What is Loyalty Marketing?
Loyalty Marketing Programs have been around for quite some time, and they can be used in any business regardless of their structure. A customer loyalty program is a program run by a business that offers benefits to frequent customers. Those benefits may be in the form of discounts, rebates, free products, or other promotions. One of the most significant loyalty programs in Canada has to be the PC Optimum rewards program. Members earn points by shopping at any Loblaw Company retail store. Once they reach a point threshold, these points are redeemed in-store for a dollar value. The sole purpose of a loyalty program is customer retention, relationship building, and to provide a better customer experience.
The goal of Search Engine Optimization (and Paid Per Click) is to get a user with a specific search query to visit your site, resulting in a conversion. Think of it this way, SEO is like the physical location of a restaurant while loyalty programs are the food that keeps people coming back. Loyalty programs also work in reverse where the loyalty incentives for customers can allow for better SEO performance. Below is a breakdown of how SEO and loyalty programs work in tandem.
Search Engine Optimization and Loyal Customers
As mentioned earlier, SEO is the physical restaurant location while loyalty programs are the food that people come back for. Search Engine Optimization breaks down the most difficult barrier of being found for search intent. Google (or the online market in general) serve the purpose of delivering the best user experience for a customer’s search. If your SEO strategy offers the best user experience, the hard part is done. Once the user is on the site, it is the site’s job to convert and keep them in the journey through to loyalty. SEO best practices such as optimized pages, persuasive CTAs, unique content, and UX will all help to turn that visitor into a customer.
The Importance of a Loyalty Program on SEO
If your SEO strategy results in a user converting into a customer, the game plan now switches to enticing the customer to continue to shop through incentives. Incentives can vary typically from a subscription service that makes the prices cheaper or discounts on products through specific actions. The best strategy (besides a paid subscription like Amazon Prime) is to set up tasks or rewards that help your SEO strategy. A repeat customer is a happy customer and one who is more likely to engage with your brand.
Online reviews provide social validation for the products or services your business offers. In the example of local searches, Google will always show results for the most related locations and reviews associated with the business. Statistics reveal that 90% of consumers are influenced by positive reviews when making a buying decision. Negative reviews also affect a consumer’s purchasing behaviour–86% were affected by negative reviews seen online. To tie it back to the loyalty program, you should encourage consumers through the use of rewards or discounts to leave reviews online for the products or services they purchase. The more reviews and feedback received will validate the product and your presence online.
Loyal Customers Refer New Customers
Building a loyalty program will help boost your SEO strategy, but they need to work together. Yes, your SEO strategy got you that sale but now begins the part of creating a shopping pattern and building a relationship between your brand and the customer. A loyalty program is the incentive to keep your customer returning to your business regularly. If the game plan works well enough to get three purchases from a customer at the minimum, you have now converted a customer into a brand loyal consumer.
The idea is to keep people incentivized to keep on coming back and to become brand ambassadors for your business. The more brand ambassadors you have, the more likely you will be able to get new customers from referrals. Referral consumers are incredibly valuable–a referral is the most cost-effective way to gain new customers since they convert from an already satisfied customer.
Although I’ve focused on eCommerce businesses, the connection between SEO and loyalty marketing also applies to service-based businesses. For service-based companies, encourage your customers to leave online reviews by offering a reward.