When you hear the words “loyalty program,” the first thing that comes to mind is a points-based program. And why not – it is a classic option that is easy to implement and track while simultaneously rewarding customers with discounts and businesses with engagement and data.
Loyalty programs can be as simple or as complex as you want them to be, which opens the door for countless customization and personalization options that best fit your business and customer needs.
But first, let us take a deep dive into the classic loyalty program: Earn and Burn.
Earn and Burn Loyalty Programs
The concept of an earn and burn program is basic but wildly successful. Customers earn points via purchases, which they then redeem, or burn, for product or service discounts or other incentives. Implementing an earn and burn loyalty program requires special attention to the following steps:
- Define your goals and what you hope to achieve by creating a loyalty program.
- Design your points structure – remember that you can always start small and scale up later.
- Provide redemption options such as a rewards store or individual incentives.
- Manage your data so that you can improve your loyalty program and build brand awareness.
An example of an earn and burn program could be as simple as a stamp card from your favorite café. Every time you purchase a coffee, you receive a stamp. Once that card is full, you can turn it in for a free coffee or pastry. Thereby, you are incentivized to come back to that café because you have your trusty stamp card in your pocket – and you are always just a few stamps away from a special treat!
Tiered Loyalty Programs
Tiered loyalty programs, which can also be called multi-tired or multi-level loyalty programs, reward customers based on which tier or level they have achieved within the program. This program combines the classic points-based loyalty program into a more inciting and competitive angle, incentivizing customers to increase spending and engagement with a brand to get to the next rewards tier.
Examples of tier-based rewards include unlocking benefits of higher tiers such as:
- Discounts: The higher the tier, the higher the discount.
- Exclusive rewards: Exclusive products, services, or events.
- Early access: The first to access new products or sign up for events.
- Priority and personalized service: Premium customer service.
A classic example of a tiered loyalty program is made up of “Bronze,” “Silver,” “Gold,” and “Platinum” tiers, with each tier offering progressively better benefits. The motivation to reach the higher tiers is what boosts customer engagement and encourages repeat business.
Paid Subscription Loyalty Programs
It may seem counterintuitive to pay a company for benefits before they are received – but the paid subscription-based model is designed to encourage and reward customer loyalty and does so with remarkable success. When designing a subscription-based loyalty program, it is important to determine the benefits that best suit your business model:
- Savings and exclusive access: Providing subscription members with ongoing discounts or access to exclusive member-only deals.
- Convenience: Goods and services provided with timeliness and consistency.
- Predictability: Monthly or annual fixed fees to allow customers to budget and know exactly what to expect.
- Personalization: Curated rewards that match the customers' interests and habits.
For example, Amazon Prime has achieved immense success with their Prime model that initially only began as a free two-day shipping incentive before growing into a conglomerate of offers and services. You can start small and get people in the door with a lucrative incentive, and then keep them renewing their subscription by adding to its value.
Lifestyle and Values Loyalty Programs
Spending is not the be all end all to rewards. Rewards can span across various aspects of a customer’s life. The goal is to create loyalty engagement that goes beyond transactional relationships between a brand and a customer, and instead fosters positive emotions and experiences. Lifestyle and value loyalty programs are a flexible option for creating diverse positive rewards. They can include earning through means such as:
- Lifestyle improvements: Increasing daily water intake and number of steps per day.
- Outdoor lifestyles: Walking a dog or going to new locations for hikes and nature walks.
- Cross-industry: Partnering with hotels, airlines, fitness centers, or other related industries.
- Convenience: Easy to achieve lifestyle rewards that are integrated with daily activities and routines.
- Social engagement: Sharing milestones and the benefits achieved.
Lifestyle rewards can boost your brand image by creating a positive emotional relationship with your brand, particularly if they foster an image of a health- and eco-conscious approach.
Influencer programs harness the power of social media marketing. These programs can help bring in new customers and retain existing ones by rewarding individuals who promote a brand to their network.
They are designed to engage individuals with large online followings that can be influenced to purchase products or services. Influencers are rewarded for promoting a brand's product or services to their audience. The key features of influencer programs include:
- Rewards: Influencers can receive physical products or services in exchange for reviewing and sharing the content that highlights the brand.
- Partnerships: Long-term relationships can be formed which ensure a consistent message and brand alignment.
- Brand awareness: Influencers, like companies, have their own brand image they are building. By partnering with trusted businesses, they gain authenticity and credibility.
- Data: Social media data comes with the massive benefit of tracking and analytics. Companies can then determine the success of influencer partnerships.
Influencer programs benefit both parties by building brand awareness for all parties involved and promoting a brand or product to large networks at a low expense.
Which loyalty program is right for you?
These are just a handful of available loyalty programs – and they can be combined to create successful hybrid programs that appeal to your audience and build brand engagement! While it seems like a mountain of information to take in, the right plan can make your loyalty program designing a breeze.
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