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This guest post is written by Aleana Bargaoui, Founder at Brands Are Alive. Aleana, a loyalty and customer retention expert, is passionate about helping ecommerce brands turn their customers into loyal advocates.
While everyone else is scouring the internet for the ‘ultimate’ BFCM discounting strategy, I want to invite you to consider how much things have really changed since the days of lining up overnight to go under the human stampede at the crack of dawn for that sweet BFCM deal.
With the explosion of ecommerce activity after the pandemic, the stampede was replaced by deep confusion on both parts — advertisers are struggling more than ever to capture and retain attention, and consumers are struggling to navigate the information overload amidst all the noise.
Recently, LoyaltyLion published research titled The new discounting playbook, in which they revealed how customers really feel about BFCM in 2021.
58% of those surveyed say that BFCM deals impact their trust in brands, while 59% feel that brands focus on winning new customers over making their existing customers feel special during BFCM.
This shows there is a real opportunity to stand out and create long-lasting impact by being one of the few brands to do things differently. This article explains how to nurture your existing shoppers into loyal customers throughout the holiday season and beyond.
These questions will help you start on the right foot when capturing the attention of new customers.
If you’re still unclear, ask your best customers what makes your brand special to them.
Don’t just ask repeat buyers, but go for the extreme outliers, and raving fans. Those whose repurchase frequency, order value, and engagement rate are much higher than average.
Don’t drop the ball once you’ve captured their interest. Now is the time to maintain long-term attention and encourage loyalty, by building Emotional Capital.
Emotional Capital is accumulated by delivering a series of emotionally impactful experiences.
The following 3 points are not exhaustive, but should cover most of your bases:
It goes without saying that your product should deliver on its promise. But to make a lasting impression on your customer, you have to exceed the expectation.
The bigger the gap between perceived value and price, the more impactful the experience.
Don’t just use this as an opportunity to get rid of slow inventory by throwing in a cheap item that no one wants.
Sometimes they value something else, maybe an easier shipping experience, or faster customer service, or heck, prettier packaging. Understand what your customer actually wants, and give it to them. Remember, the value is based on their perception.
Rave-worthy brands don’t ask their customers to “get in touch with USPS” when their package is lost. They don’t blame anything on the manufacturer, 3rd party fulfillment center, shipping courier, or the weather.
Whether or not you do it in-house, you must take responsibility for every touchpoint. A simple rule of thumb is this: If it affects your customer’s experience with your brand, then it is your responsibility.
Here is an interesting observation: How your team feels about work is a good indicator of how customers feel about the brand.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but the mental and emotional state of your team members affects your customer experience far more than you realize— even if they are not in direct contact.
Even if you have made an impression on a customer, their loyalty behaviors will likely be sporadic and up to chance. To make them more consistent, we need triggers and rewards.
Best practices for the reward:
Again, this goes back to knowing your customer. If you understand their problems and desires, you know which incentives will motivate them the most.
That’s why Sephora incorporated other incentives, such as exclusive content (free beauty classes), and custom makeovers (a desired service, and a chance to upsell on more products).
Here are some loyalty incentives near-guaranteed to make your customers feel appreciated this BFCM:
If you’re looking for tried and true, this might be the earliest loyalty program in history- and the most potent: It has been going strong since the 19th Century.
In the mid-1800s, Sweet Home Laundry Soap (a New Hampshire merchant) started giving out copper tokens to buyers, which they could later exchange for premium products only available for purchase to these token owners. This was a huge success and lasted throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
This works for a few reasons:
Here is a similar modern-day example from Mirenesse:
Surprise your existing customers this BFCM by depositing an unexpected, unconditional balance of loyalty points in their accounts. Then, send them an email or message along the lines of “remember to gift yourself too, this year.”
Why it works:
In The new discounting playbook, 63% of consumers said they wanted brands to give them an opportunity to contribute to a charity or initiative aligned with their values.
Instead of giving discount rewards for their loyalty points, customers can choose from a variety of charitable actions, such as giving away free meals or planting trees.
Why it works:
If you want to weave your brand into their lives even further, help them give to the people they love.
Every positive review a customer leaves is a chance to connect and get a referral.
To do this, integrate your LoyaltyLion account with your review app, and your email service provider. Here is a list of all native integrations.
Then, create an email segment targeting any customer who has recently left a positive review, and ask them to use their personal referral link to refer 2-3 people who might like your brand (or to join the loyalty program, if they’re not yet members).
Be generous with your giving, and remember that while it can feel nerve-racking to give out too many points, you are not aiming to have a profitable first transaction when acquiring a new customer. Your LoyaltyLion Customer Success Manager can help you make sure you are rewarding points responsibly. Alternatively, you can use a tool like Lifetimely to make better lifetime value decisions.
Your messaging counts, too. Help them sell your brand with your own set of value propositions.
Here’s an example from Annmarie Skincare:
For more alternative discounting and incentive strategies for this BFCM, you can download Part 2 of The New Discounting Playbook here. Or check out the LoyaltyLion Academy Course for the webinar titled “Six ways to turn one-time BFCM shoppers into long-term loyal customers”.