Monday, March 13, 2017

6 Reasons Why Most Loyalty Programs Fail

Many B2C companies begin a loyalty program with the right intentions. The competition for loyalty members has never been stiffer, and avoiding program fatigue can become an improbable task if you don’t plan in advance. 

By the time you discover your program is going south, not much can be done to salvage it. In your program post-mortem, you will need to analyze what went wrong, and the valuable lessons learned. Here are six reasons why your loyalty program will fail.

1). Undefined goals
How will you determine the success of your program? Start by defining your goals to achieve a set target, like having a 25% increase in new members by the end of the year. Once you have your goals on paper, track and compare your program’s performance over a specific timeline. Many entrepreneurs overlook the need to research the target market. Don’t be one of them.

Study your shoppers' shopping behavior and the actions that can trigger a reaction for them to receive a reward. Such Intel will increase engagement with your customers making your rewards more effective.

2). Choice of vendor
The actual loyalty tool can determine the success or failure of your program. Various software’s can run on a terminal, computer, tablet or smartphone. Whether integrated into your Point Of Sale, Property Management Program or Document Management Software, choosing a poor tool or a vendor with poor involvement will increase your program’s failure probability. A poor loyalty tool limits available customer touch-points both within, and outside the store.

3). Is your program complicated?
Simplicity is the key to a long-lasting loyalty program. Customers need to grasp your program instantly when they read your signage or hear about it from your staff. Make it easy for them to understand exactly why, and what they are signing up for. 

Airline frequent flyers is an example of hard to decipher loyalty programs. More so when it comes to redeeming miles, qualifying for elite miles or upgrading status. If you don’t communicate your value proposition clearly and consistently, your customers will lose interest. 

Ambiguous program rules and irrelevant or insufficient incentives are some of the reasons customers drop loyalty programs. Data from Edgell Knowledge Network found that 81% of members don’t know the benefits of the program they signed up for, nor how, and when they will receive rewards. You can incentivize your members to a certain point, but if the basics of your program are difficult to grasp, the ability to influence them will be lost.

4). Not getting your staff involved
Attractive signage around the store is a plus, but if your staff is not promoting your program, customers are less likely to learn about it. Your staff must be your brand ambassadors! 

No program will succeed long-term exclusively on autopilot if those operating it do not 'own' it. All levels of the organization from management, to the cashier, waitress or sales person must adopt it. Your employees need to encourage customers to participate and enroll new members constantly. They must promote the benefits of membership to your customers.

5). Not differentiating your brand
According to the 2015 colloquy loyalty census, U.S. consumers hold membership in 29 loyalty programs but are only active in 12 of them. Your customers are probably members of multiple loyalty programs as well. With so many to choose from, they will only remember to use the most rewarding of the lot. 

Customers will continue using a program they find to be of more value, fits their lifestyle, and is more rewarding than the competition. They also expect to get incentives and rewards from the program. If your business fails to deliver these expectations, you are at risk of losing your customers to your competitors.

6) Use the data collected
Keep track of every metric associated with your program from day one. Failing to carry out such analysis will cause you not to see emerging trends within the program. The data collected is valuable as it will give you a comprehensive picture of its effectiveness. 

Data collected can also assist your managers’ report the ROI of the program, and demonstrate clear financial rewards to your business. Regularly reviewing your data will help you flag fraudulent card swipes from staff. Such card swipes give your program a false impression of success. 

The intention of loyalty programs is not to give discounts or rewards, but to gain customer insights. A better analysis and deeper understanding of your program will help you build better relationships with your program members.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

7 Ways Your Business Can Profit From Facebook

Facebook is the market leader for social media sites where friends, family and strangers
connect and share online. It is also a great platform for your business to keep customers
informed, develop brand identity, and expand your market.
Social media has proven to be a valuable tool in online marketing and advertising for both large
and small businesses. The following are best practices that can help your business grow on

1. Post regularly
It may seem obvious but many people forget this simple act. Your business will fare better if you regularly post relevant and interesting content two or three times a day. Consider the
relevance of your content before posting as the idea is to elicit a reaction from your audience.
Focus your posts on building relationships by engaging your customers with interesting, useful
or insightful posts. Spark conversations by posing questions or start a debate.

