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When it comes to differentiation from the competition and giving your customers reasons to continue using your products or services, nothing is as effective as a loyalty program. Matter of fact, you can likely think of at least one loyalty program you belong to and how the benefits of that program keep you tied to that specific brand over others.

Once a loyalty program has been established and you see some ROI, you can just sit back and watch your acquisition and retention metrics rise, right? In a perfect world, that set-it-and-forget-it mentality might suffice, but we are living in world that is a far from perfect. When your competitors see how well your loyalty program is doing at dampening their conquest efforts, they will likely copy and paste your tactics to suit their own needs by implementing a loyalty program of their own. And if they’ve done their homework, they will be aiming to offer a value proposition that is greater than what your program offers.

This is not a unique situation, and it’s one that many brands experience in today’s marketplace where a high premium is placed on garnering loyalty from both a transactional and emotional perspective. To help mitigate the effects of competitor efforts and to keep your program fresh and appealing, the development and integration of promotional overlays is a proven, tactical path to keep customers engaged and feeling the value of your program.

What are promotional overlays?

Simply put, promotional overlays are moments of incentivized engagement that work as a supplement to a core loyalty program. Member-gated so that only members can take advantage, these chance-based experiences are designed to drive a myriad of key business objectives, including raising awareness and acquisition, overall program engagement, and boosting organic advocacy among members. When looking to develop a promotional overlay, you should first look at your overarching brand plan to identify touchpoints where an overlay would naturally fit. Some good options include enrollment and onboarding to the program, new product launches, cultural or seasonal events, or larger marketing initiatives with a big media push.

Designing a promotional overlay experience

Once you have identified your main purpose for an overlay, it’s time to design the experience. Knowing that this will be a supplement to your larger loyalty program experience, it’s important to consider the level of effort with which you are tasking members. Large-scale, complex promotional components usually hinder the intended purpose of the overlay, so working with an agency well versed in loyalty program design and nuance, like Merkle, is critical in ensuring success. There are a wide variety of options for promotional overlays that will not mentally tax members or feel disconnected from your core program. For example, an instant win game is a quick and easy way to inject some fun and value into the everyday program experience. Or you can craft a special, members-only survey or poll to collect zero-party data, helping to drive personalization efforts and bolster CRM profile building, while giving members added rewards for their participation.

Why choose promotional overlays as a loyalty tactic

A promotional overlay is a smart, cost-conscious way of boosting the value of your core loyalty program while giving members additional value – value that is layered on top of the primary benefits and rewards members already receive from your program. Many brands who have seen success from the inclusion of promotional overlays have begun to strategically craft marketing calendars that include multiple overlays over the course of a year. They do this so there is always something fresh and exciting in their loyalty program that will help drive acquisition efforts and increase brand influence and current member satisfaction.

Whether you are looking for a singular way to inject some excitement into your loyalty program or a long-term solution to continuously acquire new members and engage lapsed ones, promotional overlays can help achieve your goals in a way that doesn’t take a spotlight away from your primary loyalty program.


Which type of promotional overlay would most resonate with your customers? Check out 7 Reasons CMOs Care About Promotions to learn about different types of engagement experiences and how each can drive revenue for your brand.