In a digital world where customers have so many options, loyalty is more important than ever. Cementing your brand in the hearts and minds of your customers will guarantee they choose you over your competitors time and again. It also helps retain business and, since it’s reportedly six to seven times more expensive to gain a new customer than keep an existing one, a worthy investment for your brand.

However, the landscape is changing. In Europe, the new data protection regulations (GDPR) mean that businesses with customer information, which was volunteered to gain access to a loyalty programme, can’t be used for targeted marketing communications. If they want to send their customer an email, it would need to be obtained for that purpose, separately and transparently.

Losing access to customer data that brands have long relied upon have left many looking to develop their strategies – especially since the regulations are expected to be replicated around the world. In a bid to make their schemes compliant, many brands are looking to influencers, already established as a marketing solution, to drive loyalty by creating value and positive experiences.

Discover an engaged audience

Traditional loyalty schemes operate through mail flyers, electronic direct mail and those forgotten cards that fill up your wallet. If brands want to communicate with the next generation, they need to be where they are. Instagram now has one billion users – and influencers are the most trusted voices in that space. If a brand has something to say to their customers, choosing an influencer as a spokesperson grants them access to an already engaged audience.

Searching for conversation

Even in the places that GDPR hasn’t come into effect, irrelevant or unpersonalised emails – while legal – are often unwanted. Millennials, in particular, want a different kind of communication to the traditional, one-dimensional brand-to-consumer narrative –- they want a conversation. Ongoing influencer partnerships can keep a brand at the top of the list in a more organic way. The audience already feels as if it has opted into the conversation by following that influencer and therefore the communication is more welcome as a result.

Add value through content

Purchase is not the only way to measure brand loyalty; engagement is an important metric.Influencers are experts in creating content that resonates with audiences. It’s the reason they have been able to rise to the position they’re in. The best will take your brand message and turn it into a piece of content you wouldn’t have even imagined to brief (if you allow them the creative freedom). This has so much more cut through than a bland electronic direct email and the engagement it returns will prove it.

Make it relevant

Deals and discounts are one of the most popular elements of loyalty programmes but a blanket approach is rarely the most effective. The best marketing is highly targeted and personalised. Influencers with more niche areas of interest will have smaller followings, but they will be made up of like-minded individuals who feel a closer affinity to that influencer. This makes micro-influencers the perfect channel to communicate offers or deals in a very considered, targeted way. The offering will seem all the more relevant and the deal will receive higher redemption levels as a result. With ‘swipe up to shop’ functions, the path from influencer inspiration to redemption can be seamless.

As well as maintaining existing customers, there is a huge potential to gain new customers by using this strategy. You’ll be more discoverable, thanks to the influencer’s natural reach and expert use of hashtags, among a community that’s likely to be your target audience.

Ultimately, keeping customers monogamous is a challenge for all businesses and an issue that will only be intensified by data privacy restrictions. However, brands that act now to engage with their customers where they are, and speak to them in their language, will have the best chance at maintaining long-lasting and deeper connections.