Loyalty Programs

DMNews reported the efforts of some well know brands to maintain customer loyalty. Retaining customers has taken on renewed focus for many companies recently in an effort to combat reluctance to spend during the recession. Some loyalty programs have become more elaborate and offer more rewards and discounts than in the past.

Target is looking for ways to make it easier for our guests to find additional savings,” says Target spokeswoman Leah Guimond. “We’re currently testing a new rewards program in select markets that offers guests a percent off all purchases made with their REDcard.”

Best Buy’s Rewards Zone program not only offers more rewards to its most loyal customers, but it focuses on keeping in touch with those consumers. “The rules require that we have a valid way to connect to the customers and we’ve introduced a high-value tier that gets additional benefits,” says Bob Soukup, senior director of loyalty at Best Buy. “This lets us reward those customers who are interested in having a relationship with Best Buy. It also lets us concentrate extra attention on our best customers.”

Hilton, worked on increasing enrollment in its loyalty program by reaching out to a different audience than it did before the recession. Rather than its frequent-traveling, elite customer base, the hotel conglomerate shifted its focus to more casual travelers by “being more active with promotional activity, both added-value discount offerings and loyalty program offerings,” says Jeff Diskin, SVP of brand management and marketing at Hilton. “We want to engage with all travelers primarily through our HHonors [loyalty] program, to facilitate the dialog we can have through different channels when they’re connected to us and be able to drive promotional activity and business where we need it,” Diskin adds. “In the past 15 months, we’ve pretty much had an HHonors-based promotion every quarter. What that’s done is drive enrollment, so now we’re getting the business they’ve booked for the promotion and then using that database for some really directed offerings.”

Brand marketers are also realizing the power of loyalty marketing in driving the bottom line. J&P Cycles, a multichannel retailer of aftermarket motorcycle parts, used the insights it gained from members of its Gold Club loyalty program to adjust prices on “tens of thousands” of its SKUs, says Rich Brecht, senior contact center manager for the company. “As the economy really took a dive, we found a lot of our feedback was coming on shipping charges and price,” Brecht says. “So we lowered the Gold Club shipping minimums, and if a customer didn’t order this product from us today because it was cheaper elsewhere, we started aggressively logging that to adjust prices.”

Marketers without existing loyalty programs are now taking a second look. Printer manufacturer Epson is considering a loyalty program to encourage buying ink direct from the company. Such a program was tested and killed in the past, says Chris Nickel, manager of CRM and direct response marketing for Epson, but momentum has begun to build behind the idea again.

Is there a way that we can help you implement a loyalty program using your existing customer information? Just letting your customers know that you appreciate their business may be the reminder they need to stay loyal to you. A “thank you” card sent in the mail can go a long way.

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