on your website.
Often when I’m doing preliminary research on a client, I look to see if and how they reward their clients and customers. My heart always sinks a little when I hit their home page and I don’t instantly see it. Then I start digging around.
Sometimes I find a link to the rewards program tucked away on a corner of the home page or on a drop down menu. Sometimes I don’t find it until I’ve clicked around on a few pages and luck up on it. And sometimes I don’t know I’ve found it because the name of the loyalty program doesn’t instantly tell me that is what I’m looking at.
Most customers and potential customers won’t be as persistent as I am in tracking down a customer loyalty program. If they don’t see it right away, if it isn’t 100% obvious, you’ve lost the opportunity to get them interested. So make sure it’s right in front of them.
2. Make the sign-up process simple and stream-lined.
Next to a hard-to-locate loyalty program, nothing bothers me more than a complicated sign up process that asks twenty questions.
Think of your sign up process as your first coffee date with someone. This is your chance to make a good impression, help the other person relax and feel comfortable with you. This is not the time to barrage your date with a million questions. If this date goes well, there will be plenty of time to get those questions answered. All you want right now is to get to that second date.
When you set up your sign up process, keep your questions brief – no more than five that can be answered quickly. And once your “date” presses the join button, deliver one great benefit instantly to seal the deal.
3.Connect members with each other.
When I was doing research for my book, Fierce Loyalty, I read a lot of the recent Happiness Research to see if I could find some connection between happiness and loyalty.
I was surprised to discover that the two things we crave most in our search for happiness – more than money, more than the pursuit of pleasure – are connection and engagement. And once we find a source for that kind of happiness, we are hard-pressed to ever abandon it. We become fiercely loyal.
By creating mechanisms that connect members of your loyalty program to each as well as to you, you become a place where connection and engagement happen. More important, you become a source of happiness for your members. And they’ll keep coming back to you for more.
4. Regularly feature a member of your loyalty program on your site.
One of the fastest ways to grow fierce loyalty is to make your members feel really, really important. By featuring them on your site, you not only make them feel important, you make them the stars of the show.
On your home page (or another prominent page), have a space that is specifically dedicated to your Star Member. Post their pictures, where they live, and their favorite products. Better yet, have them send a picture with their favorite products.
The benefit of this strategy is twofold; 1) Your members will feel important (see above) and 2) They will want to show off their star turn on your site and send you lots of fresh, new traffic who will have a great incentive for joining your loyalty program.
5. Allow your members to contribute content to your site.
Closely related to #4, this is another way to make your members feel important. By featuring content produced by your members you put them front and center. They will feel an increased ownership and investment in making your company a success.
Set aside some dedicated space for your community members to post product reviews, videos or short articles. During the holiday season, ask them to post gift suggestions for their particular market segment to help other shoppers make great selections. Ask them to submit a product photo that could be featured in your upcoming catalog.
Make the process, rules and parameters for submitting content crystal clear. Let members know how content will be selected for inclusion. If there is something specific you are looking for (a written review, a video review, etc.) make that clear, as well. This will leave everyone with a feeling of fairness whether or not their content gets chosen.
6. Give members the feeling of exclusivity.
We all love belonging to groups, clubs and organizations that are exclusively for us and people who are like us. When you create this kind of experience for your members, they will know that they are in a community that will speak to their specific wants and needs.
What privileges and offers can you give your loyalty members that aren’t available to your regular customers? In addition to exclusive discounts, consider offering “first dibs” on hot new items, or access to an expert to help with specific problems, or a community webcast on how to make the most of the latest industry trends.
The better you make your exclusive membership experience, the more your members are going to talk about it. And the more non-members are going to want it.
7. Ask for referrals and recommendations.
When I ask my clients if they ask their customers for referrals or recommendations, they often proudly point to a form that says something like “Please share the names of three friends who would enjoy knowing about us.” And when I ask about the kind of results this form is producing, I usually hear crickets.
In this day of spam and junk mail, people are increasing hesitant to give up the contact information of their friends and family. Simply asking them to do so will yield lackluster results. So what’s the secret to revving up the referral engine?
Exchange something you value (products, goods, services, etc.) for something your members value (the contact information of their friends and family). Make the offer too irresistible to pass up. You could offer a coupon code for a significant discount or the ability to choose one of your three most popular products or a thirty minute consult. And be sure these rewards are given when the referral is made, not when the referral becomes a customer.
Firing up Fierce Loyalty requires committed thought and action. To have the thing everyone else wants – a fiercely loyal community of raving fans – will require effort. So look over these ideas and choose one or two that stand out to you. Write them down. Before today is over, choose one action you can take to bring those ideas to life. It may be a conversation you need to have, a decision you need to make or some research you need to do. The point is to take action instead of filing these ideas away somewhere and never looking at them again.
If you really want to raise the Fierce Loyalty stakes, post your choices and the action you’re going to take in the comments below.