Lessons from Sleep Number: Don’t Snooze on your Brand Advocates

November 29, 2017 Catherine Malone

Brand advocates are the the cheerleaders that help your brand engage and build relationships with future prospects, leads and customers. These loyal patrons are invaluable for a brand, and Sleep Number knows exactly how to tap into this powerful customer base.

Before launching the new “InnerCircle”, online loyalty program, SleepNumber was creating champions out of clients by incentivizing customers with refer-a-friend initiatives and building leads from those referrals. The new online loyalty program, powered by CrowdTwist, affords Sleep Number opportunities to further engage and reward customers through digital and social activities. Here are some lessons brands can learn from Sleep Number to help drive customer advocacy.

Drive value across all channels

Sleep Number communicates and demonstrates values across all channels. In-store, video monitors play videos to promote the loyalty program. When customers purchase a mattress they receive a welcome kit in the mail with information on how to get a better night’s sleep. When their mattress is delivered, the driver is trained to communicate the benefits of the program to the customer in-person. Sales associates follow up with calls to ensure the customer is satisfied with the purchase.

These activities make the customer feel valued and appreciated for choosing Sleep Number and assured that they have made the right purchase decision. Sleep Number is building lifelong relationships with them.

Offer rewards, perks and special promotions

The Sleep Number InnerCircle program is tier structured. Members, or “Insiders” as they are referred to, are encouraged to advance tiers and are rewarded at each level with the opportunities to earn sweepstake entries, dollars off, surprise and delights and donations to charity. Insiders also enjoy exclusive members-only discount privileges off merchandise and they are the first to know about new products and exclusive content.

These incentives keep members engaged with the brand and make them feel valued for their loyalty. Customers who feel valued are more likely to repeat purchase and are more likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family.

Give referral bonuses

Sleep Number’s Insiders are incentivized to refer friends and family. For sharing a referral link they are given points, and for each successful referral they are credited with $100. After 10 successful referrals, Insiders receive an additional $799!

Incentivizing customers for their referrals encourages word-of-the-mouth marketing, which is a great tactic for promoting your brand. Referral bonuses have the potential to bring in more customers at a fraction of the cost making it a win-win for the brand and for the customer!

“You’d be amazed how many referrals we get,” said Sr. Director of Customer Relationship Management & Loyalty at Sleep Number, Lisa Erickson. “Our customers are engaged in the program and we get more than 1,000 digital referrals a month. That’s really important to our business because your best customers bring more best customers. Testiminonials are our most powerful form of marketing.”

Engage by educating

Sleep Number is committed to educating and engaging their community on better sleeping habits. The online loyalty program encourages Insiders to participate in surveys and polls where they can earn points for answering questions such as “Do you allow pets to sleep on your bed?” and “How often do you change your pillows?” Sleep Number then filters the results back to Insiders via email with advice on how to improve their quality of sleep. Insiders can also engage with the brand and earn points for reading educational blog posts.

Educating customers provides value for customers beyond their purchase and helps keep customers engaged in-between transactions. Arming your customers with insight that improves their quality of life will help establish an emotional connection and keeps your brand top of mind.

Ask for feedback

Customers want to be heard. Since incorporating product reviews as a point earning activity in their loyalty program, Sleep Number saw the number of submissions increase. Insiders can also earn points for submitting their testimonials. These testimonials are then featured on the company blog and promoted to the Sleep Number community via email and social media. Testimonials provide great return on investment for the brand.

By asking for and incentivizing customers for their feedback, brands can demonstrate how valuable customer opinion is, and start to incorporate new ideas and improvements to products and services. When a customer feels heard, they’re more likely to recommend your brand.

Personalize the experience

Before launching the loyalty program, Sleep Number had foundational data from which to build customer profiles, such as customer location and transaction history. By extending the touchpoints at which customers can interact with a brand, the loyalty program was able to bring together additional customer insight for Sleep Number.

The InnerCIrcle online program encourages insiders to connect on social media, answer surveys, watch YouTube content, read blog posts and write product reviews, providing Sleep Number with the data to form a 360 view of who their customers are. Using this data, Sleep Number can personalize the customer experience and target Insiders with relevant communications and promotions. Using customer data brands are also able to identify the customers most likely to advocate for the brand and surprise and delight them with free merchandise or extra points.

Personalizing the brand experience for customers is key for building loyalty and brand advocacy. Customers expect brands to know who they are and offer them authentic experiences based off the information they’ve shared with the brand. Personalized experiences lead to higher customer satisfaction rates which makes a customer more likely to advocate for a brand.

The benefits that brand advocacy brings to a company are immeasurable. Customer endorsement and influence has more reach and effectiveness than any ad campaign a company could run. By adopting a loyalty program, brands have the ability to drive greater brand advocacy, expand their reach, and gain new business.  

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