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8 signs your loyalty program is winning

8 signs your loyalty program is winning Phil Seward

Recognizing success is important, particularly when large amounts of time, effort, and budget are being continually invested in a project over months or even years. Although we all seek that headline-grabbing victory for our brand, the everyday signs that indicate incremental success can be just as important. This same logic applies to retailers and their loyalty programs; knowing the key indicators that translate to program growth will help you identify the breakthroughs in your loyalty or rewards program that are successfully driving customer devotion.

Repeat purchases are table stakes
One of the main objectives of a loyalty program is to ensure your customers choose you time and time again, so if your program is yielding familiar faces, it's working. While timeframes will vary between products and sectors, the ultimate end goal of any loyalty strategy should be to build meaningful customer relationships, ensuring that you are their first choice when they are ready to buy again.

You're using customer data to deliver a more personalized customer experience
In this era, every loyalty strategy should be using data to drive a more personalized customer experience. Many don't realize data has a home outside dusty spreadsheets; it should be used to personalize relevant perks that customers might want to take advantage of, whether it be next day shipping to their office or an extra treat from the coffee shop they pass everyday on the morning commute. You're doing this correctly if the data you request from your most loyal customers goes much further than just fuelling your mailing list. Profile data should extend to past purchases, product preferences, interests and demographics, and social influence allowing you to make relevant suggestions and show you know how to make their lives more convenient.

Your employees understand your program, and are empowered to use it as a customer engagement tool
Your staff are fundamental to driving customer loyalty and should fully understand how your loyalty strategy works, both in store, online, and via mobile, as well as how it drives revenue and an enhanced customer experience. They also need to feel that the program supports them in helping meet their own sales targets, among other goals. Managers of successful programs actively include their customer-facing staff by providing them with the top-notch technology and access to relevant customer information, helping them to better engage with customers from the moment they walk into the store; it's what consumers expect nowadays.

Your customers know about your program, and are participating
Loyalty programs don't need to be popular for everyone, but they should be well-known across the customers you already have and the ones you're trying to target through your acquisition efforts. Successful programs are consistently promoted across all channels with the same level of effort that goes into rolling out next year's holiday collection. Popular loyalty programs bring customers into your store, drive traffic on your website and increase mobile app downloads.

One-of-a-kind perks are getting the brand noticed
Effective loyalty strategies surprise and delight customers and keep them coming back. Providing something a little bit special and unexpected lets your customers know that they're valued and not just being asked to collect points for the sake of collecting points. They need to feel that you're offering something different from others in the market and feel that the perks of membership are tailored to their own needs.

Your program is simple to understand, and executed consistently
You're excelling at the balancing act if you can update and add features to entice new members and keep existing members engaged, while ensuring your program doesn't get too complicated. Customers need to easily understand the value of their participation, how they will be rewarded for their loyalty, and how they can unlock incremental benefits. Participants should be able to redeem rewards and perks easily whether they choose to shop in store, online, or via mobile. Remember that mobile no longer pertains to just Millennials; Gen Xers and Baby Boomers are also on their phones frequently using the same rewards apps.

You've set goals and success metrics across all areas
Setting appropriate targets and implementing robust tracking helps you measure how the program is performing. Key performance indicators should be set beyond just transactional revenue and cover every touch point including number of new sign-ups, repeat purchases, social mentions, positive reviews, or customer referrals. Effective programs extend beyond the marketing department with metrics set for and shared with all areas of the company that can influence the customer experience.

Rewards are attainable from day one
The most common customer complaint with many loyalty programs is that it takes too long to accumulate enough points or rewards to realize any meaningful benefit. Valued customers should receive rewards from day one whether they've made a transaction or not. Good programs not only reward purchases, but also acknowledge customer advocacy, brand interaction, event participation and of course, longstanding devotion.

Phil Seward is the Regional Director for the Americas at global loyalty agency, ICLP. Combining agency and client-side experience, he is responsible for driving devoted customer relationships for ICLP’s clients across the US and Latin America.

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