Brand loyalty is critical to your rewards generating brand love.
Think about it; without loyalty from your employees, customers and channel partners, your business is seriously compromised.
The problem is that many business leaders don’t recognise the value of brand loyalty and don’t know how to develop it.
On the other hand, there are business leaders who have fully embraced the value of brand loyalty and are blazing a trail using loyalty reward programs to build brand love. The result is growing profits and greater business success.
What makes reward programs that good?
Loyalty rewards generate brand love because they appeal to people’s emotions.
The upsurge of reward programs is not merely a marketing trend, but rather a marketing system based on substantial scientific research.
For a loyalty reward program to be successful it must be well thought out, managed and updated.
Well planned reward programs succeed because they draw people’s interest, appeal to their emotions, encourage reciprocal behaviour, those rewards generate brand love and, at the end of the day, increase profits.
Reward programs activate the pleasure reward circuit in the brain.
What does this mean?
Briefly, if this pleasure reward circuit, called the nucleus accumbens, is triggered it emphasises the anticipation of reward and activates mental focus.
The process creates pleasure-seeking behaviours that make us do things that will result in a reward.
For example, this area of the brain is activated when we smell good food, read about a retail sale that is to die for, or anything else - like playing a game on our smartphone to win a prize.
We become focused, and then we take action to alleviate the craving or desire created by the trigger in our brain.
We act on these cravings because we feel compelled to.
This is the crux of the success of loyalty programs and exactly how rewards generate brand love. If they activate the reward circuit in the brain, you’ve got a winner.
It’s all about identifying what your market wants
Gone are the days when reward programs were faceless, and customers were awarded points based only on sales.
Yes, points for sales are still important, but people want more than that. They are looking for engagement with brands as well.
Today people want to identify personally with the brands that they support. Genuine customer engagement leads to brand buy-in, customer loyalty and increased profits.
The shift towards technology means that people want to know more in real-time. Instant access to information and the ability to share information are key factors.
Social media plays a major role in successful reward programs because it allows people to share, as well as learn. Research shows that up to 70% of people are more likely to buy a product or brand founded on recommendations and shares of friends on social media.
Based on the assumption that most people’s connections are like-minded, it becomes clear how much personal identification with a brand matters.
But, what about Millennials?
Millennials represent the largest generation in the global workplace and marketplace, and they have a massive influence on others. Social media sharing activity directly connects to Millennials’ buying behaviour.
But it’s not just about social media…
People want an omnichannel experience as well. An omnichannel-capable reward program allows people to interact with your brand in the way that suits their lifestyle.
By offering customers online, mobile app, telephone or face-to-face interactions you are allowing people to choose their customer experience. That shows that your brand cares, and that will generate brand love in return.
What does a good rewards program give a brand?
The impact of a successful reward program will have far-reaching positive benefits on brand perception, and that is almost immeasurable until you get to reap the rewards.
What do the stats say?
Statistics show that a repeat customer has a 60% to 70% chance of converting!
If your rewards program keeps bringing people back, you win customer loyalty. If your brand keeps engaging and delivering customer service, you generate brand love.
But what defines brand love?
You know that you have brand love when your brand gets:
- Regular referrals - people are drawn to your brand because they feel safe.
- Brand evangelism - loyal customers spontaneously speak about how great your brand is.
- Social media sharing - your products and services get shared on social media.
- Testimonials - people willingly leave testimonials on your web page and social media pages
- Retention - customers keep coming back, staff stay and channel partners don’t leave.
One thing becomes clear at this point…
Customer engagement is vital!
Regular reminders, acknowledgements, and a heads-up on specials or new launches make people feel special and makes them give brand love in return.
Also, never forget to thank people for their support.
So what should a brand give?
Rewards generate brand love, they do, but only if you are willing to give first.
A great example is to give points or a percentage discount as soon as someone signs up. That way people feel obliged to reciprocate – at least, to begin with.
From thereon it’s about identifying what will motivate your customers in the long-term. People have different motivators, so differing options will make your loyalty program more attractive.
Allow people to cash in their points, or to use them for discounts against products and services, or convert them to gift cards.
Millennials, in particular, want to contribute to society, so allowing them to donate their accrued points to a worthy cause of their choice will likely appeal to them.
It will also show that your brand cares about social issues that your customers care about as well.
It will be key to take time to find out what will secure brand loyalty to build brand love and then develop your loyalty rewards program from there.
Give customers what they want and allow them to create their own user experience.
And once you have identified what rewards generate brand love, keep researching and don’t think that what works today will necessarily work tomorrow.
Speak to your customers on social media, email marketing and regular customer surveys. Spend time reading the results.
Respond to customers and let them know they were heard; not just their compliments, but their complaints as well.
Know your customers, understand their motivators and note their perceptions of your brand. Be willing to make changes if necessary.
Rewards that generate brand love is a two-way street.
About Emma-Jane Shaw
Emma-Jane Shaw is the Chief Content Strategist for a digital marketing agency based in Cape Town, where she fuels her passion for writing, strategy and social media.