Based on your experience -- how early is too early to launch a customer loyalty program as part of the marketing package associated with launching a company?
My client is launching a B2C endeavor with the target marketing being the parents of high-school students going to college. The challenge of the space is that it is a product to be used by students but the purchasing decision is their parents. The current marketing package is heavy on Social media and Peer-to-Peer testimonials.
On the list of "desired activities" which was brainstormed by the client as part of the marketing launch was a loyalty program.
Based on your experience, does a loyalty program need the initial customers or can be a good draw for initially recruitment of customers?
As you said you are going to launched your site so introduce something like opening bonanza for a week or two and offer different variety of doscounts or bundles which includes benefits for both the parents & kids. Don't assume this scheme as a loyalty programme, it'll help you know you customer demands and gather their feedback about your services and products.
After the scheme ends generate reports that which products were success full and which will become you permanent clients and sent some offers to them so they continue to visit the site, by doing this you'll get a no. of people or user with their age type and their interest and how often they visits their site. This will give you a group of people to which you can start your loyalty programme and sent offers every week/month and most important offer them discounts if they introduce their friends/colleagues/family to the site. And I think then you'll have much bigger and reliable clientele.
And at the same time to monitor the businesses of the same kind and their scheme and offers, because any offer can divert your userbase to other site specially if your business is new.
The sooner the better. Otherwise clients who started using your services but didn't take advantage of the loyalty program may feel mistreated. Plus, bear in mind that the first clients are usually the "pioneers", and therefore potential ambassadors of your service. I would treat them with the utmost respect and give them all reasonable benefits.
Also, study after study shows that loyalty programs that give clients a "head start" are more effective than those without it. That is, if you already get a loyalty card with 20 points on it, you are more likely to pursue the goal of X points than if you were given a loyalty card with 0 points.