Loyalty Program Ideas: Best Ways to Use Gifts
E-commerce businesses have to use a variety of methods in order to win customers in the extremely competitive markets of today. Some of these methods include email newsletters, discount announcements, bonus programs, gifts delivered with the order, and discounted shipping. The question is, should you be using loyalty programs to win over customers? And if so, how exactly can you apply them to achieve maximum impact, boost your brand, and promote loyalty in your customers?
By sending gifts to your buyers you do not only thank them for making a purchase in your online store but also:
- Make your shop stand out.
You need to stand out in order to be memorable on a highly-competitive market, which you achieve with gifts. And you might be the only shop in your niche offering such a pleasant bonus.
- Set a positive association with your brand.
Everyone loves gifts and associates them with something positive. In this case, it’s your business that will get a positive connotation. And this will happen even if the gifts have very little value because the customer will perceive this as a better deal for having gotten more than they expected.
- Increase sales.
If the customer knows they will get some handy item for free, their desire to make a purchase in this particular shop will increase.
The most popular types of non-material gifts are discounts, free shipping, and bonus points.
Discounts: attracting buyers doesn’t equal selling at a loss
Buying something at a lower cost always provides some satisfaction to your customers, even if the discount isn’t big. And remember that lowering the price is only one of the ways to apply discounts. You can also offer a discount for bulk purchases or make a 3-at-the-price-of-2 kind of offer.
Don’t forget to remind customers about how good a deal they make by buying the same high-quality item and service at a lower price.
Bear in mind that to determine the size of the discount you can afford you should consider the purchase price and important product details. For example, you can attract customers with a large discount and sell off unpopular products or remnants of the last year’s collection in one go.
You can also tie your discounts to specific events or customer actions. For example, a sale for the holiday season or a special discount for the customer’s birthday. Consider offering discounts for making a large order, purchasing two items, etc.
Free shipping: a play on psychology
No buyer can overlook this kind of deal because it offers a free service, which is a psychological trick as getting something “for free” equals “profitable” in one’s mind.
There are many ways to use free shipping, for example you can offer it for:
- Every purchase
- Specific type of products
- Specific order price
- Next purchase
- Purchases made within a specified time period
- Special groups of customers
It’s essential to calculate possible losses in advance so you can plan how much you’ll need to sell to make profit. This will help decide on the duration of the offer.
Remember that if necessary, you can include a part of the shipping cost into the product’s price.
Bonuses: one-time or points
The principle of this loyalty program is to motivate customers to buy more as this will earn them more bonuses. The idea of saving more money the next time they make a purchase motivates some customers so much, they do not only shop in stores that offer bonus points but also have their friends shop using their account.
Be advised that for this loyalty program to not cut your revenue severely, you need to plan it carefully. Consider:
- What will earn buyers bonus points?
- What kind of products will this program include?
- What are the exact terms of the program?
It’s imperative to explain the program terms and conditions to your customers in a clear and concise manner.
Types of bonuses you can offer:
The buyer gets points immediately after making a purchase and can spend them buying something else from your catalog. In this case, the customer will be motivated to buy a more expensive item in order to earn more points. It’s a good short-term program for attracting more buyers.
- In this case, the customer will be able to collect bonus points from several purchases and decide when they want to spend them. This kind of program must be long-term to motivate customers to make repeat purchases, thus increasing your revenue.
In order to make a positive impression on the buyer, any gift you offer must be useful and of high quality. Above all, it mustn’t look cheap!
Promotional gifts allow you to not only enhance loyalty but also advertise your other products. For example, a cosmetics shop might include a perfume tester as a gift. It’s not important for such a gift to be from the same category as the buyer’s order. This program works well for online shops selling baby products, stationery, cosmetics, pet products, etc.
Merchandise with your brand’s logo is a nice gift that makes a positive impression, but it’s less effective from the business point of view as it doesn’t motivate to make a purchase fast.
Promised gifts are sure to motivate consumers to complete the terms required to achieve them, for example, making purchases for a specific amount or making a repeat order. But to make people want to bother in the first place the gift you offer must be valuable.
The quality and price of the gift are important factors despite the fact that the buyer receives it free of charge. A defective or useless gift will make such big a negative impression that you might lose the buyer altogether. It’s better not to send a gift at all than to send a poor one.
Note that you can raise the price of the product on your website if you offer a gift from your own shop. Buyers are sure to pay attention to it and their satisfaction from the deal will increase.
Every online shop owner should be able to choose the best kind of gifts for their target audience. But the following list can offer some inspirational ideas:
- Cosmetics: makeup tools, manicure tools, makeup-remover wipes, product samples, pocket mirrors, nail design tools.
- Clothes: covers, brushes, lint rollers, brooches.
- Baby & children’s products: stationery, books, hankies, hairpins, children’s jewelry.
- Pet products: toys, treats, brushes.
- Automobile products: car fresheners, space organizers, car phone holders.
- Jewelry: gift boxes, cleaning products, keychains.
- Foods: cookbooks, recipe books, kitchen towels.
Sometimes it’s best to give the customer an opportunity to decide whether they want to get:
- A specified gift or free shipping
- One of several specified gifts
- Choose some features of the offered gift (color, size, etc.)
Specifying the gift beforehand
When choosing this route, you should post pictures of the gift on your website and list the requirements the buyers have to complete in order to get it. This is a good choice if your gift is highly valuable and interesting.
Maintain some intrigue
To do this, you’ll need to post banners and ads stating that a gift will be included, without specifying what it is exactly. Use this tactic when your gifts aren’t very valuable but can invoke positive emotions and attract some interest.
But be very careful when wording ads for this campaign as you don’t want your customers to get high expectations and end up disappointed.
Make it a surprise
You can make your customers happy without any special occasions and announcements. Seeing a small gift in their package will be a pleasant surprise for the buyer. Make sure to include a flyer or a card that says it’s a gift for your precious customer to prevent them from thinking that it’s a mistake.
- When the consumer interest is beginning to wane.
Depending on your niche, this might be the end of the month, season, year, during collection changes, etc.
- During the holidays.
For example, Christmas, Black Friday, St. Valentine’s Day, etc.
- When the order reaches a set price.
This will help increase the average order price because getting a bonus to a purchase they were already going to make is great motivation.
- During the launch of your online sales platform.
Use these offers to generate hype, attract buyers, and motivate them to become loyal customers and subscribe to your newsletter. This way you’ll build up your email marketing list.
- Anytime but with a limited time offer.
Launch occasional offers like “Sale only 3 days!” or “Discounts from 12:00 to 15:00” or “Bonus offers for the first 10 buyers!” Messages like these boost interest and motivate people to make decisions faster.
- As a reward for reviews, testimonials, shares in social networks, etc.
People trust advice from their friends more than they do product descriptions, so this kind of feedback can be very useful.
- For purchasing an item that has been in the cart for a while.
Sometimes, people put something in their cart and get distracted without completing the purchase. Send a reminder email with an offer of a bonus (discount, free shipping, etc.) if they complete the purchase within 24 hours, for example. This will be a good motivation for many buyers.
Bear in mind that any terms and conditions that a customer must fulfill in order to receive a gift must be clear and easy to understand. It’s imperative that you live up to all your promises as otherwise, people will stop trusting your shop. Word of mouth will spread that information far and wide.
To achieve maximum reach, reminders about special offers must be visible not only on your home page, but product pages as well. Also, mention this during the order checkout and place a small note in the cart. An email newsletter with the information will also be a good idea, as well as a reminder to contact your online chat for more information.
Remember, loyalty program and presents are the signs of your shop’s success. Be creative when choosing gifts for your customers and they will appreciate them.
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