Trends Shaping How Customer Loyalty Programs Are Run

With so many competitors in the market, companies must find ways and means to get their lion’s share of the need to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of retail. In particular, smaller companies must double their marketing efforts, especially against the more established brands. Those who fail to retain their customers will ultimately fail, leading to the demise of their business.

Businesses must strive to be different and provide a complete customer experience. Thus, more and more companies, including smaller start-ups, are venturing out of the box to keep their clients’ attention creatively.

Top Ten Customer Loyalty Program Trends

Companies try various ways to keep their clients’ attention. Here are some methods we can expect to see. Some are patterned after tried-and-tested models. However, thanks to technological advancements, some are also new to the game.

Developing Strategic Loyalty Program Partnerships

It has been done in the past and will continue to happen. Brands have always formed strategic partnerships with other equally popular brands to serve their customers better. Likewise, brands forming strategic alliances to serve similar customers better is nothing new. To illustrate, the Hilton Honors and Lyft partnership is touted as the first-ever of its kind in the hospitality, travel, and transport industries. Members will earn perks linking their active Hilton Honors loyalty membership with their current Lyft accounts. In addition, they gain corresponding Hilton Honors Points for every dollar spent on Lyft rides within North America. The executives of both companies shared that it is essential for them that their members get to where they need to go and find a perfect place to rest once they get there.

Introducing a Mobile App

Businesses that introduce an app can keep a pulse on their clients through advanced analytics provided by the app. Tracking in-app activity and seeing which content draws the most user interest is much easier. Companies can use an app to refine their sales and marketing efforts with registration’s demographic info. Most of all, companies can rely on geofenced push notifications, newsletters, promos, and loyalty programs within the app to keep their customer base engaged and thriving. Thus, companies must adapt and evolve with these new trends. The urban legend is Richard Branson, the billionaire who owns Virgin Atlantic, who lost to the start-up Uber when he attempted to go toe-to-toe with them because an algorithm backs up Uber. And that is quality data! Because of this, Uber was able to morph from a start-up to a transportation giant because they could monitor, track, and give their client’s needs through the mobile app. Data indicates that clients are raring to download and use mobile apps from their favorite small businesses. Companies must not ignore the data in front of them.

Providing Loyalty Programs that Give Back

It is not the first time a company’s corporate social responsibility will be tied to a loyalty program. It has been done briefly in the past, but the market will see this influx. The trend will grow as more companies appeal to the emotional side of their clients by showing that they, too, care about causes and various advocacies. A good example is DSW VIP members, who can donate their shoes and existing rewards points to those in need through their Soles4Souls and Be Strong programs. As of May 2018, more than 1.4 million shoes have been given away to these noble causes. Many clients continue to remain loyal to the brands they believe share the same values that they do. They shall continue patronizing these brands because they feel they’re making a difference.

Offer Premium Loyalty Programs with Better Perks

Most consumers, precisely 80% millennials and 68% non-millennials, said they would be more than willing to enter a premium loyalty program of their favorite companies if offered and if the benefits and perks are valuable. Of course, traditional free loyalty offers will always have their place and value among ordinary consumers. However, launching premium programs with added extras is so valuable that the more discerning and loyal customers are willing to pay for them. It must be noted that 87% of consumers satisfied with these special perks, offers, and benefits from a paid loyalty program of their favorite retailers will likely still choose that retailer over a competitor offering a lower price. These people will also probably recommend the brand more to their families and friends.

Adding Gamification to the Loyalty Strategy

It has been reported that more than 80% of millennials and nearly 75% of baby boomers prefer to get rewards not just for purchases but because they engage with their favorite brands. Therefore, companies should include gamification marketing to improve customer engagement, another key to brand loyalty. To illustrate, Nike clients in China were privileged to select Nike shoes in a few stores in key cities. Through virtual reality, they can participate in a fun game called Reactland. They can document this experience on social media and receive corresponding rewards and discount offers. Brands will understand that the best and most effective loyalty programs will include gamification. The latter’s focus is not just on transactions but on engaging customers. With their help, these snippets can expand their reach as they go viral on social media.

Giving Loyal Clients a Choice in Directing Company Policies

Loyal clients want to feel like they are active stakeholders in the company. It makes them feel good and valued to be a part of forming policies and making company decisions. As such, we will see an increase in companies valuing the feedback of their most loyal customers. A perfect example of this is Target’s announcement of the nationwide rollout of its Circle program. One of the transaction perks is Target Circle members will also be given the privilege to cast their votes to help direct Target’s giving. Currently, the company serves approximately 800 nonprofit organizations in their local communities, and loyal clients will know where these benefits will go.

Provide a Better Experience

Clients love having the premier advantage of perks because of their loyalty to the company. These loyalty programs may include access to exclusive lounger memberships, skipping lines, personalization, premium wrapping services, and deeper discounts for their loyal clientele.

Instant Everything

In this modern age, clients are used to instant stuff from instant noodles, microwave popcorn, and quick messaging. With customer loyalty programs, they also have no excuses for their rewards. They want what they want right this minute. They want instant accrual of rewards points that must be redeemable when they qualify. Clients will continue to see instantly updated topics and have continued access to chatbots that will give them quick replies to their queries. They will also continue to see instant coupons for each completed transaction.

Boosted TouchPoint and Omnichannel Strategies

Brands will continue to employ touchpoints and omnichannel strategies to keep their clients attention. For instance, a client may search for a jacket on Facebook, Instagram, and Amazon. When this client logs on to the rewards program, the program will suggest this jacket or a version of it. These intelligent technologies provide a seamless consumer experience on many platforms the client frequents on their mobile device. With many competitors, it is critical for businesses always to see their message and feel their presence.

Continuation of Tiered Programs

Those who buy more and spend more time with the company deserve more. Thus, some brands have standard, silver, gold, and platinum rewards-tiered programs that offer different service levels. Those who want more perks can spend more to attain this level.