You wouldn’t be in business if you didn’t think you had something valuable to offer, and your customers must agree with you. But let me ask you something -- what do you do when every other small business out there offers the same kind of value that you do? What makes customers stick with your brand? Loyalty does. Everyone wants to belong. It’s just human nature, really. Everyone wants to be special and acknowledged, which is why customer loyalty programs are becoming one of the most effective strategies for customer retention. Marketers who understand this and who are constantly thinking of new ways to reward customers for their loyalty will be the ones who make their brands great. 1. Email Marketing It may seem pretty simplistic, but email marketing is an easy way to connect with customers and show them that you value them. In fact, eMarketer deemed email marketing as the number one digital marketing strategy for customer retention. So how do you execute this? First, you can offer them coupons and discounts that they can’t get just anywhere else. Everyone is trying to save money, and you should reward their loyalty by helping them do so. Being on an email list might not seem particularly exclusive, but it will be if you execute your emails with customer retention in mind. Another great way to show your subscribers that you care about them is to personalize their experience. If you are a retailer, remind them if there are things in their cart and share items similar to the ones they view on your site via email so they have even more options when buying from your brand. Pro Tip: Large retailers take this to the next level by retargeting their email marketing lists with relevant products and discounts based on their previous shopping patterns. You can do this by uploading your email lists into Facebook Advertising or Google Adwords as a target audience. 2. The Punch Card You used to get one of these at the store and you’d always kick yourself when you didn’t remember to leave it in your wallet. Today, we see the punch card in many forms. It can be a 10th burger free at Red Robin or a free night’s stay after a certain amount of points at a Starwood hotel. Technology makes it even easier to utilize the punch card as a reward. Regardless of what kind of business you are in, you can offer your customers rewards for their loyalty by giving them free products and services when they continue to frequently choose your brand. By tracking their purchases in a computer system or through an app, you can offer your loyal customers free stuff for spending their hard earned cash with you. 3. An Experience Like No Other It’s not just about cost anymore. While customers are loathe to spend crazy amounts of money unnecessarily, the experience they get is typically more important to them than the price tag. With social media, brands are becoming more relatable, accessible, and as a result of those first two, more transparent. (Brands who are open and honest with their customers are the ones who rule the day.) Furthermore, the brands who go out of their way to make their customers happy with not only the product or service, but the entire buying experience will create loyal customers who in turn become their most valuable asset by becoming brand evangelists and promoting the brand to others themselves. How would it make you feel if there was a welcome note waiting for you when you checked into a hotel? Would you like it if the owner of your favorite chocolate shop sent you a birthday card? Everyone appreciates an experience that makes them feel special. Personalized customer experiences create loyalty that can’t be swayed. A Brand That Speaks It’s hard for customers to trust brands that don’t have a voice that speaks to them, because in our world today, connecting is a very easy thing to do and it’s almost a requirement if you want your brand to be successful. By connecting with the customer and rewarding them for sticking with your brand through thick and thin, you can maximize your retention, revenue, and even marketing efforts through great loyalty programs.