2. Use Facebook ads to target email lists
The people in your email list already have interest in your content. How do you convince as
many as possible to like your page? Leverage Facebook ads by creating a Custom Audience by
using email addresses or phone numbers. Choose the type of ad to create, preferably a Page
Like Sponsored story that will drive users to a landing tab where in exchange for a like they will
receive a reward. You can also take advantage of outdoor signage, standard email signatures or
regular direct-mail pieces, to prompt people to like your page for a chance to win a free item.

3. Make use of Facebook contests
Whether you have 100 or 100,000 likes, Facebook contests are a great tool for building your fan
base. User-generated content (UGC) promotions such as photo or video contests will enable
you to engage, and deepen the connection with your audience. If it involves a voting
component, participants will be inclined to share, asking friends and family for their votes --
amplifying your marketing message in the process. In addition to new insights from the
conversations that take place around your contest, the entry details from participants is also a
rich source of data.

4. Set up custom tabs
You can integrate Facebook tabs with your digital marketing strategy to boost mailing list
subscribers, promote a new campaign or highlight custom content. Pop singer Taylor Swift has
a custom tab on her page that promotes her fragrances, in addition to a quiz that helps her
audience discover their own ‘fragrance personality’. You can generate more sales, and increase
followers by engaging your audience with interactive and relevant custom Facebook tabs.

5. Utilize video playlists
To make a video these days is as ‘difficult ‘as pressing record on your smartphone. According to
Cisco Systems, video traffic will represent 80-90 percent of global internet traffic by 2019.
Another interesting stat shows that for brands with a million plus Facebook fans: video posts
reached 35% of their audience on average, compared to 14% of the photo posts and 4% for text
only posts. Facebook has a system that enables users to watch videos on silent mode, driving
many brands and content creators to embrace silence as a way to captivate viewers.

6. Make it easy to contact you
The easiest way to know whether you have an angry customer is to check your business’s
Facebook page for negative posts or comments. Recent studies suggest that 50% of U.S.
consumers use social media to raise queries or discuss positive and negative experiences. Your
Facebook page is not just a platform for marketing and advertising, but also a channel for
soliciting and receiving customer service in public. Mishandling one customer can see you miss
a lot more prospects. Ensure the messages feature on your page is on for quick and easier
communication across all channels.

7. Utilize Facebook Audience insights
Facebook Audience insights can provide you with behavioral and demographic data of a
segmented audience of your choosing. The free tool will let you see emerging trends from three
groups of audiences:
  • General Facebook audience
  • People connected to your page
  • The people in Custom Audiences you created.
You will also get access to information such as; Demographics, page likes, location and
language, Facebook usage and purchase activity. Using Facebook Insights will enable you
determine the best time of the day or week to post and what content is most popular.
There is more to using Facebook for your business than setting up a page and posting updates.
Understanding the strategy behind social media marketing will help you track results, and tap
into Facebook’s analytics. Your business will remain in the minds of customers if you continue
to leverage its reach and audience.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

6 Tips to Improve Customer Service

In whatever business activity you are involved, the customer is always king. You must pay attention to the level of service you offer if you want to succeed. Here are six tips to help you improve your customer service.

Multi-channel support

Do not rely on one channel to answer your customers' needs. For instance, you can provide telephone, email and social media support, creating multiple channels of communication between you and the customer. Handle queries professionally, regardless of through which channel they arrive, and keep response delays to a minimum.


Your support staff must have good communication skills to maintain high-quality service but knowledge of your company’s products and services makes them effective solution providers. Keep your staff informed and enable them to respond to most inquiries without delaying for research.

CRM systems

Installing a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can improve customer service significantly. CRM systems help you track queries and complaints, but also open up data mining -- analysing customer information such as their buying patterns, type of products or services they commonly use and demographics. Data mining can help you better understand your customers' needs, thus providing them with better service.

