Best practices for attracting loyalty club members

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With large portions of the marketing budget dedicated to acquisition tactics such as search marketing and social media, customer retention often takes a back seat.

But one strategy has bucked the trend and caught on: loyalty or free shipping clubs — paid membership programs that offer participants exclusive benefits, starting with discounted or free shipping. There’s a reason these programs are increasingly commonplace: they’re proven to drive repeat business.

According to industry researcher Forrester, participation in free shipping clubs grew by a third from 2010 to 2011 — from 9% to 12% of U.S. online consumers. And of those participants, 66% say they plan to shop more with the brand whose club they’ve joined.

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If your brand doesn’t yet offer an online loyalty club, now is the time to consider adding one — it’s a big investment, but one with the potential to pay off handsomely.  If you already have a program in place, maximize its effectiveness and profitability with these best practices:

Put shipping front and center — but play it smart. Shipping costs remain the top reason consumers abandon online shopping carts, so giving loyalty club members a shipping price break makes sense. To offer value while maintaining margins, consider these tactics:

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