Customer loyalty programs are nothing new. They’ve been used successfully by many types of businesses over the years to get better results. However, the fact that many companies use customer loyalty programs today is both good and bad.
First of all, it’s good because it shows that loyalty programs bring in results for businesses. On the other hand, it makes it more challenging to create a loyalty program that will yield impressive results. There’s one way you can overcome this issue – by innovating.
Customers are already used to typical programs. If you want to perform exceptionally well, you would have to add something new into the mix to build customer loyalty. Here’s what you need to know.
Why Innovation Matters for Customer Loyalty Programs
It’s important to set aside your customer loyalty program from the rest. Not only will that help you achieve better results with the program itself, but you’ll also be able to differentiate your brand. In modern business, it’s vital to set yourself apart from the rest.
It’s the only way to establish a strong base of customers that will stick around for a long time. That uniqueness will make new customers remember your business. However, your current customers will also feel that they are a part of something special and establish a stronger bond with you.
Most Innovative Examples
– Starbucks Loyalty Program
The Starbucks app was one of the first programs that didn’t require any sign-ins or punch cards. When customers use the app to buy something, they get stars. That’s how Starbucks has centralized payments and gathers valuable customer data.
– Amazon Prime
Amazon Prime is a subscription membership that allows Amazon customers to get an unlimited number of free quick shipments per month. For a small fee, Amazon can offer truly valuable benefits from its program and differentiate itself from its competitors.
– Disney Movie Insiders
This program connects Disney fans together and generates excitement for new releases. At the same time, it offers rewards. It does this by tracking views in different formats and channels. People receive unique merch, experiences, and future releases.
Innovate on an Operational Level
The first step is to set up modern loyalty programs that are either completely digital or connected to your digital platforms. Simply put, your loyalty program is the extension of your marketing strategy. It should be integrated into your systems and marketing platforms and be optimized for all technologies your customers use.
That makes it easier to adjust your programs, see valuable data, and deliver experiences quickly to engage customers. Preferably you need to unite all your customer loyalty efforts into a single platform so that you can see the whole picture.
Include new Technologies
You shouldn’t just use technology internally to help you on the operational level. It should also be customer-focused to provide better user experiences. Modern consumers are used to using the latest technologies. In fact, they want everything at their fingertips with seamless control.
Some of the latest technologies that you can use for loyalty programs include:
- Mobile wallets: can store whole reward programs, discounts, coupons, loyalty cards, and travel tickets. It literally puts your program at the customers’ fingertips and integrates it into their daily routines.
- Apps & rewards: mobile technology is essential for modern consumers. Everyone uses smartphones nowadays. By creating your own loyalty app, users can use it as a hub for the program, redeem gifts, rewards, and make payments all in one place.
- Machine learning: you can use AI to analyze the performance of programs, demographics, customer behaviors, and so on. It can help predict outcomes and even create better programs.
Gather Relevant Data and use it
Knowing your customers is crucial when creating a new program. Of course, to innovate, you need to be bold and make predictions. However, you need to have the right data to make better predictions. We mentioned AI earlier and machine learning – it’s a good place to start.
You can also use customer relationship management software to put all this data into one place. From there, you can figure out ways to present your program to consumers and engage them in the right way.
Offer new Experiences and Rewards
Rewards are always a good thing. However, offering more of the same sometimes feels dull and unrewarding. You need to provide memorable rewards through multiple interactions. At the same time, you don’t always have to give physical products, discounts, or services.
Rewarding customers with experiences is a good idea. A good example is the Disney Movie Insiders program, where customers get various rewards in different ways. They get engaged with the brand in multiple ways and experience something that regular customers don’t.
Offer Different Levels of Memberships
Yes, customers want to feel special. However, you need to make it official. People like to show others that they are members of a special club. Offer different memberships to your customers. Yes, having a single level is good, but adding different tiers will give even better results.
It’s essentially a concept from gamification – make customers feel like they are progressing and achieving something through your loyalty program. Let them measure their success as well as the benefits that they get alongside.
Look for Something Unique
If you want to be innovative, you must get creative. Here are some of the ways you can do this:
- Make your program about a specific product/service and include its name or slogan in it.
- Find an interesting way to name the points within the program. Make them related to the brand, product, or service.
- Create new ways for customers to earn points and rewards. Make it about them doing something, achieving new feats, or about their important dates.
- Design your programs in a unique way and make them easy to use and intuitive so that anyone can join.
Thousands of companies use loyalty programs successfully. Be a part of this club and see how a quality loyalty program can increase your sales, retain customers, and enhance your brand. Yes, it does require a certain amount of investment, but it’s worth it.