Strong customer relationships mean everything to the growth and longevity of your business. Without loyal customers, your business could crash sooner than you might expect. This is why it’s so important to prioritize nurturing your customer relationships and build a dedicated customer base.
Offering deals and incentives improves your chances of encouraging customer loyalty. How many times have you referred a brand to a friend to get the referral bonus? Ever taken advantage of an early access code for a particular product? Or been granted promotional pricing for signing up for a brand’s email list? If so, you’ve been swayed by the power of incentive programs. You can significantly increase customer loyalty when you combine your incentive program with quality products.
That said, creating an incentive program takes time, attention to detail, and a solid strategy. One proven method for successful incentive programs is building them around your product lifecycle. This requires a thorough understanding of your target audience and product, but the customer relationships you build through a product lifecycle-centered incentive program are well worth it.
Know the Details of a Product Life Cycle
A product lifecycle details the process a product goes through from development to decline. The five steps of the cycle are:
- Development — the design and manufacturing of the product.
- Introduction — all development work is complete, and the product is ready for launch
- Growth — how the product grows in the market and within a particular target audience
- Maturity — the product reaches its peak performance in the market
- Decline — the product’s decline until it concludes its lifecycle.
Familiarize yourself with each stage of the product life cycle so you can define it better.
Define Your Product Lifecycle
You must be prepared to manage your product at every stage of development. When you understand the ins and outs of how your product is designed, marketed, sold, and disposed of, you can build an incentive program around that product more seamlessly.
Though a product’s lifecycle will evolve as you move through the process, you should still come up with an accurate depiction of said lifecycle before you have any actual data to base it on. Answer the following questions to define your product’s lifecycle:
- What does the development process look like for this product?
- How will you introduce it into your respective market?
- What are growth predictions and strategies to increase your product’s popularity in the market?
- What will it look like when your product reaches its maximum potential?
- How will your product begin to decline and ultimately phase out?
- What product will be its replacement, if any?
After defining your product lifecycle, take a look at your customer journey.
Conduct a Customer Journey Refresher
What’s your customer’s journey from introduction to purchase and beyond with a product? Tailor a customer journey map to fit this particular product. Once you have a map in hand, detail how a customer would move through the following stages of their journey:
- Awareness — how they’re introduced to your product
- Consideration — the research they do to become more familiar with your product and brand
- Purchase — when they choose your brand and product over the competition
- Loyalty — the post-purchase experience and how they become long term customers
Explore How the Product Lifecycle and Customer Journey Intersect
To build an incentive program around your product lifecycle, you need to understand what your customers are doing and how they feel in each stage of the product life cycle. You’ll also want to study how the product lifecycle and customer journey intersect.
Dig into the following questions to get those answers:
- What are your customers doing before a product launch?
- What do customers feel when the product finally does launch and is available in the market?
- How will the product grow with your customers?
- How do your customers decide the product’s reached its peak?
- Why are your customers looking for a new product and, in turn, causing this product to decline?
- Does the awareness stage of the customer journey show any overlap with the development stage of the product life cycle? What about the consideration stage and introduction stage, and so on?
Dive into the Details of Your Ideal Customers
You’ll want to look into how your ideal customers view deals and incentives. Research the following to have a better chance at building an incentive program that sticks:
- What constitutes a deal in the eyes of your customers?
- Would they enjoy a points-based incentive program, tiered, paid, or value loyalty program?
- What incentive programs are they signed up for currently?
- Are they engaged in those incentive programs?
- What deals of yours have they taken advantage of?
- Do they see value in an incentive program?
- Do deals and incentives influence if they purchase a new product?
- Does an incentive program influence whether they become a loyal customer?
When you’ve got a grasp of how your ideal customers view incentives and deals, see what your competition is up to.
Know What Your Competition is Doing
One of the best ways to build an incentive program that resonates with your customers is to learn from your competition.
What incentive program is your competition offering? Are their customers raving about its value? Does your competition create a new incentive program for each product they introduce or do they add a step to their existing incentive program?
Brainstorm Potential Incentive Programs
Reference your product lifecycle and how your customers behave during each stage to ensure you’re building an incentive program that keeps them interested
- When your product is being developed, what would your customer require to stay engaged?
- When your product is introduced into the market, what would inspire your customers to be one of the first to buy it?
- When your product is growing in the market, what could you give your customers to keep their attention on your product and brand?
- What incentive could you offer your customers to take advantage of when that product reaches its maturity?
- What incentives and deals would be most attractive to your customers to either get a product back on track as it declines or get all you can from it before it phases out of the market?
By having the answers to the above questions, you can begin to visualize your incentive program at each stage of the product life cycle. Then, continue to tweak the details until it’s a cohesive program that rewards customers throughout their journey and the product life cycle.
Design a Rollout Strategy
How are you going to roll out your incentive program to your customers? Launching it randomly probably isn’t the most effective rollout strategy. Instead, get into the details of how you’re going to market your incentive program before, during, and after its initial launch.
- When will you start talking about it to your customers?
- What marketing channels and platforms will you use? Email? Social media? Your website? SEO?
- How will you build suspense and conversation around your program?
- How will you continue to promote the program once it’s launched?
- How will you differentiate it from your competition’s rollout strategy?
Track Your Incentive Program’s Performance
Data analytics tools are essential to a well-crafted incentive program. They can track how your customers are engaging with the program and give you insights into improving it for better results.
Data analytics tools can also track your product’s lifecycle. For example, you can see how your incentive program’s engagement changes with each stage of your product’s lifecycle. Leverage insights from analytics tools to make necessary improvements to your program.
There’s a lot of detailed work involved in building an incentive program around your product lifecycle. Don’t rush the process. Instead, give yourself enough time to learn about your product lifecycle and create an incentive program that complements it.