Ever wondered how other brands are killing it with successful loyalty programs? Don’t worry; we hear that all the time.
Customer loyalty programs are ingenious marketing strategies that help businesses increase customer retention and boost revenue creatively. They mix rewards with brand interaction which improves the customer experience overall.
Successful loyalty programs serve both customers and your business margins. Win-win!
We’ve done the research, and there are a few common traits that all the best loyalty programs have. Want to be one of them? Keep reading
Common traits of brands with best loyalty programs
The most successful loyalty programs all feature similar traits while simultaneously managing to stand out to their customers. Let's dive in and break down some of these.
1. Simplicity for customers
One essential trait of a good customer loyalty program is simplicity.
57% of internet users will not recommend a business if the website is poorly designed. The same applies to your digital loyalty program!
The aim of using customer loyalty software is ultimately to help the customer. If you prioritize being clever over clear, you will lose people along the way.
Design features you might want to think about for your loyalty program include:
- Seamless integration between your online and physical stores/POS so customers can redeem rewards no matter where they shop
- Single Sign-On option so returning customers can quickly log in from any device
- Apply discounts automatically if they qualify (e.g., discount for spending a certain amount)
- Make your website or app extremely mobile responsive (85% of adults think that a company’s mobile website should be as good or better than desktop).
2. Desirable mix of great experience and good rewards
Reward programs provide a huge benefit to your sales. However, the top loyalty programs prioritize excellent customer experience and great rewards.
You want your customers to be EXCITED to shop with you! You want to motivate specific customer behaviors by automatically rewarding points for purchases, referrals, product reviews, and social media activity.
Any time they shop or interact with your brand should be an opportunity to connect.
For example, the size-inclusive lingerie brand Our Bralette Club (OBC) offers both discounts and freebies with their loyalty program. OBC’s customers can use their rewards to score great deals (like $10 or 20% off entire purchases), or they can opt to get cool freebies like pocket mirrors and tote bags.
The results speak for themselves. By creating little enjoyable moments with freebies and discounts, OBC increased their revenue by 278% through their program members alone.
3. They have an emotional connection with the brand
Inviting customers to connect to your brand emotionally is a powerful marketing strategy. Not only does it add to the customer experience, but it also creates customer buy-in. They want to support you and tell everyone about you. That kind of referral is every business owner’s dream!
And psychology backs this up. According to PsychologyToday, customers are more likely to connect with the emotional parts of ads than the written parts. The most effective emotions to use are things like happiness, the feeling of friendship or inclusion, and inspiration.
Big-name brands like Nike are stand-out examples of businesses using an emotional connection to appeal to shoppers. Nike uses cleverly developed phrases to connect to customers’ feelings of pride and leadership with slogans such as “the first ones” and “just do it”.
One clever way to create emotional buy-in is to name your loyalty program members. It makes people feel like they are “part of the club”. For example, Our Bralette Club uses a play on slang to playfully name their program the Peach Party, and international outdoor-wear brand Northface calls its loyal customers the VIPeaks.
How can you use a loyalty program to create a sense of connection and inclusion?
4. Strong communication with the customers
One of the loyalty traits for top customer programs is to stay in touch.
To be top of mind, you need communication to be timely and straightforward. A great marketing strategy will communicate the following with customers:
- when there is an exciting event or sale on
- when they have just bought something
- to stay in touch and add value.
A combination of all three will mean you can stay in their minds.
In action, communication with your loyal customers might look like this:
- You send out an email to promote a special members-only sale and remind members that they can use their loyalty points.
- Once they have bought something, send another email to thank them and update them on how many points they earned with their recent purchase (the best time to touch base is right after they have purchased).
- Send them an update with their total points balance and add more value to the message by including deals such as a new member-only product or an exciting email related to your niche.
Did you know that you can seamlessly automate all of your customer touchpoints, email campaigns, and loyalty notifications with Marsello?
5. Digital optimization is at the forefront of their strategy
You need to optimize your online presence now more than ever.
A clunky mobile browsing experience could be hurting your business more than you know. No matter how good your product, business, or marketing strategy is, you could lose up to 80% of shoppers who leave bad mobile sites. Remember, consistent branding and good user experience matter!
Successful customer loyalty programs focus on user experience as well as product development and sales.
For example, New Zealand-based dog treat boutique Smack Bang has a beautiful brick-and-mortar store. However, they also use Marsello for their simple, eye-catching customer loyalty widget. It is easy to use, encourages customer behavior by telling them exactly how to earn points, and is 100% on brand with their colors.
Customers can easily spend points online and in-store, and Smack Bang sees 100% engagement with their loyalty program. By ensuring that they have a loyalty program connected to their eCommerce and brick-and-mortar stores, the team at Smack Bang can provide their customers with a consistent, rewarding shopping experience no matter where they shop. And that bonus of earning seamlessly across all sales channels also helps protect Smack Bang Big-name in the event of more lockdowns as customers reap the benefits even while shopping from home.
6. They do not treat customer interactions as transactional
Customer loyalty programs do precisely that – they build loyalty. They help foster interactions with customers that aren’t just transactional. That’s what sets successful loyalty programs apart.
So how do you do this on an individual level while still scaling? Doesn’t it cost a lot to put a lot of time into customers individually?
Actually, improving customer service and experience might be MAKING you money. There are a lot of long-term benefits of growing lifetime loyalty and adding extra touchpoints to make sure your customers feel appreciated.
For example, Forbes suggests that to improve interactions, you should be personalizing experiences wherever possible. They also suggest letting customers define how they want to interact with you rather than pushing it on them.
