Bringing customers closer to a brand is an indispensable component of a business’ success, and in a post pandemic and predominantly digital-first world, community as a key objective is more relevant than ever before. 

With more emphasis online via eCommerce sites after most physical retail doors were forced to close due to the pandemic, retailers have to navigate new ways to interact with consumers. Although challenging at first, it has created a unique opportunity for brands to reinvent the wheel and create new communication channels. 

Strong customer loyalty allows for consistency across sales, so if you are a brand that battles elements of strong seasonality, establishing key strategies to nurture and maintain loyal customers will balance out those pesky one time buyers. 

For brands that see seasonality across their product ranges, for example Bondi Sands, with demand for different products circling around self tan and suncare ranges, they have to constantly reflect on maintaining the momentum and loyalty off season. 

Take insight and apply key learnings 

A brand should start by seeking data and insights across each market’s peak seasons to apply key learnings and best practices in other markets. Peak seasons can land at different times of the year for retailers, revolving not just around sales events but also seasons, holidays and cultural events. 

Globally, Bondi Sands does this by taking insights across each market’s key peak season as the company wraps up for that year. The strategy here is to apply key learnings it has seen to the markets that are then entering into its peak season. 

No market is ever the same and localisation is key. One of Bondi Sands mottos is “Think global, Act local”. It achieves this by looking into past data for previous trends within each market. It looks a little something like this: 

  1. Digital activities 

Specifically, a brand might look into digital activities and performance from the previous years across Facebook, Google and emerging platforms like TikTok. A brand would then overlay these trends with their sales objectives and KPIs to form the basis of their forecasts and key digital activity.  

2. Trends 

Brands should look at new and emerging trends and ask questions like: Where are our customers and how to get in front of them? What new platforms would they be using and what kind of content are they consuming? 

3. New creative 

The final step here is looking at building new creative assets based on what is garnering traction. Take into account what is trending (for example on TikTok’s Discover page, or Google Trends) and resonating in each of your key regions. What might be relevant to customers in one market might not make sense to another, and in some cases can even be detrimental to the brand. Consider cultural nuances and even translations when breaking into markets such as Europe or Asia that have multiple countries to service. 

Establish a loyalty program 

Creating a loyalty or rewards program can help counter slower sales seasons by rewarding and incentivising repeat customers, while scaling brand reputation and creating advantages over competitors. 

When planning these programs, having customers at the forefront is of utmost importance- and that’s exactly where Bondi Sands started. They surveyed a group of our VIP customers, asking questions on what type of loyalty programs they were currently using, what they liked, what they didn’t like and what they value most from loyalty programs. This became the bones of its program’s structure. 

The Bondi Sands loyalty program yielded a 348 per cent return on investment since May 2021. It has created a loyalty program based on a framework of 3 Rs and 3 Cs: Retention, Recruitment & Reward, and Conversation, Capture and Community.

Retention: As brands look into historical data, they may notice one-time buyers. Bondi Sands highlighted this as an opportunity to build customer retention through encouraging repeat purchases and driving that second purchase and frequency, for both in-store and online. 

Recruitment: Creating a loyalty program that opens opportunities to further capture new audiences and customers. This can be driven through activities such as promo codes that drive new members into the program.

Reward: Offering rewards for purchase to increase yearly spend and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

Conversation: To encourage customer conversation across all digital channels and social touch points. For Bondi Sands, much of this conversation occurs on its Yotpo Reviews tool online and via its SMS Bump campaigns.

Capture: To capture strong customer data to assist with business decision making.

Community: To foster a sense of community, to empower its customers and make them feel like an integrated part of Bondi Sands, the company’s email direct marketing program helps to drive elements of this objective. 

If a brand has an omni-channel approach, it’s important to provide a program that gives value to customers at every touchpoint of their journey. This can be done by ensuring the customer loyalty experience is frictionless from online to offline.

Whether it’s connecting customers to socials for product discovery, making a first purchase online and a second purchase in-store, from then leaving a review on their favourite product, or sharing their experiences on Facebook. Regardless of how your customers choose to interact with your brand, it’s important that you can provide them access via the mediums they prefer. 

Adopt the right technologies 

Once brands have done the research and establish key objectives, it’s time to find the best suited loyalty partner. When looking for the right loyalty partner, retailers want to ensure they have synergies across the ecommerce platform, CRM network and social channels.  

A business should take time to understand its first party data and customers before jumping feet first into loyalty. The team at Bondi Sands spent quite a deal of time making sure that its objectives and KPIs were sound. They ran financial modelling to ensure its loyalty program would be profitable to run and spent time making 3-year projections to show the positive impact loyalty could have on the business.

Testing is also key. Spend time testing the functionality, the logic and the customer user experience before going live. Having a solid testing period is important to iron out any glitches or issues to avoid any customer dissatisfaction at launch. You definitely want to launch and be able to deliver on the things you said you would, so testing is imperative. 

Bondi Sands had developed a strong relationship with Yotpo having used its ratings and reviews product and it was the best fit to expand its partnership into the loyalty arm of its business. As a digital first brand, Bondi Sands were able to see how important reviews and referrals are, and have enjoyed working with Yotpo to bring these elements into its loyalty program.

Love your community 

‘Awareness’ is a popular word in marketing; it’s what drives customers to brands, but often what makes a brand stand out is customer experience and building a sense of inclusion. Community is extremely important in making customers feel like a part of the brand.

For customers to want to stay in touch, the brand also needs to demonstrate a degree of loyalty to them, which is most easily achieved by ensuring customers know the brand genuinely cares about them. Nurturing customers and engaging with them in meaningful ways helps create a unique customer journey- one that builds affinity with your customers and keeps them coming back, regardless of sales season.   

This may look like simple attention to detail, such as personalising communications and promotions, for example via channels like SMS which feel more personal than a bulk email. It can also be activities like providing pre-sale access for new product launches and promos, sneak peeks of new lines, involvement in trial teams to test a new product before it hits the shelf or even opportunities to involve customers in marketing campaigns and VIP events. 

Bondi Sands incorporates its customers in all of those things, and across digital and social they have different community groups its customers can join and participate in: 

  • Facebook Group (Babes Who Bondi)
  • Email marketing (Club Bondi)
  • Loyalty program (Bondi Babe Rewards)

Bringing your brand’s community along from start to finish breeds allegiance. That is why building effective and long-term relationships only does good. By purposefully engaging customers with relevant content and supporting them on their journey, you’re effectively reinforcing the value of the brand. After all, the customer is the boss, and loyalty goes both ways.  

Carmel Zein is senior marketing manager for Asia Pacific at Yotpo.