4 Lessons for creating loyalty programs that engage and keep customers.
An estimated 90% of all companies – including ag companies – have some type of loyalty program, according to the recent loyalty program report from Accenture. The report goes on to tell us some even more alarming news from consumers that can confidently be projected to farmers, too.
- 71% of those surveyed claim loyalty programs do not engender loyalty.
- 77% of consumers admit they retract loyalty more quickly than they did only three years ago.
If that’s the case, why do marketers continue to invest in loyalty programs? Perhaps the model is broken and it’s time to rethink loyalty strategies. And while we’re at it, let’s avoid making the same mistakes in how we plan and implement loyalty programs for farmers.
From our perspective, there are four common, yet avoidable, errors marketers make with loyalty programs for farmers.
Error #1: Assuming loyalty is accrued through transactions.
Transactions can be a measure of loyalty, but are not the basis of it. Loyalty is derived from the emotional connections farmers have with your brand. Farmers are like the rest of us, as we discussed in our Emotional White Space post; their brand decisions are 90% emotional and 10% rational. And like the rest of us, rational criteria like price are rarely the farmers’ only deciding factor. That’s true whether they’re buying a new 4WD tractor, custom application services or grain sorghum seed.
The Lesson: Before initiating a loyalty program, be sure you understand your customers’ mindsets and emotional triggers and how to tap into them.
Error #2: Assuming loyalty only goes one-way (i.e. your way).
Brands are seeking loyalty and advocacy from farmers, but farmers will only give as much as they get. They are looking for value that goes beyond the product or service. In fact, farmers expect brands to be loyal to them by providing useful information to improve their bottom lines, advocating for them and, of course, rewarding them for their loyalty and advocacy.
The Lesson: Ensure your loyalty program delivers more than a rebate or free goods. It must deliver intrinsic value, as well as economic incentives.
Error #3: Assuming one size fits all.
Consider today’s entitled generation of farmers. They expect immediacy and personalization including products and service, information and communication, purchase incentives and loyalty rewards. According to Accenture report, “41 percent of respondents said they are “loyal to brands that personalize their program offerings.”
The Lesson: Craft personalized offerings and experiences that engage farmers and keep them coming back through market research of your loyal customers.
Error #4: Making it too complicated.
In attempts to customize their loyalty programs, ag marketers may be tempted to add rewards tiers, bundling points, seasonal spiffs, etc. Ultimately, farmers may reject the loyalty program and the sponsoring brand because it’s too hard to understand or there are too many details to manage. They simply want to be appreciated by your brand – they don’t want to feel like they’re reading actuarial tables or completing tax forms to redeem their reward.
The Lesson: Keep it simple. Ensure the communications are precise, enrollment is easy and mobile-friendly and point redemption requires minimal red-tape.
Farmers have more choices than ever. Like the rest of us, they also crave immediacy, personalization and simplicity, and are increasingly turned-off by traditional, complicated, transactional loyalty programs.
Ag marketers can increase their odds of being the brand of choice by making customer loyalty an offensive strategy and ensuring their loyalty programs leverage an emotional connection; are reciprocal in commitment and loyalty; are customizable; and are easily implemented.