It doesn’t matter what type of business you run, you always want your customers to come back for more. The cinema business is no different – converting a new customer is much more difficult than keeping your customers returning, so it really pays off to run a reward program for your loyal cinema-goers. Exhibitors have been using a number of methods to achieve this: points-based reward schemes, memberships, subscriptions with limited or unlimited passes, and gift cards/vouchers. The more tailored your program is to your customer’s wishes, the more it increases members’ satisfaction. According to the Loyalty Report, customization may even increase members’ satisfaction by 640%.
Ready to discover the 10 steps to follow to ensure your cinema loyalty program will succeed?
1. Customer data is everything
Your loyalty program strategy should always be based on the information you have collected on your customers. Customer data should be the guiding reference point for your program. Without a proper customer data analysis, it’s almost impossible to build a successful strategy. Every business caters to a different group of customers, and these groups will have different needs. Implementing a one-size-fits-all loyalty program is no longer a viable option. To build a successful loyalty program, you should first find out what your customers are essentially looking for. Are they interested in discounts? Or maybe they will be happy if they get free popcorn? Proper customer analysis and survey will tell it all.
2. Keep the entire company involved
A loyalty program should be a comprehensive initiative, instead of just an extraneous project of the marketing team. Keeping your program in the very center of your organization means keeping your organization focused on your clients. It’s not just the marketing team that should be fighting for a loyal client. It’s the entire brand that should be committed to keeping clients loyal. See a difference? All employees should be focused on delivering the highest possible value. Marketing and sales teams luring a client separately and with different methods is something that should never happen, and trying to launch a program that will be hard to implement operationally is a sure way to fail.
3. Make your employees brand ambassadors
All hands-on board! All employees who have direct contact with your clients should be directly involved in your loyalty program. They should know the program terms and conditions, be familiar with available rewards, be trained in selling the advantages or answering predictable questions, and really understand how it works. This is the only way for them to recommend the program to the clients with a clear conscience. If they believe in the program, they will generate hype around your rewards, recommend signing up to the client and look authentic at the same time.
4. Clearly define your KPIs
You will never know whether you have achieved success if you haven’t set the proper metrics and targets. KPIs (both qualitative and quantitative) help you understand how your loyalty program performs over a given time. Without measurable goals, you cannot track the progress and plan the next steps. Common KPIs used in the cinema industry are:
- Member acquisition – the number of new members acquired. It can give you clues as to how clients perceive your program.
- Referral rate – a great way to boost member acquisition to offer members a referral reward for each new member they bring over, tracking this will help you to determine if the program is working or if it needs adjusting
Retention rate – the length of time members stays with a loyalty program
- Churn rate – the number of members leaving your loyalty program over a specific period
Reward redemption rate – it shows which program benefits your members are using and how fast they are using them.
5. Profit and loss statement
Implementing a loyalty program in your cinema is not enough. The program should be profitable. Sure, loyalty programs are a long-term investment, but at some point, they need to bring some revenue. Therefore, at the very beginning of your loyalty program project, you should clearly define the reporting methods. Work on a budget, create a financial plan and define when the program is expected to be profitable for the company. Experts recommend that you should use your historical data if possible and carry out this analysis 18-24 months after launch. Premium or VIP type schemes where the customer needs to pay a joining fee should be profitable from day 1 and, in some cases, can contribute to funding your free or entry-level program.
6. Create the right implementation strategy
Your cinema loyalty program should be attractive and appealing to your clients. It should include both the offer and the design or visual layer. You only get one chance to make a first impression so make sure your loyalty program is what your clients are looking for. Ensure your clients are aware of all the benefits you offer. This might sound obvious, but very often, cinema-goers sign up for loyalty programs because they have been coaxed by your staff in accepting a free membership. However, they are not properly informed of all the perks they could get out by joining. Make sure your clients know your program and the rewards and benefits are detailed on your website or a brochure (for your more senior members!).
7. Make it easy and intuitive
If your program is lousy, complicated, or just difficult to follow, your clients will most likely get bored and irritated. Your rewarding program should be easy to understand, and the rewarding mechanism should be clear and simple. Your clients should know what to do to get the reward and where to look to see what their status is at any time. The whole mechanics should fit the natural customer behavior. Usually, cinemas will use cashback points and gamification in their loyalty programs. Don’t forget that the mechanics should also be easy to follow for your employees.
8. Balance the rewards based on their value
A well-designed loyalty program is known for returning a profit. In terms of value, you should determine several categories for the rewards you offer. High-value is one of them – who wouldn’t want a VIP ticket for the latest premiere? However, there are also medium-value prizes (like a gift package of various products), low-value prizes (small but meaningful rewards like switching to caramel popcorn with no extra charge), and free prizes like personalized emails or virtual badges. At any stage of the loyalty program, you should make the client feel attracted to the rewards they can get.
9. Mix rational with emotional
Discounts are not enough. They are a one-time chance to buy cinema tickets but, in the end, they don’t make or keep customers loyal. It is crucial to engage the community and reward their loyalty. According to Capgemini data (‘Reinventing loyalty programs for the digital age), loyalty programs that are only based on discounts won’t last more than two years. Therefore, you should differentiate your program, just like you do with your brand. You should aim to bond with your clients emotionally so that they feel connected with your cinema and your brand. In most cases, reaching out to your customers doesn’t even cost you much money.
10. Be consistent
Last but not least – you should be consistent when launching a loyalty program for your cinema business. It is crucial to properly understand all phases of your loyalty program, assign tasks to the right people, and estimate the proper budget. Spend some time observing and gathering data and looking at what your competition is doing. Estimate the results and performance of your loyalty program. Build a solid base of clients, then start rewarding them with personalized prizes and messages.
Cinema loyalty program summary
Do you want to create a perfect loyalty program for your cinema clients? Modern exhibition circuits have created multiple ways to handle customer loyalty programs – most of them can be easily managed by their POS software platforms. No matter what type of loyalty program you choose for your cinema business, you should always keep the above 10 points in mind – when all the checkboxes are checked, you will have the perfect loyalty program recipe! Interested in more advice to build a perfect loyalty program for your cinema? Reach out to us, we’ll be happy to help!
 Source: Loyalty Report 2019: https://info.bondbrandloyalty.com/loyalty-report-2019