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Anyone who knows anything about business understands and embraces the fact that customer loyalty reduces your marketing costs, allowing you to increase margins or expand your business as opportunities arise.

In addition to its direct benefits to the bottom line, a sound marketing strategy designed to increase customer loyalty can also tip the scales in your favor. Loyalty programs that make your customers feel valuable and convey exclusivity have the potential of giving your business an edge that goes beyond a reduced cost-per-acquisition and improved retention.

When implemented correctly, a loyalty or rewards program generates a strong competitive advantage in the area of online reputation, online reviews, and social engagement scores.

A Loyalty Program Increases Recall

Giving your customers perks that matter to them results in increased recall and increased likelihood of engagement. As customers become vested with your brand, the potential of triggering a review increases exponentially.

Furthermore, several review sites have tools that equip you to engage your most loyal customers and secure social actions, inclusive of reviews. TripAdvisor, for example, permits businesses to send an email requesting online reviews from their customers. This offers the option of customization and selective targets.

(Check out: “7 Smart Tips for Managing Your Online Reputation”)

By selecting your most loyal customers and emailing a request for a review you ensure quick and accurate recall of your offerings, as well as the human interactions that shaped their experience with your business. Customers engaged in loyalty programs, particularly those with rankings based on number of visits, will have a wealth of information and richness of detail in describing your offering that a typical walk-in customer might not have.

Check-Ins, Ranked Engagement, and Other Social Perks

Maximizing the features of socially driven review websites, such as Foursquare, can do wonders for your online business reputation. Opportunities to obtain discounts, rank as a frequent customer, or sample new products will frequently result in positive feedback specific to the perk provided via the app. Given the fact that Foursquare has an overall higher growth velocity than Yelp, and a format that is more mobile-friendly, it is smart and strategic to include it in your overall reputation building strategy.

If, on the other hand, your customers are more engaged on Yelp, it is entirely possible to use customized printed media collateral to first engage the customer in a check-in and have them subsequently segue into a full review.

Loyalty Programs Expose Engaged Customers to Your Full Offering

A well-executed loyalty program provides participants with opportunities to try new products and experiences that add depth to the way customers perceive and communicate your brand.

A highly effective way to trigger reviews consists of providing your most loyal customers with unique experiences, via exclusive events, with a storyline that is worth sharing. By providing a narrative that positions the reviewer at insider level, the nature of the review will generally convey positive connotations about your business.

Loyalty and Reviews by The Numbers

  • Women are more likely to write online reviews than men (53 percent to 47 percent)
  • Female consumers are more loyal to brands (68 percent) than males (55 percent)

Whether you are just starting your loyalty initiatives, or you are working on revising your current approach, taking into account the role loyalty plays in the building of your online reputation is essential to the overall success of your marketing strategy.

Finally, do not neglect customer service in favor of loyalty and perks. If your service is lacking, no reward or loyalty program will be strong enough to keep your customer coming back. If you do drop the ball, your loyal customer will have no qualms voicing their opinion both in person and online. Managing and growing your online reputation is about balance and excellence in all fronts.

Crystal Shuller

Crystal is the Director of Customer Happiness for ReviewTrackers. She's known around the office for E-mails that make everyone smile, and she has a bag of tricks and tips to help businesses solve their problems and delight their customers.

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