Customer loyalty programs – An Advantage or a Disadvantage?
A customer loyalty program can be an advantage for the website owner’s if done well. If up & running properly, loyalty programs can keep your customers turning back for repeated purchases. The ongoing rewards, Cashbacks & sales can convert casual browsers into potential recurring buyers.
But if done wrong, it can be a curse for the website owners. If the running customer loyalty program is below the line, it can lead to a loss of customer’s interest in the offered products & services. Moreover, it will be a waste of time, resources and money.
A potential customer once lost is hard to retain back. But keeping some key factors in mind we can forsure use these loyalty programs as a customer retention tools.
What is Customer Loyalty Program?
A customer loyalty program is a rewards program offered by a company/website to customers who frequently make purchases. A loyalty program may give a customer free merchandise, rewards, coupons, or even advance released products.
Using this technique, we can target both new & existing customers.
Loyalty programs can also be called as ‘incentives’ offered to the buyers against purchase of any product or service. The incentives are directly proportional to the order amount i.e. higher the order amount, higher will be the incentive received by the buyer. The incentivisation can be in terms of discounts, freebies, in cashback points or any other form.
What offerings can churn maximum outputs for you?
From a wide range of offerings, customer loyalty programs can vary on the basis of Product/Services or on the business’s working strategy/planning.
- Offer Cashbacks on purchases
The cashback offering program allows customers to earn money back from previous purchases and redeem them after a certain interval of time, amount or purchases. The cashback if often a pre-defined ‘x percentage’ of the order value & is credited back to the user’s online wallet after a certain interval of time. This cashback can then be spend on future purchases, effectively discounting the future purchase.
- Offer Discounts
The discount program offers a certain percentage discount or flat amount discount on an order. Discounts can be applied either to a specific product or to the entire order.
These discounts can also be referred to as ‘sales’. The discount amount is offered on the MRP of the product thus reducing the sales prices of it.
This program usually applies instant benefits to customers during check out.
- Offer Reward/Royalty points in online wallet
With the royalty points program, customer is offered royalty points in his account based on the behaviour of his previous purchases. The accumulated points can be redeemed as virtual cash in their online wallet which can be redeemed in the next purchases.
With his reward or royalty point program, users are motivated as they earn points upon their actions performed on the website.
- Refer & earn
With the refer and earn program, users are rewarded with virtual money in their online wallet for referring their family & friend to make a purchase of any product or from any specific website. Using this program, both the referrer & the referee earns a certain amount in their online wallet which can be redeemed in their next purchase.
This program motivates a user to refer a product/service/website to his family and friends to earn some extra amount in his wallet which in turn is beneficial for the website to increase their visibility and to generate more orders out of the referrals.
- Offer membership subscriptions
The membership subscription program entitles the user to subscribe as a premium member on the website. With this premium member subscription, the user gets an advantage of many premium facilities like 1st access to pre-launch products, flash sales and introductory products, free shipping for his orders, access to exclusive shopping events & products etc. For e.g. Amazon Prime.
- Offer freebies
With freebies program, the website owner gives away some freebies with every order placed on the website. These freebies can be product dependent & independent. For e.g. while selling a shoe, the buyer can be offered a pair of socks as a freebie and while ordering a mobile the buyer can be offered a screen guard as a freebie.
Offering freebies enhance the user’s buying experience.
- Free Shipping
With the free shipping module, the website’s owner offers the buyer a free shipping of his goods over and above a fixed order amount. If the order amount exceeds that threshold limit, no shipping charges are incurred by the buyer.
This program encourages the buyer to purchase the products of a minimum amount of that threshold limit so as to avail free shipping.
- Gift cards
Gift cards are the prepaid cards that can be purchased from the respective website by a user. The user when purchasing a gift card is given a unique gift card number which can be used to make purchases by him. No cash transaction is required while redeeming a gift card.
The rules regarding a gift card is set by the admin.
When can these rewards be offered to the buyers?
The above-mentioned rewards can be offered to the buyers based on their actions/tasks. The actions might include:
- On User registration
- Buying a specific product
- Festive season discounts
- On referring a friend
- Custom offers based on Birthdays’, anniversary etc.
- On basis of order amount (higher the order amounts, higher is the cashback/loyalty points)
- User’s activity on social media page- promotions by user.
Benefits of enabling these customer loyalty programs on your website:
- Boosts up your sale.
- Brand promotions
- Existing customer retention
- Increased traffic on website
- Increased CLV (Customer’s lifetime value)
- Recurring orders from customers
- More orders means more revenue generation
- Customers mouth to mouth publicity of your brand
First things first, it’s a myth that if we fill our commerce store with hundreds and thousands of products then it will automatically drive search engine traffic to our ecommerce store.
When planning to optimise an e-commerce store you need to understand that it is much more difficult than optimising those 5 page company websites or blogs. So what is it that we need to keep in mind when optimising our commerce store for search engines and what are the common errors we have see that most of the commerce store owners do and do again.