Non-specific support staff

Encourage all your employees to participate in the support process. Although most companies have specialist support teams, training everyone in customer communication and providing solutions gives the whole team insight into what your company does, how it works and the challenges their colleagues face. Make sure your non-support staff are supervised by specialists to ensure customer satisfaction.

Customer feedback

Get feedback from your customers about their experience. You can do this by creating simple surveys on your website or by sending your customers a questionnaire.  Feedback helps you gain insight into what your customers like and dislike about your business, gaps in your support and ways to improve both support and your product offering.

Competitor analysis

Learn from your competitors, especially the ones that have excellent customer support. You could send some of your staff as mystery shoppers or hire a professional to do the job. By analysing the differences between their process and yours, you can often spot ways to improve your support offering.

No business will survive without emphasis on customer service. These tips can help you improve your customer service delivery, taking your business to the next level, but only if you are willing to test your support and make necessary changes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

8 Reasons Why Startups Fail

Nobody gets into business expecting to fail, yet a fair number of entrepreneurs will fall by the wayside. A 2016 report by Small Business Administration revealed that about half of all startups survive at least 5 years, and a third survive 10 years or more. This is in contrast to previous beliefs that 50% of startups fail in the first year, while 95% fail within 5 years.
The reality is a significant number of businesses do fail, and it’s not uncommon to see founders, investors, and CEOs blaming each other for the failure.                                                                                                 Here are reasons why startups fail, and tips to keep yours afloat.
  1. The management team
Achieving success will be an uphill task if you venture solo. It's important to bring onboard individuals with diverse skills, whom you can trust enough to give control over their responsibility areas. Weak management teams are poor at market execution and will build weak teams below them. When ideas change or the market is disrupted, your investors and incubators will need a team of smart people they can trust to steady the ship. One of your main roles as founder, is to attract, and retain innovative people who understand your industry, and can scale up your company.
  1. No market
A survey of business owners by CB Insights found that 42% of them failed because instead of full filling a market need, they focused on creating a solution for a non-existent problem. Your product needs to solve a problem, by having a value proposition for a specific customer segment. Do a SWOT analysis or conduct a survey of your potential market before venturing in.
  1. Lack of capital
Don’t underestimate the amount of cash you’ll need to cater for expenses and overheads. Your startup must raise enough “seed capital” to begin and keep your business afloat.Perform a break-even analysis to predict when sales will begin to sustain the business. It may take a year or two before you can break-even.
Create a budget and have sufficient reserves for future developments in case the initial product fails. Maintain a good relationship with your lenders and suppliers -- they may come in handy when you need short-term credit or quick cash.
  1. Location of your business
A good location can enable a struggling startup to survive and thrive, whereas a bad location can make a well-managed enterprise to fail miserably.  A location that’s visible from major roads and intersections will give your retail business or restaurant a competitive advantage by maximizing storefront exposure. The easier it is to locate and access your business, the more walk-ins you will generate.
  1. Not recognizing the competition
What can you do differently, and how well enough can you do it to win the market? Failing to research your competition is planning to fail. Study your competition by visiting their website, follow their social media pages, use their products, and shop anonymously at their stores.
  1. Timing your launch
Launching your startup too early may find you and your team lacking skills to handle your company’s growth. Rushing research and development might also lead to substandard products. On the other hand waiting for too long is not desirable. The best way to launch a product is to set a deadline.
  1. Inability to maintain growth
As your business gathers momentum, you may decide to scale up operations only to realize your business model cannot sustain growth. Allocate your resources wisely by planning when, and the number of people to hire. Be flexible in the event your startup demands you change your model sooner than expected.
  1. Product quality and pricing
Your first product may not meet the market need on first attempt. In some cases, it may only need a few tweaks to achieve the product fit. Extreme cases may require a complete re-think taking you back to the drawing board. Once you have achieved your product fit, determine the ideal price that will gain you sufficient profit, and customers value for their money.
Building an interesting website, product or service will not guarantee you customers if your business model is weak.  Should your startup fail, do a post-mortem of what went wrong, learn from your mistakes, and live to fight another day.