“Customer loyalty programs–do they really work?”

That’s a question we often get from businesses looking to find ways to maximize the relationship they have with their current customer base or considering a new program to  entice a flurry of new customers.

But beyond a generally common sense approach that says “Well yes, certainly I’d like to have more repeat customers,” there is plenty of research to back up the idea that keeping your current customers is worth the effort. A recent blog article from Kissmetrics cites research from Invesp Consulting that shows existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend about ⅓ more than new customers. A 2015 article from Hubspot actually puts those numbers much higher, with the average current customer spending up to 67% more than a new customer.

Whichever data you choose to believe, taking a second look to discover new ways to keep those customers happy seems like a pretty good idea.

“But all that work to manage a customer loyalty program… how will we find the resources?”

The good news is that your loyalty program doesn’t have to resemble a skyscraper in Dubai to be effective, and certainly it doesn’t have to do it overnight. If, as Kissmetrics points out, people come for the benefits and stay because a program is not only simple, but also relevant and flexible to their needs, then ensuring you have the benefits that matter most is likely to be the most important part of any good program. And the great news is that finding out what matters isn’t tough.

The Customer Survey: Find Out What Matters to Your Customers

A great way to get the information you need is simply to ask. A survey is an excellent tool for this purpose, and several options give just about anyone the freedom to create a survey for more information. SurveyMonkey is of course one of the most popular, but others such as TypeForm (which we personally use and love here at Outlier) are abundantly available for little to no cost. If you already use email marketing software, odds are good some form of survey creator is already integrated.

Make it Valuable, Make it Easy

Once you’ve gathered feedback on what’s most important to your customers, the next step is finding a way to provide them with the value they want without cluttering up the process to make it more difficult. If someone needs to go through a complex series of steps or other perceived ‘huddles’ to claim their customer loyalty goodies, the odds are also good they’re going to get frustrated and find another way to spend their afternoon. Simple, easy, painless. All key. And while these may seem like no brainers, you might be surprised how often what starts as a simple concept quickly gets more complex.

Make Allies, Not Customers

Providing value to your customers is at its best when you look at your customers less as, well, customers and more as allies for your brand. You keep them happy, and they help you spread that message to others. This still holds true for your customer loyalty program. Will you try to focus on larger giveaway and prize items? Or will you feature smaller, more frequent offerings to whet their loyal whistles? Start with these concepts and build your program out from there.

Ready to get the ball rolling on your very own customer loyalty program? The rewards can be great for businesses ready to take a chance on keeping loyal customers.

Contact Outlier today to help you get your new program off the ground!


  • Kathleen Mingus, Head of Marketing

    Kathleen drives Outlier's marketing communications strategy. She covers topics related to content strategy and content marketing and is only a little embarrassed to admit how many show tune lyrics she knows by heart.