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Reward Boosters: 5 (of 8) Ways to Promote a Loyalty Program

$html.esc($author.firstName) Smith By Geoff Smith on January 13, 2015

Launching a rewards program is only the first step in nurturing long-term customer loyalty. A well-conceived promotional plan is required to give it legs. CrowdTwist Senior Vice President of Marketing Geoff Smith offers five tips.

If marketers want their loyalty programs to grow legs, then they’ll need to have them stand for something more than points.

Launching a program is relatively easy compared with the task of ensuring its consistent relevance among an organization’s target customers. Gaining this relevance requires a tightly weaved promotional program, delivered across channels, that is as well tailored as the offers and communications the program itself promotes.

To this end, CrowdTwist produced an e-book, “8 Ways to Promote a Loyalty Program,” complete with examples of loyalty advancements from some of the nation’s leading brands. The following are excerpts from five of these tips.

1. Activate employees

Employees are usually the most expensive resource in which an organization invests, and it should use them as such. Team members who interact directly with customers should be trained and armed with the right tools to promote and answer questions about the program. 

Walgreens, for example, launched its Balance Rewards program to employees weeks before it went public to ensure associates were trained and familiar with how the initiative worked. This approach enabled staff to identify the technologies, tools and processes needed to resolve issues quickly and personalize the customer experience.  

2. Build buzz and backers

A brand’s most valuable customers are typically also the most likely to respond to, and talk about, new services or offers. One way companies can achieve this is by inviting their best customers to be part of something exclusive.

An invitation to join a new program before it is extended to the public, for example, is more likely to produce brand and program enthusiasm that can be spread by word of mouth. The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) invited 10,000 fans to be among the first to join its UFC Rewards program. The exclusive invitation made clear to UFC fans that they were included in something special, enhancing their sense of value.

3. Demonstrate value during browsing

It is essential that a brand embeds its loyalty program name and information – highlighting key benefits – throughout its website, making it clear to the customer what she can gain through participation. The reason is simple: Whether an organization is selling luxury clothing or hotel rooms, its loyalty program should be considered as important as the product or service in which is specializes.

The Children’s Place creatively advertises its myPlace Rewards loyalty program by including a rewards teaser next to the pricing information of every product. Revealing the program’s benefits during the consideration phase improves its chances of capturing that sale from the competition, while gaining a new loyal customer.

4. Promote in stages

There is no rule stating a loyalty program should offer all its features from the get-go. Rather, a program that offers a wide variety of features is more likely to confuse and overwhelm members. When a program rolls out in stages – giving brands the chance to focus on one element or channel at a time – it offers time to let organizations work out functionality issues while amply promoting the feature.

A case in point is the Purina My Perks loyalty program. The initiative launched in 2013 using Facebook posts to encourage enrollment. Several months later, Purina added product codes to packages of cat food and rewarded consumers with points for purchases.

5. Give it omnipresence

Anywhere a loyalty program member’s eyes wander is where the program should be advertised. That said, there are guidelines, such as the degree to which best customers use different channels. But once established, the messaging should be seamless and integrated across the brand.

When Kohl’s promoted its new Yes2You Rewards, it advertised the program on its website and through signage in-store and at checkout. Kohl’s also sent inserts in credit card mailers and trained store associates to ask during checkout whether customers enrolled in the program. Programs that cross multiple channels to reach consumers through the many ways they interact with the brand are likely to record higher exposure and activation rates.

Most importantly, the loyalty program should back up its promotional promise. A solid, brand-defining loyalty program requires distinct value and the power to enthrall the customer. It is then the job of marketing to continuously identify and promote these qualities in new ways.

The natural curiosity that follows, among consumers, will entice participation and word of mouth. Soon enough, consumers will stand up for the program – what better way to grow legs?

Learn more or read the full e-book, “8 Ways to Promote a Loyalty Program.”

Meet The Author

$html.esc($author.firstName) Smith
Geoff Smith

Geoff Smith is senior vice president of marketing at CrowdTwist. Refer to CrowdTwist Partner page for details.

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