6 Qualities of a Dream Customer

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She Gave You Her Number, And Then She Ghosted You

Welcome to the world of loyalty, where six in 10 customers enroll in a program for the instant discount or perk. It’s the “Can I buy you a drink?” pickup line of business. And the odds of that “drink” turning into a long-term customer relationship are about the same as they are in the dating world: Consumers on average break up with more than half of the reward programs in which they enroll.

Marketers, meanwhile, invest an estimated $185 billion in reward program initiatives in relationship-building. Like a lonely heart buying dinner or drinks with a few strings attached, these organizations should prepare for some disappointment. Unless…

6 Qualities To Look for In A Soulmate Customer

Finding the right customers or reward members requires as much operational introspection as it does customer targeting. What exactly is a dream customer to your company? And is the “idea” of a dream customer preventing the company from engaging with slightly flawed, but more compatible, long-term matches?

These six practices can help organizations avoid financial heartbreak.

Know how to spot super-swipers or serial enrollers. So you bought them a “drink” and you never heard from them again. These new enrollees loved your free sign-up offer but aren’t in the “commit” mindset. Match tip: If your reward program partners with another brand (such as hotels and airlines or supermarkets and fuel), you should have better chances of flagging serial enrollees by sharing information that reveals those who sign up for the offers and then split. Or, you can win their hearts through co-branding partnerships that check all the boxes and compound your engagement value.

Skip “partners in crime” and opt for a partner in influence. Customers who are highly active socially, and who have large families, tend to have more purchase influence and are influenced by others. One recent report by Deloitte finds that 29% of social media users are more likely to buy something on the same day of using social media, implying that when they see a product, they purchase it. Match tip: 71% of people who have a positive brand experience on a social platform are prone to recommend it. Meanwhile, 90% of those with children say the little ones influence what they buy, giving lucrative meaning to the “have/want kids” match option.

Know it’s OK if they are willing to pay. The best customer prospects are motivated – they know what they want and are actively seeking a solution. While the model doesn’t suit every brand, paid loyalty programs may better appeal to these consumers. Members of paid reward programs were 60% more likely to spend with the brand after enrolling, according to a 2020 McKinsey survey. That likelihood rises by just 30% among free reward programs. Match tip: Online searches, and the terms used to lead consumers to particular websites, help reveal those needs. Hone in on those that align what you have to offer. Also, make sure members get what they pay for in their subscriptions, and that what they get is evident and relevant.

Prefer those who like to go out, and those who like to stay in. The more channels customers use, the better the chances of reaching them and the more they are likely to spend. In the grocery category alone, multi-channel shoppers spend up to 20% more than in store-only customers. Further, research by ecommerce marketing firm Omnisend concludes that marketers using three or more channels for a campaign realize a 287% higher purchase rate over single-channel users. Match tip: Be sure the experience is the same across all channels or the customer will sense you’re not who you say you are. This requires consistently storing the same data across all channels.

Be honest about your goals, and theirs. Don’t be shady with your values, mission and “personality” in order to win over new customer segments. It could wreck your brand. Earning and sustaining a “like” requires authenticity – not just in value, but in sourcing, ingredients and performance. Nearly 75% of consumers will pay more for a product that offers complete transparency, and many are willing to do the research. Match tip: Don’t risk a scorned member. Listen to what is important to your best customers and the brand qualities they say fit their values. Keyword searches, competitive research and your own customer service correspondence can provide guidance. 

Prefer catnip to catfish. Member data can reveal customers who have a tendency to seek loopholes that help them game the system to their (not your) benefit. Send the love to customers who use the program consistently, respond to offers and communications regularly, and who redeem reliably. Match tip: Surprise committed program members with unexpected bonuses – a service upgrade or free product. Such surprises are even better if presented by a company employee, because they feel more personal. Empower workers to make these choices when members meet specified plateaus.

If They Love You, They Won’t Set You Free

Finding the best-match members requires self-assessment as much as “mate” assessment. If there is a pattern of customers enrolling and then dropping a program, it could indicate a substantial flaw in the reward strategy – not the members. Don’t keep investing in damaged goods hoping the “right one” will just show up. Make the rewards model easier; communicate more clearly and yes, look better. Image matters, even in loyalty.

Dream big, but reasonably so: The perfect 10 doesn’t have to exist. Holding on to even eight of every 10 new enrollees past the honeymoon period is a promising start.

This article originally appeared in The Customer.

Jenn McMillen
Incendio Founder Jenn McMillen has been building and sharing expertise in the retail industry for 20+ years. Her expertise includes customer relationship management, shopper experience, retail marketing, loyalty programs and data analytics. She's a retail contributor for Forbes.

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