Are you stuck with your loyalty program? Check out these outstanding loyalty solutions to nearly double your retention rates.
It would be best if you never left customer relations to sheer luck. If you fail to woo your customers to choose your offer over competitors', don't get your hopes up.
This article aims to showcase the importance of nurturing customer loyalty and teach you the top 8 loyalty solutions that will improve your loyalty campaigns and retention rates.
If you’re busy you can take a look at my top 8 pieces of advice to make your loyalty solutions land better with your audience:
- Gamify your loyalty program via adding tiers, levels and challenges.
- Offer unique, personalized rewards in the form of products or incentives.
- Reward customer engagements and offer bonus points.
- Launch a loyalty app.
- Make your employees aware of the program and its rules.
- Make the points redemption and reward delivery as fast as possible.
- Don’t be afraid of making changes based on customer data.
- Invest in top-of-class SaaS loyalty providers.
If you’d like to learn more, continue reading.
Getting tired of customer loyalty and retention talk?
If you work in marketing, the notions of “customer retention” and “customer loyalty” might become somewhat cliché. I get you. Customer loyalty is pretty much a myth busted (read more here), and customer retention has been inflated beyond recognition. However, it does not mean that these phenomena do not exist.
Customer loyalty comes down to a pretty straightforward truth. It is easier to nurture trust and positive emotional attachments with people you already know rather than to start building trust from scratch with strangers. This makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?
There are hundreds of ways to nurture trust and loyalty - you can read more about it here. That’s also where customer loyalty programs come into play. You can use them to keep your brand on top of customers’ minds and to reciprocate some of the positive feedback and give back something of value. Yet, launching a loyalty program is not enough - it needs to be a data-based, well-thought-out, and interdepartmental endeavour that runs indefinitely.
Before I give you my top 8 loyalty solutions for your loyalty program, let’s think about customer loyalty architecture first. Should you build it yourself or use loyalty providers that are already out there?
In-house loyalty solutions or SaaS loyalty solutions providers?
To be clear, I’m not here to tell you what to do. The answer to the question above depends solely on you and the type and the scope of business you’re running.
If you are a big brand with hordes of employees and development teams - launching your in-house loyalty program is objectively a good idea. This is because no SaaS will give you an ultimate level of independence and control that comes with fully independent service. So, in-house architecture wins with SaaS in terms of control and flexibility. Yet, the match is far from over.
SaaS loyalty solutions are a preferred way of investing in loyalty for small and medium businesses because of the low maintenance costs, less workforce needed, and shorter development time. All top SaaS loyalty solutions should come with a clear user interface, loyalty analytics, and customization possibilities that let businesses launch fully white-labeled loyalty programs. You can read more about it here.
Moreover, you can also check out API-based SaaS loyalty solutions, such as Voucherify, that allow you to use the ready-made backend architecture and choose the frontend framework that suits your needs best, giving you the ultimate control over your brand image. You can read more here about API-based (headless) platforms.
Ideas for improving your current loyalty solution
If you are already running a loyalty program but seek ways to improve it, you’ve come to the right place. Check out the list of best ideas for enhancing your loyalty programs and other undertakings focused on garnering customer approval and attachment.
#1 Loyalty Solution - It’s all just fun and games
Even if you’re not a professional Counter-Strike player, you can still appreciate the rush of adrenaline and excitement that comes with beating levels, collecting points, and receiving rewards. Setting up a flat, one-dimensional loyalty schemas does not sit right with modern customers anymore.
The excitement that arouses with gamified experiences stems from popular marketing psychology tricks, namely the Novelty Effect, Urgency, and Windfall Gains.
To cut the scientific talk short, the brain creates dopamine (good guys) each time it is faced with a unique and new experience. This simple chemical dependence is responsible for the breakneck pace in marketing and sales efforts to come up with new campaigns, programs, and content and work on improvements round the clock. In conclusion, people don’t like stagnation.
The sense of urgency is pretty self-explanatory. Make your offers time-limited, add a countdown timer to your messaging, and use language that emphasises rush and haste.
The Windfall Gains effect is all about surprising your customers. Offering an unexpected incentive to visitors significantly increases the number of unplanned purchases, also driving up the average spend value and basket size. You will find more info on it here.
What does gamification mean in terms of loyalty solutions?
Well, going beyond a one-level loyalty program is the way to go. Try out adding multiple tiers and levels to your loyalty incentives (e.g., Sephora Club), visualize the journey customers need to take to reach the top, and keep your program rules simple. Remember that your customers won’t beat the game unless they know the controls.
