Customer loyalty marketing is more important today than ever.
Given the current global situation, many businesses are rethinking or reinvesting in their social media marketing strategies, as they make the shift from brick-and-mortar to digital.
There are a few other things that have never been more important: customer retention and brand loyalty. As discussed in my previous article, loyalty marketing centers on retaining existing customers, rather than acquiring new ones.
When it comes to customer loyalty marketing, there is no shortage of ways social media can be utilized for:
– strengthening the emotional connection between businesses and customers
Social media is one of the many touchpoints between businesses and customers these days, along with email communications,digital loyalty apps, and a plethora of other digital innovations that work together to form a cohesive omnichannel experience.
Consider that, of the 3.5 billion people currently using social media, Millennials account for more than 90% of daily social media usage. This is the same generation that is entering its prime spending years, and already has acollective spending power of $1.4 trillion.
95% of online adults aged 18-34 follow brands on social media, while 76% of consumers check websites and social media pages before choosing a local business.
What I’m getting at is that customer loyalty is extremely important, and social media is an invaluable tool for retaining customers and boosting brand loyalty.
If you’re not already running exclusive competitions, spontaneous prize draws and other limited-time promotions; you should be. This kind of social media contests marketing can build hype around your brand very quickly; especially where social media is involved.
Consider running some competitions where the reward is enticing, registration is easy, and word-of-mouth promotion is fast. These are the three key ingredients, and an effective recipe is to center the whole campaign around social media.
Many businesses do special prize giveaways where an entrant’s ticket into the competition is to share images or videos of themselves using the brand’s products or services, and posting it along with the relevant hashtags.
A few years ago, renowned shoe retailer Foot Locker engaged its customers with a new campaign, called theHORSE with Harden challenge.
The challenge involved customers filming themselves shooting hoops (or to be more precise, taking their best shot at a three-pointer) and then posting the video on social media, with hashtags that would tie the campaign to Foot Locker in various ways.
Once the promotion ended, Foot Locker live streamed NBA legend James Harden competing against entrants’ video submissions. Lo and behold, Foot Locker had created a global, highly interactive social media-based game of HORSE that could be viewed by anyone, anywhere.
So, what was the point? Foot Locker had recently rolled out a loyalty app, and this was weaved through the entire HORSE with Harden marketing campaign. Needless to say, it was a huge success and loyalty program subscriptions rose exponentially.
This stunt did an incredible job of incorporating things like hashtags and live streaming into Foot Locker’s marketing, while managing to remain convenient, straightforward and accessible for customers to engage.
Of course, not every business has a foothold (no pun intended) in markets across the world, with the kind of sway required to have sports celebrities playing games of HORSE for you.
However, Foot Locker’s HORSE with Harden campaign is a perfect example of how a brand thought outside the box in using social media to engage customers. In addition, this promotion reflected the retailer’s values, reinforced the brand message, and offered customers an opportunity to have a little fun while interacting with Foot Locker.
Loyalty marketing tends to inspire the idea of “repeat spending”. Yes, rewards programs and other loyalty marketing strategies are designed to motivate certain consumer behaviors, but not necessarily spending.
In the long term, customer engagement can be far more fruitful than customer spending.
So if your business does happen to have a loyalty program, inviting customers to sign up to it with their Facebook/Instagram etc. accounts is a quick and easy way to jump-start social media marketing strategies among your existing customers.
First of all, it allows you to create a seamless omnichannel experience for the customer. For instance, if a user was browsing a particular category of items in your online store earlier, you can engage them the next time they are on social media, asking this customer if they are still interested in these items.
But it goes deeper…
What if you offer loyalty program members rewards points in exchange for reading, saving and sharing brand-sponsored articles that promote your products or services? Suddenly, each existing customer’s followers are reading up on your brand from a trusted source.
A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, but what if you can incentivize each bird in the hand to recruit two more from the bush?!
The cosmetics industry was among the first to capitalize on this technique; offering customers rewards in exchange for hosting YouTube make-up tutorials to share online.
This isn’t just rewarding consumers for sharing existing content… these brands now have customers creating valuable content for them, and it costs nothing more than a discount here and a reward there.
Many brands have started offering bonus loyalty points for leaving product reviews online, and we haven’t even addressed the elephant in the room yet – referrals.
83% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, family and colleagues over traditional advertising.
By incentivizing your existing customers to promote your brand to their peers, you can drastically cut advertising costs while simultaneously reaching a wider audience, from a trusted and more reliable source.
Florida-basedGood Vibes Juice Co managed to pull off this technique in a slightly subtler way, while also exercising good corporate citizenship.
The juice bar has always incentivized customers to bring their used glass bottles back to the shop in exchange for rewards points, but then it dreamed up a clever new campaign that combines social media loyalty marketing with good corporate citizenship.
Customers can earn themselves a spot on Good Vibes’ famed Instagram page by reusing their old glass bottles in other creative ways around the house, and posting a photo with the relevant hashtags.
Suddenly, the Good Vibes brand is exposed to every loyalty program member’s entire list of social media followers, and is represented as a friendly, local business that cares about the environment and gives away prizes for social media engagement.
All of this, without spending a cent!
For many people, social media is a channel for enhancing their social currency. By offering customers experiential rewards for their ongoing loyalty to your business, you increase your chances of having them post content that paints your brand in a positive light.
Not only does this turn your existing customers into brand advocates for a much wider online audience, but it also acts as a means for businesses to demonstrate their core values.
For instance, eco-friendly experiential rewards that benefit other local businesses send a very clear message to your customers, along with anyone who follows these customers on social media.
In short… offer your customers something that they’ll be eager to post on their social media pages!
I’ve discussed the power of gamification in loyalty marketing before, and fortunately, gamification and social media go hand-in-hand.
A few years ago, confectionery producer Mars gamified itssocial media promotion of the all-new pretzel-flavored M&M. The “Where’s Wally?”-esque Facebook campaign was a huge success in drumming up a bit of online hype around the new release, and the post was shared more than 6000 times.
Media companies that have gamified their marketing campaigns have noticed a 30-40% increase in online customer interactions, which is quite significant.
It’s hard to talk about gamification in marketing without mentioning Starbucks Rewards.
Through its custom-branded digital loyalty app, Starbucks offers customers challenges like, “Try each of these items between Date X and Date Y to collect 150 Bonus Stars”.
Not only is this technique highly effective for cross-selling and upselling, but it also allows the coffee chain to get recent menu additions off to a good start.
Of course, it’s also fun for customers, and social media integration allows friends to compete against each other, share their “menu challenge” status and get more people involved – which is essentially how games like Candy Crush and FarmVille managed to blow up so fast.
Brands that can perfectly blend gamification, loyalty marketing and social media will have no trouble retaining customers and boosting brand loyalty.
When looking for ways to improve customer loyalty marketing with social media, don’t forget that a big part of the customer experience is how businesses deal with the inevitable issues and mistakes that occur.
These days, there’s no excuse for keeping customers waiting – we’re beyond the era where it’s considered acceptable to leave customers on hold for three hours. Consumers expect instant support whenever and wherever they need it.
Hence, customer support has gravitated towards chatbots and social media interactions.
The number of customer service interactions occurring on Twitter almost tripled in the few short years between 2015 and 2018. The same study revealed that an efficient and satisfactory response to a social media complaint can boost a brand’s customer advocacy by as much as 25%.
Depending on the size of your business, you may or may not be able to facilitate 24/7 customer support via social media, but you can 100% ensure that your social media engagement and customer service responses are on-point and fully transparent.
When it comes to customer loyalty marketing, don’t just reward spend – reward engagement!
As we touched on earlier in the article, rewarding customers for leaving online product reviews and business evaluations is a very useful tactic for brands with loyalty programs.
TheL’Oreal Worth It Rewards program is a fine example of a highly engaging loyalty program that rewards its members for far more than simply spending money. L’Oreal customers can earn points towards their next reward by:
*Note: 5 points is the equivalent of spending $1 on L’Oreal products.
This technique works on various levels. Not only does it incentivize customers to educate themselves on L’Oreal products and become brand ambassadors, but it fosters an ever-growing and self-powered social media presence, in which the vast majority of product reviews are positive and the brand image is favorable.
By using social media to its full potential, brands can incentivize their existing customer base to share content, advocate the brand and foster a stronger emotional connection.
This kind of consumer behavior is far more beneficial in the long run, as it creates lifelong customers instead of chasing single transactions.