If you’ve followed the trajectory of loyalty programs since their start, you may have noticed the many iterations they’ve taken on.
In fact, when we learned about the history of loyalty programs from Zsuzsa Kecsmar, the co-founder, CMO and Head of Partnerships of Antavo, she told us that loyalty programs are currently in their third generation.
The latest version includes a variety of tactics meant to usher in customer loyalty. Here are some of them.
If teamwork makes the dream work, a partnered loyalty program might be just what your customers dream of.
A partnered loyalty program is made up of two separate brands working together to offer even more incentives. One recent example of this is between retailers Target and Ulta.
The two stores joined forces to better serve their customers. Not only can Target rewards members gain points when they shop with Target, but they can get points with both brands when they buy products at the Ulta located inside Target.
Gamification is the process of implementing game-like tactics (competition, levels, points, teams, rules, etc.) into traditionally non-gamified arenas, like marketing, to encourage a more playful atmosphere. It’s especially powerful in loyalty programs and mobile apps.
Starbucks uses gamification by offering stars” or points to customers with each purchase made. Those stars can then be redeemed for prizes like a customizable drink or warm pastry. And the more stars a customer gets, the higher their chances are for getting a really great prize.
3. Experiential rewards
Experiential rewards go beyond the standard deal and discount to offer customers a priceless, emotional currency: memories. Take a moment to think of your favorite memory. Maybe it was your first concert or an international trip with friends. Now, think about how loyal you’d be to a brand if they were responsible for that experience.
This is the psychological power behind experiential rewards. While you might appreciate another incentive when it’s initially being presented, the lasting power of an experience you’ll carry in your mind is sure to stay with you much longer. Customers are also more likely to share news of the music festival they attended than the 20% discounts they received.
Experiential rewards are just that - all about creating an experience customers can connect with.
4. VIP Benefits
There’s no denying that your most loyal customers deserve a little something special.
That’s where VIP loyalty programs come in. They’re reserved for the most consistent customers who regularly support your brand. The goal is to highlight exclusivity and make these customers feel special (consumer psychology also says consumers like having something to work toward, and seeing others become VIP members will encourage them to do the same).
5. Tiered rewards
Whether a customer has just joined your loyalty program or they’ve been a loyal member for some time, tiered reward systems give everyone a chance to gain the best incentives in their loyalty bracket.
Members who interact most often with your loyalty program are typically those who appear on the highest tier, gaining early access to campaigns or receiving the largest discounts. Those who fall in remaining tiers receive corresponding rewards.
6. Hybrid programs
What’s better than one successful type of loyalty program? Two.
Hybrid loyalty programs occur when brands take two types of loyalty programs and use them both to offer members even more services. It’s a great way to curate a loyalty program that best aligns with your brand and resonates with your target audience. If one loyalty program type doesn’t quite give your members everything they need, you can add in elements of another loyalty program (for example, any of the tactics mentioned in this post) to round out your services.
Loyalty programs have come a long way since their days as a standard token or stamp card. Today, consumers can experience all sorts of incentives from brands as a thank you for their loyalty.