It’s undeniable that in the last 10 years we have seen an enormous shift in the relationship between brands and consumers. Social media has helped to tip the balance of power. Brands, long used to a one way dialogue, have had to get used to communicating with their customers online. And the smartphone has ensured that ‘everywhere’ is now a potential touchpoint in the brand-customer relationship. These wider trends are ones that need to be considered from the outset if merchants are to really improve customer engagement and make the most of their customer loyalty strategies. Loyalty programs must be social because loyalty is based on a relationship. And relationship dialogue now takes place online.

Building trust

There was a time, when thinking of ways of attracting customers to a loyalty program, merchants would consider sticking flyers onto packaging, or phoning customers to explain the benefits. While these cannot be discounted for some companies, and indeed do still work, it’s clear that for the majority of merchants, the focus should now be communicating with customers via social media.

Social media is certainly a good way to create real-time conversations with consumers, improve customer engagement with your brand and encourage them to participate in your loyalty programs. Calls to action are quite common on social networks. They also work well with contests or referral programs – where the primary goal is to drive registrations in exchange for the chance to win something of interest, or earn additional value.

Building loyalty is a never-ending activity. It results from every interaction with customers. With every interaction, the customer’s perception of the brand improves or deteriorates. Therefore it’s important that the majority of interactions are designed in such a way as to merit increasing trust.

Trust is crucial on social media. Customers don’t want to see direct advertising there. They want authenticity. This is particularly true of millennials (see How to engage with Millennials), but all consumers see social media as a place where they feel safe. Surrounded by their friends and peers. So your message needs to be appropriate for that space.

Improve customer engagement by showing you care

If the tone is right, the results can be truly powerful. Word of mouth marketing has always been a powerful way of attracting people to your loyalty program, but with social media this power is amplified. Customers can share your messages with speed and efficiency wherever they are. And thousands of people can see the results.

Social media is a great way to attract customers to your loyalty program, but it’s crucial to use the platform to improve customer engagement once they’ve joined. Sharing useful information is appreciated by your customers, but you should also see social media as a space to find out more about what they really value. By interacting with consumers, they will see your brand as one that cares. In the coming years, consumer spending is likely to shift rapidly to companies that treat people with respect and help them achieve their personal goals as efficiently as possible.

At Currency Alliance, we believe that online communication with your customers is key to both attracting them to your loyalty program and increasing engagement once they have joined. We see the brand-customer relationship as a journey and enable strategies involving social communications that improve customer engagement.

How would you like your customers to talk about your business in three years’ time?

You can shape the way they feel by starting to engage with them now. By initiating interactions on social media you can demonstrate that your business cares about the customer, thereby making the most of the relationship.

If you would like to talk further, have any comments, or would like information our loyalty enablement capabilities for your loyalty strategy, please get in touch.