November 29, 2015

Develop Customer Loyalty Through Awards and Recognitions

Creating customer loyalty doesn’t have to cost a lot. Often it just takes a little investment of time.

One way to rack up customer loyalty is to spotlight your customers and bring them some recognition and free PR.

Just today I ran into a perfect example of this.

While I was over at the Elance site (where I posted a guest blog article), I noticed they announced the winners of a contest for best websites on Elance. The contest was designed to recognize small businesses that had gotten a website built using a service provider they found through Elance.

The awards offer multiple ways for the customer to get highlighted and recognized:

  • The winners get profiled on the Elance website.
  • The winners get a little winner’s ribbon/emblem they can display on their websites, in company newsletters, and in brochures.
  • And of course, winning an award is a great trigger to send out a press release — not to mention a source of pride.

Imagine the waves of warmth that come from the customer due to the positive recognition.

Falcon Hyndai, winner of Elance Website Design Contest

This particular award program worked on several different levels. Not only did it recognize the customers, but it also recognized the Web developers. And because Elance brought the website owner and the developer together, I am sure it will bring positive payback for Elance, too.

It looks like all of the website owners who went to Elance for their sites are small businesses. The winner is a Hyundai dealership — Falcon Hyundai — from New York. As an interesting aside, some of the other website owners happen to be from around the world (commerce definitely has gotten global).

If you are looking for ways to develop customer loyalty, think about starting an award or “spotlight” program. Or look around you and see if you can enter one of your customers into a third-party award program like Elance’s.

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Anita Campbell - CEO

Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses, and also serves as CEO of

9 Reactions

  1. Back in the 70’s, in ancient times, I developed award programs for airlines and car rentals to travel agents. They were designed in such a way that they doubled as advertising.

    Doing this digitally is very inexpensive and is also good SEO. This will also benefit product based companies’ resellers. Reseller credibility builds confidence in customers and improves sales results.

    Create a digital award that customers can add to their site and add them to a dedicated page for award winners on your own site with links back to the customer web page.

    John at Duct Tape Marketing posted an interesting article on customer award programs today.

    Everyone loves an award, especially when it’s public.

  2. I just completed my dissertation on how small businesses can create customer advocates and spread WOM

    What I generally discovered was that introducing an element of competition amongst customers can prove really effective at creating a community of very receptive customers.

    These communities seemed to evolve naturally and attract others with very little involvement of the company. Then community advocates, rather than customer advocates, emerged and drove further growth for the business.

    It was quite fascinating, and I think awards is in fitting with the element of competition amongst customers.

  3. Richard Millington,

    I am interested in reading an excerpt / summary of your report. Word of Mouth marketing is an interesting field.

  4. Getting an award or recognition makes all your hard work seem worthwhile. It’s an exciting way to get new exposure and makes you feel good. As an example, while checking out the winners, I came across I spent over an hour in there checking out the various forums. Very cool, guess that’s why they were runner up in two categories.

  5. Very cool!

    It’s really easy to reward customer loyalty. More people just have to do it!


  6. Richard, I agree with Martin — it would be wonderful to see your paper sometime.

    I think I speak for everyone when I say, we’d love to learn more about your findings. Sounds instructive.


  7. Customer Loyalty Programs can include Online promotions, including sweepstakes, online instant win games, and contests.These online promotions have become a proven source of building customer loyalty for companies.

    Sweepstakes, including Online
    Instant Win Games
    have shown to be consistently effective in developing customer loyalty and provides that instant gratification while gaining the customer‘s attention.

  8. This seems like an excellent site. Happy I found it, looking forward to communicate with other small business owners and share ideas and help each other. As for awards Excellent! IMO anytime you can GIVE=All parties benefit. I currently have a basic referral program, I give a prepaid “Card” my Clients can use anywhere. Now with 12 days until Christmas, I’m sending all Clients a Cash gift card with a short letter reminding them of the referral program, and the fact that cash will be added to this card for every referral. Love to hear thoughts and feedback on this method of Customer Loyalty.

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