To some, loyalty marketing is the practice of offering rewards in return for repeat purchases. To us, while rewards can be a useful tool, loyalty marketing is the systematic process of moving customers to a heightened state of brand loyalty, a state in which your brand is top of mind, trusted, and thought of as a leader in your market category.
There are four stages of customer loyalty: trust, commitment, engagement and advocacy. Each stage is characterized by an increasing propensity for customers to engage with, purchase and recommend your brand. The objective of loyalty marketing is to both accelerate the process and extend the customer lifecycle.
What makes loyalty marketing work? The essential force behind successful loyalty programs is quid pro quo; as a brand helps customers move through the stages of loyalty, the brand itself is demonstrating its trust, commitment to, and engagement with its customers.
How can loyalty marketing techniques improve an acquisition campaign? They can help build trust in the brand up front. They can get prospective customers committed to the brand before they make a purchase. They encourage prospects to engage, keeping the brand top of mind. And they can encourage sharing, a form of advocacy.
Here are three examples of tactics you can apply to acquisition campaigns to engender trust, commitment, and engagement before customers make their first purchase. When a prospective customer can establish a direct connection with your brand before purchase, and the experience is rewarding, that prospect will develop a stronger affinity with your brand. And when that person eventually does become a customer, they will have already started down the path of becoming a loyal, brand advocate.
1. Provide category education
Customers expect you to educate them about your products. But they often need education related to their journey in your market category. And that’s something they don’t necessarily expect from a brand. Taking an extra, unexpected step in your communications builds trust in the brand. By offering prospects an ongoing education series you bring them closer to the brand by demonstrating expertise and a connection with their broader need, and earn the right to communicate with them until they are ready to purchase, and beyond.
2. Demonstrate the end state
Mine your customer support data, community, or call logs for key, recurring issues and resolutions. Incorporate these into your campaign by simulating the steps to, and outcome of, a successful experience with your products. The idea is to help prospects build a clear mental picture of how they will improve their lives by experiencing your products. By giving them insight into how to have the best possible product experience, you’ll have higher levels of satisfaction out of the chute.
3. Associate the brand with a social benefit
Show your customers and prospects that your brand is committed to giving back and helping the world. According to Edelman’s 2012 goodpurpose® study, when quality and price are equal, the most important factor influencing brand choice is social purpose.
Cause marketing campaigns can be very successful, but this does not mean that you need to go all 9 yards and launch a cause marketing campaign. Through sponsorships, product donations, and even advocacy for causes related to your market category, you can demonstrate a commitment to giving back and earn the trust and commitment of prospects and customers.
As you’re planning a new acquisition campaign, consider adding a bit of loyalty marketing. Think about engendering trust, commitment, and engagement. Make your content sharable. You’ll accelerate the process, building loyalty earlier. And if you keep it up as customers continue the journey with your brand, you can extend the lifecycle. By making a commitment to help your customers in their broader category experience, and actively engaging with them, you’ll be rewarded with the incremental revenue that comes with longer lifecycles and referrals.