As a merchant, you’re probably excited that the Black Friday Cyber Monday season is almost upon us. After all, this time of year traditionally gives your brand a fantastic burst of business..but is that business actually valuable?
Your gut reaction is probably “yes,” and understandably so. In 2017, BFCM shoppers spent $19.62 billion in the United States alone, which was 15% higher than the year before.
While these numbers sound great on paper, the reality is a bit different. When you peel back the layers, you can find additional reports stating that 64% of brands shared that the customers they acquired over the holidays had a significantly lower lifetime value than customers they gained any other time of the year.
This is a clear indication of even bigger problems. Ad costs continue to climb, and more merchants are extending discounts to a full cyber week — only to get a few more low quality customers. This disconnect feeds into the illusion of growth plaguing so many brands, and really puts a damper on the success you were probably anticipating.
So what can you do to sustain the momentum Black Friday Cyber Monday hopes to deliver?
The answer lies in building a strong brand community.
Brand communities offer Black Friday Cyber Monday shoppers ultimate value
When you invite customers to join an exciting brand community, you’re able to give them something your competitors aren’t: an emotional relationship with each customer’s best interests at the center.
Most brands only care about securing sales, but customers don’t want to shop with transactional brands. Experiencing a sense of belonging is much more valuable than mere discounts, regardless of whether it’s the holidays or not. Convenience is rarely the most important factor in a purchase decision, and investing in building a brand community gives you opportunities to play into the emotions that actually impact whether a customer wants to engage with you.
With this in mind, it’s the brands who build real connections that resonate stronger and longer with BFCM shoppers. When you combine the urgency of the holidays with a strong community offering, you guarantee that your holiday shoppers will be coming back to you in the future.
How a community guarantees holiday success
A successful brand community is able to do 3 things:
- Encourage customers to join
- Motivate customers to engage
- Incentivize customers to share
These three actions are particularly important when you have so many new customers coming to your store. Being able to encourage each of these actions will solidify each new customer’s relationship with your brand, and put you ahead of the ad-reliant competition.
While you can do each of these things in a number of ways, a rewards program is definitely the best method. Acting as a “customer retention” hub, a rewards program sets you up to do each of these things simultaneously.
Account creation rewards motivate shoppers to join
Guest checkouts are incredibly tempting around the holidays. I can think of many examples where I chose to remain anonymous instead of creating an account simply to save some time or energy, regardless of how likely I was to shop there in the future.
These brands could have quickly changed my mind if they had made it worth my while to create an account. Offering new customers points or discounts on future orders for creating an account with your store is a great way to incentivize them to join your community and explore what it means to be a part of it. Not only that, but it also makes it hassle-free for them to engage in the future and opens up opportunities for you to market to them from that point onward.
You can validate each member’s decision to join by welcoming them to your community with a dedicated message. This email from Knack is a great example of how to do this. With phrases like “it’s all about you” and value clearly indicated in the subject line, they’ve taken a number of steps to solidify each new member’s choice to get engaged with their brand.
This small and simple action can go a long way to solidifying your customer’s feelings toward your brand, connecting their experience with you to feelings of happiness and belonging that get them excited to come back in the future.
Future redemption rewards guarantee ongoing engagement
They key to any great rewards program is putting your customers first. This translates to being generous with the rewards you offer and making it easy to earn them. From their first interaction with your store, they should feel like they’re moving closer to a reward.
Rewarding customers for creating an account (as we already discussed) is an effective way to deliver value up front without going overboard. With points in their account, customers will get excited to come back to your store in the hopes of earning another reward. Features like progress bars and points balances in your top navigation bar will also spur them on to stay engaged and earn even more points to spend.
How you communicate with them about these future rewards can also have a huge impact. e.l.f. Cosmetics does a great job of reminding their community members of the rewards they can redeem with monthly points redemption emails. By letting customers know that new rewards are available and what they need to do to earn them, they keep customers engaged and interested in what their community has to offer.
Combining these strategies will help you establish a reciprocal relationship with each of your new BFCM customers that pays off for both of you in the future.
Referral rewards incentivize customers to share your brand
Whether you like it or not, your customers trust each other more than they’ll ever trust you. This sense of camaraderie is strongest during the holidays, when everyone is looking for the best solutions to their gift-buying dilemmas. In an effort to help each other out, customers are much more likely to share their experiences (both good and bad) with others, which means a positive experience with your brand community during the most stressful time of the year can go a long way.
Social rewards, product reviews, and referrals are all highly public ways to give your customers a voice and expand your marketing reach at the same time. Whether you choose to reward them for sharing their unique referral code with friends, leaving detailed product reviews, or engaging with you on social media, you make your community more valuable for both new and returning customers.
YogaClub’s referral program is an excellent example of how to get your customers excited about sharing your brand. Not only do they keep their referral callout on brand with bold pink gradients and icons, but they’ve also customized every customer’s referral link to include their name. This small personal touch makes sharing a referral feel more genuine and authentic, increasing the likelihood that their customers will engage. They’ve also included a clear points balance and invitation to earn more points, making it easy for every member to stay engaged with other aspects of their community.
When you reward customers for completing this type of valuable behavior, you close the loop between the join and share phases of building your community. The more people share, the more people will join, engage, and ultimately share over time, making it a prosperous cycle that keeps on going.
Extend your BFCM success with a strong brand community
Building a brand community is the best way to get the most out of the Black Friday Cyber Monday rush both as it happens and long term.
Whether you have an existing community or want to start one for the first time, there’s no time like the present to start preparing it for the busiest shopping season of the year. By taking the time to gear it up now, you guarantee that every single one of your customers has the chance to join, engage, and share in ways that are comfortable, natural, and valuable for them. Shoppers start researching brands early, so make sure sooner rather than later that your rewards program and brand community are things they can fall in love with.
When you put your customers first, you can reap the benefits all year round.