So maybe these aren’t accurate statistics but it’s a fairly good assumption to say that every customer loves freebies. The definition of a “freebie” is something given or received without charge and we’re telling you that your business should give more of them away.  These types of giveaways are important in a business’ marketing and sales strategy, but it needs to be executed effectively and with the right objective.

freebies-campaignYou might be surprised as to the insights behind giving away free goods. Logically the expectation is that customers will walk in, take their free stuff and run, but in fact the opposite occurs. Take 7-Eleven’s Free Slurpee Day for example; Slurpee sales were boosted by 38% when they offered free small Slurpees to every customer for one day of the year. Surprisingly, attendees of the Free Slurpee Day were sampling the free size and then upgrading to a larger size. Offering a freebie simulates a “try before you buy” selling technique but without any rules or obligation. This alternative method makes customers feel relaxed about making their own choices to purchase more.

freebies-campaignGreat times to offer freebies are when you are releasing a new product, when you need an aid in up-selling/cross-selling or simply looking for a new way to market your business.  Right now you are probably looking at your income and wondering how much you can afford to give away for this kind of campaigns. In reality giving away free items is a great PR stunt for large companies and they can reach far more consumers than any SMB can. So how do you run a freebie campaign without losing out?

Here’s some alternatives:

  1. Give away free smaller items with the purchase of larger items
  2. Run a contest where customers must make a purchase to enter the competition
  3. Implement a loyalty program, remembering to promote and celebrate your first day of launch in-store
  4. Market a “freebie” hour, rather than an entire day

freebies-campaignEffectively, you want either new customers coming in and becoming regulars or enticing current customers to come in and spend more with you by trying something different. Today’s consumers have a world of choice at their fingertips, so empower your customers to make the right decision by choosing you each time.

Customer behaviour is changing – as customers and as consumers we are developing rapidly. The way we choose where to spend our money is changing, and this means our requirements to retailers are changing, too. It is no longer enough to have a physical presence or a big billboard. Read more

Almost any business in any sector can run a loyalty program and elaborate on repeat business. The benefits and rewards from focusing on your existing customers as opposed to only focusing on gaining new business are many – and it’s an area you should not ignore. Did you know, on average, customers who have bought from you before, are more than twice as likely to buy a second time than someone who has never bought from you? This means – your existing customers are low hanging fruit and relatively easy to sell to. So what type of loyalty program can your business run?

There are as many types as there are customers. Choose how you want to reward customers first. An instore-voucher is always a good idea. This can be a percentage discount or a cash discount. These are great because they make it highly likely the person returns to you. If you make them transferable they can also be a great way of getting new business – the recipient can give it to a friend recommending you. What’s more, an in-store voucher is very rarely used at its value. A person with a £10 voucher is unlikely to limit his or her purchase to the value of the voucher, rather they are likely to use the voucher as part of a purchase bigger than they would normally make. Or, forget to use it completely.

Another popular approach is to give away a freebie. We all know the free coffee/hot drink tactic. For low-cost, high frequency items this can work a treat. And as with the in-store voucher, is the user likely to include the value of the voucher in a bigger purchase. Psychologically, we are prone to treating ourselves to something extra when we are getting something for free. That muffin seems very cheap when your coffee is free, doesn’t it?

A cumulative approach is another option. Let your customers earn points based on their spend, and set up rewards at varying levels. The psychological effect her is tremendous – the rewards do not have to be high value; what’s more is people are usually tempted to up their overall spend if there’s a freebie included.

If you already run a loyalty program, but it feels stale and old – sit down and have a think. How can you make it more exciting for customers? What rewards can you offer that will make customers eager to earn their points? Each approach has its strong points – choose the one that suits your business and your customers.

Connecting with customers has never been more important or easier – and a direct link through social media is the obvious answer; Facebook, twitter and Instagram (in particular – there are several others too)s popularity means not being on social media is a missed opportunity. Your customers are online all the time and the vast majority a member of at least one social media network.

Giving your brand a voice on social media means you have an immediate link to your audience that feels current, fresh and human.