Instead of pressuring people to join your loyalty program, create something fun and desirable that invites them in. This is all part of creating a thriving community around your brand!
Examples of brands with stand-out customer loyalty programs
Let's take a look at a few established brands that have really found their feet with loyalty marketing.
1. Merrell NZ’s loyalty program builds long-term relationships with customers
Internationally renowned outdoors brand, Merrell, has a strong presence in New Zealand, with the NZ chapter of their business operating as the longest-running distributor of Merrell’s products. In the wake of COVID-19, Merrell NZ’s marketing team knew they needed to bolster eCommerce sales and maximize customer loyalty.
After creating a solid foundation using Marsello to power their email marketing strategy, Merrell NZ developed a tiered loyalty program to elevate customer experience, build meaningful relationships with shoppers, and foster a team of brand ambassadors.
With three tiers, emails promoting their loyalty program, and inviting earn and rewards options, Merrell NZ’s customers have welcomed the loyalty program eagerly.
José, sales and marketing manager at Merrell NZ, had this to say about their new loyalty program:
“[…] the Merrell Rewards program powered by Marsello means a lot to us – it gives us the opportunity to link customers from our retail and web stores, work around customer retention and automate email marketing flows in a really clever way.”
In the first month since launching the Merrell NZ VIP loyalty program, they saw their VIP customer list grow to 123 members! Customers are also turning around a 15% repeat purchase rate and an average purchase frequency of 3.5x, which just goes to show that Merrell NZ’s customers are already proven loyal regulars.
It’s no wonder that Merrell’s customers feel welcomed into the brand’s community; their loyalty is rewarded with enticing rewards and engaging communications about causes that interest them!
Read their whole story to learn more about Merrell NZ’s marketing.
2. LEGO Certified Store’s customer-centric approach to loyalty rewards
When looking for loyalty program inspiration and reward development, look no further than LEGO Certified Stores (based in South Africa).
Whether shopping in-store or online, customers earn 1 point for every R 1.00 spent. They can then redeem their points for cash-back and exclusive gifts that encourage customers to shop time and time again!
It’s no secret that the LEGO community is internationally dedicated! With somewhat of a cult following, LEGO is no longer considered just for children, and LEGO Certified Stores’ loyalty program helps them build customer relationships for the long term.
Through combining their loyalty program and other marketing efforts, LEGO Certified Stores build a community around their brand and connect their customers through LEGO.
One thing has remained essential for the LEGO Certified Stores team: seamless customer experience no matter where they shop. They had this to say about their Marsello-powered loyalty connected across both their Shopify and Vend-powered stores.
"Marsello offers a single integration into our POS and online store for our email database. The nature of our retail offering revolves heavily around our loyalty program and the exclusive gifts that customers can redeem from us. Marsello made the most sense as it offers a single loyalty program that extends to customers online and in-store. We have many customers that shop with us in both channels and expect a seamless loyalty and marketing experience."
Read LEGO’s full customer story here to learn more.
3. bCODE’s point promotion campaigns encourage customer engagement and buy-in
When looking for a stand-out loyalty promotion strategy, look no further than Nigerian shoe brand bCODE!
The launch of any marketing campaign can feel like a daunting task when so much often hinges on its success. When bCODE expanded their loyalty program from just their brick-and-mortar store and launched it online, they knew they needed to do so with a bang!
What better way to do this than offering customers double points over launch weekend and promoting the offer through emails and social media?
With a spend threshold and a set time frame, bCODE (then known as THE BCODE) encouraged increased sales, loyalty program sign-ups, reward redemptions, and more! In fact, just before they sent the above email (with a captivating GIF included), bCODE encouraged customer sign-ups by sending an email campaign that detailed how shoppers could sign up to the newly expanded loyalty program and earn points in the lead-up to the weekend’s promotion.
After launching their double points campaign, bCODE saw an astounding 94% increase in loyalty points spent, and over one year later, their loyalty program is thriving both in-store and online!
Read bCODE’s customer success story.
4. Anna Beck’s inviting loyalty program entices all types of customers
The team behind well-loved designer jewelry brand Anna Beck knows that a low barrier to entry is one of the fastest ways to encourage loyalty program sign-ups and grow customer loyalty. When they developed their loyalty program, they kept it simple, beautifully on-brand, and undeniably enticing.
As soon as customers join, they are rewarded with a 10% discount. And within their next shop, they can earn their next reward – a free cleaning cloth. By generously rewarding customers early into their brand experience, Anna Beck creates gratifying customer experiences that build loyalty from the earliest stages. Those customers are then much more likely to remain loyal and even become vocal brand ambassadors.
“Through the data, we’ve found that we have incredibly loyal customers. Once they make their second purchase, they are highly likely to be lifelong customers. Marsello allows us to easily reward those loyal customers for sticking around; it was a no-brainer. Anna Beck has only been an online retail brand for a handful of years, and a loyalty program was the natural next step.”
We’ll let you in on a secret, too: Anna Beck experimented with including tiers into their loyalty program but decided that keeping it simple was best for their brand. Experimenting, looking at the data, and then drawing data-driven conclusions that best benefit your business is an essential part of marketing success. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to customer loyalty, and we love that Anna Beck was able to find a loyalty program design that suits their business and delights their customers.
Interested in learning more about Anna Beck’s marketing?
The number one similarity between successful loyalty programs is a customer-first approach. Keeping it simple, branded, and customer-centric will naturally benefit your revenue as much as your customers. Put them first and you will reap the rewards organically.
Looking for an easy way to reward your customers? Marsello is the all-in-one software for simple in-store and eCommerce loyalty programs!