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Want a Rewards Program That Benefits Both Brand and Customer? Incorporate These 5 Elements

May 17, 2017

Is your brand’s loyalty strategy just humdrum, or does it truly connect with members in ways that pay off for both sides? From branding to ease of use, here are the must-have components.

By Kirsten Burkard, Sweet Tooth Rewards

As competition heats up in virtually every industry, it’s more important than ever to make your brand stand out. An investment in a rewards program can go a long way. No matter what products you sell or who your target customer is, there are elements every program should have to be successful. 

1. Rewards branding

One of the first rules of marketing is to keep things consistent. From colors and fonts to the tone of the messages, all communication should be clearly recognizable as an extension of your brand. 

The same goes for your rewards program. Recognition breeds familiarity, and familiarity encourages customers to participate. Some great ways to do this are to incorporate your brand logo and colors in every aspect of your program and create a unique program name. If it is simply named “Rewards Program,” very few people will remember it, and customers don’t use a program they don’t remember.

For a points-based program, this principle should be applied to the currency name as well. Even a small change like adjusting “Rewards Points” to “Rewards Stars” can have a big impact on the appeal and memorability of the program. 

2. Variety of rewards

Since you have more than one type of customer, you need to offer more than one type of reward. Customization is a huge priority; people want to personalize every aspect of their experience with your brand.

When points-based loyalty programs were new, discounts were the understood method of rewarding. Over time, this reward has lost its potency; now it’s an expectation as opposed to a surprise. Today’s shoppers are putting the custom back in customer and demanding increasing amounts of personalization in a brand’s offerings. 

So how can your rewards program live up? Offer options. From free products to free shipping to exclusive events, there are more than a few ways to benefit and impress customers.

3. Exclusivity

Joining a rewards program is an easy decision when shoppers know they’re becoming members of an exclusive community. This is part of what prompts millions to shop with brands like Sephora and Starbucks. 

You can take this exclusivity further by dividing people into groups or tiers based on their shopping behaviors. This method of segmentation introduces an element of gamification that encourages engagement to reach the next level. This is enhanced when you offer different rewards at each level. Customers will be pushed to increase spend in order to earn those more valuable rewards – especially if they can see how close they are to the next reward. 

With these features in place, tiers allow you to secure future purchases from your most loyal customers while delivering satisfaction with every transaction.

4. Mobile presence

Mobile devices play a significant role in commerce, with 82% of mobile users employing their phone to help them make purchase decisions in-store, according to Google’s “I-Want-to-Buy Moments: How Mobile Has Reshaped the Purchase Journey,” from May 2015. The success of brands like Starbucks is a good example of why a strong mobile presence is an important consideration for businesses in any industry, ecommerce or otherwise.

A mobile rewards experience doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective. If a program is easily accessible and visually appealing on handheld devices, it should help business grow. Having a mobile-accessible rewards program gives customers more opportunities to engage with your brand, driving value for both them and you.

5. Quick and easy to join

Last but most definitely not least, all good rewards programs have a fast and painless registration process. Visibility is key: With the combination of a well-designed explainer page, home page callouts, pop-up tabs and navigation links, you can get your rewards program in front of every single customer and show them how valuable it is to join.

The more steps in the enrollment process, the further away rewards feel. Accessibility prompts participation; shoppers will appreciate your respect for their time and will thank you with active engagement. It’s a win-win for both sides.

By incorporating each of these elements into your program, you’ll ensure both you and your customers get the most out of loyalty rewards. Now that’s what I call value.

Kirsten Burkard is a customer loyalty expert and blogger for Sweet Tooth Rewards. Add her on Twitter: @kirstenburkard