It will come as no surprise that it can cost more than five times as much to acquire a subscriber to your email marketing list than to sell to an existing one. Or, to put it another way, a customer loyalty programme pays for itself.
It is not simply a case of giving regular customers special deals or occasional freebies, although these methods are useful. It has more to do with making them feel valued. A points system, rather like cards that get stamped at coffee shops for every purchase, is a simple, non-personal way of rewarding loyalty. Good, but you need to go further.
I’ve recently been part of a real-life example. A software company was in the process of producing a new programme. I was identified by their email marketing software as someone who had bought the about-to-be-replaced programme, upgrading regularly. I was asked if I might like to take part in beta testing. I was head-hunted; of course I would.
Whenever I sent in a comment or criticism I was thanked by the named person in overall charge of the new programme. I would be told what team my comment would be sent to and the name of the person in charge of it. Within a couple of days I would receive a friendly response. Forums limited to those with the beta programme added to the feeling of community.
When the programme went public, I was offered a release version for less than half the price in the product’s first email marketing campaign. Who wouldn’t buy it? They had gained a loyal customer; my opinion was valued and trusted, so I felt part of the team. I have since become something of an ambassador for the programme. After all, I helped design it.
There are a number of aspects to this procedure that are applicable to most loyalty programmes.
1/ Identifying individuals
They looked through their email marketing lists, picking me as likely to respond. They knew that I was fairly technically savvy/a bit of a nerd.
I was told that I had been picked because I was a valued customer and had used their software for some years.
3/ Asking questions
My preferences were sought in a pre-trial questionnaire.
This is probably the most important aspect of any loyalty programme. I was encouraged to ask questions. All were replied to within a short period. Some became almost a dialogue.
5/ Getting personal
I’d been a subscriber to their email marketing lists for years and their information was put to good use. Emails came at the right time. They used my preferred method of address. I got development team photos. Once when a team member left, I received personal thanks and best wishes.
As I’ve been involved in email marketing for some years, I can get a little cynical at times, but the process got me totally on board. I found it impossible not to respond to the friendly atmosphere. They got good feedback; I got a significantly reduced price. Everyone was a winner.