We’ve all heard the phrase, “Better to beg forgiveness than ask permission” used as an excuse to move forward without the official nod from the higher ups. While there are situations where that works well, marketing is increasingly not one of those scenarios.
As the Internet matures and its users become more sophisticated, asking permission becomes the way to open lines of communication to consumers. Skipping the permission step is an easy way to be ignored or even blocked by the intended audience.
There are those who would argue this point and say that unsolicited offers are still working well, but if you peel back the onion, you’ll see two clear facts: 1) the more often email marketers use their tools, the less effective those tools become, and, 2) email is in decline as an effective marketing tool. Email marketing simply doesn’t scale.
Fortunately, there is a way to ask permission that scales remarkably well: Loyalty programs. A well-executed loyalty program creates a relationship between the seller and buyer that allows for implicit mutual benefit: I will reward you for engaging more closely with you and in return, I will offer you a higher level of service, exclusivity and, in some cases, better pricing on the things you buy.
I say ‘some cases’ because it doesn’t have to be about better prices. We engage with a brand because we feel a level of affinity that doesn’t necessarily come from economic benefits. Each consumer is different and while some are motivated by discounts, others are drawn in by increased sense of worth, common goals, and even game mechanics, where achieving levels or benefits is the outcome of a competitive framework.
Measure and modify your program
What truly makes loyalty work is the ability to create, test and modify loyalty programs. Loyalty programs that improve constantly will increase consumer commitment, increase spend, and create a loyal fan that stays around and has a much higher lifetime value to the brand.
This article was first published on the Loyalty Lab blog.