eCommerce Insiders

Loyalty Promotion Programs: Set It and They’ll Forget It

By the end of this post you should have at least one idea to revitalize your loyalty program.

A common misconception that I come across when consulting merchants on their loyalty promotion
programs is that a loyalty program is static; that if you create a good enough program right away,
the program should take care of itself indefinitely. Most merchants won’t come right out and say
this to me, but often when I check up on a client months after launch they haven’t introduced some of their program’s scheduled promotions. This is when I schedule a loyalty-intervention.

Allowing your loyalty program to be stagnant doesn’t set you up for total failure, but it does cut
your loyalty promotion program’s potential in half.

Yes you can create loyalty promotions that are, for the most part, static, and yes some of these
programs may be well designed enough to persist for a year or two. There are even some
benefits to this as well. Creating a static loyalty program makes communication of the program
easier for customers to understand because, well, nothing changes. You don’t have to worry
about re-educating members on value proposition of the program.

It also makes your loyalty program about as interesting as watching paint dry.

Human beings are continually seeking the “new” thing. By limiting your loyalty program to its
initial design, you’re taking the power of this “new” thing right out of your program. Here are
some ways to keep your loyalty program interesting, fresh, and relevant.

Don’t Roll It All Out Right Away

When some merchants see all the ways they can reward their customers for interacting with
their brand, they get “buffet syndrome.” Suddenly their loyalty program is going to launch with
every single feasible reward for every single feasible interaction. This is wrong. Think of your
customer’s experience with your loyalty program as a real relationship: you don’t want to know
everything right away, you want some mystery. Slowly reveal individual features of your loyalty
program so that your members are continually shown new ways to interact with your brand.
You can do this on a yearly, quarterly or even monthly basis. Roll these features out as you
find time for them, it doesn’t matter as long as you keep your experience fresh and interesting
for your participants. Yes, maybe the next social network is a flop, but if you engage your most
loyal (read: profitable) customers for a short while, you’ve gained their interest and likely their
future purchases. The key takeaway here is to keep your experience interesting to your loyal

When a New Feature Lands, Start Your Plans

A good loyalty program partner should be rolling out new features to your loyalty program
frequently, otherwise your program will go stagnant – regardless of your plans. When a
new feature is introduced to your loyalty technology, start planning to use it! You don’t
need to introduce it right away, find a time that lines up well with your other promotions and
organizational goals. If your customers are too busy during the Holiday season to participate in
your organization’s “Pin it to win it” Pinterest campaign, save it for Q1. Just make sure you take
advantage of every new way to keep your program interesting and engaging.

Don’t Only Change the “What”

Can’t think of a new way to reward your loyal customers? Don’t worry! Rather than spicing up
what you’re rewarding customer for, switch up how much you’re rewarding your customers.
Instead of handing out large discounts, offer bonus points weekends. Sales aren’t the only
thing that you can “flash,” try a flash “triple points” sale. Don’t limit yourself to the earning side
of loyalty as well; try special redemptions or a cross promotion limited by time or quantity. Scarcity is another best
friend of marketers, so an exclusive sales promotion limited by both quantity as well as time will create
hungry loyalty members that are trained to be eager for your marketing messages.

Saturday Night Live is Funny Because It’s Relevant

The best jokes are those that are relevant to their listener. The same goes for loyalty program
promotions. Tie your loyalty program’s promotions in with events that your members will care
about. Get creative, don’t just stick to the same old seasonal events such as Thanksgiving and
the holiday season, think of topical news events. Your possibilities are only limited by your
imagination and what your loyalty members will find interesting. The election, the Superbowl,
famous dates in history, birthdates of celebrities…the list goes on. Relevant messages mean
an engaged audience. Don’t know what kind of promotion your audience finds interesting
and relevant? Call in an expert: run a loyalty promotion where a customer designs your next
promotion. Now you have no excuses for creating relevant promotions.

So what will your next loyalty promotion be?

The 10x Ecommerce Event

About Steve Deckert (11 Posts)

Steve Deckert has been involved in the eCommerce community since 2007. In 2009 he helped to envision and develop Sweet Tooth. Steve has helped over 3,500 merchants reward over 15 million customers, improve their customer experience, develop their customer loyalty, and increase long term profitability. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, & Google Plus

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