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As a marketer myself, I get it. Every decision to invest can feel as though it comes at the cost of something else. When we decide to focus our team’s time and energy in one place, we decide not to focus it on another. When we choose to invest in new technology, we choose not to invest in others. It’s easy to become paralyzed or to remain standing still doing the same things we’ve always done, rather than taking a leap of faith and trying something new that could ultimately make a big impact.
Sometimes though, we have no choice but to take these difficult decisions, and this is the case for loyalty and retention. These are the forcing functions that have made your decisions for you. Your existing customers are already there, so put them firmly at the top of your agenda this year. Keep reading for why now’s the best time to focus on customer loyalty.
This year, inflation soared to the highest we’ve seen in 40 years and understandably, consumers are feeling the pinch.
As a knock-on effect, stores can expect to see customers shopping around more than usual as they become increasingly susceptible to introductory offers and discounts, and subscription based models will see more cancellations than before. But although the prospect of this is pretty scary, it doesn’t have to mean a complete growth slowdown for your store.
Why? Because your existing customers – or your Insider Community as we like to call them at LoyaltyLion – are waiting in the wings. Your Insider community, which tends to be made up of your customers with the highest lifetime value, drives over 50% of your revenue. This segment of customers is much more likely to repurchase, while spending more annually than non-members too.
If you focus on nurturing your existing customer relationships, you can build emotional connections with your shoppers and deliver experiences that they care about. This means that when push comes to shove, they will still choose you over a cheaper alternative because they’re invested in your brand on a deeper level. And remember, as long as your Insider Community sticks around with you through hard times, that’s at least 50% less of your revenue you have to worry about!
I’m not here to tell you to turn off all your acquisition activity. You need to continue bringing new customers through the door. However, we can’t hide from the fact that our traditional acquisition channels are becoming more expensive. Digital advertising spend is forecast to increase to over 600bn dollars worldwide by 2024. But alongside that increased spend, we’re seeing a decrease in ROI. We can no longer use these channels to collect customer data to use to re-engage shoppers as we have before.
From the iOS updates to the coming cookiepocolypse, privacy changes and consumers’ increasing propensity to opt out of sharing their data are changing the game. Despite paying more to reach and acquire customers, we are less able to collect the data we need to retain them. We’re bearing the costs of maintaining footfall, but it’s harder to deliver personalized experiences that keep customers coming back.
The old adage that retaining existing customers is cheaper than acquiring new ones has never been more true. In this opt-out era, we need to focus on our most effective growth lever – the customers who are already opted in, who are happy to share their data in exchange for great customer experiences, and who will spread the word and encourage others to opt-in too.
Delivering consistently great customer experiences is bread and butter for an ecommerce business, but it’s increasingly difficult to do. From the supply chain hold-ups and difficulties that led us into this year, to the rising inflation and interest rates that have greeted us along the way, there are multiple factors that are making it more challenging to meet customer expectations, without negatively impacting your margins or passing additional costs onto shoppers.
This is where an understanding of your existing customers and their value to your brand is crucial.
If you know who your top-tier customers are – the ones that purchase frequently with the highest average order values – you can focus on giving them consistently great shopping experiences that keep them coming back and referring your brand to others.
If supply chain struggles have left you unable to meet next-day shipping demands for all customers, then segment your most valuable customers and offer it just for them. If products are in short supply, then make sure your most loyal customer get priority access before they run out. If you’re leaning towards introductory offers to get shoppers through the door as consumer confidence takes a hit, look at alternative incentives such as double or bonus points that could get existing customers returning and shopping instead.
At a time when there are lots of external pressures on your profit margins, identifying your most loyal customers and prioritizing their experiences will create more buffer, and reduce the need to rely on discounting elsewhere.
The fourth and final factor that I see impacting ecommerce brands everywhere, is conscious consumerism. This is by no means a new trend. 90% of millennials say they will buy from a brand if they believe their social and environmental claims. And you can bet your bottom dollar that they’ll boycott any brand they perceive to be greenwashing and not living up to their claims.
You may not be in a position to have revisited your entire supply chain to make sure it’s sustainable yet, but today’s shoppers ARE making decisions based on their values. They want to shop with brands they are confident share their passions and beliefs, so you have to be seen to be doing something genuine and authentic to align with them.
From brands who are using their loyalty programs to offer points in exchange for positive behaviors like recycling, to brands that are allowing shoppers to redeem rewards in the form of charitable donations, ecommerce businesses are making small gestures that go a long way with their customers. Small gestures that are a great deal easier to execute than large-scale operational changes.
To summarise, it’s more important than ever to invest in customer loyalty right now because while you can’t control the external and economic factors surrounding your business, you can react to them in a way that doesn’t damage your margins or negatively impact your marketing ROI. You can focus your attention on your most profitable customers who make up your Insider community, which is likely to be the key to your continued growth over this period.
See more brands that are investing in customer loyalty and retention and seeing positive results, download the LoyaltyLion Hall of Fame.