7 lessons for your customer loyalty program

August 15, 2022 | 7 minute read
Michael McNichols
Senior Content Manager
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Get ideas on how to improve your customer loyalty program:


Emotion, more than anything, drives customer loyalty

Making customers loyal to your brand isn’t a magic trick.

Statista found that the average person subscribes to 16.6 loyalty programs. In the US, 65% of consumers view retail brands as trustworthy.

People want to trust brands they do business with. They want you to earn their loyalty. You save them the trouble of seeking out new products and services. You add some comfort and predictability to their lives.

A thousand things take up a person’s mind. In 2020, a study found that a person has 6,000 thoughts a day!

Jobs, families, hobbies, chores, and everything else eat up a lot of mental space. With everything people have going on, you can provide at least a little stability and satisfaction.

Learn five steps to build a customer loyalty program your customers will love.

How do you forge an emotional bond with customers, however?

How to create an emotional bond with customers with your loyalty program

Let’s check in again with Statista. According to their research:

  • The main reason consumers in the US lose trust in a brand is a faulty product
  • Consumers in the US expect a chance to win large prizes with a loyalty program
  • However, consumers in the US grow to dislike a loyalty program if it takes too long to earn rewards

If you don’t have a good product, you have nothing.

What is a good product?

It delights a customer, satisfies a need, and makes their lives somehow easier.

That’s only the starting point, though.

The experiences you provide, no matter what channel you use, must be as delightful, informative, and easy as possible.

Personalization and relevance also count for a lot. A personalized touch can go a long way.

Plus, you want customers to come back and do business with you again and again.

So, a customer loyalty program gives them incentives to do so.

But like the products and experiences you provide, your loyalty program should:

  • Offer value and convenience
  • Delight, inform, and educate loyalty members
  • Show that you understand a customer and their particular needs with personalization (and customer data helps a great deal there)

See how to make your customer data more effective with a customer data platform (CDP).

Of course, a customer loyalty program is an ongoing labor. You’re never done tweaking and improving it, just as you’re never really done providing value for customers.

How can you improve your loyalty program?

Take a look at some of the top customer loyalty programs (in no particular order). See what lessons they can impart for you to make your own and build a stronger bond with your customers.

Get ideas to improve your customer loyalty program

8 lessons for your customer loyalty program

1. Mobile makes a difference

No list of top customer loyalty programs would be complete without Starbucks. Mobile apps might be commonplace today, but Starbucks hopped on that train years ago, before many others.

A mobile app makes it easier for customers to make orders. Take the next step by letting members earn points by ordering on the app.

You can even offer perks for a member using the app.

It can lead to you collecting a treasure trove of customer data, such as:

  • Most ordered items
  • Locations customers went to or ordered from with regularity
  • Customer habits, such as when they order, what they order, their favorites, and what rewards they prefer

This data can then help you consistently tweak and improve the:

  • Loyalty program itself
  • Perks and rewards they provide
  • Mobile app
  • Marketing and communications sent out to customers
  • Experiences they offer

Main takeaway: Keep customer convenience in mind and pay attention to your data.

2. Customers love flexibility and choice

Giving loyalty members the option of choosing what to spend their rewards points on. can make a huge difference. You could let them pick between:

  • Free shipping or samples
  • Gift cards
  • Exclusive events

Main takeaway: Give customers good reasons to be loyal without cheapening the value of your product and brand.

3. Exclusive perks make your brand stand out

Let’s look at Foot Locker’s FLX rewards program. It features three tiers. While every member gets free shipping, the more loyal a customer, the more they move up the ranks of the programs.

Higher-ranked loyalty members get more and exclusive perks and rewards, including:

  • Reserving a shoe in your size
  • Discounts and exclusive merchandise
  • Charitable donations

Main takeaway: Make loyalty a reward in and of itself.

Catch this on-demand webinar featuring Foot Locker and Oracle CrowdTwist about the latest loyalty trends and how your loyalty program can lead to personalization that bolsters your overall CX.

4. Loyalty can offer unique experiences

Consider letting loyalty members earn points in different, more unique ways than just purchases to encourage more engagement (and points earned). Attending exclusive events, checking at specific locations, and even downloading the mobile app result in more points earned.

Then loyalty members can put those points toward unique experiences crafted with your customer base in mind, such as a hiking trip, a yoga lesson, a free night at a VR arcade, etc. 

Main takeaway: Design your loyalty program, rewards, and experiences with your customers in mind.

5. Personalization leads to engagement

Not all loyalty programs have a loyalty card. Instead, your online system could track customers by name, phone number, and purchase information.

So, how do you keep their loyalty program top of mind for members?

Highly personalized emails can act as reminders of:

  • Point totals and interactions with the brand
  • How close someone is to a perk or discount
  • Deals and promotions they might be missing out on

Main takeaway: A personalized touch builds a stronger connection with customers. Also, don’t be afraid to try different channels with your loyalty programs or mixing and matching them.

Find out best practices for SMS marketing and how to combine it for email. See how a personalized touch can make all the difference in engagement and loyalty.

6. Customers will pay for quality and exclusivity

Statista found that 70% of consumers in the US wouldn’t join a loyalty program if there were a fee to opt in.

Yet, several loyalty programs find success with paid programs.

What gives?

Well, that still leaves 30% of consumers in the US, which is a considerable amount. Plus, you can change someone’s mind. 

How?

Make it worth a customer’ s while by marketing the program well and offering exclusive benefits.

Make good use of social proof and testimonials to get people interested and willing to join. Then they offer benefits only their loyalty members receive, like:

  • Free shipping
  • Early access to new products and special discounts
  • Special offers, like for your birthday

Main takeaway: Make your loyalty program valuable whether customers pay for it or not. Then get word out about it. Also, remember, customers will take the word of other customers, so testimonials and customer quotes mean a lot.

Get “The marketer’s guide to brand loyalty” to know all the ins and outs of getting customers to come back again and again.

7. Reward your loyalty members with more than just points

Let’s look at the Meineke Rewards loyalty program, which runs on Oracle CrowdTwist Loyalty and Engagement. It earned a spot on Newsweek’s list of America’s Best Loyalty Programs for 2021.

How and why?

They went beyond the punch-card approach of “get four oil changes and the fifth one’s free.”

Their program is free, easy to use, and offers significant discounts on maintenance and repair. What other perks, rewards, and benefits do loyalty members enjoy?

  • Five miles of free towing to the nearest Meineke Car Center
  • Points that go toward free services like oil changes and tire alignments
  • Routine double-point promotions
  • Points that don’t expire as long as drivers remain active in the program
  • Viewing your entire vehicle repair history on your Meineke Loyalty account

Main takeaway: Design your customer loyalty programs with your customers in mind and the particular perks they’d want.

Get all the details about Meineke Rewards increasing customer retention by 30% with Oracle CrowdTwist.

Learn your lessons and get ideas for your customer loyalty program

Review this list and see what you can learn for your own loyalty program. Not every idea will work. After all, every business is different, but you can tweak any idea or take inspiration from it.

Remember though: Emotion drives customer loyalty.

Forge a bond with customers by showing you care and understand them. Shape your loyalty program around their needs and wants. Personalize whenever and wherever you can.

Show that you’re just as loyal to your customers as you want them to be to you.


 

Learn lessons from customer loyalty leaders. See how:

Find out how to deepen customer relationships and improve retention with perks and rewards using Oracle CrowdTwist.

 

Michael McNichols

Senior Content Manager

Michael McNichols is a Senior Content Manager for Oracle Digital Marketing. He has over ten years of experience in professional writing and has been widely published.


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