Simply put, consumers want more from brands in order to give them their trust and loyalty. Social issues, political issues, and even global war have been creating deeper divides between us all. In a society that’s seemingly more divisive than ever before, consumers put pressure on brands to meet their new and evolving needs. And, truly more than ever, building an emotional connection with your brand’s consumers is key to growing and strengthening your loyal following.
Of course, your brand can choose to run a haphazardly executed promotional campaign and yield average results. Any “fun” sweepstakes campaign will generate a few leads, a contest will usually generate at least a few submissions, and purchase incentives will almost always boost sales a little bit. But why is your brand really executing the promotional campaign in the first place?
Instead, a purpose-driven marketing promotion offers your brand so much more. What sets a purpose-driven promotion apart? To be brief, brands run a purpose-driven promotion when they execute a campaign with clear, reasonable goals, deeply understand their audience (and what motivates them and how to reach them, among other things), and use the data they collect to learn more about their audience. For more information on purpose-driven promotions, learn more about our IDEA process.
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?
What is a Loyalty Program?
Loyalty promotions have the potential to reach consumers in ways other marketing solutions simply can’t. The main difference between a loyalty program and other types of promotional marketing campaigns is the emphasis on nurturing consumers long-term.
While some may dismiss them as expensive programs, loyalty promotions are uniquely valuable in their ability to influence consumer behavior over a significant period of time. Keep in mind, that loyalty programs are separate from loyalty marketing, which is just one tactic to help brands improve customer loyalty programs.
Over the last few decades, we’ve identified three key solutions to creating an emotional connection to improve your customer loyalty program: creating personalized experiences, involving a charity or non-profit, and taking a stance on a social or political issue.
Create an emotional connection with consumer personalization
Without a doubt, the biggest mistake a marketer can make today is assuming all consumers want the same thing. In fact, 80% of consumers say they are more likely to do business with a company if it offers personalized experiences (Edelman) (Epsilon). Take note of what your consumers tell you they want and adapt your brand’s strategies to meet those needs.
With MRi’s vast collection of digital services built to attract and delight consumers, your brand’s next promotion will have the technological “wow factor” and consumer personalization it needs to stand out. Your brand can incorporate consumer personalization into its loyalty program in several different ways.
When executing a loyalty program or points system, for example, brands may offer customers specific purchase incentives and rewards based on their purchase history and other relevant data. We highly recommend trying this, as 91% of consumers said they would be more likely to shop with brands that 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 the 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
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 form a deeper emotional connection with them.
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 it’s 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 to form an emotional connection
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 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, contact us.