COVID-19 has transformed how consumers interact with brands, in particular shifting purchases more to ecommerce. While the retail industry is re-emerging and anticipated to grow over the next several years, the unpredictable ebbs and flows of the ongoing pandemic have consumers continuing to adjust to new habits and alter their shopping patterns. In the near term, industry experts predict the current elevated online shopping levels will prevail. In a longer-term outlook, in-store traffic will likely normalize; however, ecommerce will remain on an upward trajectory.
Without that in-person interaction with store employees, it is more critical than ever for brands to evolve their digital loyalty strategies to create rewarding and meaningful brand experiences. These results will pay off as more loyal consumers have higher brand satisfaction and also spend more. What’s reassuring is eighty-one percent of consumers want a relationship with a brand. It is not enough to simply acquire new consumers and expect them to be loyal. Like any relationship, one between brand and consumers must be both nurtured and mutually beneficial to flourish.
Building and maintaining brand loyalty extends beyond rewards programs. That being said, since rewards programs are a critical touchpoint between brand and consumer, they are a great starting point when evaluating tactics to drive digital loyalty.
Consumers’ definition of value is evolving. In addition to providing monetary value through discount offers, guaranteed rewards, or free shipping, do not lose sight of other ways to deliver value. Forty-one percent of consumers indicated the importance of brands making the shopping experience more convenient. Free expedited shipping or receiptless returns are two more ways brands can satisfy member's craving for convenience.
Brands often overlook the importance of interactions outside of purchase. Incorporating a few engagement-based activities in a rewards program encourages members to interact with brands in between purchase cycles and helps drive emotional connections. Consider incorporating elements such as writing product reviews, participating in surveys, or posting photos on social media capturing real-life product usage. For points-based programs, making these engagements eligible for points propels members to earn their next reward quicker, translating to more value received.
Consumers want brands to demonstrate they understand them. If your brand is more traditional, versus digitally native, and cannot rely on sophisticated data platforms and CRM to fuel personalization, there are other ways to gather the intel needed to deliver simple tailored experiences. Consider having members identify their preferences by completing a personal profile or launch a survey and use that data as a starting point. Simple tactics such as “choose your offer” or “surprise and delight” are achievable regardless of what level your brand is at in data transformation.
A rewards program contains a wide spectrum of members in terms of behavior and purchase frequency. In loyalty strategy, a primary focus should be on developing a structure to provide new members the ability to obtain rewards in an adequate amount of time, while providing richer, more exclusive experiences to the most engaged members. If the threshold to earn a reward is too high for new members, or top members are not receiving compelling benefits in return for their loyalty, expanding the program to add a tier or two is a smart option.
Finally, another key to a lasting relationship is excitement. Whether your brand has its eyes on member acquisition, retention, or another strategic objective, gamified promotional overlays spark desired behaviors while adding elements of fun and spontaneity throughout the year. Consider launching a trivia game where new members learn about program benefits or drive product exploration and purchase consideration through an image-based personality quiz. In any case, incentive plays are an important role in participation. As a best practice, pair the chance to win an aspirational grand prize with a high quantity of lower-value items, such as gift cards or loyalty points, for a compelling prize structure.
Interested in evolving your loyalty rewards program but not sure where to start? Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will be happy to kick-start your journey.