Consumers want more from brands in order to give them their trust and loyalty. By creating an emotional connection with their consumers, companies have an opportunity to grow and strengthen their loyal following. Running an objectively ‘fun’ promotion is still an easily obtainable option that will yield average results. However, when done correctly, there is much more potential with a purpose-driven promotion.
There is a reason ‘purpose’ has become the buzzword of the year- it’s effective. “Nearly two-thirds (63%) of surveyed global consumers prefer to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose that reflects their own values and beliefs, and will avoid companies that don’t.” Why should purpose stop at promotions?
Loyalty promotions have the potential to reach consumers in ways other marketing solutions can’t. Promotions can appeal to consumers from all socio and economic statuses- everyone wants to be a winner. Three key solutions to creating an emotional connection for your loyalty program are: creating personalized experiences, involving a charity or non-profit, and taking a stance on a social or political issue.
Create a personalized experience with consumer data
The biggest mistake a marketer can make today is assuming all consumers want the same thing. 80% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences (Edelman) (Epsilon). With the technology available now, there really is no excuse not to create a personalized experience for each of your loyalty members.
Through a loyalty program or points system, brands can offer customers specific purchase incentives and rewards based on their purchase history and other relevant data. 91% of consumers said they would be more likely to shop with brands who recognize and provide relevant offers and recommendations, and 83% are willing to share their data to make this work (Accenture).
Not only that, but brands can use personalized experiences to engage (or re-engage) consumers with their loyalty program. Take DSW’s 2017 email campaign for example. In order to increase engagement with their loyalty points system, DSW created an extremely personalized email campaign. Every email was specific to each individual customer. They detailed how many points members were away from their next tier of rewards, what rewards were available to them with their current points, and also a list of highlights from their history with the loyalty program (including number of purchases, and how much they had saved with the loyalty program to date).
Due to its personalization, this campaign saw a
- 64% lift in email opens,
- a 13% lift in click-through rates
- and 58.82% of customers who opened the email read it for 15+ seconds (https://movableink.com/blog/email-spotlight-dsws-hyper-personalized-rewards-campaign/).
Consumers who believe companies are doing very well on offering personalized experiences shop more than three times more frequently (Epsilon). So what are you waiting for? Get to know your consumers with your loyalty program and start curating personal experiences to connect with them on a deeper, more emotional level.
Involve a charity or non-profit
Involving a charity or non-profit in your promotion has great potential to connect with consumers. Previously, customers didn’t expect much more from brands other than providing a quality product for a good price. With the increasing influence social media and the internet have on people’s decisions (including purchase decisions), brands are now in the spotlight like never before. One bad consumer experience can have a huge impact on a brand’s image. Similarly, positive experiences can really have an effect on how deeply consumers feel towards a brand.
Supporting a charitable cause can be seen as an admirable and positive experience from your consumers. By partnering with a charity or supporting a charitable cause, brands can give consumers the opportunity to feel like they are making an impact with their loyalty; Whether its by using points to donate to a cause, making their purchase count with a portion of proceeds going to charity, or providing incentives to donate (like double points, exclusive rewards, etc.). It is important to note, for a charitable cause to have a positive impact, the cause should organically align with your brand’s image & your audience.
A perfect example of a charitable loyalty promotion is Prairie Farms “Our Caps, Your Cause” on-pack campaign. By entering codes found on specific Prairie Farm product caps, consumers can select a charity that is important to them and Prairie Farms will donate 5 cents per cap. Once a charity reaches 1,000 donations, Prairie Farms sends a check for $50 to them. Prairie Farms partnered with hundreds of local charities separated into 16 different categories. By offering a wide variety of local charities for their consumers to contribute to, people can feel like they are making an impact in their community.
- Prairie Farms has donated over $185,000 (and counting) to local charities that their consumers selected.
If your brand wants to create a deeper connection with your consumers to build stronger loyalty, involving a charity in your loyalty promotions is a noble and respectable choice.
Take a social or political stance
Taking a social stance is similar to -but much riskier than- involving a charity when it comes to creating a deeper emotional connection with consumers. Historically, it has been in a brand’s best interest to remain separated from social issues and politics. However, doing so today could potentially harm a brand’s image and fan-base. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) of consumers around the world will make a purchase decision based solely because of its position on a social or political issue (Edelman). Consumers today want brands to take a stance on issues they consider to be important. They want to know that they are giving their money to something bigger than just a corporation. In order to form an emotional connection, they want a brand with purpose.
While not a promotional campaign, a notable example of a brand taking a social stance is Nike’s Colin Kaepernick ad campaign from 2018. Nike announced their support of Colin Kaepernick with a set of ads that read “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything” printed over portraits of athletes, including Kaepernick himself. For those unaware, Kaepernick has been in the spotlight in the past for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against POC. It became a huge controversy, and split NFL fans into either pro or anti Kaepernick. As expected, consumers had strong feelings (both positive and negative) towards the ads. However statistics from the campaign show that Nike’s ad had high rewards.
- Sales for the athletic brand went up 31% during the long weekend after the ad launched
- Social media likes and follows surged, & Nike added roughly 170,000 Instagram followers when the campaign launched,
- And “among ‘gen pop viewers,’ 56% said they were more likely to purchase from the brand” (marketingdive.com)
Before you take a stance in your next loyalty promotion, remember: It’s a risky move. Some consumers felt so strongly about the Nike ads, that they lit their nike shoes on fire in protest. While the Nike campaign ultimately paid off, you must be confident and well researched to ensure the stance you take will resonate with your consumers- and even then it is still a risk. And if you choose to partner with an individual or figurehead, their actions will reflect on your campaign, so be cautious and do your research. You must also understand your consumers and take a stance on issues that matter to them and are relevant to your brand in order to form deeper emotional connections.
While not the easiest route to connecting with consumers on an emotional level, taking a stance on a social issue can be a risk worth taking for some loyalty programs.
- “Gen Z and millennial consumers frequently place greater responsibility on brands to live up to their standards, and will most likely have a stronger response (be it negative or positive) to political promotional campaigns (marketingdive.com).”
- 57% of millennial women agreed that their purchase decisions are driven by brand values and/or stance on important issues.
By building an emotional connection with your consumers, you can strengthen their attachment and loyalty to your brand. With these three tactics, we hope you feel more confident strengthening your connection with your consumers in your next customer loyalty program. For more ways to amp up your loyalty program, check out our FREE ebook. If you want our experts’ advice, contact us.