Loyalty programs are used by thousands of companies and millions of people throughout the UK and are more popular than ever. They continue to evolve, too. We’ve come a long way since collecting Green Shield Stamps, back in the 1950s. Today’s sophisticated programmes don’t just give us points for how much money we spend, instead, we get rewarded for a whole range of interactions and have much more choice in the rewards we claim. Businesses, of course, benefit too. Not only do they get increased loyalty but our interactions provide highly useful data to help them increase sales even more. Here are five of the major trends currently reshaping today’s loyalty schemes.
- The rise of omnichannel loyalty programmes
Omnichannel loyalty programmes are those which allow customers to get rewarded through every form of interaction they have with a company whether online or in-store. Rewards can be given for making purchases, referring a friend, filling out surveys, checking-in and liking on social media, opening marketing emails and anything else the company wants to provide motivation for.
Rewarding customers helps keep them engaged in the activities and this provides numerous benefits for the company. More website traffic and new customers are generated from social media activity, marketing emails get read by more customers and important data is gathered from customer surveys. That data is then processed to identify ways in which the company can better serve its customers and improve its sales.
- Personalised loyalty
Offering customers personalised shopping experiences has been a proven success in recent years and now it’s methods are being used in loyalty programmes, too. In a recent survey of personalised loyalty programme members, almost 80% of them said they were happy with their scheme. That’s almost three times higher than the members of non-personalised programmes.
Personalised loyalty programmes offer a win-win situation for the company and the consumer. Consumers get better ways to earn rewards and a better choice of customised offers. Businesses gain from being supplied with the richer personal data they need for their analyses. Unsurprisingly, in order to get customised rewards, most members have little objection to providing personal information or in allowing browsing data to be collected. Any concerns about how the data is used are outweighed by the satisfaction they receive from the loyalty programme.
- Ethically responsible loyalty programmes
There’s a high-profile social revolution taking place right now that is changing attitudes, we’re seeing it in the #MeToo movement, the fight for female pay equality and the struggle for tighter gun laws in the USA. As a result, a brand’s ethical reputation can be more important to consumers than the quality of its goods. This is why so many brands are leading advocates for some of these movements; whether their board members support the movement or not, publicly doing so strengthens customer loyalty and extends their customer base.
An altruistic result of this is the number of loyalty programmes that now enable customers to donate their reward to charity. This provides members with a double satisfaction: they are buying their products from an ethical company and are, themselves, helping others while they spend.
- Loyalty partnerships
In order to offer members a better choice of rewards, many leading loyalty programmes are partnering with major brands. Tesco Clubcard members, for example, are able to obtain vouchers for days out at places like Alton Towers or meals at Pizza Express. M&S members can even go on all-expenses paid, wine tasting trips or have personalised styling sessions.
These types of programme are very appealing to customers and help retain loyalty to the brand. At the same time, partners benefit from the new business the loyalty program generates.
- The kudos of a premium loyalty card
One of the aims of a good loyalty programme is to make customers feel valued and, as the platinum credit card has long illustrated, the design of a card is a crucial factor in making the customer feel special. This is even more so when there are different levels of membership and where the top-level offers the best rewards.
Today, some people are actually willing to pay to become premium loyalty members, provided the benefits are worth it. We see it with Amazon Prime and with Ocado, whose programme offers discounts on over 500 products. A recent study showed that over 60% of consumers would join paid-for rewards programmes with their favourite brands.
To make customers love their top-level loyalty programme even more, businesses are providing them with uniquely designed, loyalty smart cards, such as those available from Universal Smart Cards. Their ability to be created in any design means that they can have an up-market kudos that makes the customer feel truly valued.
When it comes to loyalty programmes, the bottom line is this: it costs a company far more to attract a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Once a customer has been won, it makes complete sense to keep them happy. Rewards programmes are a great way to achieve this. However, in order to keep a programme successful, businesses have to be aware of how the market develops. Hopefully, this article will have shown what trends are taking place in that development right now.