More competition in the retail space means it is harder to get noticed – both on the high street and online. And these days, customers spend less time searching and more time noticing – direct recommendations from friends, awesome instagrammers or inspiring Facebook posts. So if your brand isn’t there – you’re missing out.

We spoke to Social Media Professional Yani Fish – who has worked with Gail’s, Reebok and the like – for her best tips on getting started online.
  1. The first thing to do is to know your audience. Off the top of your head you probably have a pretty good idea – take 20 minutes to sit down and write it down. Who is your typical customer? And who is your ideal customer? These are the people you want to engage.
  2. Find and hone your brand’s voice online. This can be tricky to get right, but a good tip to get started is to think about how you want to make people feel when they interact with your brand. Lively? Relaxed? Comfortable?
  3. Try to make the voice human. You want your fans to feel like they’re interacting with a real person. Sign with a name if it is appropriate – it doesn’t have to be your real one.
  4. Build up a bank of content and imagery. Make sure you have this in place before you try getting followers; you want to give people a reason to stay if they come across your page.
  5. Despite what they say – Facebook is not dead. And there are brilliant opportunities for targeted advertising. This means you can pay a few quid per day to promote your page and advertise it to a very defined audience – people who are likely to engage with your brand.
    1. Twitter is also a great way to interact with your audience – if your audience is on Twitter.
    2. Instagram is great for brand awareness, but is less efficient in driving traffic because you cannot do links apart from in your brand’s page’s bio.
  6. To build your brand’s presence make sure you interact with people. Start by following people and companies you want to be associated with/that you associate with – engage with what they post, comment and like.

And lastly – don’t be too impatient!

Social media is real engagement from real people and building up a reputation and a following will take some time.

You shouldn’t expect wonders overnight. But if you post consistently in a coherent manner, stick to a brand voice that suits your following and your company, you should be able to see some results after 6 – 12 months.

If you want to find out more about Yani and what she does, perhaps even get her help with your social media, you can find her website here.

1. Unachievable rewards

Would you attempt a marathon if you only ever run to catch the bus? Set rewards that feel achievable to your customers. A good rule of thumb is to require the equivalent to between 4 and 12 visits/purchases before a reward can be redeemed. How many depends on the cost and type of product you sell. If you sell low-cost, high frequency items such as sandwiches and hot drinks, a higher required number of visits is ok. If you sell more expensive items a shorter redemption path paired with an in-store discount can work really well.

2. Complicated and complex loyalty programs

If your customers struggle to understand the structure of your loyalty program, they are unlikely to get engaged. Make it easy for them. Having a flat and easy structure; e.g. 1 point per pound/dollar spent, which is easy to understand for customers and easy to run for staff. The more complex you make your loyalty program, the less likely it is to become a success.

3. Fraud or mistakes

Mistakes can always happen, and there will always be an element of trust involved with loyalty cards – some people are put off by the risk that it can be abused. If you choose to use a loyalty app (such as our own, Loyalzoo) you have the added benefit of seeing customer data which can be matched with transactions if something looks suspicious. It can even be fully automated and tied to your Point-of-Sale, in which case it is impossible to abuse, as point-allocation is automated. 

4. Not giving your program enough attention

Don’t expect people to automatically join your loyalty program. They need to be informed that it exists, about the benefits they get from it and how they join. Once that’s done – keep reminding them to use it. Chances are they will forget, so make a habit of mentioning it at every transaction. Having some visuals in the till-area also help, a sticker or a tent card work really well in our experience. That’s why we at Loyalzoo send a bunch of each to everyone who signs up, to help them spread the word about their new loyalty program (you can find out more about our app here).

5. Not having the staff onboard

Without the staff being informed and trained, it will be hard to keep it going and get picked up by customers. All members of staff should know how it works, what the rewards are and how people join. If everyone works together, it will be really easy to manage – and much better for customers and staff alike. Think of it as rowing a boat in a team of eight – it would be really hard to move that boat on your own, with the 7 others weighing you down. But if you all work together, it’s incredibly easy.