How do you know when something is over the hill or past its ‘use by’ date? With a physical object, it’s usually easy to spot: chipped paint, tarnished surface, rust or a missing part. However, if that something is a loyalty program, spotting the signs can be a little more difficult.
A struggling loyalty program will usually exhibit traits such as:
- Irrelevant rewards that no longer speak to customers’ needs or address lifestyle changes, resulting in a
- Unachievable loyalty program tiers (i.e. Gold and Platinum) that leave members unwilling or unable to aspire to new levels of brand commitment.
- Unbelievable promises, where inflated prices make discounts appear more appealing
Retail loyalty programs displaying such characteristics will undoubtedly witness consumer behavioral shifts, ranging from:
– Reduced brand engagement, either through social media or in-store visits;
– Cashing in the loyalty program account;
– Maximizing what remains of their membership,
– Basket size adjustments;
– To an increase in necessity versus luxury buys.
If these problems are unfolding, chances are your customer rewards or loyalty program needs a serious refresh. So how can your brand address these warning signs and put the sparkle and excitement back into your loyalty program?
At Kobie Marketing, we often say the consumer-brand bond is a special relationship, vital to the loyalty experience. Like relationships between people, fixing a fractured friendship begins with listening to one another’s needs.
One of the best ways to improve communication comes down to an improved sharing of consumer knowledge between various teams and departments. What can loyalty program designers learn about customers from the brand’s marketing team? Likewise, it helps to think like a doctor and take your “customer patient record.”
Knowing how customers’ wants, needs and desires have evolved is also critical. Acquiring this information requires a mix of big data analysis, the capturing of “little data” and the face-to-face or digital permission to collect such data and then using it to the brand and consumers’ advantage.
In July of this year, the cosmetics retailer Sephora announced the addition of a new level of tiered loyalty with perks that include free shipping, early access to new products, sales and VIP invites to shoppers who spend $1,000 or more per year. Around the same time Gilt.com introduced its Gilt Insider Program that awards customers five points per dollar spent along with additional bonuses. It’s likely these rewards program “facelifts” will go a long way toward reinvigorating Sephora and Gilt’s loyal customers, but it’s equally important to remember that none of these changes would have been possible were it not for brands using data intelligently, and learning that their customers were ready for a change.
Sparkle and Sizzle, Not Fizzle
Knowing customers’ channel preference is another revitalization tool, and it’s central to our omnichannel loyalty philosophy, an enterprise-level initiative to drive, track, measure and reward incremental behavior throughout the enterprise and customer experience. Mobile often gets top billing, yet many consumers still prefer email as the least intrusive medium.
Ultimately, loyalty programs should have an exit strategy as no program lasts forever. Brands should consider how to let existing customers down easily and think of new offers to provide that could mitigate member backlash.
Are you tasked with updating an aging program? What challenges are you facing, and how are you going to overcome these? Share your thoughts below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.