1. Lack of Product Description
An image is worth thousand words but then missing on putting a text description on your products is the first NO thing you should do. Insufficient product information will reduce your chances to almost a zero to be on a search engine’s radar. Search engines can not read images (as of yet) and when they come across one then they look for “alt tags” that you have provided as a description of the image. So first thing you should do is write crisp description about the products that you put on your commerce store.
2. Using Product Descriptions from Manufacturers
Ok so you sell mobile phones or camera’s and since the parent company has already invested in writing a description and details about the product you sell then why not copy the same from their website. “What’s the harm in that?” ism’t this the thought you get when planning to put your products for selling, but hang on for a minute isn’t this the thought everyone gets when they plan to put the same product for selling online on their store.
Search engines are hungry for new and unique content, coping your product descriptions from the parent website makes you a victim of non-unique content. You can definitely copy content from the parent website but feel free to make some amends to it so that it becomes unique to your website.
Always create unique content fro your website.
3. Lack of Product Reviews
Ask your self a question, what do you do as the first thing when you plan to buy a top brand newly launched mobile phone or a new shirt. You research for the features ok that’s yada, yada but then what is the most important part you look for. Isn’t it the reviews of the product buy others who have purchased it. Reviews are a major decision influencers for the products that you sell on your store and the more you get them the better it is for you. Did you know that Reviews are also small snippets of unique content for your website which comes for free, they keep your website content unique at all times and more interactive for your customers. Make sure your products are reviewed by their buyers.
4. Not Optimising Product Pages Based on the Search Demand
What do you think will give you better conversion “car” or a “Pre-owned Red Ferrari 2012 model”, research your keywords and make your product pages optimised for your search engine demand.
5. Non-Unique Titles
HTML plays a significant role in search engine optimisation of your commerce store. Title tag is one of the most important tag to miss and what we have seen that most of the store owners create a whole store with a single title tag <title> running thru the complete e-commerce store.
Like the rest of your content be sure that your title tag is also unique.
6. Lack of “Speaking” urls
You must have come across some URL’s that leaves you confused, what do you need a store url like
WOW, this url does not speaks anything about the product but does speaks a lot about the developer. Try to make your store URL’s as speaking as you can, some thing like
THE UNIQUE TAKE AWAY
So, what is it that is preventing growth of your e-commerce site?
YES! it is lack of unique content and a word of caution, search engines are for the users don’t make your commerce store for search engines but for the customers who buy from it.
E-mail marketing is where you send mails to your existing and prospective customers mails that are meant to increase business. A worried online site retailer is rather concerned why his mails aren’t really increasing his business. What he is yet to know is that all of his mails are not even read forget closing a sale. That’s the inevitable danger of landing in your customer’s spam folder.
In easy terms spam is a folder that stores all the mails that are presumed to be faulty and where the emails can be misleading. You though being a bulk mailer having no bad intentions can still land you in spam.
So here are steps that we suggest you follow to curb chances of your email landing in spam folder
- Update your data
Not all of us hold on to one email id for the rest of our lives. All of us change our email ids some time or other. If you quit an organisation, your mail id is now redundant. If you mail to any of these closed accounts, you reputation as sender may fade. So make sure to capture all replies and after a deployment, unsubscribe users who no longer use that ID and keep a clean track of your users.
- Segregate your users into active and inactive
What many of us don’t know is that if your prospective customer does nothing on receiving your email, the ISP (Internet service providers) observes this inactivity and in a matter of days all your mails will be falling under the junk/spam folder. So the point here to be noted is that your mail should result in either opening the mail or replying to the mail. There’s no problems with the active customers, so to get the inactive users, study their interest and send mails that are sure to push them to open the mails like advertising of an offer etc ?
- Your subject line
Should not contain more usage of punctuation and capitalisation. Using a $ symbol at the beginning of the subject line is a big no-no, besides this there are a lot of keywords that trigger mail servers to consider your email as spam try not to use them in your email body or in the subject. For more details read our blog – List of common spam words
- Check your spam score
There are many email providers who have a default spam-checker tool. This will provide your information about how prone your emails are to spam and though the score are not figure definite, it’s surely worth trusting on. To check spam score of your email message that you plan to send you can use free tools like – https://www.mail-tester.com
- Domain & SMTP check
Most of use email providers like gmail, yahoo, and Hotmail, so if an email message is blocked by one user then it is considered spam for all. You have too be sure that the mail server you are using to send emails is not listed in any Blacklist and has a good reputation. You can check the reputation of your domain name or mail server by using tools like – http://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
- Clean track record
You can tools that can help you evaluate your reputation of emails. You must know from where the emails are being sent and use these IP addresses to eliminate blacklists. You should also check for the SPF and DKIM records for your domain as they improve authority of email and reduces spam score of your server.
An email today is the most popular mode of communication and has been abused by businesses for commercial benefits. Though it is not wrong to use email as a tool to send commercial information but we have to keep in mind that we share this information with users who intend to receive it and will be benefitted with it. A Golden Rule that prevents your emails from not landing into spam is NOT to send spam emails.