The importance of customer loyalty isn’t lost on the world’s best-known brands. Everyone from Starbucks to McDonald’s relies on a customer loyalty program to drive revenue and repeat sales, which are the lifeblood of a thriving business. Even Amazon, who is never at a loss for business, is in the process of rolling out such a program. They’re doing it because repeat customers spend 31% more than new customers, and retaining them costs five times less than acquiring new customers. With numbers like that, it should be obvious that customer loyalty should be a top priority for any business that wants to survive and thrive in a competitive marketplace.

Online, customer loyalty programs are even more essential, as they provide businesses with a way to differentiate themselves from the competition and build a loyal following in their market segment. Without one, it’s hard for a digital business to survive in the current environment—at least not for very long. Fortunately, building a customer loyalty program is well within reach of businesses of all sizes and in all industries. Here are some tips on how to do it.

Select Actions to Reward

First and foremost, it’s necessary to decide on just what customer behavior is to be encouraged and rewarded through the customer loyalty program. From a business perspective, it’s tempting to prioritize rewarding sales above all else, but that won’t help to build a relationship with customers. Instead, it’s necessary to create a rewards structure that reaches into all of the types of interactions the business has with its customers. Consider rewarding things like social mentions, product reviews and referrals. Of course, rewarding sales will always be a part of the program, but the real goal should always be to encourage interaction, as that’s what truly builds loyalty.

Communicate the Value Proposition

One of the most important parts of building a customer loyalty program online is to clearly communicate the value of the program to customers. They should know exactly what they have to do to earn rewards, what the rewards are and why they’re valuable. If the program is straightforward, easy to understand and offers great benefits, the customers will use it and demonstrate their loyalty through repeat sales.

Offer a Variety of Rewards

Offering discounts is easy. That’s why everyone does it. While customers almost universally love saving money, it’s not the only way to reward them. To engage with the broadest range of customers, consider offering rewards like event tickets and charitable donations in their name. Wherever possible, try to establish partnerships with other businesses to broaden the range of rewards available to customers in the program (via reciprocal redemption agreements). The bottom line is, variety encourages participation and should be offered in every way possible.

Provide Multiple On-Ramps

To get the maximum number of people to participate in an online customer loyalty program, it’s important to give them multiple opportunities to join. Take every opportunity to remind customers that they could be earning valuable rewards, and let them know what they’re missing out on by not enrolling. Consider asking them to join during a purchase, and displaying the rewards they could be earning right on the spot. It’s also a good idea to use things like push notifications and other reminders to let customers know what they’re getting out of the program.

Evolve and Iterate

Once the program is up and running, make sure to evaluate all aspects of the program to look for areas that can be improved over time. For example, if a certain type of reward is working well, offer more rewards in the same vein. Conversely, if nobody’s taking advantage of a reward, discontinue it and offer something better. Doing this lets the customers know that their participation is valued by the business and that their voices and preferences are being heard. At the end of the day, a customer loyalty program should always be evolving – after all, it’s a mirror for the relationship with the customers themselves, which should never be allowed to stagnate.

Designing and operating a customer loyalty program isn’t difficult, but it can be quite an undertaking depending on the size and complexity of the business. We at Comit Developers would love to help your business build a customer loyalty program that turns every interaction into a growing relationship between you and the customers your business serves. Contact us today so we can lend you our expertise to turn your customers into loyal followers for years to come.