Making an Emotional Connection to Your Customers Through a Loyalty Program
As a consumer, ask yourself if loyalty programs help drive your purchase decision for products or services on a daily basis. The answer is probably yes.
According to a report by Forrester Research, over 70% of us belong to at least one loyalty program, and on average, we belong to at least 9 of them. But what separates a truly successful loyalty program from one that is just...eh? If you take a moment and think about all the rewards programs you are a member of, from coffee stores, to hotels, to airlines, there is a common driving factor behind your loyalty that typically goes way beyond just collecting and redeeming points. It’s all boils down to your emotional connection with that company.
What Drives a Successful Loyalty Program
Most successful theatres feel they have satisfied customers. This can be shown with indicators such as surveys, positive social media posts, high online ratings, and maybe even repeat business. But a good loyalty program bridges the gap between a satisfied customer and a customer that is emotionally connected to your company and brand.
Motista, a company that specializes in understanding the emotional connection a customer has with a particular company, showed that emotionally connected customers will be loyal to a brand for an average of 50% longer and will recommend it to their social circle almost 61% more than just a “satisfied customer”. Bottom line, customers who feel an emotional connection to your cinema are far more valuable to your business.
Your guest went out of their way to join your loyalty program, so you need to truly make them feel special.
Going Beyond the Earn and Burn Program
As noted in the Forrester report on How Consumers Really Feel About Loyalty Programs, most customers gravitate toward loyalty program membership as a way to save money (earn and burn points), but they also want something extra. Some 59% of adults who belong to a customer loyalty program say that getting special offers or treatment that isn’t available to other customers is important to them. Again, think back to the loyalty programs you are a member of and which ones you value the most. I would guess that the ones at the top of your list are programs that balance discounts with other non-transactional benefits that make you feel really special.
Here is an example. You are on a coast to coast flight, stuck in the middle seat before departure. Just before they close the doors, the flight attendant walks down the aisle with a sheet of paper looking at everyone along the way, then stops at your seat and proudly announces “YOU HAVE BEEN UPGRADED TO FIRST CLASS”. Score! Make no mistake, the flight attendant is not being shy about ensuring everyone around you hears those seven glorious words. As you remove your bag from the overhead bin, everyone around you is staring in envy, wishing they had more status than you.
Why not try that with your best theater customers by giving them access to “money can’t buy” experiences and rewards? For example, create a benefit that can only be earned, not bought, such as access to preferred auditorium seating. What if one of your top loyalty members was purchasing a ticket with their mobile app, only to find out there are only front row seats left. Best case, they choose another movie. More likely, they make other plans.
But what if your mobile app recognized them as a top loyalty member, knows they have the status, and offers reserved seats in the middle of the auditorium only for VIP members like them, “Would you like to redeem your voucher for better seats?” An immediate emotional connection to your cinema and brand has been made.
Measurement of Success
One statistic shows that 79% of customers indicated that they are “very satisfied with loyalty programs” that have a high degree of personalization. Meaning, they can choose their reward rather than only being able to redeem points for discounts. But at the same time, according to a recent study by Capgemeni, 53% of consumers have quit at least one loyalty program within the last year. The main reasons are:
- A lack of reward relevance, flexibility, and value (44 percent)
- A lack of a seamless multi-channel experience (33 percent)
- Customer service issues (17 percent)
In reality, the vast majority of loyalty program administrators really don’t know why customers quit, they simply stop participating. As they say, “it’s hard to improve something you don’t measure.” Cookie cutter out of the box loyalty programs and mobile apps may not fit all customers and loyalty members are not all created equal. One loyal customer base may value turning in points for free stuff, another may value those “money-can’t buy” benefits.
How do you find out? Start with the basics, measure retention by tracking repeat customers vs one time visitors, actively survey your customers to find out what they value and why your loyal customers are loyal.
Then dig deep. If your loyalty program was set up with the right metrics from the beginning, it will be easy to calculate items like repeat purchase rate, redemption rate, per cap of loyalty members vs non-loyalty members etc.
Mobile Application - The Cornerstone of Your Loyalty Program
Lastly and most importantly, make sure your theatre's mobile application is the cornerstone of your loyalty program. At minimum, it must be able to:
- Allow quick enrollment
- Upgrade or purchase of VIP memberships (if your program offers one)
- Search available film & showtime with ticket purchasing
- Pre-Order Food and Beverages (if offered)
- Store your customers full profile and loyalty point balance
- Track repeat visit and spending history
- Provide relevant and targeted offers, rewards, and promotions
- Survey customers and allow them to provide feedback
Continuously tweaking and fine tuning your loyalty program based on data you collect about their experience, spending patterns, and values will allow you to make that all important emotional connection with your guests, ensuring program success. If your current loyalty program or mobile application doesn’t allow this, find one that does.