Loyalty programs and customer incentives have been around for hundreds of years. It started by rewarding customers with copper tokens that could be redeemed on future purchases. Then it moved to the less costly programs like Green Stamps.
Today, there are a large variety of new customer loyalty programs. Digital and ecommerce tools have made it easier than ever for businesses to create and manage these programs, but creating a quality loyalty program is not as easy. Yes, a store can create a program that offers points or deals to customers that regularly purchase, but the question remains — is the loyalty program serving its true purpose of engaging customers and giving them a reason to keep coming back?
According to the 2017 COLLOQUY Loyalty Census, the average American household is enrolled in 29 separate loyalty programs, yet they only actively participate in about 12. Consumers have more choices than ever, so creating a loyalty program that actually engages and incentivizes each individual to return is critical.
Here are four ways you can create a successful loyalty program.
1. Keep It Simple
Many loyalty programs today use points-based systems. These programs typically offer points for taking certain actions; the customer accumulates points and can redeem them for a reward once a threshold amount is reached. To keep customers engaged and interested, the process of earning and redeeming awards needs to be easily understandable.For example, “earn 10 points when making a purchase this month that can be used to get $5 off your next order,” is ineffective because it requires way too much thinking for the customer. Easily outline how your customers gain points, what the points can be used for and how they can redeem their rewards.
2. Gather Data and Personalize
Personalization is a key strategy many marketers recognize they need to use — and incorporating it in a loyalty program is no different. By adding personalization, a brand can differentiate itself and truly build a relationship with its customers. Gathering customer data at every touchpoint to understand their interest across channels — in store, in person and digitally — is crucial to a successful program. Marketers then need to apply this data to offer relevant, individualized incentives that encourage each customer to return.
3. Incorporate Customer Values
Before deciding on a rewards program, it’s important to understand your customers and what they value. Customers of certain industries may find more value in non-monetary rewards than customers of other industries. A company in the financial industry may see better results by offering loyal customers better cash-back discounts on a credit card, while in the travel industry,a better reward may bea seat upgrade on a customer’s next flight. Consumers are more likely to engage with a brand that understands their values, so incorporating those values into a loyalty program can vastly improve your program.
4. Tier-Leveled Program
One major customer complaint about loyalty programs is that it takes too long to accumulate points or rewards. Consumers want to have the opportunity to redeem their points for rewards of value. This leaves businesses in a tough spot — they need to satisfy both the customer’s desire to see regular progress andshow their commitment turning to something of value. A tiered system that rewards customer behavior — beyond just transactions — can resolve this. Rewarding customers for things like event attendance, social engagement, brand advocacy or just being a long-term customer with different amounts of points than for transactions, can help satisfy both. Customers recognize the progress for each of their actions and can eventually get the reward they value.
With the increasing amount of loyalty programs being offered, simply having one is no longer enough. Marketers need to analyze and understand their customers to build a loyalty program that customers engage with and see value in. Remember to keep it simple, gather data to personalize your program, incorporate customer value and consider tier-leveled programs for the most successful results.