Building a customer base is critical for any business, and attracting new customers is the first goal. Turning existing customers into loyal advocates is the second. One of the greatest rewards any business can show is when an existing customer brings in new ones for you. It’s the silver lining of a product or service offering that is obviously working well, and is what all marketers and businesses aim for. The key is to plan strategies for both. Using tactical promotional incentives is one way to pull new customers into the business.
Statistics show that 80% of your future revenue will come from 20% of your customers. So building programs to retain clients with deliberate marketing or promotional tactics is crucial. The only way to retain customers and have them recommend you is to consistently meet, if not surpass, their expectations. Using rewards or loyalty has become an increasingly popular method of keeping customers close to your brand.
While some marketers use discounts as promotional tactics, we now know that customers reduce the value of the discounted brand in their mind forever. They also adjust their pricing expectations to the lower price, and for future purchases think anything above this is no longer the true value. Marketers need to look for alternative pricing strategies that offer rewards while maintaining, if not increasing, brand value.
Offering a first time customer a reward card has an immediate benefit. For example, a $20 free gift card with a purchase offers two benefits in one. It uses the power of free, which in effect gives the customer a double dopamine hit in the reward centre of the brain. Immediately, they want to buy your product just because they are receiving something for free. It is a powerful marketing ploy that has been used for decades, and we now understand the behavioural rationale of why.
Secondly, rewards offer financial benefit without discounting the product and reducing its lifetime value in the customer’s mind. Acer computers used this promotional idea by offering EFTPOS gift cards that could be redeemed where any EFTPOS facility was in use. It resulted in high cut through, and added value to their brand.
Customer incentive programmes
When a customer is happy about a product or service, they are often happy to share it. Sometimes all they need to do so is to be asked, and offered a small incentive. Asking customers to refer a friend, and using a gift or reward card as incentive, can raise conversion.
Loyalty programmes offer significant advantages to the business:
- Tracking of customer purchase habits
- Database of customers and basic profile
- Opportunity to survey customers and find out their attitudes and behaviours
- Ready pool of customers to whom you can launch future products and line extensions
- A hierarchy of loyalty can be established to secure customers in the long term
Socially conscious incentives
People – your customers – are now making more life decisions that support charities or sustainable practices than ever before. Consider socially conscious incentives to add on as a promotional tactic when purchasing your product. You can also build loyalty this way. For example, instead of a punch card of buy 9 get 10 free, why not consider a cash donation to a charity on behalf of the customer, rather than a free product or service? If using loyalty cards, you can track the amount and the individual can monitor their gifts to charity throughout the year. You can build social media campaigns around this concept, and as the herd grows, the overall donations increase. This strategy deliberately builds the brand’s reputation as being socially conscious.
Conversing with customers through direct channels, such as Facebook and Twitter, means you can launch promotions at a moment’s notice and immediately watch the impact. There are so many opportunities for promotions through social media, although they are generally brand building rather than product conversion strategies. However, it’s very easy to offer incentives and rewards to customers through social media. For example, the first 100 Likes on Facebook could receive a gift card. This channel allows you to listen to customers by letting them do the talking and hearing what engages them.
Sampling is a proven marketing tactic used to attract new customers by targeting them and giving a free sample of the product or service you are selling. Sampling allows immediate product usage and association without having to think. If required, a second promotional offer can be added to convert them into regular users.