#2 Loyalty Solution - Keep customers eyes on the rewards
Your ideal loyalty program will undoubtedly take many different forms depending on your business model and the target audience. The most popular type of a loyalty solution is a point-based loyalty program in which customers collect points that later on can be redeemed for material rewards. This form of a loyalty solution suits best businesses that thrive on high intensity and value of customer orders.
Remember not the rest on laurels as most customers are a bit tired of this formula and may seek more innovative loyalty solutions.
So what can you do to make your loyalty rewards more attractive?
- Decide between material rewards and incentives (e.g., discounts). You may ask your customers directly or run iterations to see which rewards drive more engagement.
Note: Discount and gift cards are an excellent way to go, as customers would need to return to redeem their rewards. Therefore, customers receive your products that they enjoy at a discounted price, and you earn bonus purchases.
- Make your rewards feel personal. Don’t offer surplus products that nobody wants to buy as your rewards - it’s lazy and disrespectful. Instead, create unique products explicitly used for your loyalty program or offer limited edition products to make customers feel special.
- Let customers choose what they want. You may offer X number of rewards from which customers can choose. Don’t create a program in which X number of points equals this specific product/deal. Your customers will thank you for it.
- Make the point conversion simple. Reward information should be fun and easily digestible.
- Create a visually pleasing reward catalog.
#3 Loyalty Solution - Beyond Purchases
As I mentioned earlier, the classic point-based formula in which 1$ equals 1 point isn’t the best fit for the modern market full to the brim with competition and ever-changing customer trends. Take a look at the Starbucks loyalty offer. This leading cafe chain decided to reward customers also for engagements, not just purchases. An opportunity to earn extra points for activities such as leaving a review, celebrating a birthday in the café or making an order via the app, makes the program more dynamic and tailored to customers’ needs.
#4 Loyalty Solution - Launch a mobile app for your loyalty program
Speaking of the mobile app, the advent of mobile culture shouldn’t be overlooked in your loyalty strategy. Creating a loyalty solution that’s always within reach in a handy form of a mobile app is something to consider. Looking at the US, approximately one-in-five American adults are “smartphone-only” internet users - that’s around 28 million people using smartphones as their only source of information. That’s a significant number that you don’t want to skip.
#5 Loyalty Solution - a company-wide endeavour
If only your marketing team is aware of the loyalty program, you’re not going to get too far.
Launching a loyalty program is a multi-layered undertaking, and so it requires open communication between various teams, including (obviously) marketing and sales, IT, customer support, upper and lower management, and even legal teams. If you are offering your products in brick-and-mortar stores, make sure that the shop assistants know the ins and outs of your program and that they talk about it every chance they get. Lack of proper exposure is synonymous with badly-performing loyalty incentives.
Perhaps, it’s a little off-topic, but when Airbnb first launched its widely-known referral program, it fell flat. But the problem didn’t lay with the program itself, but rather with proper education of Airbnb employees. When asked about the program, some of them admitted never hearing about it before. Don’t let the same thing happen to your customer loyalty solutions.
#6 Loyalty Solution - Gratification Delay
Imagine buying a new book that you wanted, and then instead of enjoying it straight away, you need to put it on the shelf for a week. What do you feel? Annoyance, weak strings of anger, disappointment? Yup, you don’t feel the initial excitement due to the gratification delay.
Your loyalty solutions should be designed in a way that allows for fast points redemption, speedy reward delivery, and points conversion. The longer customers need to wait for the actual fruits of their loyalty towards your company, the more annoyed they will end up.
#7 Loyalty Solution - Iterate, iterate and iterate
You can’t expect your loyalty program to win all the awards right after launch. There is time for initial design, but you also should make time for modification, changes, and updates. Track customer data, engagement rates, and loyalty metrics, such as participation levels and redemption numbers. See which rewards steal customers’ hearts and which are usually overlooked. In short, aim for perfection and always give yourself time and tools to adjust the program to any obstacles that arise along the way.
#8 Loyalty Solution - SaaS loyalty providers
If you have decided to use a SaaS loyalty solution provider instead of building in-house loyalty architecture, make sure that your loyalty provider meets the following criteria:
- It’s easy to integrate and implement within your current business model.
- It’s quick and efficient in testing and releasing iterations.
- It’s scalable and manageable.
- It lets you personalize rewards, eligibility criteria, and timing of your incentives and loyalty rewards.
- It respects legal norms and is compliant with personal data policies.
- It can be integrated with your messaging channels, or you can create new customer touchpoints with it.
- It’s consistent with your brand image and has white-labeling functionality.
- It’s geared up towards security and offers tools preventing fraud.
- It’s affordable.
I hope that these tips will help you improve the loyalty program that you aim to launch or you are already running. Good luck!