Give people a head start.
Not only does this improve the odds of loyalty but it also increases the speed of purchases.
Why? Two reasons: (1) People are generally more willing to commit to tasks that have already started but that are incomplete than to begin a new task and (2) The closer that an individual gets towards completing a goal, the more effort they tend to exert to get the task completed.
Researchers from two American universities conducted a series of ‘loyalty experiments’ that involved handing out loyalty cards to hundreds of customers at a local car wash. Customers were told that each time they visited the car wash they would get their card stamped and when they completed the card they would receive their next car wash free.
Unbeknown to the customers, though, there were two types of card. One of the loyalty cards required customers to collect eight stamps to claim their free car wash. The other half of the cards required customers to collect ten stamps. However, while customers in the second group were told they had to collect ten stamps, they were immediately given two stamps to set them on their way. In essence, the required purchases and the rewards were exactly the same in both groups. What wasn’t the same, though, was the number of customers in
each group who stayed loyal, completed the card and claimed their free car wash.
In the first group, only 19 per cent of customers made enough purchases to claim their free car wash. However, in the second group, which had been given a head start, the purchase rate rose to 34 per cent. The effect of giving customers a head start without actually reducing the required purchases almost doubled the effectiveness of the promotion. The head start also increased the speed of purchases: customers who were asked to collect ten stamps and given a head start completed the loyalty cards more quickly than those required to collect only eight stamps.
Social scientists suggest that there are two fundamental reasons why more customers from within the second group completed the task. Firstly, people are generally more willing to commit to tasks that have already started but that are incomplete than to begin a new task. This can happen even though the absolute goals in both don’t change. Secondly, the closer that an individual gets towards completing a goal, the more effort they tend to exert to get the task completed. This so-called ‘endowed progress effect’ should have its uses in other business areas as well, such as persuading colleagues to help with new projects, perhaps, or in employee incentive schemes.
If you want to improve your ability to recognize persuasion techniques I recommend reading Yes!: 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion and subscribe to Farnam Street.