Much of the buzz in loyalty marketing has to do with bringing customers back to your store for repeat business and increasing the amount of their transaction once they return. While increased repeat business and higher rings for current customers are great ways to grow your sales, it's also important to consider how your loyalty program will bring you new customers as well.
-How will buyers within your target market find out about your business in the first place?
-What will motivate these buyers to leave the competition and come to your business instead?
Acquiring new customers may be perceived as a more difficult task with a completely new set of challenges to address. However, new customers represent one of the biggest growth opportunities, so conquering this aspect of your sales plan can be well worth the time and energy. Take a look at what's being said in the news and in recent research on this subject.
There's a ton of information out there, but there is one chain of thought that may be especially relevant in today's age of mobile technology: New customers through social media referrals. The article, "Rally Those Referrers on Social Media" in the January 8th issue of Convenient Store Decisions, makes some interesting points on how to generate referral business. My favorite take away from this article is: "if you're like most Americans, you're much more likely to be influenced by your friends' recommendations (even if they're just online friends) than by ads.
With that said, our challenge becomes, how do we generate the positive social media that brings in referrals from your base of loyal customers? Provided that you're doing the things that make customers happy enough to talk about your business (fast service, friendly service, food selection, food quality, and cleanliness), the next step is to give your customers a simple accessible means to Tweet, like, and review your business.
Rather than leaving it up to your customers to make the decision to get out on the web and share information, give them an easy convenient way to share with their social network that is a part of their customer experience. Leading C-Store chains like QuikTrip, Wawa, Sheetz, and RaceTrac make social media referral vehicles like Twitter and Facebook a part of their customer interactions in the store and on the web. Take an opportunity to visit their sites, check out their stores and look at their loyalty programs. While there are many factors that make these businesses industry leaders, referrals through social media are becoming a bigger part of these companies strategies to grow sales and we're betting there is much more to come.
When we have an opportunity, we're coaching our c-store partners to take advantage of the new business referrals that can come from a current customer base. In many cases, a few simple links in your email promotions can save a great deal of time, energy and money that may otherwise be spent on traditional advertising. Customer retention is great, but customer acquisition is just as important.Let your loyal customers do the advertising legwork for you and watch the new customers come in! Visit our blog for more ideas on growing sales through loyalty.